Moving the overton window

We all joked and laughed at the armed compound the Tea Party are trying to get going, but here’s some Serious Thinkers on the Right and they have a plan for a model city-state.

Detroit, Michigan:

a developer is stepping forward with a revolutionary idea: Sell the city’s Belle Isle park for $1 billion to private investors who will transform it into a free-market utopia. The 982-acre island would then be developed into a U.S. commonwealth or city-state of 35,000 people with its own laws, customs and currency.
City officials are likely to reject the plan. But on Jan. 21, supporters including Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior economist David Littmann, retired Chrysler President Hal Sperlich and Clark Durant, co-founder of Detroit’s Cornerstone Schools, will present the Commonwealth of Belle Isle plan to a select group of movers and shakers at the tony Detroit Athletic Club. The idea won’t go anywhere, said George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the quasi-public agency that promotes development for the city.

Here’s the scenario for the Commonwealth of Belle Isle that Lockwood and others want to see: Private investors buy the island from a near-bankrupt Detroit for $1 billion. It then would secede from Michigan to become a semi-independent commonwealth like Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system. There is no personal or corporate income tax. Much of the tax base would be provided by a different property tax — one based on the value of the land and not the value of the property.
It would take $300,000 to become a “Belle Islander,” though 20 percent of citizenships would be open for striving immigrants, starving artists and up-and-coming entrepreneurs who don’t meet the financial requirement..

I highlighted Northern Mariana Islands and the “striving immigrants” provision because reading the plan this came to mind immediately:

Forget the freebie trips across the Atlantic and the Pacific. Forget the casinos and the allegedly illicit contributions — they represent only degrees of avarice. To grasp the moral bankruptcy of the public Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, you only have to know about Frank Murkowski and Saipan…
But as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Frank Murkowski became furious at the abusive sweatshop conditions endured by workers, overwhelmingly immigrants, in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, of which Saipan is the capital. Because they were produced in a territory of the United States, garments traveled tariff-free and quota-free to the profitable U.S. market and were entitled to display the coveted “Made in the USA” label.
Moved by the sworn testimony of U.S. officials and human-rights advocates that the 91 percent of the workforce who were immigrants — from China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage and were forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing, work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, without any of the legal protections U.S. workers are guaranteed, Murkowski wrote a bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas. But one man primarily stopped the U.S. House from even considering that worker-reform bill: then-House Republican Whip Tom DeLay. According to law firm records recently made public, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, paid millions to stop reform and keep the status quo, met personally at least two dozen times with DeLay on the subject in one two-year period. The DeLay staff was often in daily contact with Abramoff.

This is not Glenn Beck, folks. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a (supposedly) respected far-Right think tank. Cornerstone Schools are a publicly funded privatized charter school chain. These conservative thinkers are proposing setting up some kind of free-market paradise sweatshop city-state. This idea is probably not going to happen (not yet, anyway!) but what the hell goes on around those think tank roundtables on the Right? I get the feeling the 47% comments were just the tip of the iceburg. Can you imagine how they talk about the rest of us inside the Mackinac Center? Too, do we really want to put these guys in charge of public schools?

143 replies
  1. 1
    eric says:

    so, what sort of police force will they be using to keep the ruffians out? No 2nd amendment rights for you mother fuckers.

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Ah, yes. The striving immigrants. Perfect targets for exploitation.

  3. 3
    Citizen Alan says:

    It is increasingly terrifying to me to realize that some of the most powerful and influential people in this nation actually hate every decent thing America stands for more intently than anyone in Al-Qaida ever could.

  4. 4

    I saw this story last week. I love the idea of Tea Partiers trying to put their own private gun range-a-paloozaville on PUBLIC PROPERTY. Fucking idiots.

    In related news, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, but maybe it’s just me. Would like to see some real scholarship on this: Some Accidental Shootings Are More Accidental Than Others.

  5. 5
    David Hunt says:

    This is trouble. I’m not sure that how we’re supposed to stop OCP from turning Detroit (or part of it, anyway) into Delta City without Robocop’s help.

    Seriously, this is one of those “History repeating itself first as tragedy then as farce” situations. Normally, these guys seem to be working from Orwell, but now they’re going to late 80s/early 90s bad action movies. Ugh

  6. 6

    @eric:

    If they pull this off, I’m setting up a fleet of privateers for the sole purpose of raiding Belle Isle…

  7. 7

    By the way, this idea of taxation based on land value is, I think, the same thing Henry George proposed way back when, no? I know a lot of social justice types who have advocated this kind of tax as being more fair and equitable than our current system. I’m a little surprised this is something the Libertoonians would embrace. But maybe it’s not the same thing.

  8. 8
    sharl says:

    I’d been seeing mentions of this here and there; the details make it even creepier. And I’m amazed that they would allude to the Northern Marianas, given what is known about what happened there.

    Dunno whether you’re aware of it, but this was once (and maybe still is) on your fellow blogger Dennis G’s beat, as were so many of the schemes in which Jack Abramoff was once involved.

    These scumbags never go away…

  9. 9
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    This assumes that the state of Michigan would be willing to walk away from a thousand acres of primo real estate. Not gonna happen.

    This also assumes that you can secede from a state. I don’t think that’s possible.

    Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system. There is no personal or corporate income tax.

    Just noticed this part. They talk about seceding from Michigan, but that’s not what they’re actually proposing. They’re actually proposing seceding from America.

  10. 10
    SatanicPanic says:

    So an island version of The Citadel then?

  11. 11
    Ruckus says:

    What Citizen Alan said.

    Too, do we really want to put these guys in charge of public schools?

    They shouldn’t be in charge of cleaning out the stalls at a stable, they’d even fuck that up.

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: I’m in.

  13. 13
    being released says:

    I always wonder who’s going to clean the toilets in the these free-market utopias.

  14. 14
    c u n d gulag says:

    “…though 20 percent of citizenships would be open for striving immigrants, starving artists…”

    Well, in all fairness to the Wannabe Galts, someone’s got to take care of their kids, drive them to private schools, and clean their mansions.

    And who’s going to mix their martini’s, cook and serve them them their sushi, creme de brulee, and Starbucks, and then bus the tables?

    And who better than 2nd class “citizens?”

    LOL!
    How much anyone wanna bet this place, if it’s ever built, will be less like “Atlas Shrugged,” and more like, “Lord of the Flies.”

  15. 15
    Kristine says:

    Wasn’t there a plan for a similar compound off the coast of Central America? IIIRC, the plans for that one went off the rails.

  16. 16
    different-church-lady says:

    Give the grifters 900 acres and separate them from a billion dollars of their money? If it’s a cash deal, I say do it. You’ll be getting it all back when the entire enterprise goes into receivership in 5 years. It’ll be the economic version of that thing they’re building in Idaho, except instead of shooting each other, they’ll be picking each others’ pockets.

  17. 17
    22over7 says:

    @being released:

    Those would be the striving immigrants highlighted above.

  18. 18
    General Stuck says:

    If worse comes to worse, we can call it a wingnut museum and charge the people a dollar and a half just to see em’

  19. 19
    Mr. Longform says:

    So, how many striving immigrants do I get for my $300K?

  20. 20
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    And nice signs at the bridges: “No Negroes After Sundown.”

  21. 21
    japa21 says:

    Okay, there is one bridge going to the island from Detroit. No other access except by boat. So, let them have the island and once everybody is on it, destroy the bridge. If they want easy access into Detroit, let them build a new bridge. Oh, and toll the hell out of the S O B s.

  22. 22
    mdblanche says:

    So these people want to set up a crappy country… smaller than Delaware… bordering Michigan… conveniently located to attract striving immigrants from Detroit…

    I’m guessing they also want a dime-store Doctor Doom for their leader.

  23. 23
    David in NY says:

    That’s so nuts …

  24. 24
    Mudge says:

    Read about Peter Thiel’s sea-steads.

    http://theweek.com/article/ind.....res-utopia

    with John’s opinion

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....no-really/

    Very similar. One thing to note. This would be a perfect place for a rich US citizen to move to avoid all US taxes, yet not be stuck in the Cayman Islands.

    Be very skeptical.

  25. 25
    Suffern ACE says:

    @c u n d gulag: I’m thinking more like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Logan’s Run, where the police effort is kept on the population size and running off people who might need collective services.

    Look, there’s no poor people here on our island where it costs 300,000 to buy citizenship! Look at how propserous we are…

  26. 26
    Linnaeus says:

    As much as I doubt that this plan will actually come to fruition, it does illustrate one of my worries about what’s happening (and what will happen) in Detroit as the area tries to remake itself and address the very real challenges that exist. Do things have to change? Sure. But I’m worried about shock doctrine-like policies being enacted in Detroit – there are enough people around with money that would like nothing more than to take advantage of Detroit’s distress, wipe away any kind of social safety net, public authority, etc. and turn it into Corpro-topia.

  27. 27
    different-church-lady says:

    @japa21: Well, the Canadians to the south could factor in to that strategy.

  28. 28
    Linnaeus says:

    @being released:

    I always wonder who’s going to clean the toilets in the these free-market utopias.

    Reminds me of that line from Bioshock (paraphrased): “They were all gonna be captains of industry, but they forgot that someone has to clean the toilets.”

  29. 29
    Gravenstone says:

    @japa21: Make it a directional toll; $2 to reach the island, $200 to leave.

  30. 30
    catclub says:

    @different-church-lady: If they are willing to offer $1B then the price just went up to $4B. repeat as necessary.

    Make sure to get the payment in gold.

  31. 31
    japa21 says:

    @different-church-lady: I doubt if Canada would want to build a bridge. Plus the whole hassle of having to produce a passport all the time.

  32. 32
    Haydnseek says:

    @being released: Why, it will be the blahs of course, but once they’re unchained from from the bonds of soshulism, they will be free to spend their nearly non-existent free time attending dress for success seminars and prosperity gospel services. I anticipate no problems whatsoever arising from the abundance of modern firearms within arms reach of the “help,” should they be so bold as to venture into milady’s boudoir.

  33. 33
    Sophist says:

    “Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system.”

    This is, of course, a load of arrant bullshit. This will be no more of a laboratory for proving the worth of libertarian nonsense that any other Gated community. What it will be is parasitical community of people that take advantage of the benefits of being in the United States without paying any of the freight.

    Now, if we were to build a WALL around the whole thing and see what happens when these folks are actually cut off from the support networks they decry as hindrances, then we might learn something worth knowing…

  34. 34
    Ohio Mom says:

    The Yiddish word “chutzpah” is usually described as the characteristic of someone who murders his parents and then asks the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. But after reading this scheme, I think the definition needs updating.

  35. 35
    chopper says:

    @22over7:

    looks like someone read ‘Atlas Shrugged II: One Hour Later’

  36. 36
    Joel says:

    Mackinac is where Up With People is from, right?

  37. 37
    dmsilev says:

    I say we do it, then once the Galtians are safely ensconced we blow the bridges and introduce ice sharks (with, of course, laser beams on their heads) into the surrounding waters. And automated anti-aircraft cannon surrounding the place.

    How long until they resort to cannibalism?

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    There is one sure way to deal with these neo-feudalist assholes.

    Tumbrel rides.

  39. 39
    Johannes says:

    Belle Isle? Really? Didn’t work out for Fouquet or Porthos, either, as I recall.

    Galatian supermen so seldom get their references right.

  40. 40
    roc says:

    It’s a distraction.

    They’re getting everyone whipped up over it ‘going away’ entirely, so they can appear to pare that down in the name of ‘compromise’ to a simple sweet-heart lease for all the desirable land with some clause that they’ll maintain a (tiny) public park.

  41. 41
    Roger Moore says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    And who’s going to mix their martini’s, cook and serve them them their sushi, creme de brulee, and Starbucks, and then bus the tables?

    They’ll mostly commute from the mainland and won’t be allowed to live there. The exception will be the live-in servants like sex slaves nannies.

    Also, too, I’m willing to bet that the exempt themselves from environmental laws. Is there any reason on earth that their neighbors should let them sit out there on their island and dump untreated sewage and industrial waste into the lake?

  42. 42
    different-church-lady says:

    @catclub: Brilliant. You are now my commerce secretary.

  43. 43
    Keith G says:

    So are they thinking that they can wish away all applicable federal law on everything from labor and health to the environment? How?

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sophist:

    What it will be is parasitical community of people that take advantage of the benefits of being in the United States without paying any of the freight.

    Which makes it exactly the same as every other libertarian scheme to “prove” their ideology works.

    As I’ve always said, I’ll take libertarianism seriously as a governing philosophy when someone is able to set a community up in the middle of the desert and build their own infrastructure from scratch. When you declare yourself a “libertarian” while mooching off 400 years of existing infrastructure, you’re doing it wrong.

  45. 45

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Which, to be fair, I’m fine with their secession, in so long as the US government then sealed off the city and all of the Galtian geniuses inside.

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    It would take $300,000 to become a “Belle Islander,” though 20 percent of citizenships would be open for striving immigrants, starving artists and up-and-coming entrepreneurs who don’t meet the financial requirement..

    For a moment I thought “only 20% of the population to take care of the other 80?” But then I saw that the 20 percent would be “starving artists and up-and-coming entrepreneurs,” not a working underclass, just entrepreneurs-to-be to go along with the already-entrepreneurs…

    … so, they’re trying to build an entire society of nothing but 1%ers (okay, maybe 10%ers), with no working class at all? Nobody to clean the floors, pick up the trash, drive the buses, fix the shit that breaks down? Jesus, is there even a middle class in this utopia? How the fuck’s that going to work?

    And this is what pisses me off about people saying that everyone needs to be Bill Gates. Not everyone can be Bill Gates, you dumbass silver-spoon motherfuckers. As you’ll find out when you try to build a society out of nothing but Bill Gateses.

  47. 47
    Cermet says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: And both acts are illegal; they forget we fought a civil war ion this issue. Become a separate country/territory from an existing US State … boy, these ass wipes need to return to their mother’s basement and jerk off to porn like they normally do. Are people really that stupid to suggest what is so obviously illegal? This is what passes for teabaggers? Looks like our education system in the 50’s was more a joke than today’s worse schools – form a separate entity from an existing State – god, the joke these people have become!

  48. 48
    Bulworth says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Oh, that’s the next Constitutional Amendment to be sought by Teabagger Nation Party.

  49. 49
    trollhattan says:

    What’s the trebuchet range limit armed with cowpies? Because I have a contest idea….

  50. 50
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Sophist: If you read about the history of Los Angeles, that’s basically all they’re proposing here. It’s really easy to incorporate in LA county, so there’s dozens of tiny, pointless cities scattered around so residents (industrial or otherwise) can get tax breaks. It makes the whole metropolis an ungovernable mess. That’s a feature though, I’m sure.

  51. 51
    NonyNony says:

    @Keith G:

    So are they thinking that they can wish away all applicable federal law on everything from labor and health to the environment? How?

    No, look. This is just standard wingnut post-election fantasy material, but for rich people.

    Liberals lose elections, they start fantasizing about moving to Europe or to Canada. Wingnuts lose elections, they start fantasizing about secession. Wingnuts with money lose elections, they start fantasizing about secession that isn’t really secession so they don’t have to deal with the lost business ties that real secession would bring about.

    At worst this is wingnut fantasy. At best, this is wingnut fantasy that will separate some very rich people from lots and lots of money into the hands of some grifters (and thereby remove it from the pool of money to be spent on actually enacting political change). Secession fantasies are not going to happen – we fought that war over a hundred and fifty years ago and the secession side lost hard then – it’s not going to be any better now.

  52. 52
    different-church-lady says:

    @Chris: This is precisely why I want them to go ahead and do it: it would prove how blind and vacant their conception of the world is once and for all.

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:

    I would rather the wingnuts work out their angst with utopian right wing fantasies like this. It is much healthier than shutting down the federal government, and the like. If it gets really bad, maybe Obama can issue a executive order commissioning a free supply of Prozac for registered republicans. With an official scroll informing them that King Obama loves all his subjects, even their crazy asses.

  54. 54
    Chris says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    No no no. The Citadel is for rubes and peckerwoods. This is for Job Creators.

  55. 55
    superfly says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: Can we wear Viking helmets and play “Immigrant Song” over loud speakers, just for fun?

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    It’s really easy to incorporate in LA county, so there’s dozens of tiny, pointless cities scattered around so residents (industrial or otherwise) can get tax breaks.

    At least they still have to pay federal, state, and county taxes, though. These guys are trying to skip out on everything.

  57. 57
    Jon says:

    @David Hunt: This. I read this and thought “Robocop”

  58. 58
    Valdivia says:

    This reminds me of the charter city experiment in Honduras. Also envisioned by a famous economist and promoted through a TED talk. Good summary via This American Life

    They are moving the window world-wide. Idiots.

  59. 59
    22over7 says:

    @trollhattan:

    Best reality show idea EVER.

  60. 60

    @superfly:

    Sounds like a plan, but in true privateer fashion, every vessel is free to have their own rules….

  61. 61
    JCR says:

    HELP! Can one of you kind people contact Anne Laurie for me about the dog bleg–the email link no workee for me b/c my Outlook is disabled. Please tell her to check out my comment at the end of the dog bleg thread–I want to adopt!

  62. 62
    japa21 says:

    They say they want their own currency. Who would accept their currency and who would determine the exchange rate?

  63. 63
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Is there any reason on earth that their neighbors should let them sit out there on their island and dump untreated sewage and industrial waste into the lake?

    No, and I think an armed intervention would be the best way to resolve it.

    These people have their fantasies that are totally disconnected from reality. They’re going nowhere with this moronic plan that cannot work in the real world, only in the pages of a shitty novel or on the celluloid of a shitty movie…where reality is carefully excluded from view, for fear of damaging the aesthetic.

  64. 64

    If you can’t own the people outright, then do whatever you can to own everything else around them.

    The end result is essentially the same.

  65. 65

    @Chris:

    I’ve been having this same argument with the idiots in the education system that insist that everyone must be college bound and everyone must have a four year degree. Fine what happens when your Eutopian dream is realized, where are all these college graduates going to live? (because they won’t be building the houses or the roads to get to them), what are they going to eat? (because they won’t be growing and processing the food), what are they going to wear? (cause they won’t be making and selling the clothes). It is truly idiotic and yet some so called “smart” people are basing education policy on it.

  66. 66
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Scam.

  67. 67
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    It is increasingly terrifying to me to realize that some of the most powerful and influential people in this nation actually hate every decent thing America stands for more intently than anyone in Al-Qaida ever could.

    That’s not what terrifies me most. It’s that they’re still held up as the paragons of American virtue and goodness and everything right.

  68. 68
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: I’m sure whoever founded City of Industry, City of Commerce, etc., would have done that too, if they could have got away with it. Not that these island guys are going to have any success. Sea-steading is their only real hope for the True Libertarian Homeland.

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    @japa21:

    They say they want their own currency. Who would accept their currency and who would determine the exchange rate?

    That’s the part that I love. They’re all such flag-waving America-lovers yet they can’t wait to get away from us :)

    Face it. They loathe us.

  70. 70
    muddy says:

    @superfly: I loved that.

  71. 71
    Chris says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    Actually, I’ve had the opposite experience with a couple conservatives I know, telling me for all the world as if this were some new, deep revelation they just had “look, we need to realize that not everyone can go to college!”

    Well, yes, indeed, we do realize that, but we’re also coming into a work force where the decimation of unions, income and the welfare state has made it much, much less attractive to try for a blue collar living. I’m not speaking for myself because I would’ve gone to college (international relations) regardless, but I think there’s a ton of people in my generation who see their choices as “go to college, join the military, or risk getting stuck in a shitty career that’ll never pay you enough for a decent middle class existence.”

  72. 72
    bemused says:

    If they want their own realm, they could just pool some of their spare change together and buy Somalia.

  73. 73
    Chris says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    That and the fact that they have the power to hurt the rest of us to a degree that would make al-Qaeda drool with envy. And every intention of using that power for exactly that purpose.

  74. 74
    Kay says:

    You can’t buy one of the 300k shares in their new country if you have a criminal record, so the intellectual father of this idea, Tom Delay, would be barred.

  75. 75
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    I am having a boner-generating idea and it involves what used to be termed “privateering”.

    If it’s not America, and I go over there and…liberate some expensive items, then it’s not a crime here, just there, right?

  76. 76
    BethanyAnne says:

    They could call it Rapture

  77. 77
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Linnaeus: Negroes and Mexicans… but only during daylight hours.

  78. 78
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:
    My feeling is that the founders of Commerce, Industry, etc. took advantage of a loophole in California law, but because they are still required to pay taxes and follow other California laws they’re really in a different category. That’s not to say that this kind of thing is a good idea; Vernon shows just how corrupt things can get.

  79. 79
    danielx says:

    I’m thinking menial services to be provided by ‘guest workers’, sort of like Turkish people in Germany except with fewer rights. Originally I was thinking in terms of a sunset town, except that some of these people would undoubtedly require aid to wipe their own asses so some limited number of proles would have to be permitted to reside in servants’ quarters. Speaking of which, are they going to build their own hospital, nursing homes, airport, etc?

  80. 80
    kindness says:

    What is it about reichtwingnutz that they think they can get away from us that easy? Morans.

  81. 81
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Certified Mutant Enemy: What chaps my hide is how entitled these fuckers are, in the assumption they will be protected from foreign powers or privateers by the nation they want to succeeded from.

    Fucking rich asshole parasites.

    I want to see these high-and-mighty moochers learn what the Vikings taught people about the downsides of ‘limited government’ and ‘accessible by boat’.

  82. 82

    @Chris:

    Baby steps. What you say is true but I know many car mechanics and plumbers who are making a good living. I am a huge fan of vocational education. Our local community college does a good job of providing two year courses for anything from auto mechanics to hairdresser to vet tech.

  83. 83
    Ohio Mom says:

    Thinking more about the fact that one of these three clowns is a charter school founder, the whole thing shows that the goal of the people behind the charter schools movement was never to improve education, it was always to reshape society along the lines of their undemocratic (to say the least) vision.

  84. 84
    Mike G says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    It’s really easy to incorporate in LA county, so there’s dozens of tiny, pointless cities scattered around so residents (industrial or otherwise) can get tax breaks.

    It also enables shenanigans like the tiny city of Bell, where councilmembers were paying themselves over $100k while the city manager and chief of police were making hundreds of thousands a year, more than their City of Los Angeles counterparts.

  85. 85
    Kay says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    I thought that was frightening too. That’s what happens when you let people buy their way into public school policy-making. He couldn’t get elected, but man, he’s got a LOT of say over public policy in Michigan! He bought it.

  86. 86
    Pooh says:

    I refuse to believe there was ever a scenario where Frank wore the white hat.

  87. 87
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Just wait until the Canadians invade them Grenda-style and they end up citizens of a soshulist northern aggressor.

  88. 88
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but I think the impulse is similar.

  89. 89
    Roger Moore says:

    @japa21:

    They say they want their own currency. Who would accept their currency and who would determine the exchange rate?

    I’m sure the idea is to use GOOOLLLDDDD for their currency, in which case they should have a relatively easy time getting it accepted and the exchange rate will be set by the invisible hand of the free market. Assuming, of course, that it really is gold coins and not some attempt to just use a gold-backed paper currency.

  90. 90
    nastybrutishntall says:

    Gary Shteyngart is the Nostradamus of this very shit. Just finished that book last night, so this is just hilariously terrifying. I picked the wrong century to stop sniffing glue.

  91. 91

    There is only one bridge to this island. Let them have it and then we can blow up the bridge from the Detroit side.

  92. 92
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Mike G: In one of LA’s poorest communities no less. The city manager made somethign like $1.5 million a year in salary + benefits.

    Rizzo remained unapologetic about his salary and said, “If that’s a number people choke on, maybe I’m in the wrong business … I could go into private business and make that kind of money. This council has compensated me for the job I’ve done.”

    Spoken like a true Galtian!

  93. 93
    rikyrah says:

    keep on exposing them, Kay. thank you for telling us about them

  94. 94
    Roger Moore says:

    @nastybrutishntall:

    Gary Shteyngart is the Nostradamus of the Free-Market parceling of the former United States.

    I think he was a little bit late to the game. At the very least, Neil Stephenson got there a couple of decades earlier.

  95. 95
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Ah, but that’s college too, ain’t it?

    Okay, okay– actually, I agree– everyone needs some post-secondary education, whether its the community college or if its an apprenticeship program. Your basic high-school education just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  96. 96
    Poopyman says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Depends on what treaties they had with the US. And seeing how bad they tend to fuck things up I doubt they’d think of treaties.

    So yeah, go ahead. Knock yourself out.

  97. 97
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @Linnaeus: @being released:
    There’s also the classic from Bob the Angry Flower: Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later

    http://angryflower.com/atlass.gif

  98. 98
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Didn’t this sort of scenario happen in Iraq when a female contractor was raped by her co-workers? IIRC, there was no legal remedy, no way to bring charges.

  99. 99
    jprfrog says:

    I grew up in Detroit and knew Belle Isle well. (I also worked there — Detroit — for a while as an adult.) The island divides the river and is barely in the US (Windsor, Canada is on the other side, but there is no access from there. Belle Isle is connected to the city by a single bridge (named after Douglas MacArthur although very few Detroiters know that) and would depend on the mainland for everything: power, food, water (don’t try to drink from the river!). There is nothing there now but a tiny zoo and a decrepit casino (if those still exist at all). The idea is ridiculous unless someone is willing to sink many, many millions into it…and then would own most of its rights. Not a free-market utopia but a bought-and-paid-for despotism is the more likely scenario.

    But anyway…who has the right to secede on a 980-acre parcel of undeveloped land in the middle of a major commercial waterway? The Detroit River, really a strait, is a choke point between Chicago, Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Duluth to the world through the St. Lawrence Seaway. I doubt that any big player or government would be happy to see an independent “cork” sitting in that bottleneck.

    If any place would be better off seceding, I’d bet on where I live now: New York, New York. At least we should be a state of our own.

  100. 100
    rea says:

    Note that Belle Isle has been a public park since the 1880s and was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the famous landscape designer who also designed Central Park in NYC. Oh, but by all means, let’s give it away to a bunch of rich people for their personal fantasies.

  101. 101
    West Oa says:

    “someone is able to set a community up in the middle of the desert and build their own infrastructure from scratch.”

    Never been to burning man, have you?

    Bad example.

  102. 102
    Jay C says:

    I think the basic tell for the proposed “Commonwealth” is in this para:

    Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system. There is no personal or corporate income tax. Much of the tax base would be provided by a different property tax — one based on the value of the land and not the value of the property.

    This whole plan just screamed “tax dodge” at me the first time I saw it: leaving aside the high-minded faux-Randian BS, it sounds to me more like these clowns are trying to set up a sort of North American Liechtenstein or Monaco (though without the scenery) where various plutocrats can cough up $300K, buy a condo in the “Commonwealth of Belle Isle”, then “relocate” themselves and their businesses there to avoid US taxes. One has to wonder what sort of residency requirements they would put on their well-heeled “citizens”? Two weeks a year, like some Florida timeshare?

    Selling off a City park for development is one thing, and probably, for a city like Detroit, not an unthinkable notion (disclaimer: I have no idea whatsoever how Belle Isle is sited wrt Detroit proper, or how well-used it is): however, the bogosity of floating the notion of a secessionoid “Commonwealth”, i.e. a combination sweatshop/duty-free zone/taxhaven is pretty ludicrous.

    So It’s no wonder it would be seriously promoted by a right-wing think tank….

  103. 103
    Hungry Joe says:

    Coming soon: “Escape from Belle Isle.” I hope Snake Pliskin’s tattoo hasn’t faded too much.

  104. 104
    kc says:

    I might consider supporting that if we banned any immigration or travel from the libertarian utopia to the U.S., and in fact shot border-crossers on sight.

  105. 105
    R-Jud says:

    Cornerstone Schools are a publicly funded privatized charter school chain.

    Also “Christ-centered”, according to their website. There’s also a Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI that started as a seminary, but I can’t see an obvious link between the two other than overt Evangelical Christianism and the name.

    I imagine the local Catholic schools are p.o.’d that these guys are getting public money and they’re not.

  106. 106
    West Oakland original says:

    “someone is able to set a community up in the middle of the desert and build their own infrastructure from scratch.”

    Never been to burning man, have you? Lots of liberals, social libertarians, and even a fair number of gun nuts. (Guns are not allowed at the event, but it’s BLM land, so you can go plinking pretty much any other time out there.)

    Bad example.

  107. 107
    nastybrutishntall says:

    @Roger Moore: touché! Though, to be fair, Shteyngart’s book is the best literary satire of American culture in all its banal terror in the past couple years, so he gets my props. SSTLS is like an Orwell iPhone app, an ADHD abattoir. I’m thrillingly depressed!

  108. 108
    different-church-lady says:

    @rea:

    Oh, but by all means, let’s give it away to a bunch of rich people for their personal fantasies.

    A billion dollars isn’t “giving it away”. For that kind of money we ought to be able to clone Olmsted and let him go nuts on another park.

    Then again, as pointed out by my commerce secretary earlier, the selling price has gone up to 4 billion.

    ETA: By the way, I’m quite certain the idea that they’d be “de-public-ing” a public park is, to these assholes, a not insignificant part of the appeal.

  109. 109
    Jay C says:

    Why is my comment #100 in moderation?
    Is “Liechtenstein” a FYWP trigger now??

  110. 110
    charon says:

    Internal Revenue Service calling.

    Guys – either give up your U.S. citizenship, or pay the IRS for any income – unless you can claim Foreign Tax Credit – in which case, you still pay tax, just to someone else.

    I know, I’ve worked overseas.

  111. 111
    Closeted epistemic (formerly Lojasmo) says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko:

    And nice signs at the bridges: “No Negroes After Sundown.”

    Fixt.

  112. 112
    redshirt says:

    I’d like to throw John Galt out the muthafuckin’ Overton Window.

  113. 113
    stormhit says:

    Given the astoundingly incompetent city council can’t even agree on the entirely positive proposal to lease the park to the state for refurbishment and maintenance, there’s not really any chance of them agreeing to sell it.

  114. 114
    RossinDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Late to this party. Can’t believe this is Belle Isle plan actually being taken seriously, so maybe it’s not. Perhaps it’s a trial balloon floated to gauge reaction to something less extreme. Because if it’s not, it’s fucking insane.

  115. 115

    Also “Christ-centered”, according to their website.

    Jesus Christ gave up His business and His home to go and minister to people who were rejected by the “Makers” of His day.

    So I’d really like to know how you can have a “Christ-centered” education that doesn’t involve at least spending a part of your day doing charity work for the poor.

  116. 116
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @West Oakland original:

    BM is a bunch of affluent bay area tech types who *think* they are roughing it, but are the beneficiaries of civilization. did they make their own acid or MDMA? do Burners have their own factories where they built their own MBPs they used to design their arduino light displays and stuff?

  117. 117
    Marshall says:

    I don’t think these people are fit to take out the trash; it’s conmen and grifters all the way down.

  118. 118
    PurpleGirl says:

    @being released: The Striving Immigrants. Who else?

  119. 119
    Jay C says:

    @Kristine:

    Wasn’t there a plan for a similar compound off the coast of Central America? IIIRC, the plans for that one went off the rails.

    Yes, in Honduras, where the Big Idea Plan was to create a bunch of new “free cities” along the coast. Free, that is, of Honduran (or for that matter, anybody’s) authority or control.

    Even in Honduras, this was too much for their Supreme Court, who ruled that giving away the shop to unaccountable foreigners was unconstitutional.

    Too bad, So sad…..

  120. 120
    Jennifer says:

    It occurs to me that setting up a society in which 80% of the citizens had ready access to $300,000 in assets isn’t much of an experiment for democracy for the rest of the country. Of course you can get by without social services and lots else when 80% of the citizenry has this level of wealth. If this experiment is intended to prove that society is more peaceful and unburdened by excessive legislation and regulation when all the people in it have their basic needs covered, well, duh, no shit Sherlock, and also too: major argument FAIL because your premise argues for the very opposite of your conclusion.

    The other thing that I don’t think they’ve taken into account is the producer/drone ratio. On Downton Abbey, there is a respectable 2 – 2.5 ratio of drones to wealthy toffs. Things break down when the toffs have to share drones to lord it over. Every Galt Islander will have to compete with four others for opportunities to humiliate even a single drone, and you just can’t have the undivided attention you crave and deserve as a Galtian Master if there are four other Galtian Masters horning in on your turf constantly. As tensions build over the competition for drone-humiliation rights, the whole thing will degenerate into a Lord of the Flies scenario.

    Hey…maybe they’ll let us set up cameras all over the place and make a reality show out of it…

  121. 121
    lumpkin says:

    This looks like a good idea to me, given the following conditions + more that I can’t think of:

    They have to satisfy all existing property rights claims that currently exist on the island at whatever price the current owners demand.

    They act as a sovereign state, which means that they get zero help from US military and law enforcement. and really – ZERO

    They have to negotiate for the right to use our waterways and roads. And, since they won’t do anything to build or maintain those routes, they will have to pay the full cost of their part, every year in perpetuity.

    All of their citizens need passports to enter the US.

    The US can set the exchange rate on their currency at whatever level we wish.

    All economic transactions from their borders to ours are subject to whatever taxes, limitations and tariffs we choose.

    If they engage in activities that are detrimental to the interests of the US, they will be held accountable – like hiding money, trafficking in arms, smuggling, etc.

    etc, etc, etc.And finally – if they ever need help, like because the lake rises due to global warming or there is a disease or weather disaster, something like that – they can go fuck their libertarian selves really hard, just like John did to Dagny, but even more libertarianish this time because they won’t have to share the experience with anyone else.

  122. 122
    PurpleGirl says:

    @West Oa:

    I’ve not been to Burning Man but I’ve heard of it and even contributed some materials to NYC artists who were doing a project at BM a few years back.

    It’s my understanding that BM is not a permanent settlement, it’s temporary and they bring every thing in and take it out again when the festival is over. Therefore it is not a counter argument.

  123. 123

    They’re going after the wrong island. They should go downstream a couple of miles to Fighting Island and take their stand there. See what Ontario has to say about that…

  124. 124
    mclaren says:

    Free market utopia, huh?

    I think they’ve already got that in the areas of Detroit that have returned to wild grassland, where there are no streetlights and the police no longer patrol.

    Ah, yes…Somalia on Lake Erie…what a concept. Serial killers and rapists will flock to it from all over the country…

  125. 125
    Mnemosyne says:

    @West Oa:

    Never been to burning man, have you?

    Really, Burning Man is a permanent community that has its own sewer system, power stations, police department and fire department?

    Setting up in the desert for a week isn’t building a functioning city where people live year-round. It’s camping.

  126. 126
    magurakurin says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    me thinks y’all didn’t read the last line.

    Bad example.

    must. adjust…snark….me-ter…ah! That’s better.;)

  127. 127
    liberal says:

    Much of the tax base would be provided by a different property tax — one based on the value of the land and not the value of the property.

    Actually, I didn’t think they’d be smart enough to do that. Looks like they got one thing right.

  128. 128
    El Cid says:

    If this thing manages to go through in any form whatsoever, the locals and state will end up being on the hook for astounding amounts of costs when it all ends up as usual — the grifters got what they got and check out, and the chumps are looking around asking wha happen, and it’s either clean up the remaining mess on the tab of the good, lower-income, fewer-jobs public or suffer whatever blights have been left.

  129. 129
    Mnemosyne says:

    @magurakurin:

    I think s/he meant that my example was a bad example, but I’m not sure, since the same comment was posted twice with no follow-up.

  130. 130
    mainmati says:

    Isn’t this some sort of real estate scheme dressed up as a “free market” paradise?

  131. 131
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: I also took it that she was saying your example of building in the desert was a bad example because there are people who do Burning Man.

    That is why I said that Burning Man was an not a counterargument. Burning Man is not permanent and the “settlement” such as it is is intended to be temporary. See my comment at #122.

  132. 132
    Short Bus Bully says:

    Bullshit. All of it.

    Tax haven dressed up as ideology. Isn’t that what Libertarianism is actually all about when you get down to brass tacks?

    Does anyone believe for a fucking second that any of these rich fucks would LIVE on that island?

    Tax Dodge from beginning to end.

  133. 133
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Short Bus Bully: I wonder if the sale documents can have resident requirements — say that the residents have to live half the year there as their primary residence. (I have to live half the year as my primary residence to keep my non-profit co-op.)

  134. 134
    mclaren says:

    @Linnaeus:

    Bingo! This is Naomi Wolf’s Shock Doctrine in its purest form. Let cannibalistic c(r)apitalism run wild until the jobs are gone and the storefronts are empty and the populace impoverished…then swoop in and buy up the empty storefronts and devalued property for a penny on the dollar and enact “special emergency legislation” that gets rid of things like the minimum wage, the usury rate, prohibitions against indentured servitude, und so weiter.

    Then move in the population of rich people who want to be able to legally own nubile young slaves and watch spiffy live gladiator games. Sweatshops blossom like genital warts on a porn star’s crotch, and the economy has been so devastated that even so, people swarm to beg for the 10-cent-per-hour jobs…

  135. 135
    Robert Leard says:

    Holy shit! You’ve got to be kidding me!

  136. 136
    Gretchen says:

    When I was a teen in Detroit we used to love going to Belle Isle on weekend afternoons. Now the poors shouldn’t even have parks to go to when they’re not working? I guess that’s no more shockin than thining they shouldn’t have schools or health care.

  137. 137
    Ramalama says:

    This reminds me of a scientist friend of mine who moved to the UAE. He told me there was talk – don’t know how far the talk went – about how Abu Dhabi being interested in a green society – energy efficient and all – was taking a look at investing in Detroit in making a green city from the bottom up. What, with the city hitting a rough patch and there being a huge Arab-American population.

    I don’t know if this idea is still being bandied about but it would be a really interesting juxtaposition for an Arab spring to … spring in Detroit .. all within spitting distance of Valley of the Dolls, or Lord of the Flies.

  138. 138
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Unlike most would-be Galtian paradises, this one might actually work. They would just have to allow in enough second-class citizens and or day committed to do the actual work.

    My understanding is that none of the people who work in Aspen can afford to live there. This would just be more of the same, but without those pesky laws about how you have to treat the serfs.

  139. 139
    magurakurin says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    my bad. long dead thread, but, cheers.

  140. 140
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @stormhit: You think the Detroit city council is disfunctional, ’till you see how the government of this new utopia functions.

    I say Detroit should fleece them of their billions and let the federal government re-seize the land, because we don’t allow secession. It’ll be a fine lesson for them.

  141. 141
    patrick says:

    here in MI the Mackinac Center is known to most moderate/liberal people with at least a passing understanding of statewide politics as a wingnut factory, not a respected think tank.

  142. 142
    shep says:

    Hal Sperlich (and Jack Welch)…!!??

    These people are icons of capitalism. I swear the country is being run by lunatic psychopaths. Real, certifiable, lunatic psychopaths.

  143. 143
    Nancy Irving says:

    Ayn Rand may not have realized it, but these guys know that even in Galt’s Arcadia you need someone to clean the pool and mix the Margaritas.

Comments are closed.