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Millman: The Sailer v. Florida Strategies

For a long time I’ve been pointing out that a number of liberal cities and suburbs that vote Democratic in Presidential elections adopt policies that have negative disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics, making housing expensive and diminishing the number of lower end jobs. Noah Millman has now christened this the Sailer Strategy in contrast to the Florida Strategy of the (confusingly named) Richard Florida.

But of course, my contribution has been less advocacy of these liberal measures but exposure of what they are up to. My moral stance is that everybody all across the country is entitled to be aware of what’s going on in liberal cities.

For example, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to drive out a sizable fraction of poor black Chicagoans and have them resettle in small towns in the Midwest. Any small town / small city opposition to his ethnic cleansing strategy can be denounced as racist, and Rahm’s former colleagues in the Justice Department can be sicced upon the recalcitrant. It’s a giant game of Hot Potato that is being played, and my view is that everybody is entitled to know what’s going on.

The Sailer and Florida Strategies At Work In New Orleans
By NOAH MILLMAN • July 29, 2014, 4:01 PM

I’ve spent much of the past two months in New Orleans on a film … But from what literally everybody down there is saying, the city is in the midst of a radical transformation.

The question, which is what I’m referencing in my title, is precisely why.

In broad brush-strokes, since Katrina a ton of money has poured into New Orleans for reconstruction, some public dollars and some through insurance payouts. Meanwhile, since 2002, the state of Louisiana has had a generous tax credit designed to woo the film industry to town – and credit that, in the years since the hurricane, has paid off to a huge degree in New Orleans and around the state.

That film tax credit is a good example of the Richard Florida strategy for revitalizing a city, a strategy centered on attracting creative types who make a city attractive both to tourists and to residents with disposable income. New Orleans already has a lot of the Florida elements – great food, great music scene, beautiful architecture. Films depend on a lot of the kinds of creative services that Florida thinks are so central. Film is also a heavily-unionized industry, so a lot of the jobs pay quite well. And once you’ve built a critical mass of people with the relevant skills, you get into a virtuous circle where more productions coming to town mean more jobs, which means more film professionals move to town, which means even more productions see the viability of shooting there, etc.

A few weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I posted “What Hollywood Could Do for New Orleans.”

In general, however, the stratagem of states offering big tax breaks to Hollywood has a long and discouraging history. North Carolina currently competes with Louisiana on the tax break front, but does anybody believe North Carolina will develop a long term film industry? Will it stop raining so much in North Carolina? Back in the 1980s, Chicago became a fashionable site for location shoots (e.g., The Untouchables) and by the end of the decade I was noticing movie ads in the Chicago Tribune mentioning that Academy members could get in free. But then Hollywood moved on to the next Fresh Meat …

Currently, the most overexposed city in movies is New York; supervillains in the 2010s routinely smash up Times Square. Why? In part because, as crime has fallen so much under Giuliani and Bloomberg, an ever growing fraction of celebrities live in New York. That’s a pretty permanent advantage.

Richard Florida makes a lot of money giving speeches to podunk chambers of commerce that they too could be the next Brooklyn if only Spokane, or wherever, developed a Gay and Artist and Immigrant district.

But New Orleans, with its famous traditions in architecture, cuisine, and music, actually has potential in that regard now that it is shaking off the decades of self-destructive black rule.

New Orleans has potential that Charlotte or even Chicago lack. For people who are Brad Pitt-rich, New Orleans might be a nice place to live in fall and spring. To artistically-inclined people from Flyover Country who seem to feel some loyalty to their Flyover roots, like Pitt, New Orleans competes with Austin (and maybe Santa Fe and some ski resort towns). And it’s different enough from Austin that there doesn’t have to be just one winner, the way Silicon Valley crushed Route 128.

But the Florida strategy is only half of the story of New Orleans over the past nine years. The other half of the story is demographic change – prompted by the hurricane.

Katrina flooded big chunks of the city, including ritzy areas in uptown, not just the infamous ninth ward. But the areas that were heavily poor and black were the most fundamentally transformed, because residents who were displaced frequently didn’t have the resources to come back, couldn’t rebuild their houses, etc.

Wealthy people lived above sea level, poor people below. Do you trust the Army Corps of Engineers enough to live below sea level?

The city as a whole is pretty much back up to its pre-Katrina population levels,

Well, still down 19% from 2005.

but some neighborhoods are still substantially depopulated. And the city’s primary goal is not to facilitate the return of the previous residents, but to rebuild in a way that is most economically beneficial to the city.

It’s irresponsible to let poor people live below sea level.

This is what you might call the Steve Sailer strategy for urban revitalization: get rid of the least-desireable [sic]portion of the population (from the perspective of the tax rolls), and replace them with new people.

The Sailer Strategy instead is for Americans to be honest with each other about how they are playing Hot Potato with each other, and to unite to import fewer Hot Potatoes for future generations to have to deal with.

 
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