Charter Cities: or, how James Earl Jones Solved Poverty

Almost every time I see Field of Dreams on, I stop and watch it for awhile.  It was a magical movie growing up.  I didn’t play baseball and I didn’t live on a farm, but there was something so familiar about the whole movie.  Who would have thought that the most famous line from the movie would end up describing a revolutionary idea to end poverty in developing nations?

If you build it, they will come…

Who can forget JEJ’s speech when Kevin Costner’s about to sign away the farm?

While Paul Romer doesn’t have nearly as impressive of a voice as JEJ, he does manage to deliver a moving (and controversial) clarion call with a similar suggestion: If you build it, they will come. Only Romer’s not talking about a baseball field in the middle of the cornfields, he’s talking about brand new, empty cities,  built on uninhabited lands in poor nations, governed by other nations that invite people to come get jobs there.

Romer outlines his idea for lifting millions out of poverty:

Building Charter Cities that

1. are governed by good rules (captured in the charter) multiple nations,

2. offer choices for people (consist of completely voluntary residents and built on uninhabited land) and

3. offer choices for leaders (in the form of joint partnerships between different nations to govern the charter city).

Check out his TED talk for a better description.

P.S.

Romer’s Website is here

and

There’s an intelligent Q & A with Romer via the Freakonomics Blog if you’re interested.

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Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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