The Detroit we are now used to reading about in architectural and urban planning journals and websites is seen as a utopia of urban farming or as a city that, from the ruins of industrial capitalism, has the potential of realizing some progressive urban concept that would never see the light of day in a prosperous city. But we on the left are not the only dreamers. Some dreamers on the right see in the ruins of Detroit (the decaying Belle Isle park—a 982-acre island) a neoliberal utopia...
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.
Among the citizenship requirements are a command of the English language, a good credit rating and no criminal record. Mogk adds that such a scenario would make the island "a drain of talent and resources" at the expense of Detroit.
The 20 percent—artists, immigrants, and entrepreneurs—being the fertilizer for this isolated neoliberal elite.