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New Free Market Haven for Island Off Detroit?

By: Fergus Hodgson - @FergHodgson - Jul 29, 2013, 9:24 pm

Belle Isle CommonwealthDetroit has been in the news lately, and for all the wrong reasons. What if there were a creative solution, however, that would both turn the city around quickly and offer a free market haven for those who want one?

That is precisely the topic of the book and project known as the Commonwealth of Belle (Belle Isle: Detroit’s Game Changer). A group of investors, led by Rod Lockwood, would like to buy Belle Isle, a small island off Detroit, for $1 billion and turn it into a commonwealth with sovereignty similar to that of Puerto Rico. Potential residents could buy a share of the island as well in exchange for citizenship.

Rod Lockwood, after appearing on the John Stossel show (below), accepted an exclusive interview with the PanAmerican Post. In particular, he shares the status of the project in relation to the bankruptcy of Detroit.

While he is not making a written offer at this time, he is working hard to promote the idea, given a few years of bankruptcy proceedings to play with.

“The first step we need to take to make this vision a reality is to gain the political support of Detroiters,” he says. “If they’re not on board with this idea, it’s just not going to happen.”

He believes it is in their interest, given the employment and economic stimulus the idea offers, and he is attending town halls on the matter. People would also need to march on Washington, D.C., since a commonwealth, independent from the state of Michigan and largely independent from the federal government, would need congressional approval.

He sees the burden of the federal government — “the onerous laws and taxation” — as even more problematic than that of Michigan. In his proposal, by comparison, there would be no system of entitlements, only a charitable, private safety net.

“The combined federal, state, and local taxes in the nation [are] about 42 percent of Gross Domestic Product. . . Our ratio of spending to GDP would be about 10 percent or even less. And that 42 to 10 percent difference is what would make Belle Isle very very attractive to capital, both domestic and foreign.”

Fergus Hodgson Fergus Hodgson

Fergus Hodgson was the founding editor in chief of the PanAm Post, up until January 2016, and he now studies finance at Tulane University in Louisiana and Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala. Originally from New Zealand, he has also lived in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, and the United States. Follow @FergHodgson and his Facebook page.