Friday, March 20, 2009

The Commonwealth of Flint

Flint Expatriate Rand Simberg has a fascinating blog called Transterrestial Musings that's tackling the idea of shutting down parts of Flint to make the rest of the city economically viable. He's getting some comments from readers who point out that Flint could go a lot further than simply turning parts of the city over to the county.

For example, why not create a commonwealth — like Puerto Rico with bad weather, good hockey, and blander food — in Michigan.
Jim Bennett says:

"This has been discussed in Detroit for a while. I suppose it the area were given back to county jurisdiction there would be no obligation for the county to provide any greater amount of police or fire services than they do to rural areas. Also, in Michigan, any unincorporated part of a county automatically is organized as a township, so there would be some vehicle for providing some governmental services locally.
Rico with bad weather, in Michigan?

"Of course the Federal government could try exempting such areas from federal taxation, which would certainly revive them. That’s been proposed for DC. But that’s probably too radical, so I suppose they’ll just get torched.

"I’ve thought of the idea of taking some of the rapidly depopulating parts of the Great plains and offering them the option of becoming a commonwealth on the model of Puerto Rico. It would require the consent of the states involved, but hey, it would relieve them of a big expenditure obligation. No Senators, no presidential vote, just a non-voting delegate in the House. Still US citizens. But no federal taxes. Like the “buffalo commons” idea, only for libertarians. A 'libertarian commons.'"


  1. Actually, Puerto Rican food isn't particularly spicy. It's actually (literally) quite a white-bread sort of place.

  2. I didn't say it's particularly spicy, but in my opinion it's less bland than your average Michigan fare. But I'm basing all this on restaurants in New York. Never actually been there, myself. But there's no doubt it's not that high on the spicy scale compared to food in other countries.

  3. I think that either Luigi's pizza or a Flint coney island is more spicy than most PR cuisine (I did spend a lot of time there in the nineties)...

  4. Flint should try to replicate the model of Christiania in KobnhÄvn... with the possible addition of well-regulated militias.
    If you're gonna experiment with society, why not use the dirtiest petri dish around?


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at