Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election 2010 - The smackdown of cool cities

Joel Kotkin of New Geography is becoming one of my favorite demographic writers. He wrote a great piece on the elections titled "The Smackdown of the Creative Class". This was almost two years after he wrote The Triumph of the Creative Class on the Obama victory.

The "creative class" is the big new urbanist thesis from Richard Florida that spawned the "cool cities" talk from Granholm. I consider it a sad joke (big spending on fluff, smoking bans, pushing people to live in cities, trains to nowhere, etc) and worse, harmful to Michigan and our economy, as well as to the manufacturing industry as a whole.

Back in 2007, I wrote how people fled the cool cities that we have in Michigan.

Instead of cool cities, I think we need to have a cool economy here. One with jobs, low taxes, and high freedom. Leave the fluff and superficial stuff to private citizens.

The Argus had a big thing on this in April. which I followed up in May withJobs not fluff.

Joel Koktin's piece on the 08 election and creative class is much better than anything I can write on it.

These latter business interests provided much of the consistent and massive financial advantage that the Illinois senator has accrued since early spring. The term "creative class" was popularized by former George Mason professor Richard Florida, who used it to describe those with both brainy business acumen and a very liberal cultural agenda borrowed from the bohemians of the '60s.

Florida, whose views have affected urban policymakers over the last several years, has attributed these characteristics to upward of 30% of the workforce, basing his figures largely on education. On close examination, suggests Brookings Institution demographer Bill Frey, the "cultural creatives" at the core of Florida's formulation represent likely no more than 5% of the population. After all, most college-educated workers live in suburbs, have children and even attend conservative churches.

In contrast, the narrower "creative" group clusters heavily in the very areas--college towns, urban centers, some elite suburbs--where Obama has done exceedingly well from early on in the campaign. Nearly one quarter of the core "creative group," those working in the arts and culture industries, live in just two cities, New York and Los Angeles.

Many of these workers are employed by a far smaller, and more influential, base of largely pro-Obama corporate and financial titans who embrace the Florida view that "creativity" can save the U.S. economy. These include the likes of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google--whose employees contributed over $400,000 to Obama's campaign--as well as a who's who of other Silicon Valley oligarchs.

Obama has also enjoyed almost lock-step support in Hollywood and among the go-go wing on Wall Street. Hedge-fund managers, for example, gave 77% of their contributions in congressional races to Democrats last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan analyst of campaign finances. George Soros, the peculiarly left-leaning financial speculator, has been a long-time financial supporter and a critical ally in terms of funding pro-Obama media.

When you hear conservatives rip "elitists" or what I call "self proclaimed elite", these are the people that they usually refer to. Besides the sneering, snobbishness, and culture clash, this is why I am extremely opposed to their agendas and want them as far away as possible from power.

the creative class establishment rallied to different political causes and candidates, including Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign and the causes of other so-called "Atari Democrats." Yet it is only this year that its members have, like the Skynet computer system in the Terminator series, reached a level of consciousness about their potential true power.

What will this ascendancy mean in economic terms? Since the creative class deals largely with images, ideas and transactions, it's not likely to focus much on reviving the tangible parts of the economy: manufacturing, logistics, traditional energy and agribusiness.

On the other hand, the creatives are unlikely to be protectionist since they represent companies whose growth markets, and often suppliers, are located overseas. Heavily counted among the world's richest people, they are also likely to support some Bushite policies--like low interest rates and financial bailouts--that prop up their stock prices and drive money to Wall Street.

The biggest difference between the creative class and the old business types isn't on cultural issues--few traditional CEOs embraced the religious right's agenda--but on environmental policy. Executives at places like Apple, as well as opportunistic investment firms, have become enthusiastic jihadis in the war against climate change. Conveniently, their companies don't tend to be huge energy consumers and, if they make products, do so in largely unregulated facilities in China or elsewhere in the developing world. And youthful financial firms looking for the next "bubble" could benefit hugely from mandates for more solar, wind and other alternative fuels.

Outsourcers, opposed to manufacturing, hypocrisy, pro-bailout, and more restrictions on freedoms. If they kept to their bubble, I'd have less of a problem, but what they push for puts Michigan out of business.

All this could prove very bad news for groups that produce tangible products in the U.S. or that, like large agribusiness firms, are big consumers of carbon. Also threatened will be anyone who builds the suburban communities--notably single-family houses and malls--that most Americans still prefer but that Gore and his acolytes dismiss as too energy-intensive, not to mention in bad taste.

Theoretically, there is opportunity for the Republicans--if they can somehow jettison the more primitive parts of their social agenda and come up with their own bold, environmentally sound energy agenda. The new hegemons could easily be painted as moralistic hypocrites who live the carbon-heavy luxury lifestyle of the super-rich while demanding ordinary Americans give up their cars, homes and even their jobs.

Yet given the creative class' increasing domination of the media, and the inability of the GOP to comprehend the changing world around it, such a counterstroke may be years in coming.

He was right, except it was only two years in coming. Real America had enough of those clowns and smacked them down. The more those sneer and call them teabaggers and the like, the more they will be smacked down.

Kotkin's writings are usually good reads, as well as most that comes out of New Geography. They understand that what is important to economies are the meat and potatoes issues, and not so called cool cities.

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