Billionaire Spongers and Tax Dodgers Want to Buy Their Own Randian Paradise near Detroit
This just makes me laugh:
A group of “free enterprise” activists have hatched an idea to buy an island park nestled on the Detroit River long the U.S.-Canadian border named Belle Isle from the City of Detroit for $1 Billion. Inspired by the philosophies of Ayn Rand, the chain smoking author who preached the benefits of an anarcho-capitalist free market system while collecting public assistance for her lung cancer, supporters hope to transform the 982 acre island park into a 35,000 person free-market city-state with it’s own laws, currency, customs and tax code.
This idea of a libertarian fantasy island is the brainchild of Ayn Rand enthusiast, Rodney Lockwood, Jr., a developer of government subsidized housing for seniors. Supporters of the plan, most of whom made their fortunes as recipients of corporate welfare from either the state of Michigan and/or the federal government want to buy the island for $1 Billion and claim the concept of the Belle Isle Commonwealth, as it is being named, “champions freedom and opportunity”
The backers of this effort to take a longtime public resource and turn it into a plutocrats’ preserve include a who’s who of wealthy right-wing “rugged individualists” and groups who owe their fortunes, in whole or in part, to taxpayers’ generosity. Among them: former Chrysler President Hal Sperlich, who went with Lee Iacocca to Washington, D.C. in 1979 to beg Jimmy Carter’s White House and the U.S. Congress for a government bailout of $1.5 billion, or nearly $4.8 billion in 2013 dollars; and Clark Durant, co-founder of Detroit’s Cornerstone Schools, a charter school system for students of upscale parents that receives lots of Michigan tax money. Groups involved in the plan include the Koch-funded Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Walmart heirs (who might want to be saving their money instead, as their cash cow has suddenly gone into a tailspin — “total disaster” is the phrase one Walmart VP used in an internal email), Michigan Pyramid Marketing Pioneers, the VanAndel family and of course Lockwood, who is a board member of the Mackinac Center and gets tax subsidies and government loans for his many development projects.
Note, if you will, that these rugged individualists aren’t trying to build a casino-funded paradise from scratch on an old oil rig in international waters, or even take over existing tax-free lawless places like Somalia. Oh, no — they may themselves refuse to pay taxes, but they sure like the developed-world infrastructure that taxes and regulations make possible. So instead, they want to take over an already-existing piece of public property and turn it into their own pleasure dome, no plebians allowed, but with access to existing water, sewer and other public-utility hookups.
But I suspect that even taking over a piece of previously-developed public land may be too much effort for these Galtian demigods, even with Ricky Snyder’s and the Michigan Legislature’s wind filling their sails. These people aren’t innovators, they’re rentiers, and they don’t have the guts or the discipline to follow through on this.