An Idler in the City
Capitalism Is Where We Live
When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy 10 more, that your appearance may be all of a piece; but Poor Dick says, ‘It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.’ And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to swell, in order to equal the ox.
—Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth
A survey of the key megacities of the world—from Athens to Paris and Istanbul to Tokyo—proves the need for new forms of leadership in a world constrained by carbon, capital, and the very nature of capitalism. As waters rise near Manhattan and our most ancient coastal megacities, new forms of competition must emerge and thrive. We must humanize more and agitate less as we near our shared future. The family of humans requires it.
Looking Back—and Looking Ahead
When I turned 40, I decided to adopt an open, fun-loving—you might say Whitmanesque—attitude toward business travel. Global journeys had become so mean, so difficult and encumbered, mainly owing to the checks and insults we have built to deter terrorism, that I had to summon up patience and add an extra day at each end, to visit the cities before and after I worked in them. This chapter grew out of those idle days away from home. I became an idler in the great cities.
I have visited a third of the top 100 megacities of this world over the last two decades. Each had a marvelously different feel, an inherent personality: Some ...