This is the sort of news story that you think must be some internet BS that should be easily debunked with a little research.
But, as far as I can tell, it’s true. A group of wealthy businessmen are trying to buy Belle Isle from the city of Detroit for $1 billion to create a ‘utopian enclave’. This commonwealth would be a low tax, ‘crime-free’ community without laws. Because we all know that our country’s wealthiest never commit crimes, right?
All of that for the low membership fee of $300,000.
How do we start addressing what’s wrong with this ‘libertarian’ vision for Belle Isle? Essentially, it’s White Flight on steroids. The 1% don’t like paying taxes so they need their own enclave where they can play by their own rules without interference from that pesky government of ours.
The project developers promise ‘spin-off’ investments that would supposedly benefit the city of Detroit. But you know what would really benefit the city of Detroit? Increased revenues. You know how you achieve that? Increase the city’s population. Bring more people in to live and work in Detroit. Make it an economic hub once more.
The sort of mindset that inspires this sort of deranged vision has no conception of what communitarian responsibility even means. What kind of society are you living in that it costs $300,000 to belong to at the same time that you set up shop next door to the most violent and one of the poorest communities in the entire United States? You can’t toss your scraps across the river and claim to be actively invested in Detroit’s well-being.
I realize that there is a fundamental political difference that separates my vision of society from the developers who are pushing for this Belle Isle enclave. The sort of ideology that lies behind this project says, in blunt terms, “I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m a self-made man. I worked hard all my life for my money and I don’t want to get taxed to death by the government. If only other people worked harder, they could have everything I’ve got. It’s not my fault that other people lack initiative.” That’s the idea in blunt terms. But no one lives in a vacuum. Somewhere along the line, you’ve gotten help from someone else whether it be your family or – God forbid – the government. Fortunes generally aren’t made solely on the hard work and initiative of a single person or even a group of people.
It’s in the interest of the very wealthy to have a large working class and a healthy middle class. Without a sizable working class, who is going to answer your phones? Who is going to make your latte at Starbucks? Who is going to check you out at Wal-Mart? Not all of us have been replaced by robots just yet, so in the meanwhile, our working class is still pretty essential. It’s also in the interest of the 1% to have a large middle class to buy their products. So I love it when I hear this whole spiel about how a little hard work and initiative is the only thing standing in the way of my fortune. I’m not complaining, personally. I’m pretty well off. And besides, you need me. You need me to buy cars from you, to buy computers from you, to buy books, CDs, coffee, food or whatever else it might be. So don’t act like you’re so great all on your own. You need us, too.
I would very simply like to suggest that it’s hypocritical of these very wealthy individuals to propose tax free enclaves when they already have so much. Yeah, I’ve heard it said that we need the wealthy because private enterprise means jobs. We need wealthy individuals to use their private capital to start businesses. I get it.
But it’s ironic that these same libertarian-leaning individuals, who so often decry the lack of responsibility on the part of our government for its deficit spending, so often connive to find ways to dodge taxes themselves. We not only need wealthy individuals to help create jobs, we also need them to pay their fair share so that we can have a strong education system, so that we can fund infrastructure, so that we can pay for military spending and pay off this debt we’ve accrued.
So of course there is a balance that we need to strike between respecting our obligations towards one another – which I very strongly believe in – and also allowing private enterprise to function without excessive taxation.
This BS vision for Belle Isle crosses the line. It violates our communitarian obligation to support our society – the same society which supports businesses like Chrysler and Cafe d’Mongo in Detroit whose former presidents and owners are pushing this idea. What’s your vision for this great country? Do you want to 1% to continue drifting off to sea with their off-shore bank accounts and tax-free enclaves while the rest of us work for, proportionally speaking, less and less? When you need your own island wedged in between Canada and the United States to protect yourself from taxes, you’re neglecting the very country that helped make you great.
I’m all in favor of you creating your own personal libertarian enclave. But only if you build your own cabin in northern Quebec with trees that you cut down yourself while wearing clothes that you sewed and raising your own crops and animals to slaughter yourself.
Until then, I’m tired of the very wealthy behaving so irresponsibly.