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Jun 16 2013

Another fantasy plan to escape from government

Belle Isle is a 1000-acre island located in the Detroit river between the US and Canada. A developer plans to purchase the island for $1 billion and convert it into a sovereign state that the wealthy from all over the world can come and live in, free from those oppressive taxes that are taken from them and given to the moochers and looters.

Lockwood’s pitch is for a group of wealthy investors to buy the island from Detroit for $1 billion and “build a supercharged community with its own laws, customs, transportation systems, taxation and currency, transforming Belle Isle into the ‘Midwest Tiger,’ rivaling Singapore and Hong Kong as an economic miracle,” according to Lockwood’s website.

The island would then be developed into a city-state of about 35,000 people, complete with “its own laws customs and currency, under United States supervision as a Commonwealth.”

Belle Isle would be founded on the principles of limited government, “exceptional” aesthetics and “respect for all citizens,” Lockwood says. Citizens would be submit themselves to criminal background checks before moving to the island, and once there, would not pay any corporate or income taxes.

Stephen Colbert looks at this and other indulgences of the wealthy.

(This clip aired on February 19, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

10 comments

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  1. 1
    psweet

    The last time someone tried to convert part of the US into a sovereign state, it didn’t end so well.

  2. 2
    kyoseki

    Which begs the question, even if they buy the land from Detroit, how do they expect to declare independence?

    You don’t get to just plant a flag on private property and secede from the United States.

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    I suspect that since it lies in the waterway between the US and Canada, they may make some case for it to be in international waters or some such thing. They will, of course, lose but I think the main goal is for the developer to sucker some people out of their money.

  4. 4
    Cathy W

    Given that Detroit’s City Council wouldn’t even lease it to the State of Michigan so it could be a state park rather than a city park – well, I would have said the island isn’t for sale, but with the emergency manager running the show, I think everything is for sale. I’d like to hope he could get more than $1B for it, though.

  5. 5
    kyoseki

    Well I guess they could try, maybe the idea is just to tie up the case in the courts for as long as possible, maybe try to make it more trouble than it’s worth for the state to keep pursuing it.

    Speaking of international waters though, I was reminded of this:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2024761/Atlas-Shrugged-Silicon-Valley-billionaire-reveals-plan-launch-floating-start-country-coast-San-Francisco.html

    … and I don’t know what’s more cynical, believing that the entire thing is a giant con or that there are enough people out there who could believe that it was actually possible, I guess neither would surprise me.

  6. 6
    Gareth

    Are these people away that the ‘miracle’ of the 4 original Tigers was export based growth? What exactly will this island export?
    Cayman-upon-Detroit would be a more accurate pitch, only without the weather and beaches, there won’t be much to do there.

  7. 7
    Sean (get rid of the imposter block system please)

    You won’t pay any taxes, just rent. Rent is freedom, taxation is tyranny. Any similarities between the dollar amount expended or what happens when you don’t pay is purely coincidental.

    Anyone else expecting the “exceptional” aesthetics will be some kind of Ayn Rand Art Deco nightmare?

  8. 8
    Eristae

    I find two things both hilarious and painful.

    1) That Fox is going off about this golfer threatening to leave/retire when he hasn’t actually done so. It’s as if it doesn’t even matter what he actually does and that words alone are what Fox wants, which clearly can’t be the case. Right?

    2) That this nit of a golfer is saying he would give up his entire paycheck because he doesn’t want to lose part of his paycheck. “Grr, I’m so mad at having only earning 63 million, so I’m going to stop working altogether!”

  9. 9
    Mano Singham

    This is why I was very pleased that Phil Mickleson (the person who made those comments) blew his chance for winning the US Open yesterday on the last day of the tournament. I like it when these greedy and self-centered people encounter such setbacks, though he will still make a bundle.

  10. 10
    richardrobinson

    Your second point always leaves me baffled. It’d be like a poker player turning down a pot he’d won because he believes his opponent should have played his hand more aggressively and the pot therefore “should” be bigger (for whatever self-serving definition of “should” you like.)

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