Thursday, December 19, 2013

Richard Florida's theories discredited

Richard Florida makes his pitch

Few purveyors of big ideas have as much riding on a single notion or catch phrase as Richard Florida does with the “creative class.” Florida’s idea of a group of highly mobile, Mac-toting professionals driving economic development has sold him a lot of books, spurred a lucrative speech-making and consulting career, and gotten him a well-paid perch at the University of Toronto. As important, it has given the admittedly status-conscious academic—previously, an anonymous professor in Pittsburgh—a kinship with the progressive elites that his theory affirmed. He is our premier celebrity urbanologist, whose home page features a clip of Bono mentioning him on a panel with Bill Clinton.

All of which explains the awkwardness of the current moment for Florida: His theories about how to boost city economies have, quite simply, been discredited. Rather than provide universal uplift, as he promised in his 2002 treatise, The Rise of the Creative Class, the clustering of high-earning professionals in areas rich in his “three T’s” of technology, talent, and tolerance has exposed inequalities both between and within cities. (Florida’s advice for low-wage service workers has been to find ways to “creatify” their work—unions or minimum wages were rarely mentioned.) 

And his ideas haven’t just failed on policy grounds; they’ve been rejected by voters as well, in places like Toronto, where Rob Ford rode a populist backlash against bike lanes and downtown arts initiatives to tabloid stardom, and New York, where Bill de Blasio won a landslide victory by running directly against the “luxury city” ideal of a mayor who explicitly echoed Florida. Ever since the economy fell apart, the creative class (which Florida defined loosely enough to include bankers along with Web designers) has come to look less like savior than culprit...

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At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is complete crap. If it contains this line...

Rob Ford rode a populist backlash against bike lanes and downtown arts initiatives to tabloid stardom

Rob Ford rode Crack Cocaine and Drunken Stupor to tabloid stardom.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a relief his ideas are over! Now the rents in SF are finally going to collapse with the "creative class" hordes fleeing to the suburbs. Bank on it folks - we're looking at sub-$3000 1BRs in the next few weeks.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

Of course we all know who's a big, big fan of Richard Florida (the modern day P.T. Barnum): San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener.

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all good news today - the Cincinnati streetcar was approved. This is a disastrous development, will bankrupt Cincinnati, and send young people fleeing for the suburbs even faster than they were already fleeing. They are going to be red-shifted, they'll be fleeing so fast.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous sfthen said...

Apparently neither Scott Wiener nor any of his three secretaries could get that sfgate web article he loves linked correctly: Richard Florida 3Ts.

In it we learn things like "San Francisco's neighborhoods have the additional advantage of public transit- BART, Muni Metro, buses and cable cars."

Cable Cars! How many people commute by cable car? Is this guy brain dead?

And "key characteristics of creative ecosystems are cutting-edge music... San Francisco gave birth to the Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company and countless other bands that shaped its innovative 1960s sound."

That was fifty years ago! What does that have to do with the techies in the 21st Century?

Richard Florida practices Cargo Cult science, the type of thing you do in college majors like Urban Planning and Urban Geography that parrots the wording of real science to hide how vapid it is. The kind of stuff people like Scott Wiener think is so wonderful.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Weiner?

Those "bulb outs" and wider sidewalks are a key part of pedestrian safety legislation passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and written by Scott Wiener.

"We have an epidemic of pedestrians being hit on our streets," said Wiener.

More lies from Wiener. Almost all pedestrians killed are doing unsafe things like crossing the street. Walking is an inherently dangerous activity and there's nothing we can do to make it safer. In fact, by encouraging people to walk, Weiner is basically murdering them. How can he sleep at night?

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your heavy-handed irony fails in light of the facts about pedestrian safety in SF. See the MTA's Collision Report, pages 17-20: "Approximately a fourth of San Francisco’s injury collisions involve pedestrians. Pedestrian collisions have remained a relatively constant 25 percent of total injury collisions in San Francisco over the past ten years (page 17)."

Turns out that pedestrians, like cyclists, are responsible for a lot of their own injury accidents. See pages 20, 21.

Like drunk and distracted driving, distracted walking is an important factor in many pedestrian injury accidents.

In spite of his image as a "good government" reformer, Scott Wiener is essentially just another political hustler here in Progressive Land.

And he's a liar about CEQA and the Bicycle Plan, as I've shown.

Wiener supports all of the city's major projects and policies, including the dumb high-speed rail boondoggle.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Not all good news today---the Cincinnati streetcar was approved. This is a disastrous development, will bankrupt Cincinnati, and send young people fleeing for the suburbs even faster than they were already fleeing.They are going to be red-shifted,they'll be fleeing so fast."

More failed irony, probably the same commenter as above. As I say, irony is hard to pull off if the facts don't support the attempt.

On the Cincinnati streetcar issue from Richard Florida's website:
"The big issue for Cranley and the city council is whether local taxpayers should be on the hook for potential operating costs.The new mayor has said he's willing to let construction continue if private donors come up with enough cash to pay for the first 30 years of running the system---a figure that's reportedly around $80 million...Operating costs should indeed be a concern for Cincinnati, especially since reports suggest that streetcar fares will only cover a quarter of those costs."

Proponents of this dumb, costly project deploy a familiar argument:
"Proponents of the project point to the fact that the streetcar has already survived two local referendums aimed at destroying it, and that stopping construction now will itself be a massive waste of money.In an editorial last month, the Cincinnati Enquirer called for the project to be finished, estimating that the city will end up spending $53 million in the best-case scenario and $80 million in the worst---with nothing to show for it."

See also this on how big, dumb projects are sold and kept going.

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a shame there's no CEQA in Ohio (OEQA?) You guys could have delayed the revitalization of downtown Cincinnati for years and cost the city millions in litigation expenses that will now be spent in actual municipal services. What a shame!

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You've got it backwards. Cincinati will now be spending a lot of money subsidizing this streetcar line that could have been spent on other services.


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