Last Wednesday I and about 250 other people filed in to the Ann and Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School for a LIVE TALKS LOS ANGELES event. These are events where artists, writers and thinkers come to explore topics of the day. This particular event we were to hear from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen converse about the outlook for the future of America and Democracy in general. Gardels is Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute and Editor in Chief of The World Post. Nicolas Berggruen is an amazing, quiet, giant of a man. Not large in stature but huge in his thinking. He is the founder of the Berggruen Institute a non-partisan think tank, and co-founder along with the Washington Post of the World Post, an online media publication dedicated to exploring global issues. 

Mayor Garcetti came on stage looking dapper in a blazer and jeans, and took advantage of the moment to remind everyone that he was wearing jeans, not out of casualness, but because it was Denim Day to bring awareness to the plague of sexual harassment that affects women, children and men. He was there to act as moderator for a discussion of the new book Renovating Democracy by Berggruen and Gardels.

Berggruen, holds dual German and U.S. citizenship but truly typifies what it means to be a ‘global citizen’. His thinking and analysis is on a higher level than most of us, and it showed in his responses to Garcetti’s questions. Gardels was the more vocal of the two authors and was insightful into the future of how the world is changing, and how technology is impacting modern life.

Garcetti made a great point about the way in which Alaska residents all benefit from their oil natural resources, but in California that didn’t happen, which led to a discussion about who should benefit from the data collected by the likes of Uber and Lyft. Basically he was suggesting that as a green economy leader, we should tax those data driven companies and then redistribute it back to those who created the data. Berggruen said, “We all work for Facebook and Uber” in response to the idea of a “data dividend” which is scary and true.

We’re living in the age of the “pacific century” as more and more business is conducted across the Pacific Ocean. As Garcetti pointed out, “Los Angeles is the world. We have 200 languages spoken, 190 countries represented in our citizens and we have 39 of the largest populations outside their home countries.”

Living in Los Angeles we’re blessed because we do get to see and come across so much of the world, in our backyard. I know one of the things that I cherish most about living here is the great diversity that adds to my life in experiences, foods, and people. It’s the cross-cultural experiences that allow for understanding, growth and the flourishing of democracy. It’s much easier to reach an accord, come to a compromise and hear the other side, when you have met them on a regular basis over coffee.

The world is quickly becoming more homogenous and at the same time that will cause fear and anxiety from those who are not prepared for it. As artificial intelligence becomes more endemic to our lives the look of work will change. We have to confront the reality that the next 30 years will be a radical new era in humanity, whether we’re ready or not.

Renovating Democracy takes a critical look at what the future holds, how it will be shaped and what we can do to participate. I don’t recall if it was Garcetti or Berggruen who said, “We need to look to the future more. We have a Twitter President who thinks in 5 minute sound bites we’re competing with China’s Xi Jinping who has a 30 year plan. Who do you think will win that?”

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *