The case for charter cities as a effective way to fight third-world poverty (based on the example of Hong Kong), is an interesting proposition.
Directly, each charter city would allow millions of people to better their lives by integration with the world economy. While critics often belittle this achievement as mere “cream-skimming,” the sad truth is that much if not most of the world’s cream now curdles in backwards farms and dysfunctional slums. If the native entrepreneurs who built Hong Kong had been trapped in mainland China, most would have wasted their lives in dead-end jobs on Maoist communes or joined the Communist elite. Hong Kong gave them opportunities to use talents that otherwise would have gone to waste.
It come from this list of “40 things I’ve learned” by Bryan Kaplan, which is, perhaps not surprisingly, mostly free-market ideals. A lot on the list is maybe too free market (since it’s hard to believe in the infallibility of the free market when corporations are free to rape and plunder at will), but the notion of a charter city was kind of fascinating. [via alesh]