Heck of a Job Richard

Not content to live solely off public tax dollars, Richard Florida has extended the consulting expertise of the Creative Class® Group to numerous private sector clients. While the complete list of clients is not available to the public (who pay Richard’s base salary at the University of Toronto of $346,041.48 CAD) we can determine a few clients from his website.

From this list it is apparent that the corporate subsidies allocated to the Creative Class® Group pale in comparison to its illustrious clients. For now, let’s take a gander at the financial sector.

Based on data from the website Pro Publica, the U.S. federal government has committed bailout funds to the following clients of Richard Florida:
$50 billion to Citigroup (3rd largest commitment)
$10 billion to Goldman Sachs (9th largest commitment)
$4.9 billion to Sun Trust (14th largest commitment)

Evidently the Creative Class® Group was teaching these banks one of its fundamental yet unmentioned principles: corporations succeed when they receive vast quantities of unaccountable funds from the state. Richard gets richer too.

10 responses to “Heck of a Job Richard

  1. My seven-year-old daughter is capable of higher-level analysis than what is reflected here. But let me see if I can grab onto the author’s ‘point’. I guess the starting point is the premise of “Creative Class Struggle”: Ideas with which we agree are good; ideas with which we disagree are bad. Good ideas have a place in our cities and institutions; bad ideas do not. Richard Florida’s ideas are bad; so bad, in fact, that he should not be allowed at the University of Toronto or even in the city of Toronto. Because Richard Florida is not elected, he is not entitled to share publicly his opinion on urban economics. Because he is not elected, he is not entitled to receive public money in support of his work. Because ?, he is not entitled to be retained by private organizations, especially if those private organizations have received public monies from the U.S. government.

    (I realize of course, in full recognition of the Creative Class Struggle’s underlying premise, that my ‘bad’ ideas are headed straight for the delete bin — in true democratic fashion.)

  2. I think you misinterpret the spirit of this movement. The aim here, as I see it, is to spark a conversation that is not happening anywhere else. The substantive concern is not how rich Florida is (though that fact might help galvanize people into a discussion), or the particulars of his relationship with the public sector (of course he is entitled to sell us his opinion, but we are also entitled to tell our governments we aren’t interested in paying for it), but rather the absence of serious analysis these ideas are receiving from governments, media, and those who call themselves progressive. You and I might find the financial links mentioned here uncontroversial, but they might impel somebody else to learn more.

    Regarding the allegation that dissent is not welcome here, I suspect the opposite is true: this entire project seems built on the principle of dissent. So I’ll call upon the authors to let the conversation continue, and hopefully we’ll all be better for it.

  3. I find concept of “creative class struggle” very exciting, timely, and appropriate, and appreciate the folks who got it off the ground for dedicating their time and resources to create space for this kind of conversation and dissent. Based on this website, however, I worry that as currently framed, “creative class struggle” is way too oriented toward bringing down or criticizing Richard Florida specifically, rather than the social conditions which make his ideas so appealing to cities. Without Richard Florida, we’d still have entrepreneurial cities catering to yuppies at great cost to those who live in the city, we just wouldn’t have DVDs about how to do it and perhaps the term “creative class.” I’d like to see these efforts address the root of the problem and not fetishize Florida himself.

    • Hi KDD,
      We’ve created a FAQ section to respond to questions and critiques. There’s a response to “Why Florida” there. Thanks for raising this question.

  4. Dee, it’s a critique of Florida. His ideas are bad because he’s a shill for the ruling class, because he provides gloss for social cleansing, and because he appropriates genuinely creative occupations for the needs of capital. If your 7 year old gets all that and more, you’ve done a great job of parenting 🙂

    KDD, I’ve got no problem criticizing Florida. Of course he’s not the whole problem, but he represents the most coherent ideological defence of the post-Fordist, urban neoliberal agenda. Targeting him could break open the near-total unanimity on the issue of urban development, and open up a real debate over whether cities grow in the interests of capital or labour. I think it behooves us to take sides.

  5. But VS,

    I think the key is to criticize Florida’s _ideas_, not Florida him self. For instance, the link to the video of Florida and his wife giving a tour of his home is a low shot.

    It doesn’t matter where Florida lives, it matters what he says and what it means for cities and economies.

  6. To assert that Florida’s ideas are untested and unchallenged either shows a lack of research or ability to read.

    He is constantly challenged from every side of the academic world. His ideas are winning out because a large amount of people think he’s on the right track. The fact that he is slick and knows how to sell his ideas is not a bad thing, it just goes to show he has personality and marketing acumen than most academics lack.

    I’m all for his post-Fordist agenda. That world is what has got us into this mess, and an economy based on ideas and creatively is much better than trying to defend low-wage jobs. By defending the “real people” (i think this means “working class”), you are only keeping them in that strata of the economic ladder and reinforcing the classist world you seem to loathe.

  7. “By defending the “real people” (i think this means “working class”), you are only keeping them in that strata of the economic ladder ”

    Ha ha ha ha ha!
    Is this meant to be satire?

  8. The “Fordist agenda” got us into “this mess”? Uh, Morris, are you trapped in the 70s? Stagnant wages, lean production, product differentiation galore, rampant and growing inequality alongside ballooning debt, these are all very “Post-Fordist” innovations that have contributed in one way or another to the current financial mess. It’s people like Florida, by sweeping ordinary people under the rug, who are reinforcing the “classist world”, not those of us who object.

  9. An excellent start. If we’re to understand this particular piece of ruling class drivel in its’ proper context, one must examine the need to find and reinforce support from layers of the ‘middleclass” who are having difficulty with the “war on terror”-
    The torture, the state murder, the instability, the attack on seemingly inviolable human rights. This compounded by the catastrophic insecurities caused by the looming consequences of the recent global economic collapse.
    In other words this is motivated by a fear of losing that layer of protective of its’ fat that insulates big capital from the growing victims of its’ barbarism. “Defence of civilization” has been used by every capitalist enterprise in times of crisis from The Nazis in Germany to Apartheid South Africa.

    Keep up the good work

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