Martian Law


Publication Date: August 1998

Publisher: Cato Institute

Author(s): Edward L. Hudgins

Research Area: Economics

Type: Report


A country's economic development and utilization of its resources depend foremost on the country's economic, legal and political regimes. The fall of communism and state-directed systems in poorer countries heralds the victory of the free market. That regime gives maximum incentives for individuals to utilize the ultimate source of values, the human mind, to create wealth. But misunderstands about markets have led to rough transitions.

To utilize fully the resources of the Mars, humans will need to bring to that planet more than machines, tools and scientific instruments. They will need to bring law. Not too much law. Most of the economic, political and social problems on earth result from an overabundance of rules, regulations and restrictions on individual liberty. What will be important is that humans bring the right law. Thus to fully exploit Mars' potential and to make it another home for the human race, an economic-political system will have to emerge that allows individuals or voluntary associations of individuals to secure exclusive rights to use resources and to exchanges freely with others, and that protects property, and enforces contracts.

In this discussion I will do three things. First I will examine what kinds of economic-political regimes do not work. Second, I will set down basic principles and assumptions about the appropriate economic-political regime for Mars. And third I will consider how such a regime might come about.