Richard Florida is the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada. He recently released ‘The Great Reset: How New Ways Of Living And Working Drive Post Crash Prosperity”. He is a student of the late great Marshall McLuhan whose writings are resurging due to the internet.
He has written a op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that betrays much that McLuhan revealed about the social, psychological and political impact of inclusive electronic media. His essay is titled ‘Homeownership Is Overrated’ and his thinking ignores the social, psychological and political impact of family life in urban sprawl. He naively represents one dominate factor becoming modern life: mobility as the prerequisite for success. As such, he ignores the impact of urban instability for American family life. We are witnessing the return to the rootless urban polity that guaranteed the social, political and psychological plight of becoming ‘proletarian’. Florida ignores the resurgence of Marxism as a consequence of humanity becoming an appendage to dominant electronic media. By ignoring the profound theological, social and psychological consequences he betrays the honor and relevancy bestowed on McLuhan.
He begins his essay by revealing that homeownership “causes people to become more dilligent, hard working and productive; it leads to stable families, stable communities and far higher levels of happiness and well being. But the foundation of our economy no longer lies in manufacturing. Today’s idea driven economy requires a more mobile work force that can seize opportunities wherever and whenever they arise. Owning a home may actually be a drawback given the economic flexibility required to power long-lasting recovery.” Never does he mention the ever growing informed citizenry that will demand a repeal of the Marxian agenda implemented against the will of the people. Never does he mention that cities and States will begin implementing the economic agenda outlined by Hayek implemented by Reagan and enforced by Paul Volker. Does he really believe that the ‘politics’ of our current malaise has no place in his correct analysis?
Florida has misplaced what McLuhan taught, namely that the impact of all electronic media is acceleration and disruption. Radical autonomy permeates the entire fabric of modern living. Mr. Flordia is about to discover what happens when radical autonomy meets a decentralized political economy of an angry informed citizenry.
Our contemporary economic malaise cannot be fixed by embracing ever greater flexibility, especially regarding homeownership. It ignores the political and macro-economic foundation growing a secure Republic!
Perhaps Peter Drucker was correct when he exclaimed that in the future there will not be poor or rich nations but ignorant or smart ones. In his analysis, Drucker drew on the political and social conditions that created the Athenian City-State. Athenian leadership embraced cash crop farming instead of rudimentary agricultural autocracy. The success of this economic project created another problem regarding slavery. Athenian countryside was awash of permanent resident aliens dependent on good weather. This created the political need for a secured citizenry. With the arrival of an enforced tyranny to deal with the impact of an agricultural success eventually brought on the Peloponnesian War which imploded the Athenian City State. An economic problem created an unsolvable political problem. Karl Marx surveyed similar precedents throughout Das Kapital.
The United States has both the intellectual reserve and dire need to keep Mr. Florida’s thinking from becoming a reality. A rootless, wandering, urbanized citizenry is not in America’s future.