Cities

Books on cities present a view of how future economies will be organized. The following two books in particular see through today’s international chaos and give the reader a glimpse past the event horizon, where nations and corporations will be disassembled and brought back from the world of “too big to fail.”
The Metropolitan Revolution, How Cities and Metros are fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile economy. Katz and Bradley, Brookings Institution Press, ISBN: 978-0-8157-2151-2

An uplifting read that exposes a new energy in cities that are going broke under the current Federal system. The key attributes for cities are planning for the future instead of the election cycle, finding local funding outside the Federal structure and cooperation between political parties, major institutions and unions.

Chapter 7, Toward a Global Network of Trading cities, expresses a rise in city power and economy. What we tend not be aware of is that cities, particularly in China, India and Brazil, are exploding in population, are centers of commerce, and have assets that make them independent of national monetary policy. Increases in international trade will make cities independent leaders in GDP.

In the United States, not a population powerhouse, cities like Denver, New York and regional agreements in Ohio are taking the lead in a sociological revamping of what a city means to its citizens. Citizens are willing to raise taxes to pay for infrastructural improvement. Denver, a complex group of smaller cities, has the largest public transit project in the country. Large cities in the US go abroad to increase trade without the help of the Federal Government and, largely, not even their own states.

If Mayors Ruled the World, Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Benjamin R. Barber, Yale University Press, ISBN: 9780300164671

This is another book about the emerging role of cities in ways that displace national and international relationships. Barber poses the question, “Is the nation-state, once democracy’s best hope today democratically dysfunctional? Obsolete?” The answer, says Benjamin Barber in this provocative book, is yes. Barber says cities and the mayors who run them can do and are doing a better job.   He says cities worldwide share pragmatism, civic trust, participation, indifference to borders and sovereignty, and a democratic penchant for networking, creativity, innovation, and cooperation. Throughout the book, Barber demonstrates how city mayors, singly and jointly, are responding to transnational problems more effectively than nation-states mired in ideological infighting and sovereign rivalries.

The mix of growing population in cities around the world, including the US, the fact that “the buck stops here,” with respect to day-to-day operations, and an ability to generate income through trade with different nations, make cities the political and economic power for the future.

The danger for social justice issues lies in the independent nature of cities. There are important objectives for national governments: sustained democracy, human rights, equitable income for workers, health practices and safety.

The mariner has mentioned before that a trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries called The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) attempts to override all precedents associated with the above list. TPP is a dangerous “trade” agreement and should be vetted publically. At the moment, the President is trying to fast track the agreement, which essentially takes Congress, media and citizen opinion out of the picture. TPP is the exact opposite of the national role needed for the future.

Ancient Mariner

Leave a Reply