Guest Column

From Brexit to MI-Exit

April 1, 2019
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With the controversy over the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, it begs the question, “What would happen if a state chose to exit the USA?”

The U.K. has a land area of 93,628 square miles and a population of just over 66 million. In comparison, California (163,696 square miles) has almost 40 million people and Texas (268,600 square miles) has 28.3 million people. Either could easily support themselves as separate countries. Both once were independent republics and have threatened to separate from the Union for decades.

Michigan (58,803 square miles) has a population of 10 million, $55,350 median household income, 4.5 percent unemployment, 80.2 percent high school graduation rate, 78.9 percent college graduation rate, and 14.2 percent poverty rate.

Compared to roughly 200 other countries of the world, Michigan’s land area is ranked No. 93 and its population No. 92, just behind Bangladesh and Sweden, respectively.

Among states, Michigan ranks eighth in land area and second in water area.

A MI-Exit?

If Michigan were to secede — in whole or in part — compromise would be required to make it a successful exit.

Much like the mergers and exits we have seen in the Fortune 500 world, there would be some “collateral experiences” among the participants. We can be a much stronger entity without some of the nonperforming assets. We would need to shed a couple of regions in order to be a viable country.

We tend to think Michigan owns the Great Lakes. Not so. The Great Lakes is the single largest resource of fresh water in the entire world, and we share it with seven states and the province of Ontario. We’ll need to negotiate some treaties for riparian rights, but we can figure that out later.

Suggested currency: The “White Pine.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation makes it easy for us by dividing our state into 10 regions. We will focus on three of them.

State of Superior

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan sought secession and independence as the “State of Superior” as recently as the 1970s. The U.P. has 29 percent of the state’s land area with only 3.2 percent of its population. Its median income is $41,450, with 4.1 percent unemployment and a 17.3 percent poverty rate. Its economic drivers are forestry, mining, tourism, shipping and three state universities.

“Yoopers” don’t like us; they call us “trolls” because we live “under the bridge.” They charge us a fee each time we enter or leave while crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

Let them think they can survive on their own. We don’t need them. Let’s sell the whole thing to Wisconsin! (Maybe the U.K. should have considered spinning off Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.)

Suggested currency: The “Yooper.”

Southeast

The southeast part of the state includes Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Its land area is 2,150 square miles (3.7 percent), but it contains 27.5 percent of the population (2,745,376).

The region is smaller than the country of Brunei in area but larger than Latvia in population.

The three counties have a median income of $56,855 and a 15.5 percent poverty rate with economic drivers being automotive and banking headquarters, design and research, insurance and government.

Did you realize these three counties are located north of Canada?

Well, Canada should annex them, much like Russia took Crimea. It can take over the tunnel and 1½ bridges.

Canada needs more people anyway.

Suggested currency: The “Troit.”

West Michigan

The region includes Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa and Newaygo counties.

Its area is 8,163 square miles, representing 13.9 percent and includes 15.8 percent of the population. The median income is $47,250 with a 4.9 percent unemployment rate and 13.5 percent poverty rate. The economic drivers are tourism, manufacturing and agriculture.

West Michigan can control both cross-lake ferries (SS Badger and Lake Express), add a 15 percent surcharge on all non-Michigan plated vehicles and charge a 25 percent tariff on all imported Wisconsin blueberries, cheese and beer.

Suggested currency: The “Fruit,” honoring the region’s strong connection to agriculture.

Is this a bit too large of a bite to swallow? Let’s scale it back a bit. Let’s focus on a more manageable and local scenario. What about just Muskegon, Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties?

MAKO-Exit

MAKO has the bite of a shark! We are a fierce, competitive and hungry region!

With an area of 3,091 square miles, it’s 5.2 percent of the state’s land mass and is home to 1.2 million people. Its median annual income is $54,950 with a 3.6 percent unemployment rate and 12.4 percent poverty rate.

MAKO controls four water intake plants, three shipping ports and a state-of-the-art electrical generating facility.

Its economic drivers include manufacturing, health care, commercial furniture, medical devices, agriculture and food processing.

KO-Exit

Now that we think about it, do we really need Allegan and Muskegon counties?

Let’s be very ambitious! What if Kent and Ottawa counties left and went off completely on their own? It would be a Knock-Out! (Get it?)

KO’s area of 1,670 square miles (2.8 percent) and 925,000 people (9.25 percent), along with a $61,108 median annual income, 2.7 percent unemployment and 11.2 percent poverty rate make it globally competitive!

Thirty countries have smaller land areas and 173 have populations of less than 1 million. Globally, the median annual income is less than $10,000.

KO is home to the three largest privately owned businesses in the state: Meijer, Gordon Foods and Amway.

KO controls three water intake plants, two shipping ports and three power plants, including a state-of-the-art gas-fueled electrical generating facility.

KO has the lowest unemployment and poverty rates in the state.

We can keep our own tax money without giving it to others.

Suggested currency: The “Tulip.”

Can we go it alone?

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world (0.17 square mile and 1,000 population), followed by Monaco (0.85 square mile and 39,000 population) and Lichtenstein (62 square miles and 38,250 population, with a median income of $98,432). Luxembourg is 998 square miles with a population of 594,000 and has a median income of $71,791. We are in good company!

There are many details, of course, but we’ll figure them out and just deal with them as we go along. It’s the same approach as Lansing and D.C. already take, so why change?

On that note, we’ll need some leadership. We have no elected officials, nor a monarchy, kings, queens, princes, princesses or any of that rubbish. We’ll need a constitution, laws and a system to enforce them.

Upon secession, we can appoint our royalty! We already have a “castle” in Grandville at 28th Street and I-196. The capital could be in Georgetown or Jamestown. It will be perfect!

Before you start phoning, sending emails, tweets and unfriendly Facebook notices, please look at your calendar — happy April Fool’s Day!

Mike Dunlap is principal of Michael A. Dunlap & Associates LLC, a business consulting services firm in Holland that focuses on the commercial furniture industry. He has more than 40 years of experience in the industry. Contact him at (616) 786-3524 or mike@mdunlap-associates.com.

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