Richard Florida, economic development guru and originator of the Creative Class meme wrote a thought-provoking, thorough, almost polemical essay in the Washington Monthly. His thesis: that current U.S. policy discourages creative and intelligent individuals from coming to this country. While homegrown talent may be seeking greener pastures abroad, the big problem is that top scientists, artists & entrepreneurs no longer see America as the place they have to be. Florida places the blame squarely on the Bush administration's post-911 xenophobia.
The Smart Mob implications for this are that talent will flow to the most receptive communities. Greater mobility for individuals, greater economic value for individual skills, and a global information network create the conditions for the creatives and the thinkers to flock to wherever conditions are more favorable.
This movement of people is what the journalist Bill Bishop and I have referred to as the Big Sort, a sifting with enormous political and cultural implications, which has helped to give rise to what political demographer James Gimpel of the University of Maryland calls a “patchwork nation.” City by city, neighborhood to neighborhood, Gimpel and others have found, our politics are becoming more concentrated and polarized. We may live in a 50-50 country, but the actual places we live (inner-ring v. outer-ring suburbs, San Francisco v. Fresno) are much more likely to distribute their loyalties 60-40, and getting more lopsided rather than less. These divisions arise not from some master plan but from millions upon millions of individual choices. Individuals are sorting themselves into communities of like-minded people which validate their choices and identities. Gay sales reps buy ramshackle old houses in the city and renovate them; straight, married sales reps purchase newly-built houses with yards on the suburban fringe. Conservative tech geeks move to Dallas, while liberal ones are more likely to go to San Francisco. Young African Americans who can write code find their way to Atlanta or Washington, D.C., while whites with the same education and skills are more likely to migrate to Seattle or Austin. Working-class Southern Californian whites priced out of the real estate market and perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the influx of Mexicans move to suburban Phoenix. More than ever before, those who possess the means move to the city and neighborhood that reinforces their social and cultural view of the world. [Smart Mobs]