Saturday, January 17, 2004

Being Creative With the Truth

Dr. Richard Florida has irritated me for a long time. His book, The Rise of the Creative Class, is better than most business books, which isn’t saying much, but something about his Bohemian Index has always irritated me.

In issue #16 of The Baffler, Paul Maliszewski manages to articulate my discomfort regarding Florida’s theories. After pointing out that cities compete for corporations to locate or relocate by offering "the most enticing package of long-term tax breaks, real estate subsidies, and other incentives" Maliszewski goes on to observe that:

In Florida’s world, of course, decisions are never a matter of economics. And in his desperation to deny the most basic facts of the world we live in, he has mistaken the side effects of a booming economy – restaurants serving nouveau cuisine, quirky coffeeshops, art galleries, a vibrant music scene, a movie theater showing old foreign films, Dieselboy – for the causes of growth. His advice to cities is, in effect, to build Potemkin bohemias, complete with authentic edginess, leveraged culture assets, and street-level culture, all prepared for those esteemed dignitaries, the members of the creative class, to arrive.