6 I. Introduction W riting about megacities was a natural follow-up to our 2nd Quarter Wrap Up focusing on The Rise of the Asian Consumer. Asia is the epicenter for the rapid urbanization underway. In 1800, 3% of the global population lived in cities. As of 1950, there was one megacity—New York. Today, an estimat- ed 50% of the global population lives in urban areas, and there are now 47 megaci- ties—30 of them are in Asia. Everywhere I turn, I see evidence of government policies quietly migrating people into urban areas. It’s not one big thing—and there are no announcements. More often, it is thousands of little things. Funding is cut for roads. Broadband is not available. Every other year, the train- ing requirements for volunteer fire depart- ments in rural counties increase. Home insurance is no longer available. Mortgag- es are hard to get. Phone service is myste- riously unreliable. Not surprisingly, most real estate values in rural areas go nowhere at best, and many home prices fall. Look around, and you will also see highly unusual fires happening in rural areas. There are occasional serious power outages and inexplicable torrential rains and flash flooding. France is using climate as an excuse for policies and taxes that make living in rural areas difficult, if not impossible. The result is riots in Paris. It’s a plan, but no one believes the rea- son given—climate—because it does not make logical sense. Meanwhile, China is building cities that sit empty—what are they stockpiling them for? The news tonight brings stories of Walmart testing robots. Go back and read the Romantic poets William Wordsworth and William Blake writing about the streets of London during the Industrial Revolution, as people were driven from the land into the cities to create cheap pools of labor for manufacturing—and there were not enough jobs. Ask yourself, what would happen today if there were no manufacturing jobs—if machines could do all the functions, save the most skilled? I keep asking, “How’s this supposed to work?” Whatever happens, the world is full of great cities that are magnets for talent and culture. I visited some this year—Sydney, Zurich, Amsterdam, Sofia, and Vienna, to name a few. Nurturing their greatness is essential to our human future. Look around, and you will also see highly unusual fires happening in rural areas.