Apparently, my hope that a trust would solve my chicken and egg problem was correct. Frankly, I was shocked. I fully expected the attorney I met with yesterday to raise legal objections to my plan (or laugh me out of his office.) Instead he raised two minor issues that allowed me to revise and actually simplify my plan.
The first was that a 1000 sq. km. claim was 'problematic,' but that any number of one sq. km. claims was fine. The second was that the claim requires 'use' and a single boot mark would not do the job. I didn't argue. I just listened. 'Use' would be a procedure included in the trust document. It doesn't have to be much but would require a colonist to visit each claim. The simplification is that I don't have to have each colonist make a certain amount of claims. One person could make all the claims or all of them in any proportion with no definite number required other than to meet the needs of those expecting property. This raises a couple of other issues we'll get to in a moment.
Personally I think a boot mark should be enough and 1000 sq. km. is justified by the situation. I'm just stubborn. But I'm willing to be flexible if it gets the job done.
I like this guy. He put off a good vibe. His dad just
retired a week or two ago. They even have a street in town named after
their family name (this is not unusual in small towns.)
The one show stopper is that the trust document would be more complicated than the type he usually handles. He's going to refer me to someone that does such things which will take a few months. When he said, "'One day' we will certainly colonize mars" he made it clear he didn't think today was that day and had no enthusiasm to be the guy making it possible. How much would this document cost to produce? $5000 to $10,000 with the $5000 magically being dropped in the continuation of that conversation (I will magically bring back less when I talked to the next attorney.) He did read Rand's homesteading pdf that I printed out for him before our meeting which I thought was a good sign.
The implementation of the plan is straight forward if I had the money. Get the trust document written. Get a website so people could add funds to the trust. For $25 you get 100 sq. meters and could purchase up to a whole section (100x320 sq. m. for $8k) or set up a subscription (monthly, quarterly or yearly) to add 100 sq. m. to the amount you already applied for. The money is held in trust to pay the ticket price to mars. Once the colonist makes a claim, which is also held in trust, everyone gets title conveyed which is the first link in the chain of title. After that they can do whatever they want with their property. Labor would be in short supply, but that's their issue. It's an investment in the future. Buy a plot for your grand kids.
I though I'd lower the price per sq. meter as the cost of transportation goes down but realize now that, that would be a mistake. It doesn't matter if others trade away their properties at a lower cost. Eventually they wouldn't go any lower and the only new property available would be that held in trust for 25 cents per sq. meter..
Because of the need of land to claim around the landing site subsequent landings would have to be around 200 km. apart but that would be reduced as transportation costs go down. Trading posts would naturally be developed somewhere between the colonies. This actually facilitates exploration so it's not all bad. I envision a monorail running between settlements. No, not like Disneyland or Seattle center. This monorail would have a much simpler car. The rail is just to keep it guided in the right direction and cost less than two rails. The car and trailer doesn't have to follow the rail.
I also don't see why the 'use' requirement can't at least partially be met by rovers controlled by colonists (rovers controlled by anyone off world could not make claims.)
I didn't ask all the questions I wanted to. I should have made a list of questions before the meeting. I've been quite stressed about this meeting for several days which interferes with my brain. I did mentioned the 26 mo. launch window and 8 mo. travel times.
I was impressed that he answered a number of questions without my needing to ask. I did ask about trusting a trust. He said the document would have a mechanism to prevent embezzlement (not sure prevent is the right word. Crooks are very creative!) There could be compensation for the trustees (hey, I want that job!) The trust could exist indefinitely but obviously would include a provision for its dissolution at some point in the future. New trustees would replace older ones over time.
The assumption I'm going with is that travel costs will start at $250m per colonist and drop to $5m per once MCT is implemented (reuse could get it close to Elon's magic $500k per.) This would allow the trust to pay for a dozen on the first mission and 100 per vehicle down the road.
With each colonist having 1000 kg of personal provisions everyone would arrive with wealth in trade goods that would negate any need for separate costly resupply missions.
I could go on. We met for 45 minutes (no reduction in my consultation fee.) I left elated. The issues are not legal, technical or economic (other than my lack of personal funds to press on.) If I had those personal funds it would be pretty much a done deal. I may have to make a personal visit to Elon Musk since this plan benefits him the most (that should be easy since he's a billionaire and I'm a bum, right?)
Hey Elon, can we do lunch in Hawthorne?