Ship! The name grabs you and makes you want to learn more, especially
if you dream of freedom, traveling and the high seas. The web site
beckons with promises of leaving it all behind and living in freedom, in
your very own condominium, on a ship so stable that you won’t even get
seasick. But is it really as free as they say? We are all used
to media hype, and in this short article I would like to dig beneath the
decks a little and see what the bulkheads look like.
is essentially a type of deed restricted community. FS is not a sovereign
country, nor is it an incorporated city with representative government.
The ship itself will be owned by the Freedom Ship Corporation, just as
the streets and common areas of many deed restricted communities are owned
by the developer. As such, the developer would have final and irrevocable
say over all aspects of how the community works, runs, and operates.
live in a deed restricted community IF…
You were only
allowed to own a dog if you lived on certain streets?
You had to submit
biometric (fingerprints, iris scans etc.) information every time you wished
to enter or leave the community, and could do so only at the approval of
the private security force?
You had to pay
a fee every time you wished to enter or leave the community for the use
of the community’s transportation?
You were not allowed
to evacuate in the event of a major wild fire? (Freedom Ship does
not intend to provide lifeboats because it is “virtually unsinkable”.
Where have we heard that before?)
You had the choice
of one school for your children, owned and run by the developer according
to the developer’s pre-established educational philosophy with no representative
participation of your own?
You had the choice
of one hospital, owned and run by the developer who had the sole discretion
as to which doctors had access to the hospital facilities?
You had the choice
of any doctor you wanted… as long as they owned commercial property inside
You had the choice
of any medical insurance you wanted… as long as it was the Freedom Ship
You could see
any artist or performer at the local theater only if they agreed to the
unusual requirement that they must remain in the community and teach the
residents for a certain period of time after performing?
staff used the term “omni-present security” to refer to the one security
guard for every 57.5 people?
security” included face recognition technology that could identify anyone
in the community at any time?
The cell phone
system given to you by the developer included built in GPS technology so
that the developer could track you even when you are out of the community?
All of your internet
and phone communications would have to go through the developer’s own private
private security force, the FBI (Freedom Bureau of Investigation) publicly
admitted that it uses CIs (confidential informants) to “investigate
anything and everything” connected to the community?
security force inspects all packages and goods brought into the community
for contraband? What will be defined contraband?
wanted to visit you they would have to be approved by the security force
with a background investigation or they would not be granted entrance to
your community? Vouching for your visitors would not be enough if
security felt that the visitor posed a threat to the community.
of “threat” used by the Freedom Bureau of Investigation is the same one
used by the United States government’s FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
that is so broad as to actually allow the classification of any person
as a terrorist?
is subject to the laws of the country whose flag it flies and that community
very restrictive laws? (Freedom Ship indicated that at this time
they will most likely fly the flag of an EU country.)
All public areas
(outside your cabin) will be under continuous video camera surveillance?
security force will have and use a number of other technologies and weapons,
including possibly helicopter gunships, computerized psychiatric analysis,
etc. that they will only hint at, but not discuss?
consider living by the above restrictions in exchange for the following
freedoms or benefits:
24 hour a day
casinos where you could pay “voluntary taxes” to the casino owners?
No sales tax or
duties within the community, but you would probably have to pay customs
duties on anything that you remove from the community to an outside country
at that country’s border?
The use of alternative
medicine and doctors, keeping in mind of course that only “board certified”
doctors will have use of the hospital facilities? Very few alternative
doctors are board certified.
You had an emergency
button on your cell phone that would summon a helicopter medical team to
your side when you were out of the community but within a hundred miles?
Being able to
travel around the world and visit exotic, and some common, ports of call,
but of course, only those chosen by the developer and for the period of
time they specify?
You were actually
able to live inside of a nearly mile long and 25 story shopping mall?
are many people who would gladly consider the above restrictions and benefits
an attractive way of life. This is fine, and they are welcome to
purchase a condominium on Freedom Ship and become a part of the FS community.
For some of us though, the freedoms surrendered in order to be a part of
this community can in no way be compensated for by the few benefits offered.
I have lived
in deed restricted communities before that had none of the above restrictions
and was still bothered by the now seemingly inconsequential details of
whether or not I could put up a basketball hoop for my children, or allow
guests to park on the grass. After being enticed by the hype for
freedom and travel, upon investigation I realize that I have more freedom
in mainland America in my deed restricted community than I would on the
Ship is technologically possible and could easily be built as they describe
with the appropriate funding. With a price tag of only 6.8 billion
dollars, the cost of the Freedom Ship is only 1/100th of what America spent
on the War on Terrorism in it’s first four months. My only practical
reservation is their decision not to have lifeboats, no matter how “unsinkable”
they claim the ship is.
reservations have to do with the “Freedom” aspects of this project and
how it is seriously misnamed.
To those who
hold to a traditional view of freedom as embodied in the US Constitution
and it’s Bill of Rights, very little about the Freedom Ship speaks to freedom
ship should be named Security Ship, for it does deliver a promise of high
security that will be appealing to many people. I find it deeply
troubling that overwhelming security and decisions dictated by the developer
(or state) are quickly becoming the commonly accepted modern definition
of freedom. This is Orwellian in the statement that Security is Freedom...
if we throw in a few side benefits.
As a final note, On January 12, 2002 I attended a special “Meet the Managers”
seminar hosted by Freedom Ship in Clearwater, Florida for anyone that was
I wish to thank
the Freedom Ship personnel for their graciousness, friendliness, and openness
in answering questions. The founders and the people that they have
gathered around them strike me as very good, quality people that most of
us would like to have as neighbors, even as neighbors on a 4,320 foot ship.
My comments above have to do with some of the philosophical/political decisions
that they have made in how the Freedom Ship will be run, and are not against
their personal integrity. I am aware that they may change some things
in the future and am basing my observations on a snapshot in time.
Possibly this article will cause them to re-think some things, or at least
others who may seek to undertake a similar project.
From America Magazine - The very best way to get
the most current and up to date information on overseas retirement is to
subscribe to our free eMagazine. We have a hassle free unsubscribe policy,
and we don't spam, period. If you want to find out how to live overseas,
where to live overseas, where to find retirement havens, where to find
the best bargains in real estate overseas, how to live a quality international
lifestyle, and how to move your cash and your life offshore; then do subscribe
to our eZine. Close to half million people already have and over 100 more
sign up every day. Find out why.