A man named Richard Florida—arguably the guy who successfully marketed the “hipster” culture by persuading city leaders that the “creative class” would create urban regeneration—is in a journalistic battle about the failure of his theory with Joel Kotkin in thedailybeast.com.
Mr. Florida has written books and became famous by selling the theory that if cities draw high concentrations of technology workers, artists, musicians, lesbians and gay men—a group he describes as “high bohemians“— then there would be a higher level of economic development in those areas.
In other words, if you move a lot of hipsters to one area, then somehow magically everybody in that area will get rich through the super powers of skinny jeans and black-rimmed glasses. His idea was basically that if you attract the “creative class” to your city, it will in turn lead to more creative people coming to your city and creating new jobs. And this was better than, say, building a huge stadium to get the economy going.
Well, Old Man McGumbus saw it coming and he battled tooth and nail to keep hipsters out of Shelter Island and the Hamptons, and the fight still continues, but it seems that even Florida is willing to admit that having a bunch of people in your city who don’t work, smoke a lot of cigarettes, study ancient Congo pottery–making and drink a lot of coffee really doesn’t bring much money into town.
Kotkin‘s article this morning on thedailybeast.com says, “Florida himself, in his role as an editor at The Atlantic, admitted last month what his critics, including myself, have said for a decade: that the benefits of appealing to the creative class accrue largely to its members—and do little to make anyone else any better off. The rewards of the “creative class” strategy, he notes, “flow disproportionately to more highly-skilled knowledge, professional and creative workers,” since the wage increases that blue-collar and lower-skilled workers see “disappear when their higher housing costs are taken into account.” His reasonable and fairly brave, if belated, takeaway: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.”
Florida wrote a rebuttle to the article.
I agree with Kotkin. Hipsters aren’t changing America’s cities for the better. They are building a tremendous culture of indifference amongst young people. And it’s embarrassing. I’m part of Generation Y, and get just as frustrated as the next guy that the economic realities facing our generation in America have been handed down to us from outrageous financial irresponsibility. But that isn’t an excuse to dress like a teenager, watch cartoons and spend eight hours in a coffee shop because its the cool thing to do. I just never saw the dignity in it. I still don’t. If you are a true artist and are really dedicated to your work, then that’s one thing, and I respect that, but if not, you’re just sitting around wasting your time and everyone else’s.
This view of the hipster generation is even affecting hardworking young people seeking employment, because of this subtle discrimination where employers assume all young Americans are lazy. It’s just absurd and it’s really not good for anybody, in my opinion.