Nicolas Berggruen and the Think Long Committee For California

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 02011 by Austin Brown
link Categories: Long Term Thinking   chat 0 Comments

Nicolas Berggruen is known as a bit of an eccentric and often referred to as “the homeless billionare” because of his unique lifestyle – he travels the world in a private jet and lives out of hotels. Financial Times recently interviewed him at one of those hotels and discussed his interest in reshaping the politics and governance of California:

And, having conjured a fortune, he has now a second more ambitious goal: a bold initiative to change the way that western politics and government is conducted. A few years ago, he started attending university courses and became fascinated with the flaws in western government systems. “I have always been very interested in history, so I sat down with a group of intellectuals and wrote a utopian constitution.”

He also used $100m of his money to create a think-tank, the Berggruen Institute, which promotes fresh debate about politics and constitutional reform. Then, four months ago, he used $25m to launch a more specific campaign to “save” California, a place where he spends several months each year, usually living at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The institute is now promoting radical fiscal measures to tackle the state’s ballooning debt burden and to implement longer-term structural reforms, under the rubric of the “Think Long Committee for California.”

- Gillian Tett, Financial Times

The Think Long Committee for California will consist of 10 or 15 “eminent Californians” who will make recommendations to the governor and the legislature and may potentially propose public ballot initiatives to enact its vision:

From the NBI perspective, good governance involves the responsive, efficient delivery of services to the public by a fiscally responsible government. Above all, it means politics conducted in a spirit of pragmatism that does not sacrifice the long term to short-term special interests.

– Think Long Committee for California

  • Screw

    I can see and do agree with your philosophy, but am somewhat puzzled by the notion of long thinking. History shows that even taking the future in account several social and political systems fail or collapse or otherwise overstay their use-before-date. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pessimistic but events occurring beyond our control and horizon prevent a lot of good intentions from happening I'm afraid. If this seems contradictionnary, I agree. But I do believe we all have the moral obligation to use our intelligence to the best of our possibillities. The mere fact that we have the time for that alone should humble us, whilst the greater part of humankind worries about their next meal…I'm not one for joining fora and discussions, I found out quite some time ago now, that I had been doing what Ludwig Wittgenstein writes in his Tractats(?) : “…One should not continue reading having not thought the preceding already themselves…”. This is the only thing truly valuable: put in the effort yourself, do not “team up”.

  • Levertal

    So folks, does it sadden anyone else than me that the gentleman in the Financial Times interview ranks Singapore as possible having best governance? I’m not necessarily saying he is wrong, I’m just not sure we should give up yet on attempting to have an educated electorate to allow a true republic to work even though with some degree of self-knowledge I’m probably an elitist myself.

  • Anonymous

    What would he know about long term thinking OR about ordinary people in CA?  Another out of touch fat cat thinks he has answers when he does not even know the questions.  Buy a home, pay a mortgage, earn a living, sweat a bit for your pay – and maybe you will realize that you and your ilk live off our backs – and it’s not working.  Oh, for the SHORT term, sure.  For the “long” term – nope.  Until you are willing to see that the real knowledge in society lies under the workman’s cap, you’re doomed.  CA cannot be repaired to suit you and Condi and your other pals alone  - it’s all of us or it’s none of us.  We know more than you about absolutely everything.  Try a stint at the Holiday Inn or, better yet, Motel 6 and see what’s REALLY going on.  Lots and lots of talent and ideas are waiting to be put to use.  You ain’t it.


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