The main takeaways:
- Interlock city and farmland, with city never being more than a mile wide, and farmland being at least a mile wide.
- While the farmland can be cultivated, it should remain free for anyone to respectfully enjoy and wander.
- The limit of a mile of city ensures that everyone is within a 10 minute walk of country.
Imagine it! Is there anyplace in the world that has this? I’m guessing towns in Europe, perhaps where the mountains have limited construction. Otherwise, urban places are packed tight — giving the feeling of being pushed into the ocean in New York City.
This book is filled with awesome ideas and facts, like a chart plotting “nuisance distances,” that is where a trip becomes a nuisance depending on how far away something is and how frequent the trip is. Apparently, if something is greater than 50 feet away and you have to make the trip twice an hour, it’s right on the border of being a nuisance. I’ll highlight more of these ideas in coming posts.
For my final book before Mali, I read Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion. In it, Collier talks about the poorest billion (surprise!), and how they differ from the more prosperous poor. Like Jeffrey Sachs‘ idea of a poverty trap, Collier writes about four traps that are keeping the bottom billion down:
- The conflict trap: “the risk that a country in the bottom billion falls into civil war in any five-year period is nearly one in six.” And, “the typical postconflict country has little better than a fifty-fifty chance of making it through the first decade in peace”. Not great odds.
- The natural resource trap: the exporting of a valuable natural resource causes “Dutch disease”, increasing the value of the country’s currency, reducing the competitiveness of the country’s other exports, and leaving the natural resource the only industry. Also developing countries have a tough time coming up with ideal ways of handling the windfall of capital.
- Being landlocked with bad neighbors: the neighbors of a landlocked country are important as a transportation route to the sea and as markets themselves. For non-African landlocked countries, for every one percent growth in a neighbor, the country grew 0.7 percent — in Africa the country only grew 0.2 percent.
- Having bad governance in a small country: “starting from a failing state, a country was more likely to achieve a sustained turnaround the larger its population, the greater the proportion of its population that had secondary education, and…if it had recently emerged from civil war”. He highlights the fact that “democracy doesn’t seem to help policy turnaround”.
And unlike other books that just describe the problems, he has researched solutions: aid, military intervention, laws and charters, and trade policy. But I’ll let you read about those. I have more developed country luxuries to enjoy before I leave, like Giada.