Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A reader sends in this recent City Journal article rebutting the "creative class" theory promulgated by the article I cited below.

I didn't realize that the author of that article, Richard Florida, is THE guy pushing the whole "creative class" thesis -- the idea that cities should invest lots of money on arts programs and other stuff that makes them hip places to live, so that creative types move there and the economy booms. Very '90s, that.

Although Florida’s book bristles with charts and statistics showing how he constructed his various indexes and where cities rank on them, the professor, incredibly, doesn’t provide any data demonstrating that his creative cities actually have vibrant economies that perform well over time. A look at even the most simple economic indicators, in fact, shows that, far from being economic powerhouses, many of Florida’s favored cities are chronic underperformers.
Some off-the-cuff, totally ill-formed thoughts.... Isn't the whole argument a bit too either-or?

[Richard] Florida’s ideas are breathing new life into an old argument: that taxes, incentives, and business-friendly policies are less important in attracting jobs than social legislation and government-provided amenities.
That may be true. But it's not like ALL the initiatives that make cities so-called "creative centers" are Big Government budget items, so if there's a baby in the bathtub, drain that dirty water and let it wiggle around a bit. Domestic partnerships and moderate support for the arts come to mind, as do liberal drinking/smoking regulations (something never mentioned in this context, by the way: bohos like to get high). Wouldn't it be nice to live in a place that had all those things, plus clean sidewalks and low taxes.

Prague, for instance, is either the most uncool or the downright hippest place to live on the face of the planet, depending on who you ask. And taxes are relatively high compared to the U.S., and the economy is doing so-so. Which proves absolutely nothing. I just thought I'd throw in a Prague connection. Thank you, thank you...


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