Employment: A Basic Human Right
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.
Richard Florida: This fellow Bill Bishop \r\nwrote this remarkable book—and Bill’s a dear friend—called “The Big \r\nSword.” Ed Glaeser, the Harvard economist, has been showing the \r\ndivergence in our levels of highly skilled people. I mean, the basic \r\nmotor force of economic development is not big companies, it’s not even \r\nbig technologies. Jane Jacobs first identified this and another great \r\neconomist, a Nobel Prize winner, Robert Lucas, kind of formalized this: \r\nit’s when talented and creative people come together in a community, \r\nthat’s when you get explosive growth. Skill multiplies skill, talent \r\nmultiplies talent. And what Jane Jacobs was saying, which is so \r\namazing... Adam Smith told us about firms and innovation and efficiency \r\nand a pin factory and a division of labor as a firm can make things with\r\n people doing fine grain tasks. And she said, “That’s a great theory of \r\nefficiency and it’s a great theory of making things more cheaply, but it\r\n doesn’t tell you anything about where innovation comes from.” And what \r\nshe said, is what cities do, is they give you new kinds of people, new \r\nkinds of talent, new input. And people in those cities comes together, \r\nand my best example of this is not only the silicon valley with high \r\ntech and people moving around and shifting jobs, changing jobs without \r\neven changing the parking lot, as they say, it’s the music scene.
You\r\n know, they asked Jack White, the founder of the White Stripes Rock On \r\nTours, one of the greatest musical minds of his generation, “What gave \r\nDetroit a great music scene?” “Oh,” he said, “That’s easy. There’s an \r\namazing talent base there and what these bands are, they’re like little \r\nstart-up companies and the people are always combining and recombining \r\nin different little start-up companies, different little bands, and \r\nsooner or later, one hits. Not all those bands.” So what a city does is \r\nallow that mixing and matching of creativity and skill and inputs and \r\ntechnology and it creates something new.
I think what’s happened\r\n is that certain cities have galvanized that, New York in media and \r\nentertainment and finance and very broadly, LA in entertainment and \r\nother fields, they’re big and they can do a lot. San Francisco and \r\nSilicon Valley in technology, Nashville in music, we can go on and on \r\ndown the line. Other cities have lost their way and they’ve wanted \r\nsomething to specialize, so what you’ve got out of this is a geography \r\nthat’s terribly economically unequal. I’ve been writing about this for \r\nmore than a decade. Our regions are becoming further apart and within \r\nour regions, even our most innovative, we have levels of inequality, \r\nspecial, geographic inequality, rich and poor neighborhoods, unlike \r\nanything we’ve ever seen. Somebody has to wake up and smell this \r\ncoffee.
What we’ve been doing is pushing this aside; "No, it’s \r\nnot really there. Oh, the world is flat, we’re all happy, we’re all \r\nparticipating." Baloney. Our world, every economic transformation, every\r\n economic period of crisis, particularly with the rise of new industry, \r\nlike early industrialization, like the rise of a knowledge in technology\r\n and creative economy, carries with it tremendous economic inequality. \r\nIt takes a lot of effort to make that system more stable and here’s what\r\n I think we need to do:
After the first reset we built \r\nmanufacturing industries, we started to build those industries in the \r\nlatter part, or the middle part of the 19th Century. We strengthened \r\nthem up in the later part of the 19th Century. Henry Ford came along and\r\n he gave us the assembly line, and it wasn’t until Roosevelt and the New\r\n Deal and after the war that we actually made manufacturing work good \r\nwork. My dad always told me this story. He said, “Rich, my dad had to \r\nquit school in the seventh grade in Newark, New Jersey, he took up work \r\nat a factory,” and he said, “He, my grandfather, my grandmother, he, and\r\n his six siblings, all had to work to make one good pay, one family \r\nwage.” When he came back from World War II after unionization, the \r\nWagner Act, Social Security, and attempts to really lift productivity, \r\nhis job, a manufacturing job, was a good job. We got to create good jobs\r\n in our country and our society. And obviously we’re going to create \r\ntechnology jobs, those are relatively high paying for engineers and \r\nscientists, we’re going to create media jobs, we’re going to create \r\ncreative jobs. And, you know, about 35 million Americans work in those \r\njobs, we’re expected to create another 6 or 7 million of them over the \r\nnext decade or so.
But we’re losing manufacturing jobs, we’re \r\nlosing the jobs that my dad had. They’re going away; we’re projected to \r\nlose anywhere from a couple hundred thousand to another million of those\r\n over the next decade, depending on who you believe.
The other \r\nkind of jobs we’re creating are these lower-wage, lower-skilled jobs in \r\nthe services and people joke. It’s a Costco job, it’s a Best Buy job, \r\nit’s a food preparation job in McDonalds, home health care aide, hair \r\ncutter, who cares? 60 million people work in those jobs and it’s become \r\nsomething that I probably care more about than anything else in the \r\nworld. We’re working on it in Toronto. Our mayor and our council are \r\nbehind it, in Toronto. We got to make those jobs good jobs, we can’t \r\nwrite off 60 million people. We can’t just write them off and say those \r\nare bad jobs. And the things we did to make manufacturing jobs good \r\njobs, we can do in the services. We can organize workers to improve \r\ntheir own efficiency. We can introduce continuous improvements, \r\nsuggestion systems. I mean, it sounds so, lean, they call it "lean \r\nmanufacturing," lean, they’re talking about lean starts, lean services. \r\nCompanies are doing it. And when I look at the list of the best places \r\nto work, I was startled to find it was some high tech companies like \r\nApple and the Sands Institute and all of this, Genentech, but there were\r\n service companies like Best Buy and the Container Store and Whole Foods\r\n and Wegman’s, way up, Four Seasons, way up at the top of that list.
We’ve\r\n got to make services pay and the only way we’re going to do that is by \r\njust arbitrary lifting wages. We’ve got to improve their productivity \r\nand my best example of this is janitorial work. We typically look at \r\njanitorial work as just horrible work. But we want to make our buildings\r\n greener and more efficient. Well, who knows how to do that? Who’s made \r\nthe factories greener? The people on the line, on the shop floor, by \r\nfiguring out ways to make sure spills don’t happen and working together \r\nto make industrial processes less toxic and less polluting. The janitors\r\n know more about the building and its operation and who left the window \r\nopen and can do small and large scale things when teamed with engineers \r\nthat would make our buildings much more efficient. Why don’t we empower \r\nthem? And you can do this across the board.
What I find so \r\namazing about services is many of them are very local. And, you know, I \r\nalways say this funny line, but I mean it. Whether it’s the person who \r\ncuts your hair, the person who takes care of your older parent, the \r\nperson who takes care of your kids or your lawn, or the person who gives\r\n you a manicure or a wax, whatever you want to call it: it’s hard to \r\nimagine that being off-shored. For me, I don’t even see how it could be \r\noff-shored. So they are jobs that are very sticky and very local. If \r\nwe’re going to build a modern economy—if we’re going to take care of our\r\n people and overcome inequality—we can talk all we want about other \r\napproaches and bringing manufacturing back up. There’s this guy who \r\npokes fun of me, Matt Crawford, and I like his book on the shop class \r\nand the soul craft, and he says, “You know, Florida is crazy, he \r\nbelieves creative people and knowledge workers, they’re all automatons \r\nstuck in an office and the service, they’re crappy jobs,” and he says, \r\n“People should be like me, like a motorcycle mechanic.” There are 16,000\r\n motorcycle mechanics in the United States. There are 5 million people \r\nwho work in mechanical work, repair, there are 62 million people who \r\nwork in the service industry. 62 million versus 5 million versus 16,000.\r\n And, you know, I only wish everybody’s job could be like Matt \r\nCrawford’s. Matt Crawford not only works with his hands in a motorcycle \r\nplace, not only that, that’s a fabulous job, he’s an entrepreneur, owns \r\nhis business, who has control over his schedule, who can make his time, \r\nand does work he loves. You know, maybe that’s what we should say. \r\nEverybody deserves, whether they’re in service or high tech or creative \r\nor motorcycle repair or auto, everybody should have a job that’s more \r\nlike Matt Crawford’s job than like what... and it doesn’t matter, what I\r\n say in the book, it doesn’t matter what kind of work you do. We \r\nshouldn’t raise those distinctions. Whether it’s service, creative, \r\nagriculture, you should have work that’s meaningful, that pays well, \r\nthat uses your full skills, and I actually think it should be a basic \r\nhuman right. I say this, that the ability to use your skills and engage \r\nin work that’s meaningful instead of having to go out and buy stuff to \r\ngive yourself an identity, that should be a basic, that should be a \r\nbasic human right and I think it’s, you know, where our country, and \r\nother countries, need to head.
Whether it’s in service, creative fields, or agriculture, people deserve work that’s meaningful, pays well and uses their skills.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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