More Than Disaster Relief

Ed nails it. We need to be more concrete. I like his example a lot. I should: my team and I have actually worked a lot in parts of this region, especially Syracuse, Ithaca, and Corning.

I think we can do more than disaster relief. This is why I developed my theory and approach. I think it provides some real levers that communities can push on. In this region, I have to say, some remedial training on tolerance would be useful, but only to some extent. There are other even more pressing things that need to be, and are starting to be, done.

I could go on and on about this, but I propose another approach. I am going to try to get the leadership of the region to comment on how and where our approach and work helped them and, conversely, where it did not.

I have long been a strong believer that an important way to advance theory and understanding is to get in the trenches, not just to to see how things work, but to see how tangible improvements can be made.

Thanks Ed!

Also from this issue

Lead Essay

  • In this month’s lead essay, Richard Florida, bestselling author of Rise of the Creative Class, argues that the old industrial era has given way to a new creative era. Science and technology, art and design, and culture and entertainment have superceded natural resources and industrial infrastructure as the key to economic success. Talent is now the key factor of production and winners in global economic competition will be those who can best deploy and attract it. However, the creative economy is a source of increasing inequality both within and between nations. Florida argues that the key to bridging the gap between the creative and service sectors is to harness the creativity of service sector workers to make their jobs both higher-paying and more satisfying.

Response Essays

  • In his reply to Florida’s lead essay, George Mason economist Robin Hanson argues that creativity matters less for economic growth and the future of work than Florida thinks. According to Hanson, Florida’s emphasis on creativity distracts us from the prospect of a truly revolutionary change to work and economy just over the horizon: rapidly exponential growth driven by smart machines. “An economy with intelligent machines could grow very rapidly indeed,” Hanson argues, “and induce rapidly falling human wages.” Will we be prepared if we’re busy making the Creative Class comfortable?

  • MIT economist Frank Levy agrees that creativity is more important than ever in a world where computers and foreign workers can do routine work less expensively than domestic workers. This shift, Levy says, requires better education in problem-solving. But education can only do so much. The gains from rising labor productivity are going largely to the wealthy, Levy argues. Unless policies and norms are reinstated that spread those gains more widely “all of the nation’s institutions will be at risk.”

  • While agreeing with much in Florida’s essay, UCLA economist Edward Leamer suggests that the key to understanding the future of work isn’t creativity, but talent. “Is a personal computer like a forklift or a microphone?” Leamer asks. Forklifts are forces for equality, washing out individual differences in ability. Microphones, on the other hand, amplify difference in ability and talent. If training cannot create talent, but can only enhance it, the gains to training will be highest for the talented, and it will not be possible to close the talent and wage gaps by offering more training to the less talented.