Will New York City secede from the United States? Well, no, not unless things get really weird. But New York magazine has some fun thinking about it:
If New York were its own country, its army, the New York City Police Department, would be the twentieth-best-funded army in the world, just behind Greece and just ahead of North Korea. Its GDP, $413.9 billion, would be the seventeenth largest, just behind the Russian Federation and just ahead of Switzerland. With more than 8 million residents, it would be more populous than Ireland, Switzerland, or New Zealand; roughly half the countries in the Middle East (including Israel); most of the former republics of the Soviet Union; and all the Scandinavian countries besides Sweden….
The idea of secession has been suggested before, and it has always been dismissed as patently inane. (So now we need passports to go to the Hamptons? How would we get our water, our electricity, our Social Security? Are we supposed to form a navy?) What is interesting, though, is how persistent the fantasy of secession remains in the New York imagination—how intuitively logical it seems, how tantalizing and how real, and how quickly everyone grasps the concept. "It's impossible, but it's not crazy to think about," says Leslie H. Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, "especially given that the city is chronically shortchanged by Washington and Albany and yet still retains financial strength and the great creativity of its citizens."
The article includes pictures of the future city-state's currency (it bears the faces of Woody Allen and Rudy Giuliani), suggests that Bill Clinton could serve as the country's president ("assuming, after eight years of presiding over the Free World, he has the patience to worry about potholes"), and mulls the new government's constitution ("gay marriage would be legal, of course, and shrieking car alarms would command a stiffer penalty than drug possession"). It also turns its attention, briefly, to the perennial proposal that New York City stay in the Union but secede from New York State:
In 1969, Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin ran on a mayoral platform arguing that the city, needing local control of its services and finances, should become the 51st state. The most inspired part of their proposal contended that the city had dibs on the name "New York." The rest of the state, they suggested, should be renamed "Buffalo."
From the other side of the Hudson, the upstate libertarian Bill Kauffman once proposed that New York State secede from New York City. My question: Who gets the suburbs?