Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More on the Mechanics of Handling the Breakdown

Here is an intriguing talk by Paul Romer on his efforts to establish "charter cities" in impoverished nations. If the folks over at Elliott Wave International have the wave count correct, that category of nation will soon include nearly every country on earth.

The Atlantic has an in-depth article on this as well:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty
by Sebastian Mallaby, The Atlantic
...Elegant, bespectacled, geekishly curious in a boyish way, Romer is not the kind of person you might picture armed with a two-handed flanged mace, cutting down Slavic marauders. But he is bent on cutting down an adversary almost as resistant: the conventional approach to development in poor countries. Rather than betting that aid dollars can beat poverty, Romer is peddling a radical vision: that dysfunctional nations can kick-start their own development by creating new cities with new rules—L├╝beck-style centers of progress that Romer calls “charter cities.” By building urban oases of technocratic sanity, struggling nations could attract investment and jobs; private capital would flood in and foreign aid would not be needed. And since Henry the Lion is not on hand to establish these new cities, Romer looks to the chief source of legitimate coercion that exists today—the governments that preside over the world’s more successful countries. To launch new charter cities, he says, poor countries should lease chunks of territory to enlightened foreign powers, which would take charge as though presiding over some imperial protectorate. Romer’s prescription is not merely neo-medieval, in other words. It is also neo-colonial...

This is the exciting part of the coming collapse. There will moments, when the chaos looks to be at its worst or the poverty to be so deep and vast that seemingly nothing can reverse the fall, that hard decisions made by strong leaders will shape the recovery to come. Who knows what the political and social landscape will look like when we start rebuilding, but charter cities could certainly be a part of that solution.

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