The Fnargland Grand Challenge

There are a number of unsolvable problems with Fnargocracy.

Unfortunately, none of them seem to have escaped the eagle-eyed eyes of my readers—who every day grow fewer, yet more zealous. (Seriously, I am blown away by the level of the discussion in the comments section. As an old Usenet warhorse, I suppose I’m just not in tune with this new, 21st-century Internet.)

So let’s modify the problem so that, while still basically a magical thought-experiment, it at least has some practical relationship to the world we live in.

Suppose you and your girlfriend are sailing your yacht in the North Atlantic when you run aground on a new island, which is just now rising from the ocean. This island, Fnargland, while still dripping wet and entirely unarable, is quite large and curiously square—300 miles on a side. At the population density of Manhattan, everyone on earth could move to Fnargland.

The two of you tie up your yacht on a crust of lava and go exploring. One of the first things you find, just sitting there on the rock, is a shiny golden ring. It seems to be your size, so you slip it on. “Look what I’ve found!” you exclaim to your girlfriend, and snap your fingers.

Of course, she instantly drops dead, which is how you know you have the Ring of Fnargl. Well, this is a bummer, but private islands are few and far between, and women are attracted to wealth and power. Grimly and sadly, you set about monetizing your new capital.

The Ring confers magic sovereignty. The bearer is invulnerable to all assault, and has the power of death against any and all comers, as long as they are on or over the territory of Fnargland and its coastal waters. Obviously, the ring and the island form a natural firm—either without the other is not worth much, but together they rock.

So you start up a startup, FnargCo, the Company of Ring and Island. FnargCo is initially private, incorporated in Delaware—it may move if needed. The idea is that the Ring is the company’s property, stored in Switzerland and brought to Fnargland only as needed. Since all in Fnargland can be forced to obey it, all will obey it without being so forced.

Of course, in the start you are the majority shareholder and CEO of FnargCo, so there is no possible conflict of interest. Also, the UN, US and other large, dangerous external entities will be persuaded to recognize Fnargland, and treat it as a normal country for trading purposes, by the usual variety of payments and inducements.

Obviously, in order to produce revenue, FnargCo must welcome immigrants to Fnargland, create a legal system under which they live, and find a way to tax them. Ideally, we can make Fnargland such a desirable community that all except a few criminals and nature lovers flock there for the peace, prosperity and general good times that FnargCo is passionately committed to creating. The rest of the planet can be converted to a sort of large safari park, perhaps with the criminals filling the hunter-gatherer niche in the ecosystem.

Of course, perhaps this is not the way to maximize revenue. Perhaps we only want a few very special rich people. Or something else.

But you are the CEO. Fnargland is yours. After of course erecting a substantial obelisk for your sadly deceased girlfriend—“She Died For The Fnarg,” it reads, in great obsidian letters—what is your next step? How do you attract immigrants, how do you keep them, and how do you tax them? Your goal, as always, is to maximize the value of the company’s capital including distributions to shareholders.

I will post my own solution by and by. Please feel free to post on your own blog and link from the comments…