Florida In Blighty: David Cameron's American urban planner

David Cameron, Prime Minister of that country where everything sucks, is eager to pick up American talent for his brain trust. The Economist reports on Cameron's fondness for New Jersey native Richard Florida, urban studies theorist and author of The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity.

In his best-selling books, highly paid speeches and frequent television interviews, Mr Florida has extolled one core idea: that the creative sector is the growth engine for Western economies as menial work migrates to developing countries.

Mr Florida’s definition of creative goes beyond the obvious artists and musicians to include anyone open to new ideas. He says businesses must give space and flexibility to these freethinkers, and that cities must attract lots of them to be successful. This means they must be green, clean, tolerant and cultured, typically with large gay and ethnic-minority populations. This has led to him being attacked from the right for his pro-gay and pro-immigration stance, and criticised from the left as an advocate of elitism and gentrification.

To his credit, Cameron dials down his own enthusiasm for technocratic solutions to debatably social problems and renders Florida's message simply as: "Go with the grain of what is already there. Don’t interfere so much that you smother. But do help out wherever you can."

Florida's creative class argument has serious detractors, among them the well-known urban theorist Joel Kotkin. In National Journal, Jesse A. Hamilton and Josh Freedman describe the argument:

Florida believes that cities will grow and meld, mostly along the East and West coasts, as their residents dial back on consumption. Kotkin sees the generations-long ascent of suburbs continuing, with the most-frenzied expansions around smaller cities in the country's midsection.

Kotkin, an urban development scholar at Chapman University in California, says that the old supremacies will wane. "The very high-end urban areas had a real lock on power," said the native New Yorker, who recently authored The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. "That, I think, will come to an end.... For most people's lives, they want to live in a low-density environment. When you ask them whether they want to live in an apartment or a house, they say they want to live in a house. You generally find that most people will end up in the suburbs."

Being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, I am not sure I have a preference, though Kotkin seems to be closer to my taste -- in both urban and rural contexts -- for a less structured slobopolis of cars on cinderblocks and chicken coops in yards. It's not clear how much yob appeal remains in the UK -- though the Daily Mail is always raising a ruckus about Middle England and its salt of the earth citizens who have been pushed around for the last time by miseducated yuppie scumbags.

Reason TV interviewed Richard Florida way back when:

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Hey I have an idea, let's use this thread as a pretext for stating our preferences for living in cities or suburbs, and how people who make different choices are inherently wrong and possibly retarded!

  • ||

    Anyone who does not choose to live in a Launch Arcology is a waste of oxygen and a blight on humanity.

  • ||

    Not only retarded but quite possibly douchey.

  • ||

    I prefer the country during the weekends 'cause that's when everything recreational is overcrowded in town, but it's hard to imagine choosing between one or the other--for all the time?

    Are we just talking about immigrants and ex-convicts? Single mothers?

    The suburbs aren't as low density as they used to be either--yards aren't as big as they used to be...

    And aspiring to the suburbs is like aspiring to the middle class anyway--nobody reads Architectural Digest or any other magazine to look at all the suburban homes...

    ...and the suburbs have always been about fleeing diversity. Getting away from diversity 'll cost you a fortune in places like Los Angeles and New York.

  • ||

    ...and the suburbs have always been about fleeing diversity. Getting away from diversity 'll cost you a fortune in places like Los Angeles and New York.

    You don't have to substitute "diversity" for "niggers and spics." We know what you mean.

  • ||

    I'm not saying that's the way it should be--I'm saying that's the way it is.

    How do you say that the places with the vibrancy and growth will be the places with all the diversity--and then in the same breath say that the suburbs will continue to be centers of growth?

    I didn't make up the word "white flight".


    The suburbs are where people go to get away from diversity--it's been that way since the '50s when the suburbs really took off. It was that way after desegregation just about everywhere, and it's why people want to live in places like Santa Clarita today. You may find some hipsters living in some lofts downtown, but as soon as those people have kids? Most of them are makin' for the suburbs.

  • ||

    Oh, I totally agree with you. It's just more accurate to paint what people are really trying to get away from than to call it diversity. It cheapens their racism.

  • Pham Nuwen||


  • Gabe E||

    I'm leaving the city to get away from the Hipsters. What do you call that?

  • ||

    Doucheism - the unfair classification of people based on their inherent douchiness.

  • ||

    If whites were just fleeing diversity, why do inner city school districts tend to be poorer performers than suburb school districts? Why are there greater rates of violence in the inner city than the suburbs?

    Racism has had its role in the formation of the suburbs, but it was never the only factor and until city councils realize this and realize what draws people back into the cities, suburban development will continue as long as affordably possible.

    PS, starting in the '90's, minority exodus from the cities began in force also.

  • Mo||

    No one wants to live in cities anymore, they're just too expensive.

    Actually, the trend in the past few years is that cities have seen higher population growth than the rest of the country.

  • ||

    Expense is highly relative depending on the area, not distance from the urban center. People complain that its too expensive, but its usually just that its too expensive "WHERE THEY WANT TO LIVE".

    As for cities gaining population, I'm sure that people are being forced to cut back on expenses like traveling and maintaining large homes, so smaller homes closer to work would be appealing, hence driving some form of urbanization. However, I'd wonder which cities were gaining most of all. Certainly not cities like Detroit, Cleveland, or Buffalo, ill run cesspools that they are.

  • ||

    I'm not tryin' to paper over racism here--I'm the guy that pointed it out.

    But, I think the racism you're talking about today may be a little softer than just "There goes the neighborhood!"

    I used to live in LA, in places where gang affiliation wasn't something some kids decided to do and others didn't. Everybody was affiliated. Many of these affiliated urban youth aren't aspiring to the American Dream as a lot of white middle class people would understand it...

    Their dreams may not be about going to college and buying a house.

    I know there are plenty of people who flee the city once they have kids--and are stereotypically hostile to racism and anybody who appears to be racist. They leave just to keep their kids out of that environment and out of those schools.

    I've lived in Mexico for more than a year, and for a lot of the people I knew, getting married young and having two kids by the time you're 22? That wasn't considered a personal tragedy--a lot of people thought that was normal.

    For people who grew up in the American suburbs since the '50s--that isn't normal. That's a tragedy! If you're one of those people, and you're trying to raise a kid, you probably think success is about making sure your kid doesn't become pregnant before college and avoiding gang affiliation like it was polio.

    In other words, some people may avoid diversity for all sorts of reasons--many of those reasons are racist; some of them have to do with bringing up your kids the way you were brought up; some of them are both.

    Is trying to make sure your kids avoid "problems" typically associated with second and third generation immigrants by pulling your kids out of environments where there are a lot of second and third generation immigrants inherently racist?

    I don't know, but given the alternatives, I'd rather my kid didn't hang our with affiliated gang members and think being a mom or dad by the time he or she is 20 is okay either. ...and I think that's what a lot of people associate with "diversity".

  • ||

    I don't want no hippy pad. I want a house just like mom and dad.

  • Gabe E||


  • Mr Whipple||

    Seasteading, bitchez.

  • Barack Obama||

    I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me.

  • ||

    how people who make different choices are inherently wrong and possibly retarded!

    I live on a private road. Therefor, I am more libertarian than you.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I also live on a private road. My property does not front onto any publicly owned or maintained infrastructure. In fact, it is a quarter mile from such.

    Some would consider the choice to purchase landlocked property to be a foolish one. I am one of those people.

  • Fleeing Cali||

    I don't even have a property! I live in the woods like a wild man, stealing hikers iphones to make occasional posts on the web. I don't pay taxes, follow laws, or even bathe!

    You property owners are just part of the giant state machine! ;)

  • ||


  • ||

    Extremely well-played, Epi.

  • ||

    Thank you. Your appreciation is appreciated.

  • ||

    Your appreciation of appreciation is appreciated.

  • Mrs. Cunningham||


  • bohica||

    Yeah well I not only live on a private road, I only breathe from tanks of compressed air that I buy, so there.

  • BenDU99||

    I seastead on a privately owned barge that floats on a giant privately owned lake that can only be accessed by private road. I declare myself most libertarian.

  • Andrew Ryan||

    I live in an undersea city I had built with the sweat of government oppression. We have our own life sustaining private programs not limited to but including genetic enhancements. Is a man not entitled to the haw of his maw?

  • ||

    I live in Somalia. I win.

  • Billy Shakespeare||

    I'm dead and have been for centuries. During that time I have made use of no taxpayer funds.

    To be most libertarian, or not to be most libertarian: that is the question.

    And now we know the answer.

  • juris imprudent||

    Unfortunately Billy, you didn't deed your descendants your intellectual property rights (copyright in perpetuity! or bust) and all your work belong to us.

  • ||

    Sorry Billy, nut nothing is more libertarian than Somalia. So sayeth the Wise Ones.

  • alan||

    I negotiate with the rest of you for your property rights while you sleep, and get them redrawn. I'll own everything before anyone realizes what has happened.

  • Captain Awesome||

    I run my brain simulation on a server rack floating in mucha fuckin space! The downlink to your nation infested rock is to slow and over-regulated atmosphereside for me to post in a timely fashion.

  • Almanian||

    Ironically, I also live on a private road. We thought it kinda sucked when we bought the place, but now all the cool kids are doing it, so...

  • C'mon man||

    Hey, wtf, Palin isn't in here. Quick, someone post something about the super sleeper cell Ground Zero Mosque. Let's get mosquerbating.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Anyway, I liked Florida's plan better the first time I heard it, when it was the plot to the Star Trek episode "The Cloud Minders".

    However, it would be cool if we could elevate the entire Continental United States above everyone else in some kind of floating country amongst the clouds. I would so lean over the side every morning and hawk a loogie all over Canada. Now who's the hoser, eh?

    What were we talking about?

  • C'mon man||

    We were talking about Palin announcing her candidacy for Prez at the Ground Zero Mosque.

  • Andrew Ryan||

    "However, it would be cool if we could elevate the entire Continental United States above everyone else in some kind of floating country amongst the clouds."

    Yes, it would.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That would be one serious-big loogie, Fist.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Some mornings I have a flem situation. Also, I'm counting on a wide dispersal from the great height of a soaring America.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    (Technically known as phlegm.)(Whatever.)

  • ||

    Why all the hate? What's wrong with Mexico?

  • AlmightyJB||

    People just want to live where poor people (and the street crime that comes with them) are not. That includes other poor people.

  • C'mon man||


  • ||

    If Sarah Palin had a degree in Urban Development from Harvard, maybe frank Rich would respect her.

  • bgates||

    If Palin said cities would attract a creative class and prosper by making sure they were "gay-friendly", Rich would say she had come up with a bizarre plan to concentrate wealth among urban plutocrats by forcing gays into ghettos. And the whole lurid scheme was based on the offensive stereotype that homosexuals are "artsy".

  • ||

    Richard Florida's vision of the future makes me think of The Time Machine. There are the Eloi, the blond, lithe creative class living clean, green, tolerant and cultured lives. Then there are the Morlocks, dirty, filthy subterranean slaves making the machine work. I think I know where the gay's fit into Richard's vision, not so sure where the ethnic minority populations fit, except for addressing the inconvenience of laundry and a dirty apartment, menial work that defies export.

  • JoshINHB||

    Don't forget busboys, cooks, gardeners, nannies, custodians, asswipers etc.

    The creative class requires constant pampering by their lessers.

    Too bad it is all based on an every inflating currency and will crash soon.

  • Kolohe||

    Query for the hive mind - what's the difference between a yob and a chav ?

  • Alex||

    It depends on which you are.

  • BakedPenguin||

    A yob is old school. No bling, rap music or drugs. Also, they're even more likely to commit crimes of violence, while the chav would be happy to steal whatever he could fit into his hoodie while no one's looking.

  • Robert||

    I guess a yob is the opposite of a boy.

  • ||

    Actually it is meant to be the word boy spelled backwards. A yob is the opposite of what a "good boy" should be.

  • Your a stupid turd||

    Looks like Ireland is taking a bailout from the EU. Could we please come to the realization that the free market is a failure already?

  • juris imprudent||

    No you fool. The proper handle for your post is UR o' stupid turd.

    Stupid yob.

  • stupid turd||

    Can't argue with that.

  • Cycle of Life||

    Don't feel bad, little buddy.

  • ||


    R.I.P. David Nolan

  • Cuddly Soft Balls of Death||

    And, from the same website:


  • Paris Hilton||

    Mr Florida’s definition of creative goes beyond the obvious artists and musicians to include anyone open to new ideas.

    That is so hot.

    He says businesses must give space and flexibility to these freethinkers, and that cities must attract lots of them to be successful.

    Such a sexy understanding of what the latest trends are in buzz words and phrases.

    This means they must be green, clean, tolerant and cultured, typically with large gay and ethnic-minority populations.

    You just have to know how to keep up with the latest fashions if you wanna be relevant, you know.

  • alan||

    If Washington is Hollywood for ugly people, Academia is a fashion show for the hideous.

    I'm not sure why Tim would entertain the notion of taking Florida seriously.

  • Almanian||

    This guy is Faith Popcorn's boyfriend, right? Whatever happened to Faith Popcorn, anyway? I need to Google her and see if she was right about anything. Making a note to check on Dick Miami 20, 30 years from now, too.

    I believe he's irrelevent, if not entirely wrong about everything. Time will tell.

  • Dave||

    What the hell is up with all those names?

  • Robert||

    let's construct a verbal slobopolis. You gave us the start with cars on cinder blocks & chicken coops. I'm putting up...a bathtub planter, some free-range children, and a goose pond with no outlet.

  • Atanarjuat||

    I've actually seen a toilet used as a planter. Also, neighbors used to put a lawn sprinkler on top of their trailer on a hot day.

  • Teleporting Zombie||

    Mmmmmm, free-range children. ARRNNNGHHHHAHH.

  • ||

    Around here no one would waste an old bathtub using it as a planter.

    They set it on end and use it as a niche for a statue of the Virgin Mary. They complete the shrine with plaster figurines of skunks and squirrels in adoring postures.

  • ||

    bathtubs are for gin and meth, not trivial things.

  • Robert||

    Never mind that, we'll have a feeder for real skunks and racoons.

  • Stevo Darkly||

    New Jersey native Richard Florida

    OK, that is just confusing. I'm having a problem just getting past this guy's name.

    It's like an article about "Connecticut native Jim Iowa." Or "Michigan native Billy California." Or "University of Chicago professior Indiana Jones." Or "Virginia landowner George Washington." Most unlikely and confusing. Please fix.

  • ||

    Is it just me, or is Florida mostly spouting gibberish? "anyone open to new ideas" "green, clean, tolerant and cultured, typically with large gay and ethnic-minority populations"

    IOW, he thinks San Francisco is the economic engine of our future. How anyone could think anything in California is an economic model of anything but failure boggles, truly boggles.

  • alan||

    Florida is Marx degenerated by several generations.


  • tebici||

    "When you ask them whether they want to live in an apartment or a house, they say they want to live in a house."

    This is the most inane starting point. When you ask people where they want to live they give different answers. It doesn't have to be the same solution for everybody. Why does everybody have to want the same thing? Even if they want the same thing can they afford the same thing. Plenty of people in the suburbs live in apartments. Plenty of people in cities live in houses.

    Also by the way there's tradeoffs. I want to live in a mansion two blocks from work and the nightlife and the opera and the forest and I want to drive to all those places with no traffic and I want a maid to clean up my mansion because I certainly don't have time to do it. You can't always get what you want.

  • دردشه عراقية||



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