Point of Beginning

Offsets: U.N. debates Martian Cadastre.

July 29, 2003


One of the most exciting events of the new century will be the division of the Martian surface into land parcels for individuals, businesses and governments to colonize the new world. Plans are now underway to conduct the cadastral survey system for the red planet, and decisions are being made that rival the excitement of 1785 when the United States began its new survey system.

In keeping with the level of cooperation and “big thinking” found at the United Nations during the latest Iraqi war, delegates are now debating the specific details of the new Martian Cadastre. A new “land office” bureaucracy is being set up to accept the millions of “Mars-stead” applications. And the best news yet—they will be hiring thousands of “deputy surveyors” for the massive amount of field work.

The Great Mars Division

It is my privilege and honor to bring the latest developments of the Martian Cadastre to you in this article. As of this writing, the debate has now centered on how the new survey system will be set up and which nations will take which areas to accomplish this monumental effort. Details follow:

Authorities in China have proposed a system of land division that harmonizes topographic features and access routes to best serve the needs of conquering armies. They have proposed a 1,000-foot high wall around their Mars-stead and have pledged half a billion “volunteers” to construct it. The Russians quickly nixed this idea and insisted the Chinese were intimidating their future neighbors with this “monument to themselves.” Authorities in Moscow then offered their own proposal, which included their ownership of the entire polar region. This allowed them to again have a huge frozen wasteland to which they could exile dissidents, thus maintaining a familiar “feel” for these folks.

Authorities in the United States have proposed a rectangular grid, beginning at a randomly selected point on the Martian surface. It would essentially mimic the public lands system found in two-thirds of their country. And due to the dryness of Mars, the best part of their idea is that there will be no riparian issues! No more wetlands, no more 404 permits, no more FEMA! Can it get any better? Unfortunately, the measure is stuck in Congress as they argue over funding. Democrats want the wealthiest Americans to pay all development costs through massive tax hikes, while Republicans claim businesses relocating to Mars will spur development if allowed to operate tax-free and unencumbered by labor laws. Furthering the delay, one Senator plans to filibuster unless the proposed inter-planetary bridge to Mars originates from his home state of West Virginia. The British quickly adopted this idea with the one request that their Mars-stead be named “New Falklands.”

The French authorities have entered the foray with multiple complaints that the United States and Britain have not allowed enough time for study and inspection of the Martian surface. Further, some in Paris have insisted on the ownership of Section 16 in every township for the purpose of establishing snail farms and bakeries. The latter proposal upset so many in the U.S. Congress that they passed legislation changing the French arpent surveys of Louisiana to “Freedom arpent” surveys. The Germans sided with the French and asked to be next door to the French in Section 17, citing their long-term success with the “adverse possession” concept of land ownership.

Fidel Castro insisted upon ownership of several tropical areas on the new planet, as long as they were thousands of miles from New Miami. And the Cubans demanded they be in charge of the Martian Human Rights Commission. They did not care about a survey system as they propose no private land ownership be allowed. They feel high-precision surveys were merely a bourgeois concept anyway.

Representatives of Al Qaeda, via videotapes supposedly made by Osama bin Laden, argued that they were being left out of the process altogether. They noted that any survey system established must have “terrorist easements” along each side of every boundary or they would not participate in the process.

The Iraqi Minister of Information denied that Mars existed and claimed the stars in the sky were “just an American propaganda effort, which would end with the Iraqis cutting off their heads.” And the North Koreans threatened to nuke the Initial Point on Mars if they did not get their way.

For a moment, it seemed some sense would be added to the debate when the Japanese entered with a proposal for “massive open space.” Unfortunately, their plan included placing all people into a few square kilometers in tiny living spaces and crowded bike paths. Due to their failing economy, they insisted on paying the deputy surveyors with sushi. This was summarily defeated in conference when the Texas Democratic party walked out and hid in a Holiday Inn in Oklahoma, eating only beef in protest.

Gaining by Leaps and Creeps

As with any legislation, compromise is the secret to getting a proposal passed. In the end, the United Nations decided to create a land survey system with no commitment to measurements or monuments. It will be called “leaps and creeps.” The first order of business by the United Nations after this decision was to write the legal description of its new headquarters facility to be established in New New York. It reads as follows:

Beginning at a point where we all agree; thence in a westerly direction, three and a half smokes (100s); thence in a southerly direction, six hatchet throws; thence South 90º00' 00.000" East 1320.00000 feet, more or less; thence in a northerly direction to the point of beginning, LESS AND EXCEPT any portion thereof claimed by a sovereign nation who does not agree with the rest of us.

Wow, have we come a long way or what?