For any city aspiring to play in the global league, infrastructure is where it’s at. Such cities are out to court both the people and the businesses who can afford to live anywhere. These global citizens go to cities that not only have clean streets and good schools, but first-rate airports, good public transportation, space-age communications and green economies.
The question is how to pay for all this. Running a global city is expensive. Granted, the global citizens and corporations are willing to pay for what they get, so are seldom put off by higher rates and taxes or by user fees. But how do you woo these global high fliers with their deep pockets without pricing everybody else – the much-battered middle and working classes – out of the city?
This issue – urban financing – may be the number one civic issue of the future, an under-studied problem that is only now beginning to get the academic and political attention it deserves.