Thursday, January 20, 2005


Men's Health Magazine has a ranking of Cities by Intelligence. [I'm assuming here that they are referring to "Metropolitan Areas" (MSAs) rather than actual Cities, proper.] Minneapolis, Minnesota ranked at number 1; Fort Wayne, Indiana ranked at the bottom

The measurement, however, raised my hackles: "We based our rankings on the number of bachelor's degrees per capita, the number of universities, inhabitants' SAT scores, state creativity scores as assessed by Catalytix and the Richard Florida Creativity Group, and the number of Nobel Prize winners for physics and medicine born within the towns' borders." (Emphasis mine).

Now, for those of you not cool enough to know about him, here's the nub of Dr. Florida's thesis: "Creative" people are the key to the new economy. Get them to move to your city and you're set. [Citation] If you visit the website you can find out how "CREATIVE" your city is or even how "CREATIVE" you are. It's all fun in a really "CREATIVE" way.

He defines his "CREATIVE CLASS" to include people in science, engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment who create "new ideas" and around whom revolve a slew of "CREATIVE PROFESSIONALS" in business and finance, law, health care, etc.

Don't worry, you're probably not cool enough to get it. Go steal his book and read it for yourself. If you get past all the people bending over to kiss his behind, you'll end up having a lovely object suitable for bludgeoning yourself to death.

I'm not a fan of Dr. Frankenflorida, as I feel there are several BIG problems I have with his theses... his festering pile of theses.

FIRST: The thesis is like Gertrude Stein's commentary on Oakland California: "When you get there, there's no 'there' there." Similarly with Florida, and despite the praise and the plaudits, his thesis is unworkable as a guide to economic development. What he offers as suggestions for cities are merely well disguised rhetorical examples. He lauds bike trails, architecture, parks, museums, etc. as creative engines... but never goes on to say whether these should be the economic development blueprint for a City. Rather, he goes out on a limb to say that creativity is good and cities should do creative stuff. Thanks, that helps.

SECOND: Have you ever TRIED to fund "Creative Stuff?" Go to a bank and try to get a loan for something "Creative?" Try asking your mortgage broker. I'll admit that this is sniping, but it brings me to my third point:

THIRD: As a City, how do you value a "Creative" Good versus a "Necessary" Good. This is, at its nub, a "Guns or Butter" debate: should a City provide WiFi (Creative Good) or Extra Police (Necessary Good)? Bike trails or Paved roads? Museums or Schools? While some would argue that this is a false dilemma, I would argue that a City's resources are finite and the choice is very real.

FOURTH: The Creative class is, like, everyone. 'Cept Bureaucrats, it seems. Meh.

FIFTH: Well, let me take that back: the poor do not have a role in the Creative Class, it seems. The prerequisites for this class appear to involve at least some level of advanced education and presumably some excess cash. The poor are excluded and have to wait for the trickle down effects of the Creative City.

SIXTH: This thesis is soooo 1999. The ability of City's to compete based on their ability to attract "The Creative Class" is, I'll admit, a very real factor if there's a strong labor market. My strong hunch is that people choose their jobs on (1) their interests and (2) the salary. Somewhere after that is the coolness of the City. I wouldn't leave my job based on the amenities of another city; more money and a better position, absolutely. The City is a tiebreaker of less importance and it becomes even less important in a soft labor market. Dr. Dickie Miami's thesis made sense in the mad-capped '90s... but here in the Naughty Aughties, not so much.

SEVENTH: Am I, THE BUREAUCRAT, being chastised for not championing creativity? Do you know what irony is? Do you really think that GOVERNMENT is the best dynamo for Creative change? Are you sick of the rhetorical questions yet? In the words of a coworker: "Are you a millionaire from [Local Tech Start Up] complaining that there's nothing for you and your "Creative" friends to do? Well, get your millionaire friends together and show us the money!"

As you can see, I'm sick of the people rushing over each other to lick Dr. F's undercarriage. He amounts to an intellectual Flim-Flam Artist who has the amazing ability to get people to pay him for telling them what they want to hear.

Anyway, THE CITY did OK in the stupid list, for a George W. Bush America and we're in the middle of the pack somewhere. Not that I put much stock in Men's Health, or as a friend of mine put it "Gay Porn-lite". [To be fair, he's the one with the subscription.]

This post brough to you by: Nothing... I've been writing this crap for an hour dammit!!! Time for a beer!

No comments: