The American state of Nevada is on the verge of an interesting experiment: it is discussing a possible transfer of municipal power in some territories to private companies.
The roots of what is happening are in the difficult socio-economic situation of the region. To a long-standing unfavorable development, 2020 added a pandemic that hit hard on the economy of Nevada and its capital Las Vegas, which is largely focused on tourism and entertainment.
Lack of funds, unemployment and other problems are faced in one way or another by most of the US states. One of the most popular ways for them to overcome difficulties is to attract large taxpayers to their territory in the form of corporations and their enterprises.
This is a whole layer of American politics with fierce competition and fascinating intrigue. For example, California, radical in its leftist liberalism, has brought itself to such a state that from there there is a real flight of both people and business. The situation is similar in New York. As a new home, “refugees”, including such corporate monsters as Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and many others, more often than other places choose Florida, Texas and Nevada.
But, of course, everything is not so simple – and the states, fighting with each other for new taxpayers, offer big business preferences and special conditions. Usually we are talking about certain tax breaks.
Now the Nevada leadership is ready to go much further and share power with business in the literal sense of the word.
In January, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans to create “innovation zones” in Nevada, which will provide a powerful incentive for diversifying and developing the region's economy. He also clarified that Blockchains has committed to “create a small town” that will bring high-paying jobs and tax revenues.
True, to implement the project, the state needs to provide its legislative basis, the details of which were not disclosed by the governor. But one of the Las Vegas publications learned about the details of the upcoming bill.
If the document is adopted, technology companies in their territories will receive the same rights that are vested in elected local governments in the United States, including tax collection, formation of courts, management of water and land resources, provision of public services, and so on.
According to the bill, as a condition for participation in the program, the company must own at least 50 thousand acres (about 20 thousand hectares) of undeveloped land within one county, have at its disposal a minimum of $ 250 million and an investment plan of $ 1 billion within ten years.
The project's adherents declare the ineffectiveness of traditional public administration, which requires reform in accordance with the requirements of the time. The words of Blockchains CEO Jeffrey Burns speak for themselves: “The way we act – taking risks, being flexible, nimble, and behaving like when creating new products – is not how the government works. Why not let us create a government that will let us do all this? “
However, the promoted idea also has enough skeptics and opponents.
The incumbent local authorities are asking reasonable questions about who will be responsible for the built cities and the people in them if the project fails. Obviously, the burden will fall on the districts on whose territory the experiment will be carried out and which are already difficult to rake with the already existing difficulties.
In addition, the problem is fundamental – it concerns the comprehensive awareness of private IT companies about people's lives and, as a result, their rapidly growing control over them. And now it is proposed to go even further and officially transfer part of state functions into the hands of technology giants.
And the argument that business, by virtue of its focus on results, will be more efficient in administrative functions looks very dubious. To what extent will health care, education and other socially significant, but categorically unprofitable spheres, which traditionally finance a significant part of the budgets of all levels of government, be prioritized for commercial and public administration?
There are also doubts about the “profile” expenses. Suffice it to recall that the main culprit behind the terrible fires and deaths of dozens of people in California is the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric, which for decades simply does not properly maintain its own – commercial – infrastructure.
The blatant working conditions and disgusting attitude towards workers in the production of the most fashionable and advanced companies, such as Tesla, also transparently hint what life in “commercial” cities can turn out to be for people, where corporations will be the official authorities.
The problems of underfunding of the social sphere, depressed territories and infrastructural degradation are familiar to most countries, including the most prosperous ones. True, even against this bleak background, the United States stands out for its rate of decline, which is simply frightening in the performance of one of the richest and most developed countries in the world.
In theory, one can understand the American authorities who are ready to grab at any straw in an attempt to turn the tide for the better. In practice, it remains only to be puzzled that someone is seriously considering the creation of corporate-feudal enclaves within the country as a successful solution.
But it is not at all surprising that it was in the totally corrupt political system of the United States that this idea was born. Incidentally, the Blockchains Corporation, of course, sponsored the campaign for the Governor of Nevada, who is now so passionately promoting the innovation.