Creative Class War
Richard Florida wrote a fascinating book — The Rise of the Creative Class — about the importance of creative elites in modern economies. Now he’s written an interesting, combative piece on the Bush regime’s hostility to the new economy, and the potentially dire consequences this might have for the US economy. I particularly liked this bit:
“While Clinton and the Democrats increasingly drew their support from the high-tech parts of the country, the Republicans increasingly came to represent the low-tech areas. Republican leaders like Tom DeLay and Dick Armey were beginning, during the early 1990s, to articulate the cultural and political antagonism Red America felt towards the emerging creative-class culture. But the politician who most skillfully spoke to these grievances was George W. Bush.
Clinton’s whole life is a testimony to the power of education to change class. Bush prides himself on the idea that his Yale education had no effect on how he sees things. Clinton was a famous world traveler, appreciative of foreign cultures and ideas. Bush, throughout his life, has been indifferent if not hostile to all of that. Clinton, especially in the early years of his administration, had the loose, unstructured management style of an academic department or a dot-com–manic work hours, meetings that went on forever, lots of diffuse power centers, young people running around in casual clothing, and a constant reappraising of plans and strategies. The Bush management style embodies the pre-creative corporate era–formal, hierarchal, with decision-making concentrated in the hands of only the most senior executives. Clinton was happy in Hollywood and vacationed in Martha’s Vineyard. Bush can’t wait to get back to Crawford. Clinton reveled in the company of writers, artists, scientists, and members of the intellectual elite. Bush has little tolerance for them. Clinton, in his rhetoric and policies, wanted to bring the gifts of the creative class–high technology, a tolerant culture–to the hinterlands. Bush aimed to bring the values and economic priorities of the hinterlands to that ultimate creative center, Washington, D.C.
As president, Bush chose a group of senior advisors whose economic backgrounds have a century-old flavor. His vice president is an oil man. His treasury secretary, John Snow, is a railroad man. The White House’s economic and fiscal policies have been similarly designed to provide life support for these aging red-state industries: $190 billion in subsidies for farmers; tariffs for steel; subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory relief for logging, mining, coal, and natural gas. Even Bush’s tax policy shows the same old-economy preference. His dividend tax cut was supported by mainstream, blue-chip companies, which stood to gain, but opposed by high-tech executives, whose company stocks seldom pay dividends.”