Tuesday, 19 June 2007

the gay index

I've had a middling interest in Florida's ("Richard," not "State of") work ever since I noticed the chronic bumbling efforts of Maine's recent governors to legislate economic improvement. While I was an undergrad, Florida's work was becoming the vogue in Maine, the newest incarnation of slick slogan politics designed to excite and elect.

Florida was just the latest in a series of revitalization efforts I recall vaguely from my childhood. Allow me to derisively parody them now: First, it was low-income housing (Theory: if you build it, they will come. Practice: if you build it, construction companies will finance your next campaign!). Then we had downtown revitalization (Theory: if you build communities, people will live there! Practice: people sure do appreciate the picturesquely crumbling quaint "shoppes" as they whiz by at 65mph on the freeway) Next came tax incentives and targeted education packages (Theory: people move to where the jobs are. Practice: Umm... it's kinda cold in Maine. Do we have to move there?). Then comes the Florida package: the "Creative Economy." (Theory: if there's culture, engineers will move in. Practice: gee, it's too bad we don't have culture).

The key predictor for the Creative Economy is what Florida calls the Gay Index (it's an appropriate name; it's basically the number of gay people living in the region). The idea is that more gay people there are, the more artists there will be, and the more artists there are, the more culture there is. Ta-da! Number of gays equals amount of culture. 3quarksdaily has a different take. It's well worth a read, but here's the postcard version:

Florida is trying to predict cities that are ready for a high-tech boom. This means he's trying to figure out which cities will seem like safe homes for the educated middle class. Which means finding out which cities aren't already gentrified, but have the potential to become gentrified. And that means finding bohemians--the criminalized, marginalized minority who are nevertheless safely white. In other words, gays.

Obviously, this is the real reason we in the US don't want gays in the military. We need them for urban class warfare within our own borders.

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