Source: US Department of Labor
There’s a great debate going on in the business press about whether the ‘Creative Class’, a term coined by Richard Florida as the basis for his very successful business books, and which includes artists, scientists, teachers, designers, writers and related technicians, can create ‘competitive advantage’ to companies and communities that can attract them, and whether the US is increasingly losing the ‘Creative Class War‘.
Florida would have us believe that communities like San Francisco, Austin and Boston will be the winners of this war, largely because they attract diverse, creative people, but that thanks to lack of attractors compared to places like Ireland and New Zealand, and thanks to Bush’s xenophobia and hostility to liberal arts, universities and real science, America as a whole will be a big loser.
Nonsense, retort the right-wingers from the Wall Street Journal and the neocon think-tanks: this kind of irrational, unsupported infatuation with new-age accommodations to non-conformists is precisely what led to the dot com boom, and what really generates competitive advantage is productivity, low taxes, modest wages, hard work and deregulation.
My observations suggest that both sides are wrong. Nobody really cares about the creative class. They are underpaid, underemployed and underappreciated, and pretty well always have been, right back to the days when you if you were an artist or musician you needed a rich and titled sponsor underwriting your work if you didn’t want to starve.
You’re skeptical? Let’s look at the jobs that the US Department of Labor says will be the biggest growth area in the next decade, shown in the chart above. The words that appear in this list the most are ‘assistant’ and ‘aide’. These are grunt jobs, and only three of the 20 jobs in the list require any ‘creativity’ whatsoever. In fact, being creative would be a decided disadvantage in such jobs — you’d go crazy with boredom in a week. And these are the projected biggest growth areas percentage-wise. Other DoL stats that describe absolute numbers of expected new jobs surface even more grindingly boring and uncreative positions — notably food service workers, retail and service desk clerks and orderlies. These lists include only one job that is arguably very creative — university professors.
If you’re still not convinced, ask people who work in large organizations which jobs in the lists below have the cachet of success, and which are the organizational ghettos, where creative people go to die:
Look at the people picked for promotions, for leadership training, for the corner office jobs, the people who are highest-paid and most appreciated in almost every large organization, and you’ll find they come from the uncreative positions in the left column. Look at the consultants they’re bringing in, and you’ll find they, too, are in the left-column professions. Look at the people who are least fulfilled by their jobs, those who feel underpaid and under-appreciated and feel they have nowhere to go in their organizations, and you’ll find them mostly in the right-column positions. And look at the ranks of the unemployed and you’ll find them, too, disproportionately in the right-hand professions.
A lot of people in those organizational ghettos got fed up and left to become independent consultants. But guess what consulting disciplines are in the hottest demand today? Outsourcing and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance consultants, the least creative consulting jobs you could imagine.
Now let’s look at the exceptions to the rule — the creative companies we’re all so proud of. Apple describes its expertise as ‘second mover advantage’ — watch the creative types screw up, learn from their mistakes and dominate the market by doing it better. Their designs may be creative, but their strategy is the opposite. And guess who Google’s hiring? Mostly advertising salespeople and technicians.
It’s not the fault of big business that they aren’t creative. They are dinosaurs of the industrial era, when hierarchy was king and success was a matter of leverage — 100 low-paid drones doing what they’re told, working hard, grateful for their jobs, for every manager who every once in awhile might have to do something creative (usually when competitors’ disruptive innovation forces them to). The creative types don’t last long in this stultifying environment, so they quit, and the people who are left hire (and contract-in) people in their own image, so the dearth of creativity, and of interest in creativity, is self-perpetuating.
So as a result, most jobs in large organizations are jobs:
It’s a vicious cycle, and expecting large corporations to be enlightened and altruistic enough to get us out of it is sheer folly.
There is only one solution, and that is to encourage true entrepreneurship. It is doubtful that many politicians would be willing to bite the big corporate hand that feeds them and help out in this challenge, but a few could. Here’s what we need to do:
In the meantime, if you’re underpaid, under-appreciated, subjugated, underemployed, working too hard and bored to death in your job, and if your creativity has no outlet, take heart — you are in excellent company, and you should be outraged, not bored, by your situation. An elite of the rich and powerful have stolen your dignity, your opportunity, your joy in exercising your genius, your self-esteem, your value in our society. This is a disservice to the vast majority as citizens, as useful workers, and as customers looking for products and services made well and with pride. It’s destroying the social fabric of our society, our environment, and the middle class. We need to create a new entrepreneurial economy, one driven by creativity and curiosity and by passion and respect. One that is in the service of people and not profits.
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
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A Conversation (Short Story)
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