Dear Mr West:

Here’s an idea for how to write some history.


Right now your home city is ruled over by a Mayor whose allegiances are not with the majority of Chicagoans. 


I want to invite you to run for mayor of Chicago in 2015 and make it the best city in the world. Doing this would require fixing some big problems.


There are four main ones: the schools are awful, the public transportation system is subpar, it isn’t a democracy, there are too many shootings.


1. BEST SCHOOLS


The PISA tests measures the national abilities of fifteen year olds in every country in the world. Our current education system imitates the top top winners, China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.  This model does not work very well: the US ranks 26th in Math, 21ST In science and 17th in reading.  In 2012 Finland came in 11th in the world for math, 5th for science, and 6th for reading. Not the best but still very good. Finland is also like us a very multiethnic society with many immigrants and obscure class structures. 


How does the Finnish system work? Except for one final exam there are no standardized tests. The classes are small (average 12) and so the teachers can know all their students. There aren't many exams and no homework until kids enter their teens. Individual teachers  are treated as independent researchers. If a kid has a problem teams of teachers work one-on-one. There are more arts and crafts and learning by doing, and they get longer breaks and recesses.  They don't expel people or hold people in grades either. 


If you propose this as a goal people might attack you, but they will look like racist schmucks: this is the treatment that rich white kids get already, why shouldn't everyone get it? Besides it works! Finland! Finland!


Also demote the principals to teachers and split the principal salary up between an elected student, a teacher, a parent and a staff member. Science tells us that humans care more and better when they have a say in running things.


  1. 2.BEST PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION


The best means two things: one is that it takes people where they want to go, two is that it is affordable, preferably free. How to do this? 


Ask for the help of the internet.  Have a contest.  Specify that all proposals must be (1) low-cost to users and (2) cooperatively run: whoever runs the system benefits of it. Get experts to evaluate the different solutions.  Strike up a deal with organized labor to raise the capital to fund the new infrastructure.


3. BEST PEACE
(
Stop Shootings ASAP)


Initial triage: Use the police to resolve conflicts and broker treaties instead of interfering in our personal lives.  Turn down the drug war. This has other benefits too.


Deep strategy:  Make a public promise that everyone has a productive part to play in making the New Chicago.  Live up to the promise by raising 2 billion dollar fund with help of organized labor and sponsor massive creation of cooperative housing and public amenities across Chicago. 


4. BEST DEMOCRACY

Imagine what would happen if a cop arrested you and you said, “Excuse me, you're being rude, I'm a citizen and therefore your boss.” It probably wouldn't be good. However you would have been right. The police do work for us. So do all civil servants. That is why they are called civil servants. It doesn’t feel like that often: it feels often like they are in charge.  If Chicago is going to be the greatest city in the world this is going to have to change.  

How to fix the problem: Turn over control over police, licensing and local judicial matters to neighborhood councils. On the local councils there are two high schoolers elected by the student body, six people elected by the local population, and two elders elected by the local seniors. 


CONCLUSION


Not to put any pressure on you but you are the only person in the world who could make this happen. There isn’t anyone else who (1) is wealthy and famous enough (2) is from Chicago, and (3) may actually understand the problems with the city. 


"Mayor" can mean many different things. Right now it means a servant of a very narrow elite who exerts massive public relations energy to disguise this fact. Under your administration it would mean a combination of role model, consultant, and design chief. It would probably take 8 years to get all this work done but just think what would be possible after.



Yours, 


Ben




P.S 


If you’re interested and want a way to prove yourself consider leading a movement to eliminate gun violence in Chicago starting this summer.  This could be done by organizing grandmother’s all across chicago into “Grandmothers Unions” and then working with them to resolve conflicts. It could be done by targeting every potential “at-risk” human and offering them meaningful work designing and building cooperative houses and restaurants.  It could be done with parties. Whatever works. 


It’s mixing creativity with the fight like an athlete. Like it’s okay for the athletes to fight and push it, but they want the creative people to shut-up and be quiet. But these are the people with the real ideas that can actually change, can reorganize, can design cities, can restructure a curriculum, you know, can make life easier. And that’s the part of the game I want to be in: the making life more awesome.”


K. West, radio interview.

So what we gon' have - dessert or disaster?


K. West -  Knock You Down (Keri Hilson feat. Kanye West, Ne-Yo)