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Undercutting the Nation State? Chicago Group Suggests ‘Global Cities’ Should Run World Affairs

Mark Anderson
TRUTH HOUND

CHICAGO, Ill. – The “Disruptive Forces Changing Cities,” program, conducted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs Sept. 15, was a textbook case of an elite organization pursuing a tightly planned, dictatorial society—while sounding like it’s seeking a democratic, promising vision of fairness and prosperity for all.

It’s all being spearheaded in accordance with the growing “global cities” movement that gradually challenges the authority of the very nation-states that the world’s primary cities inhabit.

This approach, according to several CCGA-aligned think tanks, journalists and others supporting the Global Parliament of Mayors and similar groupings, amounts to a direct challenge to national authority, in order to usurp some of the key powers delegated to national governments by their charters and constitutions.

Since this movement chisels away at the constitutional foundations of nations, it risks undermining them in a way that would redraw the lines of governance, in a manner that’s highly unpredictable, and potentially radical and unlawful. The policy areas over which cities want to assume much more influence (and, ultimately, exert control) include battling climate change, regulating immigration in order to increase it while providing sanctuary cities, along with sparking job growth and several other things—even including the seemingly improbable realm of foreign policy, where you’d think mayors would not tread.

The CCGA’s latest program Sept. 15, held on-the-record at the organization’s conference center in the Prudential Building on Randolph Street, was a continuation of many of the themes covered in early June 2016 and June 2017 at the CCGA’s annual all-day Forum on Global Cities. The keynote speaker Sept. 15 was Amy Liu, who’s Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Washington D.C.’s Brookings Institution.

She’s considered “a national expert on cities and metropolitan areas adept at translating research and insights into action on the ground. As director of Brookings Metro, which Liu co-founded in 1996, she pioneered the program’s signature approach to policy and practice, which uses rigorous research to inform strategies for economic growth and opportunity,” a CCGA representative said while introducing Liu in Chicago.

Prior to her Brookings work, Liu was Special Assistant to [U.S. Housing and Urban Development] Secretary Henry Cisneros and staffed the U.S. Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs. She holds a Northwestern University degree in social policy and urban studies.

Her remarks were promoted via the CCGA website with statements like, “Cities are increasingly driving the global economy” but “numerous disruptive forces . . . threaten to deepen inequality and economic exclusion, unless cities adapt and evolve.”

And while Liu spoke of the choices that municipal leaders will need to make, in order to give their workforces access to basic things like skills, (and to “foster innovation and entrepreneurship,” while “deepening regional connections”) the key to understanding her message is discerning what she and the CCGA mean by “global forces of disruption.”

To address such matters, Liu spoke solo and then collaborated with CCGA moderator Niamh King, who, prior to joining the CCGA, worked for the European Commission and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, among several other posts.

Liu began her talk by saying she wants cities to be “vibrant” places to work and live, but due to America’s current national discourse under President Trump, “we are turning our backs on climate change, on the poor and the working class” while also betraying “our values as a nation of immigrants.” Moreover, “people of all races and religions” are being neglected under this national discourse.

“So rather than take us backwards, the nation needs our cities to move us forward,” Liu carefully stated, presenting a thinly-veiled claim that the nation-state, especially a more nationalist one, represents a barrier to what internationalist-oriented cities can do.

Thus, the world’s cities, in essence, need to run their nations, she implied. Accordingly, she called for a future that’s “hyper-global, more digital, more urban, more multi-racial and multi-ethnic.”

But her concern is that “these very same forces of progress can also be great sources of division.” Technology, for example, creates opportunities for some “but destroys it for others,” favoring the highly-skilled while abandoning those who cannot keep pace.

To combat such disparities, Liu stressed that local leaders need to build “inclusive” local and regional economies “that radically adapt to disruption and future-proof our cities.”  Citing her Brookings work, she said cities therefore should pursue three goals: “Growth, prosperity and inclusion.”

That, she added, means “quality growth of good jobs” to seek better prosperity, but to achieve this inclusion, the benefits, especially in terms of better incomes, must accrue to all members of the community, “closing disparities by race and by place.”

She also said that 63 U.S. metro areas out of 100 experienced economic growth and job hikes between 2010 and 2015, according to Brookings research. But several cities only saw growth in lesser-quality jobs, while only eight made significant economic progress in inclusion “for whites and people of color.”

Liu also stressed, “The nation’s economic growth is not felt by most people . . . as a whole the bottom 50% of income-earners, the middle class, the working class, the poor, have made no ground. So the bulk of the nation’s income gains have accrued to the top earners.” From this, she concluded that it’s up to the cities to bridge these gaps and solve the problems.

Liu then cited “historic policies and attitudes” that she feels have “held us back” in tackling such inequities. Accordingly, at this point, she delved into “the disruptive forces facing cities” and “how city leaders can adapt to disruption.”

DOUBLE-SPEAK DETECTED

Ironically, Liu spoke of these disruptive forces, which are mainly macroeconomic in nature, as if they’re akin to the four horsemen of the apocalypse—“globalization, urbanization, technology and demographic change,” which, she warned, are “upending existing systems.”

She went on to say that while globalization has supposedly slowed down, free trade is going strong, accounting “for 40% of world economic value.”

Trade, she deduced from this, has “tremendous economic value” because firms that export their wares hire more people and pay better wages than non-exporting firms, yet, while downplaying the immense damage free trade has wrought—lest groupings like Brookings and the CCGA lose the narrative in their constant support for more free-trade treaties—she admitted that U.S. voters in the last election made it clear that globalization has left many without jobs for extended time periods.

Showing a color-coded map, she also said that “federal adjustment assistance” has been extended to more than two million Americans in the past two decades—those whose jobs were terminated “due to trade,” with “70% of such workers living in large and small metropolitan areas.” The “trade pain was most felt in the industrial communities in the Midwest and the South,” she also conceded.

BENDING PEOPLE TO THE SYSTEM, NOT VICE VERSA

But the crux of the matter shone through when she stated; “I would say that the problem isn’t so much globalization, but the failure of our public policies to help people and to help communities adjust to the new world order”…

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