But I think the most interesting experiment of all is Singapore. Singapore had nothing going for it. No raw materials. And you got a kind of top-down government that was almost completely enlightened, putting education first and so forth, and you have this city that is extremely livable.
While democracy does most things well, I think we need to confront the fact that it does not make the best cities. And that the cities that were great were rather top-down. You know--Paris and Rome, the grid of Manhattan. What would those have been like if there hadn't been some top-down stuff? Every landowner would have done a separate little pod subdivision. That's one of the things that's naive about Americans--extremely naive, I find, as an outsider having lived in places that are possibly less democratic, like Spain. This idea that you have an individual right to do whatever you want with your land is very democratic, but the result is pretty questionable.
Unfortunately, it's hard to have a debate in this country about certain things. We talk about bottom-up planning. And by the way, I make my living doing this bottom-up planning. But if you unfilter what people want--they don't want poor people, they don't want income diversity, and they don't want shops anywhere near them and they don't want rapid transit and they don't want streets that connect and they don't want anybody bicycling past their yards and they don't want density. So you can't just do unfiltered bottom-up planning. We need to educate.