Techdirt Podcast Episode 206: Charter Cities & Innovative Governance

from the new-ideas dept

We're pretty optimistic about innovation here at Techdirt, but it isn't an automatic good thing all by itself: implementation and intention matters, and that means political entanglements and complicated questions about governance, and that calls for big, new ideas. This week, we're joined by Tamara Winter from the Center for Innovative Governance Research to discuss new experiments in government like charter cities and special autonomous zones.

Also, learn more about Shenzhen, the Val D'Europe, and the original vision for Disney World.

Follow the Techdirt Podcast on Soundcloud, subscribe via iTunes or Google Play, or grab the RSS feed. You can also keep up with all the latest episodes right here on Techdirt.

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Filed Under: charter cities, governance, government, podcast, tamara winter

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 3 Apr 2019 @ 12:42pm

    This is one of the most disturbing podcasts I've seen Techdirt do.

    The idea of having a town with a "CEO" in charge, administered by a publicly-traded, for-profit entity, is not actually anything new. They were a common enough thing in the USA in the 19th century, known as "company towns," and rather than lifting people out of poverty, they quickly garnered a well-earned reputation as poverty traps to keep people trapped in poverty and limit both their opportunities for economic advancement and their ability to leave.

    The ideas put forth about providing for the rule of law and making better opportunities for entrepreneurs are great, but Tamara Winter loses all credibility the second she brings up the IMF and the World Bank as "legitimate stakeholders" in the process of trying to make this scenario less dystopian. They have a long history of using their financial leverage to encourage exactly the sort of dystopian abuses that we're trying to avoid here. (Just look at the World Bank's role in the water privatization fiasco in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for one of the best-known examples.)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2019 @ 2:32pm


      I think that one of Techdirt's biggest flaws is their willingness to give anything that they see as "innovation" or "innovative" a ludicrously wide berth. The manner in which Techdirt uses "innovation" as a defense for the words and actions of certain corporations and individuals often mirrors the talking points of pro-ISP think tanks who say that we'll miss out on all the amazing "innovations" that ISPs will pull out of thin air if they're subject to Net Neutrality regulations. "Listen, guys, these social media corporations who've shown time and time again that they value ad revenue and your data more than anything else in the world and have lied repeatedly? They're just doing a bad job, is all; nothing more and nothing less, and we should simply ask them to do better. But we should only use sternly-worded emails and Medium articles to voice our discontent. Actually applying any sort of regulation on them that would take them to task for their repeated lies and malicious behavior? That would harm innovation! And you don't want to harm the absolutely wonderful wonders of technological innovation, do you?"

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  • icon
    fairuse (profile), 4 Apr 2019 @ 10:07am

    rebranding "Company Town" or Wishful Thinking

    I have to say I don't know enough to say much. I'll say Columbia Maryland exists due to Disney's vision. I lived and worked there - place drove me crazy.

    My family knows first hand about how coal mining towns strip the community bare with their "rule of law". i have to take everything said in this 'cast as more IMF interference in how communities should be designed. Grain-of-salt is where I am until I look deeper.

    Not saying the idea is a nonstarter. Government.

    Thanks for the information.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2019 @ 10:23am

    Eutopia not Utopia

    Utopia is the idea of city built on (an) ideal(s).

    Eutopia is a successful but flawed execution of that idea.

    Dystopia is a failed execution of that same idea.

    Make of this what you will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2019 @ 12:00pm

    Why charter cities won't work long term.

    Because most charter cities never reach the point of sustainability where there is more keeping the city functioning than a single industry.

    Because it's "best practices" of publicly traded companies that are being sought to be used to build them. In case you forgot one of these best practices is to either have several very rich traders own most of the stock of a company or to have traders pump and dump the stock of a publicly traded company to make more profit.

    Because most people who work in commercial sectors aren't focused on long term and will let short term gain drive the development of most of these cities which will result in new versions of boom towns and after that new versions of ghost towns.

    Because at the end of the day Silicone Valley only worked because there was an oversupply of workforce willing to crunch for peanuts just for the opportunity to work in their dream job.

    Because Disneyland works on high quality corporate branding and enough skill in stewardship of such places that they are not dumpster fires.


    Charter Cities as a whole are a bad, inefficient idea invented by corporations so they could spin more money in the air.

    Unfuck the laws for work and for penalty collection and the economy and the city structure will improve.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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