05 August 2009

Can City-States Save the Third World?


Paul Romer (via A Thousand Nations) describes a system of "Charter Cities" distributed about the third world, modeled after Hong Kong and Singapore. These chartered city-states would be "in the third world but not of the third world." In other words, the rule of law and economic dynamism in these city-states would provide an environment of living and choice distinctly different from the squalid and corrupt living conditions currently prominent across the third world.

In fact there is a Charter Cities blog that provides much more information about this topic. If you are interested in the concept of city-states and how cities drive the economies of the world, check out the blog and the video above.

Trying to save the third world is well and good. But at this time, the first world itself is in a quite precarious position. Demographically, the populations that fueled the rapid improvement of living conditions in the developed world are shrinking. Social programs that are dependent upon large numbers of younger generation taxpayers appear to be losing their financial support. Educational systems that once provided vital grist for the mills of progress, have been corrupted into special interest bureaucracies of indoctrination. Vital resources that should be invested in future technologies and industries are being squandered on phantom crises created from fudged data and faulty models.

If the vital core of the developed world is to survive current suicidal tendencies by the majority of its citizens, it may well need to learn some vital lessons from the charter cities movement. For example, what type of "charter" would protect a city from being carried away in a lemming's rush by all too frequent "popular delusions and madness of crowds"? Such chaotic fads and fashions of disaster and quasi-suicide are all too frequent.

Romer's vision of saving the third world with charter cities is bold and courageous in comparison to the dieoff.orgiasts of the left who dominate large parts of the developed world's governmental, academic, and media infrastructures. It is a vision worth observing to see what comes of it. But it contains elements of wisdom that first worlders could learn from in their own planning for the future.

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