The Hudson Institute Discovers Free Cities and asks ‘Why Not Traditional Reform?’
Recently, the blog of the Hudson Institute posted a good write-up of Charter and Free Cities.
However, the author raises an objection commonly aired by people who first learn of the project: that Free Cities would take ‘too much time and effort’ compared to traditional avenues of reform.
But the bitter truth is that vast groups of kind-hearted and intelligent people have spent hundreds of billions of dollars lobbying and propagandizing for various mutually advantageous reforms, and for many decades. Most of these have, and continue to be, immediately stymied by governments — regardless of regime or era.
In the developing world, the hope for serious domestic reform through the ‘democratic process’ is a tragic pipedream. Even beyond the structural problems of democracy that hamper economies, ‘reform’ institutions themselves are often corrupt, and elections are often a sham.
Many legal systems already render appeal to the ‘rule of law’ impossible for the politically weak and the poor. Is it reasonable to expect a street trader in Nairobi or Tunis, destitute, beaten, and extorted daily for merely trading, to combat generations of stagnating political institutions?
Compare this traditional method with the Dubai International Financial Centre, a 110-acre model for Free Cities-style reform, which was conceived only 8 years ago and now is ranked as the 16th most important financial center in the world.
Just which process is a waste of time and effort?