In last week's issue of New York Press, Christopher Ketcham offers an entertaining look at why New York City should secede from the United States. He writes:
Money—who's making it, who's taking it—has always been and always will be the only argument for American rebellion; it was the predicate for the original New World secession from the English empire in 1775. If taxation without representation was the complaint then, it remains the rub today. Mayor Bloomberg's office claims that New York City sends as much as $11.4 billion more to Congress than it receives in services. The current hacks in the White House opt—among many other indignities—to blow our prodigious revenue on the occupation of Iraq, which as of May 2004 had cost New Yorkers $2.1 billion. The darker burden, of mortal consequence, is the vast terrorist recruitment the war has spawned, with New York—dense, vital—still the most coveted target.
After bashing Abraham Lincoln for awhile, he describes an evening of describing his plan to bar patrons in Brooklyn about why the city should secede.
I offered that New York would be a kind of Hong Kong off darkened China—a money mecca, but also a hub of trade, books, news, movies, advertising, art, fashion and free-thinking. Why, I asked, should New Yorkers, galvanite forces of growth and creativity, remain the fleeced animals of a corrupt regime 200 miles away that wastes our wages and workforce in a criminal war?
I noted that New York City poses a threat to no one, that we'd have no army or navy or air force, that we'd have no territorial designs. Hence, no foreign power, aside from the United States of America, would ever bother to invade us, and that if the U.S.A. ever tried it we'd have the twentieth-best-funded army in the world, the NYPD, to oppose the invaders, not to mention millions of able-bodied men in our heavily armed enclaves (Bed-Stuy would make Fallujah look fun). The Free Republic of Gotham would be the Switzerland of America: peace-loving, gorgeous for business (our GDP, $414.1 billion, would stand at almost twice that of the Swiss Republic).
Yet there resides a higher law, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence. This is the moral law that says that governments "are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." No one in my Brooklyn bar understood the concept. The patrons cried out, "But I'm an American! We're Americans!" Things went badly.
After escorting myself into the night, I understood that a New York City secession movement is hopeless. People aren't ready for it. Yet I can't help but think of what Tom Paine wrote in his explosive pamphlet, Common Sense, in 1776: "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."
Once walked through Bedford Stuy alone.