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Can Gay Rights Boost Economic Prosperity?
Richard Florida is author of the global best-seller "The Rise of the Creative Class." His latest books are the "The Great Reset," and "The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited," a revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition of his classic work.
He is also the author of "The Flight of the Creative Class" and "Cities and the Creative Class." His previous books, especially "The Breakthrough Illusion" and "Beyond Mass Production," paved the way for his provocative looks at how creativity is revolutionizing the global economy.
Florida is a regular correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a regular columnist for The Globe and Mail. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The Harvard Business Review. He has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR and CBS, to name just a few.
Question: Is there an economic dimension to the gay rights discussions taking place in the U.S.?
Richard Florida: At the highest level, I actually think that when we look back on the history of understanding economic growth, we’re going to recognize, of course – Robert Solo won a Nobel Prize for this idea that technology matters to economic growth. We are surely going to understand, and we’re understanding now, that human capital, knowledge accumulation matters. Whether it’s Ed Glacier or Paul Romer at Stanford, that human capital accumulation, knowledge accumulation – Robert Lucas at Chicago, I think what we’re going to finally understand is that these things that we thought were social and cultural characteristics, particularly with regard to openness to diversity, meritocracy. I call them the three “T’s,” technology, talent, and tolerance. This tolerance dimension, this social and culture dimension is not just something we do because it’s right and it’s ethical and it’s moral and it’s the right way to treat people. We’re going to find that these social and cultural factors really add a lot to economic growth and it’s not just the Protestant ethic of thrift and hard work that Max Vaber identified a century ago, it’s actually I think what made America great in the Great American Century was this idea that people could come from all over the world and make a life if they want, have a dream if they wanted, do the kind of work, and without regard to ethnicity. So, one of the things that we found, of course, when we look at the history of entrepreneurship, there are lots of foreign born people. Whether it’s Andrew Carnegie in steel, or Andy Grove, the great semi-conductor inventor at Intel, or anyone in the high tech. You know, there was a great study where they looked at Silicon Valley and found that between a third and 50% of all those companies were founded by somebody that wasn’t born in the United States.
Well, the thing with gays was really interesting to me. I was working on this at Carnegie Mellon. Just minding my little ole’ own business trying to study the knowledge economy and how cities compete, and the role of quality of place factors and artists. And there was a young man who was completing his PhD. His name is Gary Gates, he is now at the Williams Institute at UCLA. And my Dean at the time kept saying, you should meet Gary Gates. I was coming back from sabbatical at Harvard. You should meet Gary Gates who is a great guy. He’s been studying the location patterns of gay men and why they’re clustered in San Francisco. What he’s finding is that gay men in San Francisco have effect – or related to amenities. Quality of life, a nice place, and so forth and so on. You’re seeing the same thing with your high tech people. So, I went to the meet Gary one day and as I’ve learned, if you work in this kind of socially – I don’t know, hot button area, culturally hot button area, there’s a lot of debate and dialogue. You have to develop a sense of humor. Gary said, “Rich, let me see your list of your high tech meccas.” And of course it was the San Francisco Bay area, the Silicon Valley, it was Austin, Texas, it was Boston, it was Seattle, it was San Diego, and on and on He’s like, “You just named five of the 10 gayest places in America.” So, we laughed hysterically and in my old New Jersey language, wouldn’t it be a great goof was the kind of way we – wouldn’t it be a great goof to look at this. It was a joke. Well, shit – sorry, excuse my French. We took a look at the data and Gary is a fabulous statistician and demographer. And the more we looked at the data, the more it became clear that there was an association.
Now, I’ve never seen any of my empirical works subject to this kind of scrutiny, well the association is furious, well the association is causal. You did not have instrumental variables. We said right off the bat. It’s not predictive. It’s not that gay men are leading high tech businesses. And then the thing that landed me on cold air with a young woman named Charlotta Mellonder, a Swedish young woman, we actually looked at the role of artist’s concentrations, gay male and lesbian concentration on housing prices. And what we found is controlling for income and controlling for education, the effect of this gay and lesbian arts culture thing was g-normous. But what was going on? So, places that were more open. Places that value people, that are more meritocratic, they’re going to attract more people with skill and ambition and entrepreneurial verve. It’s almost like an instrument, the gay and lesbian factor is approximate variable for a place that’s very open-minded and self-expressive. A place that – a creative person, we know one thing about them, they want to self-express, whether they’re Andy Worhol or Bill Gates, John Lennon, or Mick Jagger, they want to express themselves, what’s deep within them. So, places that allow you to do that, that activate that, that allow you to mobilize resources, they’re also the places that are going to gain an upper edge in the entrepreneurial and innovative realm.
So, that’s what we found, and I’ll tell you, the kickback to that, I’ve never been exposed to this kind of ricochet effect where people want to rip this effect to shreds. And I think it reflects the fact that it’s a hot button issue. But we think we’ve shed some light on it and we think that now, newer generations of economists, this young guy named Scott Page at Michigan has written a whole book on diversity. What he’s concluded theoretically is that if you want to get a new idea in innovation, you need cognitive diversity. Demographic diversity, a mixing of people is a great proxy and a great way to get cognitive diversity.
Question: What should businesses take into account in positioning themselves as magnets for creative talent?
Richard Florida: Well, the first thing, for all you business folks listening in, or viewing, I actually wrote a lot on this. I wrote the whole middle section of Rise of the Creative Class, deals with how business can compete and can harness and mobilize creative talent. So, take a look at it. I actually wrote a piece with Jim Goodnight in Harvard Business Review looking at the SAS Institute. But I think for business, this ability to attract talent, and the companies that are doing this, this is best practice, the companies that are attracting people globally, that are putting in place diversity efforts, and I’ve gotten to speak to a number of these companies and see what they’re up to. That’s clearly the wave of the future. Now, don’t get me wrong. I want to be really honest. Whether there’s a city out there, or a company, that can harness one ethnic group, or one racial group that can develop a niche in that. If they’re religiously oriented or whatever that is, it’s possible. So, somebody that will come up with an example of a city or a company that is more homogeneous, that’s quite successful, but in general, in general, the advantage you get from open-mindedness and diversity and meritocracy and being inclusive. And I think most importantly, what the real key to the creative age is, allowing people to self-express. Allowing people to be themselves and not have to be this facsimile of a person, a company man, if you will, a company person.
I said in "Rise of the Creative Class," it’s not like you can pump creativity out of someone, or speed up the assembly line of creativity, people can easily withhold their creativity. So, if you’re not motivating them internally, if you’re not motivating them intrinsically, if you’re not allowing them to self-express, they’ll just shut down and they’ll use their creativity at night, or on their off time. That’s really the thing.
Peter Drucker said, “You’re no longer going to be able to motivate these creative people with money. You have to treat them as volunteers.” You have to allow them to self-express. That’s were companies have to get to. And I think the best companies; the biggest global companies see that.
Question: How do we build a society that values the creativity of every person for the good of that society?
Richard Florida: That’s our end game, right? That’s my end game and the fist thing you have to do, I think, is education and speaking and evangelism, and you have to get out there and make the case and show facts. The other thing I think we have to do is what this person did. One of the things that I find always happens to me is people see the word “creative class” and they say, “Oh my god, he’s talking about a creative elite.” Either an artistic elite, or a technological elite, depending on upon who. But in all my work, I’ve said that every human being is creative. What we have to do is include everyone in this creative class.
And so I think that’s a continuous message, that it’s not just about supporting a creative elite and an unequal society, it’s about harnessing and enhancing this thing that every human being shares. Every human being shares, every child has intrinsically, this ability to be creative and then showing how we’re not going to grow our economy, we’re not going to be prosperous, we’re not going to develop our people, allow them to have healthy, happy and fulfilled lives unless they can.
I think the other part of this is, look at the giant consumption and shopping binge that we just went through. What is that about? I’m going to buy my identity on a designer rack. And you look at these young gals, these young Hollywood gals and literally a label on every part of their anatomy and body, and the right car. That’s because people can’t find purpose. Right? And I think what we really do is we don’t create our self simply through consumption. I don’t want to be anti-consumption. My dad was really happy when he bought a new Chevy. I’m telling you, he waxed that thing, and there was pure joy in the guy’s eyes when he got a new Chevy. But giving purpose in their lives and giving people purpose, I certainly felt a lot better in my own life when I found a purpose than when I was a young kid trying to play music, or trying to get through school. I found a purpose, I could write, I could make a difference. And I think that most people that you talk to, most people that you might interview. When they find their purpose, it creates an enormous well-being, that’s what psychologists of creativity and fulfillment tell us. Imagine if we would give that gift to more people, but not just to give them the gift, I think giving them that gift to self-expression and be creative is actually the economic pump – primes the pump, it creates more innovation, it creates more entrepreneurship, it gets people ignited and excited. And I think that’s where we have to go.
Recorded on December 14, 2009
Communities that allow self-expression will gain an entrepreneurial edge.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.