May 5, 2017

Fixing the New Urban Crisis

Good article by Richard Florida

Fixing the New Urban Crisis

Cities are at the heart of the inequality that divides the nation. They’re also the key to the solution.
The economic power of America's superstar cities has made them increasingly unattainable. But "winner-take-all urbanism" can be fixed. (Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)
Editor’s Note: This is the last of our series of excerpts from Richard Florida’s new book, “The New Urban Crisis.”

When was the last time you heard a national politician talk thoughtfully about cities and urban policy or make them an integral part of his or her agenda?
Former president Barack Obama grew up in cities and clearly cares deeply about them, but even his administration failed to make any substantial moves on urban policy. The 2016 Democratic primary featured two former mayors, Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont, and Martin O’Malley of Baltimore; a third, former Richmond mayor Tim Kaine, eventually joined the Democratic ticket as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Aside from O’Malley’s invocations of urban policy (which I helped craft), cities and urban policy were rarely, if ever, mentioned during the 2016 primaries or presidential campaign.

The last time we had a serious national conversation about cities was back in the 1960s and 1970s, during the old urban crisis, when some cities exploded in riots and others teetered on fiscal collapse. Typically, if Donald Trump and other leading conservative politicians talk about cities, it is only to point to so-called liberal failures to solve chronic urban poverty and crime. The closest we get to a conversation about actual urban policy today is when politicians call for greater investments in urban infrastructure as a way to stimulate growth.

The disconnect between the vital economic role of cities and our policymakers’ neglect of them could not be more palpable or troubling. Our ability to innovate and grow the economy depends on the clustering of talent, companies, and other economic assets in cities. Metro areas are our premier platforms for technological innovation and wealth creation, as well as for social progress and the fostering of open-mindedness and political freedom. They are our best laboratories for devising and testing new strategies for creating high-paying jobs and raising living standards.

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