Re: Setting up Ghost Town Communities?

From: James Rogers (
Date: Mon Nov 05 2001 - 02:25:17 MST

On 11/3/01 5:48 PM, "Chen Yixiong, Eric" <cyixiong@YAHOO.COM> wrote:
> Someone suggested that perhaps I can set up an experimental community more
> easily in a "ghost" town. Some of you might like to
> consider this for your experimental societies too. Any comments?

I actually looked into this a few years ago, as incorporated towns have very
broad powers at their disposal in some States. However, at least in States
where I looked it up, these towns automagically lose their incorporated
status if their population falls below a certain number unless incorporation
is specially enacted by the State legislature (an exemption that maintains
status regardless of population). Therefore, most ghost towns no longer
have legal status as a town.

The State where I was most interested in was Nevada, which requires 250
eligible voters to incorporate an area as a town and 150 voters to maintain
incorporated status. The State of Nevada bestows the Right of Home Rule to
incorporated townships (if they choose to exercise it -- most don't), which
gives them surprisingly broad powers to manage their own affairs. By
"manage their own affairs" it means that the town can provide their own law
enforcement, courts, schools, fire departments, etc. In short, Home Rule
usually means that the State delegates all authority to local officials to
manage things how they wish within the region that is exercising home rule
authority. "Home Rule" varies from State to State, with some states
granting very broad and liberal interpretations of home rule, and other
states essentially not granting it at all. Many of the rural western states
have very favorable home rule structures. Nevada has a very liberal right
of home rule that applies to incorporated townships. Idaho grants home rule
to counties; Boise county in Idaho (which does NOT contain the city by the
same name) is famous for being a home rule county which rarely lets Federal
agencies operate within its jurisdiction.

As I'm sure you've surmised by now, if you and a bunch of your friends take
over the government of a home rule region in a State that grants very
liberal and broad home rule powers, it is about as close to having your own
country within a country as you are going to get. Or if you don't want to
take over a home rule region, buy a big chunk of land in Nevada or similar
and have a bunch of your friends become registered voters in your township.
Having been in areas where the courts and law enforcement were strictly of
the home rule variety, I can say that in those regions the law is exactly
what the locals decide it is. Worth mentioning is that a boatload of
exemptions to Federal laws exist if you are part of the local government in
a number of capacities. Note that all the attendant problems of creating
governments and power structures apply, so be careful of what you wish for;
there are a few home rule areas in the U.S. that I can only describe as
oppressive in nature due to a few ambitious people taking over the system.

That should be enough to get the imagination churning. :^)


-James Rogers

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