People and Places

The Next American City's Josh Leon reacts to my March Atlantic essay on cities and the crisis:

[N]ot everyone can afford to move and the poorest are left behind amidst urban blight and neglect. What do we do about the immobile? What do we do with cities that are net losers of the "creative class"? For this so-called creative brand of capitalism, the uncreative are someone else's problem ...There is an inherent inhumanity in leaving people and their cities in the dust. Besides, the cost of finding ways to get so-called obsolete classes of workers gainfully employed where they live is looking preferable to the social costs of managing huge ghost cities and permanent spatial inequality.

All sentiments I share. The first step - and the main point of my essay - is to elevate the issue of growing geographic inequality and bring it into the ongoing conversation about the crisis and recovery.

But what can be done? How to create whole new industries and jobs in declining places? Protecting old industries or baling out uncompetitive firms - two preferred solutions - make little economic sense. So what's left?

We can confer subsidies on places to improve their infrastructure, universities, and core institutions, or quality of life. But this still is unlikely to stem the tide of the talented and the mobile, at least in the short-run. We can take a longer-term approach and help them gradually shift away from declining industries and build around their remaining assets organically and over time.

At the end of the day, people - not industries or even places - should be our biggest concern. We can best help those who are hardest-hit by the crisis, by providing a generous social safety, investing in their skills, and when necessary helping them become mobile and move to where the opportunities are.

Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here.

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in National

From This Author

Just In