Posts Tagged ‘creative class’
Just back from Abu Dhabi for the first ever Global City Forum organized outside of Europe. A sizzling cast of urban experts promised much but failed in some way to matching the hype.
We kicked off with Richard Florida’s keynote speech. He talked about the transformative impact of the current global recession as a time of the great reset. Periods of reset sometimes takes 10 – 30 years. Florida went on to say how this will catalyze the shift of global cities economies emphasis in the creative sectors (science, arts, culture, entrepreneurship, services, etc.) He gave stats of how the composition of industry has changed significantly. In 1900, most worked in agriculture with less than 5% in the creative sectors. In 1950s, 50% of the jobs were in manufacturing and less than 10% in the creative sectors. But today, 50% of jobs are in creative (I think he includes service) sectors. Florida also compared unemployment numbers of construction (26%) with creative sectors (only 4%) against the overall US numbers of 8.5%. The gist of it is that with this great reset (his latest book), this change will be accelerated.
In one of the parallel session titled Dynamizing the City Through Downturn Redevelopment (almost all the sessions had similarly long titles), Clive Dutton (Director of Planning & Regeneration, Birmingham City Council) talked about Birmingham’s Big City Plan. The large goals were increase in population by 100,000 by 2026, 43,000 additional jobs between 2008 and 2020 and for the city centre to grow from 0.8 km sq to 8 km sq. Clive was one of four who spoke.
At the Q & A, someone asks if they thought sustainability, which all four speakers spoke about, was the differentiating advantage for their cities. Three yeses and one no. The crowd murmured. The unspoken obvious being that if everyone’s doing it and pitching it as unique to their city, is it truly a differentiator anymore. One of the panel said it comes down to implementation. He was skeptical about all cities being able to deliver on its promises.
Which brings me to Hazem Galal (Partner, Global Cities and Local Government Network Leader of PWC). Hazem had a facinating 2 x 2 matrix which plotted Policy on the x-axis and Performance on the y-axis. I’ve never seen cities mapped against plans with that of ability of implementation. [I've refrained from putting up the chart to respect PWC's IP.]
Another theme of citizen/resident inclusiveness jumped out at me. In part because, I have been researching on this myself and also it was echoed in separate sessions by Peter Woods (Sec General, United Cities and Local Govts Asia Pacific) and Richard Florida. Peter Woods one of the more colorful (read: gutsy) speakers gave a scathing speech of how some cities talk about attracting talent. He says “it’s not just letting them in. It’s how they have been received. People are not commodities“.
He says it’s about integration not merely assimilation and that looking at the world, we have a long long way to go. Woods says it goes beyond how many minority groups a place has, but how inclusive and embracing a city is in welcoming migrants. Fake openness only leads to superficial short term gains where talent come and goes. Real change has to happen for sustainable gains from real inclusiveness.
Undoubtedly the best session of this conference has to be on “city branding”, led by Thomas Sevcik (Arthesia). One of the things about the conference that stuck with me was Thomas showing us a collage of pictures on city PR taken from websites. The all look the same. A good slap in the face for all city tourism agencies and city PR companies. All said, there’s nothing that ”distinctive” as much as each city touts. All big cities have a “vibrant culture” and “rich history”. He said every city that has 1 million people has restaurants from 100 different nationalities, so every city can lay claim to being ”diverse”. Taglines like “rich history, “vibrant culture and arts scene” and “wide selection of cuisines from 100 different countries” aren’t distinctive, but they end up being used all the time.
Lastly, I was truly impressed in Melbourne the city, presented by Dr. Kathy Alexander, CEO City of Melbourne. Talk about a city that seems to have all the pieces lined correctly.
And finally, Peter Taylor and Saskia Sassen’s talk gave me something to chew on.
Really excellent distinction on when NOT to over-use, abuse, analytical reasoning. The world of people, organisations and cultures is a world created by words. Words can make the mind, so words can also unmake the mind. Especially in the great reset to global demand, creation of a new way of living and growth is more important than unreal ‘reality’. h/t to R Florida’s creative class blog.
…Goldsby-Smith points out that Aristotle made an important distinction that has been almost entirely overlooked in the modern history of analytical thought. He divided the world into parts: the first in which things cannot be other than they are, and another in which things can be other than they are-a simple but powerful distinction.
The former is typified by the physical world in which a rock is a rock and can’t be anything else. In this world, Aristotle’s Analytics lays out a fabulous toolbox-rigorous, objective, quantitative analysis whose goal is to establish and document the reality of the situation.
The latter, where things can be other than they are, is the world of people, of organizations, of cultures. For example, a badly performing organization can be something else-a great organization-if someone figures out how it to turn it around. For this entire domain, Aristotle explicitly argued that analytics is an inappropriate tool.
Instead, in his book Rhetoric he described the proper thinking tools: conversation, invention, and intention. In Rhetoric, the object of endeavor is not the description of what is real but rather the creation of something that does not currently exist; that must first be imagined….
Creating the Future
But back to ‘reality’… Analytical reasoning seeks out and reveres reality. As long as we apply analytical thinking to things that can be other than they are, we will convince ourselves that what we have now is ‘reality’ and we will be both blissfully ignorant of the possibilities that could be and comforted that there is nothing to do but accept the situation.
Instead, our core assumption should be that we are not looking at ‘reality’ but rather seeing just another model-one that is likely to be imperfect. If we start with that assumption, we open ourselves to imagining better, different models. With that mindset, we can create the future rather than reinforce the past. With that mindset, we can be Design Thinkers.
The interactive map (link) depicts the USA’s evolving economic landscape. Look for the clustering of green bubbles.
I’ve been anticipating how R Florida of the creative class trilogies would give his take on what he terms “The Great Reset” would mean for cities and talent. Would a creative class make a city more resilient (less layoffs etc)? No, as demand is still king. Would a creative class enable a city to reinvent itself again and again, for more growth? And how?
In his article that made the cover of the Atlantic (link), he notes that the recession will accelerate the rise and fall of specific places within the U.S.—and reverse the fortunes of other cities and regions.
a) Cities like NYC may seem wounded with the financial sector down, but they have ” a large critical mass of financial professionals, covering many different specialties, along with lawyers, accountants, and others to support them, all in close physical proximity. It is extremely difficult to build these dense networks anew, and very hard for up-and-coming cities to take a position at the height of global finance without them.” NYC’s openness to talent, and importantly, critical mass of talent, will keep it at the top of the financial pecking order for now.
b)Apart from critical mass, is diversity. Mega-regions have a clear hub, and these hubs are likely to be better buffered from the crash than most cities, because of their size, diversity, and regional role. NYC is more than finance, there’s entertainment, film … a wide range of the creative classes buffers NYC more than other US cities who have an outsize finanical sector. (I keep thinking Iceland).
So in good times, mega-regions with rich talent networks do well. In bad time, they do better than others. Now, while NYC is hit, it is the cities still in the ‘old’ economy least associated with finance that are doing worst (think Detroit and cars). The great reset is a painful lurge from the ‘old’ economy to the ‘new’ economy based on ideas and creation.
c) Jobs are not evenly hit in bad times. Jobs in the tangible sector declined (measured from 12/07 – 11/08) by 1.8 mil in the USA, while the ‘creative classes’ sector increased by 500,000. These jobs are clumped, meaning certain city regions will be devastated by large unemployment (industrial Midwest) while the Northeast with its concentration of creative class city clusters is more insulated. The US economic landscape becomes even spikier. (Play with the interactive map at the top of the article to get a feel).
d) Florida proceeds to talk about different regions, some will do well and some don’t. But what struck me was the Sunbelt cities whose growth was based mainly on housing appreciation (and better climate). There is a Chinese saying that water will bear a boat, water can also sink a boat (水能载舟，亦能覆舟). I kept thinking of the property plays that characterized Dubai.
e) Economic geography. Florida’s point is that cities created for dense human networking create value, suburbs that dilute and diminish human networking lose value. The suburb model is a holdover from an economic system 80 years ago. It is done, finished. Cities that master this new economic geography for creating value have the environment for value in the new economy. Provocatively, especially for Singapore’s context that equates citizenship with homeownership and the ‘upgrading’ ladder chase, Florida says governments should encourage renting, not ownership. Home ownership has good social effects, but it makes society less nimble.
Florida ends with a chilling statement. “Different eras favor different places.” Some places will decline, government’s role is just to soften it. Well, we don’t have that luxury do we? What does it take to create a megacity region with the diversity, the critical mass, the economic geography that encourages invention, innovation and creation?
Future Sense: Hub Culture Zeitgeist City Ranking for 2009
Hub Culture has come out with its annual Zeitgeist ranking for 2009. We’ve written about the 2008 rankings in a previous futuresense. Here’s a snapshot of 2008 Zeitgeist city rankingsvs 2009 Zeitgeist city rankings and the movement of individual city rankings. You can click on the links for the full articles.
Singapore’s city message: restraint, steady, simple, clean and secure … in a world of excess and madness …. not a bad message for today’s world. Reminds me of an earlier post I put up on Tyler Brule of Monocle remarking that Singapore’s strength is similar to Tokyo’s … and build a post-crisis service economy based on delivering service, education and training as part of our national brand. This city message is strong enough to attract creative classes from a post Chimerica world to Singapore. But beyond, I don’t think it will spin off that much to Singapore’s globally contestable companies yet. More to think on this.
21st Jan 2009
Change is in the air, and it has a decidedly political slant. The third Hub Culture Zeitgeist Ranking debuts with a new No. 1, set amid a palpable shift in our collective expectations. Security, sober simplicity and quality of life are dominating the scene now, creating a very different vibe among the world’s globerati.
Hub Culture compiles this ranking as a measure of the moment, drawn from discussions, emails, and observations gathered from members around the world. What keeps coming up, and more importantly… where?
The list may be debatable, since there is no formula for setting the pace. This gut read on how its all shaking out reflects the combined wisdom of niche crowds and curated views.
1. Washington, DC (new)
From out of nowhere, Washington D.C. bursts onto the No. 1 spot on our list, taking the running title from the beautiful people in Los Angeles. Known by some as ‘Hollywood for the Ugly’, Washington is alive with excitement as Sasha and Malia Obama get settled. But its not really about the Obamas – its about the context of our changing expectations of government. Hundreds of thousands of applications are flooding the city for new administration posts, and the bailouts of 2008 have shifted the attention of global business to the city. If you’re just starting out, DC is the place for jobs. If you’re hunting for a bailout, regardless of sector, DC is your first stop. DC’s slower pace fits with the new sober mood, and all eyes are on the Administration for policy cues, expanded international cooperation, and insight on an age of creeping socialization. We hate to say it, but for 2009, its all about Washington. Long may it not last…..
13. Singapore (2008 rank: 17)
Singapore is steady, and right now steady is very good. The tiny city-state showed restraint in the early part of 2008, and it continues to sit on piles of cash reserves. Private wealth and trading (two of the city’s biggest focuses) are giving ground to medical tourism, biotech and other homegrown industries taking root with support from the government. Throw in the nice quality of life, low crime, low cost of living and an improving plethora of local entertainment, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good deal: simple, clean, secure.
A little break from heavy stuff in Chimerica …
In the ‘Venturesome Economy’ by Amar Bhidé, an entrepreneurial population that commercialises research to an existing market’s needs is more important than high level ideas churned out by researchers in Universities. The entire article is below, and reading it I’m struck that’s exactly the strength of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China’s entrepreneurial classes that take, pirate, borrow, etc ideas from the USA and customise them for the home market and then re-export. What’s new?
|Published:||January 7, 2009|
… Instead, Bhidé concludes that the edge in economic development from the “innovation game” comes from the kind of entrepreneurial behavior that adapts and combines high-level ideas and know-how, adjusts them to the needs of particular markets, and actually sells them to willing buyers. Without these capabilities, high-level ideas, as was the case with the development of transistors, can take decades to develop.
Of course, the development of high-level ideas is critical to this process as well, but if it is less and less possible to hoard such ideas, where they are developed is of less importance than where mid-level and ground-level ideas and know-how are applied. The iPod, for example, was an example of purchased (largely non-U.S.) technological innovations combined with Apple design capability and knowledge of the U.S. market, where the vast majority have been sold.
Richard Florida mentioned in his most recent column that it’s not superpowers that matter in the future, it’s the mega regions. You can read his article in full below.
One thing that I would like to unveil in the project I’m doing now, is to make clear what has changed, and what hasn’t changed, for the drivers of demand. And one of those changes is place. Growth now comes from mega-regions that have that unbeatable mix of market depth and breadth in business&finance, logistics, entertainment, manufacturing, research, education and (maybe) political decision making.
The Pearl River Delta is a geographical concentration of market demand (population 60 mil) organised around nine core cities, each with a different specialisation: entertainment (Macao), business&finance (Hong Kong), logistics (several cities), manufacturing (several), research (none), education (Guangzhou), political decision making (mixed).
You can similarly breakup the Yangtze River Delta (population 80 mil) into five core cities: political (Shanghai), business&finance (Shanghai), logistics (Ningbo, Shanghai), manufacturing (several), research (Shanghai, Nanjing), education (Shanghai, Nanjing), entertainment (Hangzhou, Shanghai).
That is a rough cut. A better next step would be to map out the comparative advantage of each mega region against each other. How does Singapore fare against the other mega regions of Asia? Well, here’s a grab from Florida’s book ‘Who’s your City’ on mega regions of Asia.
If the medium future is more govt spending heavy and consumer spending light, what are the relevant comparative advantages to measure by?
…While Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, describes a post-American world defined by the rise of the rest, I now think of our era as that of a post-superpower world. The energy has shifted, and been unleashed, and it’s not just a wide range of countries that matter, but mega-regions such as the Beijing-Shanghai corridor, the Mumbai-Bangalore axis, greater Toronto and its environs, Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest, and all throughout Asia, Europe and across the world – everywhere the Internet and global airwaves now reach….
Paul Graham in his latest post titled “The High-Res Society” talks about the future where large institutions will progressively do worse as they fail to attract the best people. The best people want to work for hot startups. And this phenomenon he terms the spread of smallness, of small, automous groups highly networked, and whose performance is measured individually.
He notes that startups have not spread broadly because they are socially disruptive. And yes, observation is that startups are common in Silicon Valley and several other cities around in the USA, but they are an anomaly in the rest of the world. It is hard for startups to flourish where hierarchy and stability is prized. By that definition, it explains the dearth of startups in Singapore, in Korea, in Japan etc where stability is so highly prized. The PRC is different once again, but there is no flourishing of startups like Silicon Valley yet. The hand of the state is heavy.
Is it possible to engineer an environment where startups flourish in SGP? This question has been asked so many many times. What is the economic cost of NOT having startups in only-the-paranoid-survive stability-is-king Singapore? What is the economic cost of NOT having the young, the next generation, want to startup companies and instead become a salaryman?
If you know anyone who’s doing research, or likeminded, along these lines, much appreciate you let me know?
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not so much turbulence itself, but acting with yesterday’s logic. I think that’s from Peter Drucker. Gladwell’s main message is the 10,000 hour rule, 10 years of 1,000 hours per year of practice in whatever craft, skill .. that tips over into excellence. On a larger scale, how can we design SGP society to reward not so much talent, but reward the process of becoming talent? How can we integrate a skills programme to be long term (not just 2 monthly courses) , for every resident (not just citizen).. and turn that into a national talent attractiveness advantage? Think about this … I want to move to Singapore because it gives me the opportunity and support infrastructure for long term training, the communities to hone my craft, the marketplace to realise it monetarily, the living environment and quality of life for youth, professionals and entrepreneurs? How do we create such an unbeatable edge?
Those of you following my facebook will know I have started a new project on youth. The focal question is in flux, as it will be in the first phase, for now it is “what is the economic cost of undercapitalised, under-engaged youth to Singapore?” …. Thanks for Rob Campbell of Sunshine for posing such an audacious question.
The Secret of Success in a Failing Economy
via Bill Taylor on HarvardBusiness.org by Bill Taylor on 12/5/08
It goes to show that timing isn’t everything. Here we are, amidst the greatest economic failure since the Great Depression, and two high-profile writers are out with big new books on the surprising secrets of what makes people successful. What’s more, both of these students of success are enamored of the same secret–a lesson drawn from research on super-successful violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music.
One of the stars of Outliers, the bestseller from Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for The New Yorker, is a psychologist named K. Anders Ericsson, who did an investigation of three different groups of violin students: the unquestioned stars, those who were good but not great, and those who had no hope of becoming professional musicians. What separated the stars from everyone else? It wasn’t raw talent, Ericsson concluded. (Every student had huge talent.) It was sheer persistence–those who practiced harder did better, and those who practiced insanely hard became wildly successful.
Gladwell dubs this phenomenon the “10,000-hour rule.” Becoming great at anything–sports, science, business–requires ten years of practice and 1,000 hours of practice per year. “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” he argues.
Geoffrey Colvin, a high-profile editor at Fortune magazine, is equally smitten by Ericsson’s research. In his new book, Talent is Overrated, Colvin doesn’t just embrace the importance of ten years of practice. He explains just what sort of practice is required–a regimen that he calls “deliberate practice.”
What are the elements of deliberate practice? It’s designed explicitly to improve performance–the little adjustments that make a big difference. It’s repetitive, which means that when it’s time to perform for real (sinking a putt, pitching a product), you don’t feel the pressure. It’s informed by continuous feedback; practice only works if you can see how you’re improving. And it isn’t much fun, which isn’t all bad. “It means that most people won’t do it,” Colvin says.
So what does this thinking about success tell us about how to succeed in perilous times? For individuals, one message is that practice does make perfect. So if you’re a computer programmer who’s spending fewer hours writing code, or a product designer whose portfolio of projects is shrinking, or a customer-service specialist with fewer customers to serve, don’t let down time become wasted time. Turn it into practice time–find ways to work intensely and deliberately on your technical and business skills, confident that hard work will pay off in the long run.
The more jarring message comes for companies and their leaders. We’re still early into the downturn, but already big companies are reacting the way they always do. They are encouraging their highest-paid, most-experienced performers–that is, those with the most practice–to be the first to leave. Last year, in perhaps the most famous example of this brain-dead, knee-jerk policy , Circuit City, the giant electronics retailer, announced its so-called “wage management initiative.” The plan: fire its most talented and experienced employees in favor of younger workers making less money. Of course, customers who visited the stores looking for advice got much less of it, which meant they took their business elsewhere. The result? Last month, Circuit City filed for bankruptcy.
It would be funny were it not so common–and so wrong-headed. Indeed, New York Times media columnist David Carr recently looked at the Circuit City fiasco and asked an uncomfortable question: How is what the widely derided leadership of Circuit City did any different from what the leaders of our most respected media companies are doing?
The media business–print, national TV, local news–isn’t just downsizing. It is inviting its best-known, most-experienced (and thus, highest-priced) talent to be the first out the door. Legendary sportswriters, iconic anchormen and anchorwomen, influential columnists and pundits–all are heading for the exits with the blessing of management, replaced (if at all) by inexperienced newcomers who can’t hope to meet the standards of their predecessors.
How’s this for a secret of success? You don’t survive a downturn by encouraging your most experienced people to leave. Perhaps more business leaders can resist this wrong-headed practice–and hold on to those employees who have had the most practice in their careers.
This is brilliant. For a while I had doubts on Florida’s thinking since his shift to Toronto. ‘Who’s your City?’ was a bit too pop, a departure from his more academic and solid research work in his trilogy of Creative Class books. Well, my doubts are lifting, with his latest column on the tension between the creative spikes (urban, more D, creative class, tolerant) and the inward looking center (more rural, more R, old economy that’s been shipped overseas, scared and hostile), it echoes my thinking on the second part of the Future of USA video so well, I have to reproduce it in full. Original post titled ‘Class Politics’ from Florida’s blog here.
Class Politics II
In light of all the terrific comments to my original post, here is the original unedited version of my column.
Two years ago almost to the day, I sat at a coffee shop in Washington, D.C. talking about the upcoming U.S. election with a good friend who was an editor at a major political monthly. Having never been a fan of George W. Bush, I said nonetheless that the president might be a transitional figure, his administration essentially holding back a tectonic populist, rightward shift in American politics. I told my friend I was fearful of what could come next. He looked me squarely in the eye and said simply: “That’s not what frightens me. What has me terrified is the right-wing backlash that will come when a more liberal, left-leaning administration takes office in January 2009.”
I’ve since come round to his way of thinking. Barring some unusual unforeseen event, Barack Obama can count on victory in next week’s election. He is running a considerable lead in the national polls and even in the electoral college, and he appears to have mobilized huge numbers of younger and African American voters who will push him to victory in the key swing states he needs to win the Electoral College. He has the money – more than $150 million dollars raised just in September – to counter virtually any negative advertising. But his job once in office will be harder than he could have anticipated.
When people like Colin Powell say Obama is a “transformational figure,” they’re suggesting that an Obama administration can somehow heal the deep divisions within the American electorate and move the country forward, the way Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression. And certainly projected Democratic majorities in Congress make that kind of transformation appear plausible.
I wish that would happen. But I doubt it will, and the reason is simple: the divisions run too deep. The realignment that propelled and kept FDR in office is not happening today. American politics is distinguished today by shifting electoral coalitions, candidate-centered elections, and what some political scientists call de-alignment. America isn’t just suffering from political polarization but a burgeoning economic divide and class war.
Since 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was first elected, the U.S. economy has been undergoing a shift more thorough and massive than the rise of industrial economy a century and a half ago. Since then, 20 million jobs in the creative sector have been created, and the ranks of what I call the creative class has grown to 40 million – nearly a third of the workforce. That group has become a powerful force in American politics, and they are squarely behind Obama. New York Times columnist David Brooks recently reported that Republicans have all but lost creative professionals working in law, medicine, and high-tech. Obama leads McCain among those with a post graduate education 59 to 36 percent; and among those with a college education 50 to 44 percent. And the Democratic candidate leads younger 18-29 year old votes, 65 to 31 percent.
Up to this point, Republican party strategists have exploited this shift to their party’s advantage, beginning with the ever prescient Kevin Phillips’s identification of the “silent majority” of white working-class voters in 1968. The rise of the creative economy generated not just a new class, but a shift in social values. Tolerance, diversity, and self-expression became prized, and not just because of the hippies, student movement, or even what Christopher Lasch called the culture of narcissism. Diversity and self-expression are necessary for the creative economy to flourish and function. It’s little wonder than that Silicon Valley, ground zero of the high-tech revolution, grew up in the shadow of San Francisco.
As the creative economy grew and became more concentrated in locations like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Boston, and Washington D.C. – what we now know as blue America – the working class fell further and further behind. Globalization was shipping jobs overseas and the main institutional supports that led to higher working-class incomes during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s – powerful U.S. companies and powerful unions – were simultaneously being undercut. The great genius of Karl Rove was to seize upon the church as the one remaining constant in the lives of working Americans, and use it to his political organizational advantage.
The rise of ”hockey moms,” of “Joe Six-Pack,” and “Joe the Plumber” in this election cycle testify to this growing sense of unease. This is the kind of economic split that Obama tried to capture with his now infamous “bitter-gate” statement, which he now says he regrets. But what can we expect from people who know that the economic system is leaving them behind?
This class divide is overlaid on America’s economic and political geography. The rise of the creative class and its geographic centers which form the innovative engines of the U.S. economy, are also reshaping its politics. This goes beyond traditional Democratic bastions like big city New York, Chicago, and L.A. and, high-tech centers like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Washington D.C.; or university districts like Austin, Boulder, and Raleigh-Durham.
My team and I looked at the state-by-state polls and compared them to our measures of the creative economy – a broad index of technology, talent, and tolerance. Blue states had a median creativity index score of more then red states (.68 versus .38), with purple swing states in the middle. Virginia and Colorado, two former staunchly red states that Obama is currently winning by six or seven percent, have seen significant increases in their college-educated populations in recent years.
As these states have become more highly educated, more urbanized, more high-tech, and more diverse, notes Financial Times columnist Edward Luce, they have moved from Republican red to Democratic blue. As Republican congressman Tom Davis recently opined, U.S. politics, including his own district of Northern Virginia, is being reshaped as high-tech economies lean more Democratic. As he put it simply: “Economic development works.” He decided not to seek reelection.
Political scientist Andrew Gelman show that economic geography now outweighs personal income as the key faultline in American politics. Richer Americans continue to vote Republican and poorer ones are overwhelmingly Democratic, but upper-middle class, richer states like California, Massachusetts, and New York vote and perhaps now Virgina and Colorado vote blue, because richer more creative class voters there are more open-minded and no longer simply vote for their immediate pocketbooks.
And both states are microcosms of the deeper class divide across America. Outside of high-tech, highly educated, ultra-professional and diverse Northern Virginia and away from the creative class Denver-Boulder corridor, both are hot-beds of socially conservative populism – where anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-urban sentiments run high. Colorado after all is home to the ultra-conservative Focus on the Family, while Virginia Beach is the headquarters to the Christian Coalition originally founded by Pat Robertson.
These class divides will only deepen as the economy worsens, and America’s economic geography becomes ever more polarized and unequal. And a strange kind of reactive populism, much worse than anything we’ve seen before, is likely to rise. McCain’s defeat in 2008 at the hands of Obama will shift the balance of power toward the conservative wing of the Republican party – toward figures like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin who combine social populism with uncanny media skills and the ability to project themselves onto America’s popular culture. Unless Obama can fashion a broad inclusive appeal that extends the benefits of the creative economy to working and service economies, the bitterness he himself acknowledged, in a moment of uncanny candor, will only grow deeper and America will grow more divided and ever more polarized.
If you think the stock market has been volatile, we are in uncharted political waters. Get ready for an extended period of volatility and conflict in American politics. You heard it here first.
More along the lines of quality of place, Bill Bishop talks about how people cluster according to lifestyles, the way we think etc and this has led to the polarization of American society. It would be very interesting to see how this morning’s election is analysed later on, was there real middle ground created, or was polarization deepened? Did Obama win through superior message, massive grassroots groundswell aided by social networking services? But I am awfully proud of the dream that anything is possible in America. Born into a racially divided Malaysia, my family moved down to Singapore where we wouldn’t be denied opportunities because we were not bumiputras. I can resonate with Obama’s win today.
<embed src=”http://d.yimg.com/static.video.yahoo.com/yep/YV_YEP.swf?ver=188.8.131.52″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”500″ height=”313″ allowfullscreen=”true” bgcolor=”#000000″ flashvars=”id=10444220&vid=10444220&autoPlay=1&lang=en-us&intl=us&thumbUrl=&embed=1″ ></embed>
The video above is from Bill Bishop at Poptech a few weeks ago. Very telling, and if there is enough meat to that, it will be incorporated into the next video on Future of the USA. Am toying with whether to call it ‘The Dominance of the West?’