Monday, January 2, 2012

The Great Reset by Richard Florida

I joined the WTS book club and they chose this book to discuss. I have needed some inspiration since I don't have the flight time I used to have on the cross country flights to Bmore.

A good book so far although it seems like a bunch of small newspaper column articles that have been stitched together by a successful author trying to write another book to satisfy a contract obligation.

That being said there are some good stuff in the book. One takeaway that comes early on in the book is a quote by Paul Romer who said "a crisis being a terrible thing to waste". The author makes the case that we are wasting it by throwing public money at the old economy. He suggests that government spending can't be the solution in the long run because it's simply lacks the resources to generate the enormous level of demand you need to power sustained growth.

Consistent with his other book The Rise of the Creative Class, Mr. Florida writes about transportation and housing, making the land use connection. I found it interesting when he talked about new models of consumption that spur the economy, enabling industry to expand and productivity to improve, thus creating better jobs for workers. This sounds a bit utopian and highly dependent on China for production, which he describes as an issue as well.

He references Jane Jacobs several times in the first few chapters and some of this seems like an update of her work. Peculiar that he has moved to Toronto (just like Jacobs did) after living in Newark, Boston, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.

He has three key attributes that he cites as what makes people happy in their communities and causes them to develop a solid emotional attachment to the place they live.
First, the physical beauty and level of maintenance (great open spaces and parks - Portland, check);
Second, the ease with which people can meet others, make friends, etc (PDX - compact urban form - check)
Third, diversity and open mindedness, acceptance (PDX seems to have all but the great diversity here).

The meeting is next week and I have the book nearly half read after a solid day working on it.

1 comment:

George DeMarse said...

I have not read Florida's book but I have seen highlights, and some of the ideas are from previous books which I have read (Whose Your City? etc).
I agree with the "global spikiness" thesis and that capitalism is creating new winners and losers amongst global cites/regions. I am waiting for someone to make a correlation between the "winning cities" in Florida's book with the wealthiest "1 or 2%" of the global population. It makes sense that the wealthiest would move their capital to these winning cities. The bad news is the toll on the middle class who have neither the wealth or mobility to move to the newest "innovation havens" or to acquire the extensive skill sets they will need to enter these new nirvanas. I see no relief for them in this model.
You might say that there are indeed some middle class people who could acquire the mobility and skill sets to compete in this brave new world--but it will be expensive and time-consuming to do so. It bodes well for the already well-off who have the means and connections to compete in this world--but the rest of us will probably suck wind.
The whole thing sounds absolutely exhausting.
I'm off to start a love-in at Haight Ashbury--that's the stuff!

The Sage of Wake Forest