Sunday, August 20, 2017

Richard Florida's "Creative Class" Are Just Kids Moving Back to the City With Reagan-Era Wealth

Florida's "creative class" theory was always relatively easy to debunk if you looked at it hard enough.  He thought these young creative types created wealth and it was that that rejuvenated decaying cities. 

Wrong.  As he now admits.

What happened is that these "young creatives," mostly suburban kids, brought a pre-existing wealth, the wealth of the information age economy and the wealth of their Reagan-era parents back to the urban core.  Florida's creative class are the children of the White Flighters moving back into town after having lived their lives in the burbs and wanting something different.  They brought a modern sensibility, artistic flair and ready-made disposable income to the cities and they started fixing things up to their own liking.  Hipsters without money and jobs wouldn't have achieve the same thing.  The money and jobs came first, hipsters merely directed the locus of the spending.

Ironically, equally wrong-headed policies like Section 8 housing represented the opposite movement...sending people who were the source of inner city pathologies to the suburbs, where Florida notes, the problems are now.

So we had rich kids moving to places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, remaking it from urban wasteland to hipster utopia, while simultaneously moving (with Section 8 vouchers) inner city dwellers (i.e. poor blacks and Hispanics) to the burbs bringing with them the drug trade, crime, and unemployment...all things that pervaded their lives in places like the South Bronx of the 70s and 80s.

It was a swap, not a movement up necessarily.


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