Economics, Security, and the Decline of the US Creative Class

In the beginning of the year, we asked the question: “Is the balance of scientific power shifting?”

That question gets revisited when Jim Zellmer’s asks about the “Decline of the US Creative Class?”:

“The strength of the American economy does not rest on its manufacturing prowess, its natural resources, or the size of its market. It turns on one factor–the country’s openness to new ideas, which has allowed it to attract the brightest minds from around the world and harness their creative energies. But the United States is on the verge of losing that competitive edge. As the nation tightens its borders to students and scientists and subjects federal research funding to ideological and religious litmus tests, many other countries are stepping in to lure that creative capital away. Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and others are spending more on research and development and shoring up their universities in an effort to attract the world’s best–including Americans.”

Amazingly, this has not become an election issue — it is intimately tied into the economic and security issues now facing the country. In many ways, the autonomic bureaucratic responses to 9/11 are potentially impeding our economic strength — and that’s a major security issue.

The candidates should go back and reread the Nature article on the subject . . .

Decline of the US Creative Class?
Jim Zellmer, October 05, 2004

As one door closes…
Geoff Brumfiel (with David Cyranoski, Carina Dennis, Jim Giles, Hannah Hoag and Quirin Schiermeier)
Nature 427, 190 – 195 (15 January 2004)

Labor Supply and the “Brain Drain”: Signs from Census 2000
Paul D. Gottlieb
The Brookings Institution, Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, January 2004

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  1. Chris commented on Oct 6

    Another good article on this subject:

    Creative Class War
    How the GOP’s anti-elitism could ruin America’s economy.

    By Richard Florida

    Last March, I had the opportunity to meet Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, at his film complex in lush, green, otherworldly-looking Wellington, New Zealand. Jackson has done something unlikely in Wellington, an exciting, cosmopolitan city of 900,000, but not one previously considered a world cultural capital. He has built a permanent facility there, perhaps the world’s most sophisticated filmmaking complex. He did it in New Zealand concertedly and by design. Jackson, a Wellington native, realized what many American cities discovered during the ’90s: Paradigm-busting creative industries could single-handedly change the ways cities flourish and drive dynamic, widespread economic change. It took Jackson and his partners a while to raise the resources, but they purchased an abandoned paint factory that, in a singular example of adaptive reuse, emerged as the studio responsible for the most breathtaking trilogy of films ever made. He realized, he told me, that with the allure of the Rings trilogy, he could attract a diversely creative array of talent from all over the world to New Zealand; the best cinematographers, costume designers, sound technicians, computer graphic artists, model builders, editors, and animators.

    When I visited, I met dozens of Americans from places like Berkeley and MIT working alongside talented filmmakers from Europe and Asia, the Americans asserting that they were ready to relinquish their citizenship. Many had begun the process of establishing residency in New Zealand.

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