TED Conversations

Bernd Fesel

Deputy Director, European Centre for Creative Economy - ECCE

TEDCRED 30+

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City or National Policy: What is more important to rescue the economy?

Mark Raymond explained the poles within a city: the social programm and its immaterial infrastructures on the one side, the economic process and its material icons like shopping malls or shiny harbor renovations on the other hand.

However these conflicts are brought to a solution on the local level - every day in thousands of cities - and leading to growing cities and wealth. Despite all short comings cities are still the economic success story.

In our current 100 year economic crisis shouldn´t the cities be financed with Billions of Euros - instead of companies and banks. Aren´t cities the best policy tools to solve unemployment and housing crisis - much more than tax credits or investment schemes on federal level? Why not give all empty houses to temporary city ownership - in order to re-distribute them to demand?

Does our democracy need to gives cities, as mini-democracies, more rights against federal exploitation? In Germany f.e. the federal government can make social laws and burden the costs to cities - which can not act against this effectively. So many cities are bankrupt while the federal budget "seems" ballanced.

Marks talk is to me a spark to re-thinking not only the architecture of cities, but the architecture of our policy system between local and national?!

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    Mar 27 2012: What I got from Mr. Raymond's descriptions of the influence of architecture was the emphasis on quality of life vs. economic resourcefulness. Our democratic governments, both local and national, seem to be more driven by the reverse, and that both quality and econ resourcefulness are two sides of the same coin. The city/country relationship is so symbiotic that I'm not sure they can be separated into separate concerns. The country is the body-politic, the city is a member. Maybe only increased regard, clarity of identity, and devotion to the overall health of all concerned in both camps is the answer. But that takes reasonability and the absense of political special interest, doesn't it?
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    Mar 24 2012: The workable solution is to keep the money at the local level, the problems come from centralized power. How come? because of the disconnect in accountability and ignorance of local situations. An example would be when Boris Yeltsin visited a U.S. supermarket in 1989 and was shocked at the variety readily available this is the difference between top down and bottom up.

    As far as the cities solving housing and employment problems, NO that is a terrible idea. If you understand why no explanation is necessary, if not no explanation is possible.
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      Mar 25 2012: Hi Pat - I like your harshness like "if not no explanation is possible" as a rhetoric figure. So my stylish anwser is:

      In Germany, Norway, Sweden and many other countries it works perfect; unemployment down to 3-4%. if you don´t know, .......

      (Yeltsin was probably shocked to see more russian wodka in an US supermarket than in Russia..)
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        Mar 25 2012: Bernd

        So you are saying in "Germany, Norway, Sweden and many other countries" top down works perfectly?

        I contend that the culture of these countries are atypical. And that anytime you are talking about Socialism you are talking about borrowing from the future.

        I would guess that Vodka was one commodity that they kept well stocked.
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      Mar 25 2012: In Germany cities are run by a local parliament elected every 4 years - no honorair for the local politicians; it is all voluntarily. the admininstrational leaders of the economic, planning, cultural asf.. departments are elected by the city parliament every 4 years as well.

      Our concern in Germany ist not corruption in the city, but rather that competent mangers and skilled experts are not running for the local parliament under these conditions - incompetence is more the issue.

      grassroots are not strong in implementing govt policies - they rather engage against official policy in green energy or minority rights. in germany last year 2.000 persons demonstrated against banks and subsidies, motivated by the US occupy movement - first time ever I can remember in 30 years.