Friday, March 22, 2013

Did I Abandon My Creative Class Theory? Not So Fast, Joel Kotkin - The Daily Beast

Kotkin likes to distract people and play to class and other prejudices with inflammatory language about “hip and cool” places versus suburbs and young sophistos, trendoids, and gays versus real families. It’s interesting, in that context, to note that his recent report on “post-familialism” was supported by the right-wing philanthropist Howard Ahmanson. Kotkin’s report credits Ahmanson as a “philanthropist,” but Salon dubs him “the avenging angel of the religious right,” a large funder of antigay and anti-evolution groups and causes. I firmly reject such divisiveness. I’ve argued that a key to urban prosperity is not investments in convention centers, stadiums, casinos or arts complexes, or even coffee shops for that matter, but being open to diversity and difference—having low barriers to entry to people of every sort, young and old, American and foreign-born, gay and straight, married and single, families with kids and without. As Jane Jacobs said a long time ago, truly great cities are federations of neighborhoods that are made up of all kinds of people.


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"Second, everyone who actually studies the subject—save Kotkin—agrees that cities and density spur economic growth."

That's like saying that everyone knows business spurs economic growth, and that therefore governments should subsidize business. It also assumes that density causes growth, which isn't obviously true.

The real problem with Florida's model is that it gets local governments into the role of picking winners and dispensing subsidies. Governments have a bad track record in such activities, which tend to create perverse incentives and to foster cronyism and corruption rather than any net economic improvement. The stronger argument is for governments to get out of the way as much as possible, starting by reducing corruption, streamlining regulations, lowering taxes, and reducing other productivity impediments such as land-use controls that increase the cost of housing.

Posted by: Jonathan | Mar 24, 2013 7:20:31 PM