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Travis Rowley: This Economy Is Gay

Saturday, June 22, 2013

 

“I’m not gay. But I notice your city is home to a lot of homosexuals. And I think that’s nice. This place is pretty tolerant. I think I’ll move here.”

Said no one ever.

But that is the essential contention made by Richard Florida in “The Rise of The Creative Class,” and a claim that is encapsulated and reinforced within this week’s column by GoLocalProv MINDSETTER Rob Horowitz – a typically fair-minded liberal.

Horowitz even confronts the unrestrainable mockery often caused by Florida’s study: “[Florida] is not making the absurd argument, as some critics have caricatured, that gays and lesbians directly generate high technology growth.”

While Horowitz seems determined to split hairs between “directly” and “indirectly,” Florida certainly is positing the idea that the presence of homosexuals catapults a tech economy.

“Florida’s persuasive case backed up by compelling data,” Horowitz explains, “is that the proportion of gays in a community is a strong sign of the openness and tolerance that attracts knowledge workers and young entrepreneurs.”

Don’t “knowledge workers and young entrepreneurs” contribute greatly to “high technology growth”?

Well there you go then. It seems quite clear that Florida has determined that an influx of “knowledge workers and young entrepreneurs” – attracted to urban areas due to their gay populations – is always a jolt to a region’s economy.

Even if that is not Florida’s finding, that’s certainly how progressives like Governor Lincoln Chafee decode such studies, arguing for years now that policies that send signals of openness to illegals and homosexuals are key proponents of economic vitality.

And Horowitz agrees.

“Young highly educated workers,” he explains, “are more attracted to cities than suburbs” – that is, “as a general rule.”

But the city was the city well before the concept of “gay marriage” was even conceived.

So what drove the youngsters to the urban playground before our latest political fad?

Maybe it was the music.

Horowitz doesn’t forget to add that “the concentration of artists, designers and musicians in a particular area…also correlates positively with the growth of new technology in a particular area. A threshold percentage of these folks contribute as well to the kind of varied and interesting street life that attracts skilled technology workers and companies.”

Yeah, you can’t find music anywhere in Coventry!

It’s difficult not to realize that behind all of this new social science is the old canard that, if the stiff Republican prudes were ever to take hold of the nation’s cities, then somehow the music would stop – like some sort of scene out of Footloose.

“This critical sub-set of the workforce,” Horowitz continues, “tends to settle in communities where there is a diversity of ethnic groups and lifestyles, a vibrant street life including a broad range of music and art options and plentiful outdoor recreational opportunities.”

Geez, you would think someone from the City of Providence would have created PlayStation-8 by now.

As Horowitz outlines, “The high quality and variety of art and music ranging from RISD’s Art Museum to Lupo’s, along with plentiful recreation options including beaches that are close-by make the Providence metro area attractive. And the recent adoption of same sex marriage legislation, along with the rising and visible Latino population, is another indicator of the area’s openness and diversity.”

All of this should “give Providence and its surrounding towns an important economic asset to maximize.”

But with such a liberal culture here in Providence and Rhode Island as a whole, what can we decide has gone wrong? Why is the Ocean State so poor? Why do young college graduates flee the state?

Horowitz – without abandoning the whole “music and diversity will make us wealthy” nonsense – goes on to admit that “while ‘quality of place’ is increasingly important to economic growth, it is by no means the only factor. Other factors such as business-friendliness, tax structure, access to capital, and the cost of energy still play important roles, along with the over-all quality of the workforce.”

So, basically, reducing tax rates, downsizing government authority, and subjecting the fields of energy and education to the forces of competition are also determinants of economic growth and city migration.

Even if one concedes that gay sex, street hipsters, and inexplicable sculptures are essential to a region’s prosperity, according to Horowitz it’s clear that what is missing in Providence – what would attract more spirited entrepreneurs – is a good dose of Republicanism.

Go figure, people want to be free. Now there’s something that plenty of people have said before.

 

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.

 

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