Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Cities and A Future

He wears his tie and thinks obliquely. I looked up one morning to see the flash of good news upon the horizon. In the heat of Hondouras, a new sun is seen rising.  The private city, the model city, the Regiones Especiales de Desarollo (aka RED), the charter cities will soon be upon us. Honduras will be granting to the MKG group three separate locations[1] to develop new Corporate-States. 

 Nation states are nations of at least several cities or a large land mass, such as Chile or these United States. City states are nations contained within a city, such as Singapore or the Vatican.[2] Corporate city States will soon find their existence renewed in Honduras. The MKG group will soon set up three new cities, in previously under developed regions, with full legal responsibilities. The development, sanitation, law creation, enforcement, property ownership, taxes and services are all the prerogative of the owners of model city. Honduras has done no less then sign away legal authority of these regions to corporate governance with a modicum of oversight.[3] The stated objective of all parties is economic growth and job creation through a mélange of free market policies.

Corporate states are not new, merely forgotten. The colonization of the new world was often through monarchal grants to corporate entities, who would in turn found trading cities. Hong Kong, Jamestown, and Taiwan are good examples. It is interesting to note the discrepancy between locations colonized under British rule and those of other nations in terms of development in the post-colonial era.[4] In general, those managed by British rule have had a higher respect for property rights, in turn leading to increased economic welfare. In the general, these charter cities are different, as the sovereign government of the nation is inviting a separate entity to take over with voluntary economic rational. Where colonization involved the forceful invasion of territory by the newly occupying powers, this is an invitation for a new way of life. Unquestionably there exists objective and moral opposition to the new arrangement, particularly those Hondurans who are to be supplanted. While we see and acknowledge the dark side of this arrangement, it will be interesting to see what will come from it. It is not as if any experiment in human history has been born of perfect surroundings, and the sad reality is these RED locations will not be no different. What should excite all acolytes of liberty are the possibilities of the future. (Click for second half...)

We will expect to see the disruption of the traditional economic cycle of Honduras, as individuals seek the employment these cities will have to offer. Opportunities will be presented in manufacturing, customer service, intellectual development and ultimately expanded education. Within the space of generations, Honduras has the potential to transform from a Central American backwater[5] to a rising economic power. This is far from guaranteed, but the potential for the future is far greater than even a year ago. If this does indeed happen, we may see such developments take place in the developed nations.[6] The most optimistic future would see multitudes of corporate states with the free and voluntary movement of labor and finances between. Several factors can contribute to this future of expanded corporate city-states. First, increasing personal and overall wealth will lead individuals to desire a greater range of freedoms. With that increase in financial power will come companies seeking to serve those demands for a profit, possibly leading to the rise of corporate states. Second, the cards of the economic deck are stacked. The increase in the knowledge economy is joined with an ever accelerating increase in networking and computational power. These trends intersect with increasing growth in interpersonal communications and the expanding growth in urban population.[7] The result is more people in more cities doing more work in digital form born from the creation and collation of knowledge. Cities encourage innovation and become centers for job creation. It is obvious that employees need not be in the same city for successful knowledge development. Innovation and economic growth are compatible with employees in different cities and lifestyles. Third, manufacturing and distribution[8] will continue to become automated, requiring a diminishing number of humans occupied on site to manage production. There runs a joke in modern textiles, the factory employs only a man and a dog. The man is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to keep the man away from the machines.[9] The great industrial cities may become a relic of the past in the developed world, transitioning to a broad and varied manufacturing base wherever business is done. That may be only the beginning.

 Beyond the luminous horizons of this world are the distant ranges of space, beckoning development by entrepreneurial humans and their vast horde of automated machines. While you and I may not exist into this future, the potential for colonization of extra terrestrial lands is bright. The roots of such expansion are unlikely to be found in superfluous government projects, but in these corporate city states of today lie the root of the growth of man beyond this planet Earth.

[6]  Ikea City: “But what might make it seem alien to Brits and North Americans is Ikea’s very active role in the neighbourhood’s life – in large part because the houses will be fully owned by Ikea. In a model that is the norm in Sweden and other parts of continental Europe, but alien to English-speaking countries, this will be an all-rental private neighbourhood, run and overseen by a private company.”

No comments: