Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power

citizen university

 

 

Beforehand, I’ve posted one TED talk about the uncontrolled inequities between the plutocrats and the commoners. And, here’s again another power-related one, which pretty much can explain about the previous video: ordinary people’s illiteracy, and blatant ignorance, of the importance of power. Given this rationale, it is why power – and much of the vacuum left by ignorance – is concentrated only among a handful elsewhere, not just in United States, but also across the world. Democracy, in sum, hasn’t been completely realized.

Eric Liu, a Seattle-based civics educator and also pioneer of Citizen University, wants to debunk the ongoing cycle, and provides one proof where civic engagement is possible, and thanks to globalization, can become a contagious ‘positive virus’ as well: cities. Cities, in his idea, can become great social laboratories to engineer changes for the sake of the people, particularly at a time when national governments mostly end up in deadlocks for partisan, stalled negotiations.

He offers some examples where we should learn:

1. The idea of ‘bike-friendly cities’ that kick-started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spread to dozens of cities across the world

2. How Seattle led the initiatives of numerous major cities across the United States to set targets for reduction of carbon production; at a time when the country, overall, refused to participate in Kyoto Protocol

3. When national government in Washington, D.C., was highly paralyzed due to partisan conflicts of interests, it is instead local cities, towns, and lower-level administrative divisions that continued providing essential services for the people

4. How ‘participatory budgeting’ in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by which city dwellers decide together how much funds the city should be allocated for expenditure by sectors, spreads into numerous major cities across the planet

5. The rise of grassroots movements in China to oppose corrupt authorities at a local level, and the rate is rising

Learn more about this potential by tuning in to his TED talk below.

 

Nick Hanauer: Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming

french revolution

 

 

Firstly, we all must appreciate Nick Hanauer’s willingness to admit the mistakes his fellow people – the plutocrats, those who have earned digits beyond what ordinary people can conceive – made in the last decades. Before the times of rabble-rousing deregulation, United States was once one of the world’s most stable, and equal societies. But as crisis started to hit the nation in 1970s, that title gradually gained illegitimacy. Wall Street execs and CEOs alike are making money thousands of time a median wage one is afforded, and US, as of today, ironically, has had income and wealth gaps comparable to that of a unstable, developing nation.

More people are ending up poorer than ever, and middle-class growth has highly stagnated. At the same time, plutocrats are controlling an increasingly larger share of economic growth and national wealth, further creating more bubbles – which can anytime explode. We may or may not believe it, but Hanauer draws an analogy between American society in 21st century and those in pre-Revolutionary France in three centuries earlier, with one striking, and possibly frightening, similarity: pitchforks are coming. In this matter, he offers only few options: accept short-term bitter pills – that is we must increase minimum wage and taxes, or do nothing but create a police state (one prospect America is increasingly heading towards), and in an outburst, a deadly uprising.

‘It’s not a matter of if, but of when,’ he said.

Listen to his mind-provoking TED talk below to gain more understanding about income inequality today.