Thursday, February 19, 2009

Florida in Toronto

It was with a little dismay that I noticed the appointment of the latest trendoid, Richard Florida, to the University of Toronto. I feared there might be consequences, and it appears there have been, though maybe my share of the 2 million dollars is a small price for the amusement Andrew Potter has just given me.
How much would you pay for a map that had all the cities and towns marked, but erased all of the roads and highways that would get you there? I’ll go out on a limb and guess that most of us would spend zero dollars. But that is because most of us are not Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose Liberal government recently dropped 2.2 million taxpayer dollars on a completely useless road map to prosperity.
If McGuinty is smart, he will thank the two for their paper, shove it in a drawer, and go back to his preferred mode of governing, which is banning things. But if he were smart, he probably wouldn’t have commissioned it in the first place, since the study bears the overwhelming greasiness of the “Creative Class” snake oil that Florida has been peddling for the past few years.
In one bizarre passage, we are told that in the creative economy of the future, growth will “no longer be limited by physical resources and hours in a day, since creativity is potentially a limitless resource.” I wonder what it means for the province’s pizza delivery folks, security guards, and drycleaners to be told that they, too, must start bringing more creativity to their work. Certainly, the report doesn’t say.

At this point I am hoping the people who fix potholes in Toronto can develop some of that limitless creativity. They do a lot more for my well-being than a thousand Richard Floridas would.

In the end, Martin and Florida have done little more than restate Bertrand Russell’s witticism about work being of two kinds: “First, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.”

Nothing much has changed since Russell wrote that in 1932; the only difference now is that creative elaborations on that basic insight sell for millions of dollars.

Also - an excellent discussion from David Revely exposing some apparent dishonesty in all this.
I feel so used.


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