This is the last edition of The Midwesterner
, a conversation started here nearly six years ago on the problems and challenges facing the American Midwest in the age of globalization.
Global cities exist. Like globalization itself, they’re new but real. And like globalization, they’re both enriching and impoverishing, good for those who know how to navigate these global waters, bad for those left in their wake.
In my new book, On Global Cities
, I take a fresh and focused look at global cities — what they are, why they are special, what makes them global, how they emerged, and where they are going.
We’re told that we’re living in a world of lonely individuals. Maybe so. But my bet is that the future really lives, like the rest of us, in crowds.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party have swept to victory in Britain’s general election. Which means the British probably will get a chance to show whether Charles de Gaulle was right after all.
I was talking recently with a farmer who farms a big spread in northern Illinois. There’s more to this these days, he said, than just going out and plowing the back 40. Where and how he plows depends largely on the data he gets daily from three satellites orbiting a thousand miles above his farm.
Instead of larding the PACs of their favorite political candidates, wouldn’t it be nice if Chicago’s plutocrats put their money where it might actually do some real good?
Chicago is getting bad press, to put it mildly. It may be time for the city to think about a makeover – in both substance and image – if it is going to be taken seriously as a global city.
Illinois and Indiana may be competitors, but it’s mostly over which governor can do the most damage to his state. Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence seemed ready to retire the gubernatorial dunce cap, with his signing and then backtracking on his state’s infamous “religious freedom” law. But now comes Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ rookie governor, with a virtual declaration of economic warfare on the Hoosiers next door.
The Midwest is sitting on the resource that will shape the future, and it’s just beginning to think what it can do with it. No, it’s not oil. Nor iron, steel or farmland, the resources that powered its industrial-era economy. It’s water. Or rather, fresh water, the useful low-salt variety that is in increasingly short supply around the country and around the world.
The Indiana legislature recently passed a bill, signed by Gov. Mike Pence that, in effect, authorizes businesses in that state to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Pence and the Indiana legislature claim the bill is meant to protect religious freedom, not to discriminate against any group. Not surprisingly, nobody believes them, especially as their's isn't the only Midwestern state passing this type of legislation.
Word has reached the Midwest that Minnesota wants to secede from the region and adopt a new name and identity. Such as The North.
It’s early days yet in Iowa. The state girls’ basketball tournament is barely over. Farmers won’t start planting the first corn or soybeans for another month yet. The last vestiges of snow still fringe some fields. But it’s never too
early for politics in the state that seems to have a lock on the quadrennial jockeying for pole position in the presidential sweepstakes.
Chicagoans, or at least a few of them, will vote next month in a mayoral election notable both for its importance and for its meager turnout. Either Mayor Rahm Emanuel or his challenger, Jesus (Chuy) Garcia, will be the next mayor. In a sense, it’s a shame they both can’t win.
Beneath the rhetorical artillery, the most interesting thing about Jeb Bush’s speech was how much its main themes resembled those of candidate Obama’s first foreign speech to the Council in 2007.