Some World Thoughts
One of my heroes is Thomas Jefferson. He was far ahead of his time, in science and government. At age 33, he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which laid the foundation for the United States. He was later ambassador to France, and a two-time US president. But the great thing about Jefferson was that he was an original thinker, and thought 'big'. His purchase of the 'Louisiana Territory' from France must rank as the greatest purchase in American history. The Louisiana Territory was not just Louisiana, but what is now 17 states, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. It doubled the size of the United States, and opened the way west, to California and elsewhere. (He also got part of Canada thrown in, but gave that back to the British.)
In 1803, Jefferson sent James Monroe to negotiate with Napoleon Bonaparte in France, but the plan was to just buy New Orleans for $10 million, to provide the US with access to the gulf. Let's imagine that their conversation was taking place today...
Ring ring. "Yeah, Thomas Jefferson".
"Hi Tom. Jim Monroe here. Listen I'm in France with this Napoleon guy. You won't believe the deal he's offering us now!"
"D'you mean less than ten million bucks for New Orleans?"
"He says we can have the whole of their Louisiana territory for fifteen million bucks! That's about 827,000 square miles, or less than three cents an acre."
"Way. We'll be able to fit into that - oh, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, most of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, part of Montana, Wyoming, most of Colorado, and Louisiana - including New Orleans. He says he'll throw in part of Canada, too."
"Nice one, eh! Hey, I always thought Napoleon was some kind of schmuck. I'm just dumbfounded. Well, tell him we'll take that deal!"
"It will double our size, and get the French out of North America, too! Later, Tom."
"Great talking to you, Jim. Email me!"
Adjusted for inflation, Thomas Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory would cost $390 billion in today's dollars. That's about $771 per acre. The land included in the Louisiana Purchase comprises 22% of the territory of the modern United States.
Governments today don't often think 'big' like Thomas Jefferson, though we did annex Texas, and added Hawaii and Alaska to the US in recent years. Thinking along those lines, here are a couple of original ideas:
The Baja peninsula, Mexico, is physically connected more closely to California and the US than it is to Mexico. It is far bigger than Florida, and like Florida it has a sunny western and eastern coastline, and terrific weather. Perhaps we should consider buying Baja from Mexico, and adding it to the US? Make it a new state, called Baja California. Do you think the residents of Baja would like to be part of the US? They might sell it for a dollar. The advantages to everyone would be:
America would gain thousands of miles of beautiful new oceanfront land.
The residents of Baja would automatically become US citizens, greatly reducing the illegal immigration pressure on California.
Landowners in Baja would see a big boom in property values.
There would be a massive boom in California, US, and Mexican business, as new roads, hotels, resorts, businesses and hospitals were built in Baja. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs would be created, both in Baja California and the rest of the US.
Americans could freely move to and vacation in the new state of Baja California.
Baja California is already two Mexican states - Baja California Norte, the northern part of the peninsula, and Baja California Sur, the southern part, divided at the 28th parallel. So we might conveniently make them into two new US states - North Baja (NB) and South Baja (SB). This follows the example of North Dakota (ND) and South Dakota (SD).
You don't think we can make new states? Texas was annexed to the US in 1845 by James Polk. A third of it was sold in 1850 for $10 million, to form part of what is now Colorado and New Mexico. Hawaii and Alaska were added to the US as recently as 1959. Puerto Rico is heading towards becoming our 51st state right now. So maybe having 52 or 53 states is not impossible?
In 1987, Britain returned Hong Kong to China. It was not necessary for Margaret Thatcher's government to do that - Britain owned most of Hong Kong 'in perpetuity'. I believe they behaved poorly towards the people of Hong Kong, who were never asked their opinion about their return to China. Hong Kong island was ceded to Britain by China in 1842. In 1860, China gave Britain a 'perpetual lease' on the Kowloon peninsula. Together, these areas form most of what we now consider 'Hong Kong'. In 1898, Britain took out a 99 year lease on the New Territories, and it was the end of this lease that prompted Britain to give up Hong Kong.
It's too late to change anything now, but maybe Britain should have kept Hong Kong, and gave the Chinese Northern Ireland instead? Pretty funny idea, eh? But consider the advantages:
Northern Ireland has been a thorn in Britain's side for many years - they have no idea what to do with it.
The good people of Northern Ireland may be a bit surprised to find that they are now part of China, but wait a moment and let's see where this might lead..
Northern Ireland would become China's bridgehead into Europe. All international Chinese companies would want to set up in Northern Ireland, and so would all of the European companies who wanted to do business with the Chinese.
The people of Northern Ireland would not have to speak Chinese, just as you don't have to speak Chinese to live in Hong Kong.
Northern Ireland would become an important financial center, and property values would rocket.
Britain would get to keep Hong Kong.
They are just like us...
The Pope has a 'specially engraved' white Ipod. (Wall St Journal)
Princess Di's mom works at Harrods in London, at sales time, in the men's shirt department. (W magazine)
The Queen loves to look at houses. She says that when out driving with Philip, "If we see a house we like the look of, Philip will just drive the car up the drive. I get so embarrassed, I have to duck down and hide!" (The Times)