In 1977, the little town of Kinney in the northeast corner of Minnesota was suffering through growing pains. Its population had swelled to 325 people, and its water system needed to be replaced. Kinney’s City Council couldn’t find the $186,000 USD necessary to rebuild the system, and its requests to state and federal agencies fell on deaf ears. Then the town's leaders came up with a brilliant, if unconventional, plan: Secede from the United States in order to apply for "foreign aid."
The residents of Kinney put themselves on the map when they notified U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance of their plans to secede. The so-called "Republic of Kinney" garnered national and international attention, including a bit on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. The ploy ultimately goaded the state of Minnesota into forking over the funds to replace the water system. “People laughed about it,” a long-time resident said, “but we got what we wanted.”
Helping those in need:
- The townspeople of Kinney enthusiastically approved of the secession. They produced 1,600 new passports granting visitors access to the town's borders (along with a free slice of cake and cup of coffee), created a naval force (with only one canoe), and basically played along with the idea.
- Although some individuals criticize the amount of money the U.S spends on foreign aid, the truth is that foreign aid makes up only about one percent of the average federal budget.
- In 2017, the United States spent about $50 billion USD on foreign aid. Hundreds of countries received help, but the largest recipients were Middle Eastern nations helping the U.S. to fight terrorism, and countries with critical health care needs.