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In this book, Richard Florida puts across his view about the current developing economic crisis with its impact on the life of Americans. Richard Florida has a big, fascinating idea. He says that the global economic crisis experienced over the last three years is already leading to a reorganization of Americans’ way of life. Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric Chief Executive Officer, as quoted by Florida (2010) describes it as “an emotional, raw social, economic reset.” Richard Florida’s main idea is that many things will change because the economic shakeup effect has been very deep. There will emerge a new way of life, a ‘new normal’ life that is less oriented around houses, cars and suburbs.
Many people will prefer rental housing and most of the people who still will to buy homes are most likely to go for the smaller ones. Luxury will not be an option for America. The book argues that this is not the first time America is experiencing a reset. There have been two other Great Resets before. The first is the Long depression in 1873 that led to a prolonged, massive unemployment and fortunately it stimulated a period of farfetched inventiveness. There was a surge in industrialized mass production, introduction of new energy systems while the large cities multiplied. The Great Depression of 1930s was the second. It spurred a vast expansion and upgrade of the American educational infrastructure, brought forth enormous improvement in economic efficiency and laid a foundation for fifty years of suburbanization.
Though the economic crises have far-reaching negative effects, Richard Florida points out that they can cause a society to change its direction even for decades afterwards. As witnessed in the past depressions, the current Reset is likely to trigger another significant shift and this time, it will be a shift towards mega regions and cities, more efficient transportation and housing, and more collecting of jobs and talent. Richard Florida argues that each reset demands a spatial fix of its own. The spatial fix, of the era we are entering, will be founded on density, walkable communities and such mechanisms that can be able to accelerate the economic metabolism in cities and mega regions; for instance the high-speed rail.
The reset is not about to do an overhaul change; but to accentuate the trends that were in development and are not yet dominant. While describing the key physical elements of the new spatial order, Richard Florida says that as people continue to flow into the mega regions, they are reforming the former suburbs to accommodate a denser population; earlier suburb malls, for instance, are being turned into walkable communities by fitting more houses, shops, restaurants and even parks. As the highways clog, the government is expanding subways and rail transit. One can only expect these trends to grow stronger, as he suggests.
While the book offers many suggestions on how the society should change, it does not offer considerable guidelines on how to do so. For instance, it offers the option of investing in high-speed rail and transforming suburbs but fails to recommend the right sources of funding to accomplish this. It also looks more optimistic than real. His initial breakthrough is the concept of the “creative class”, which is doubtful in my opinion. He labeled quite many millions of people and many places as creative.
In addition, he accredited the urban, cosmopolitan lifestyle to a large number of knowledge workers than sensible. Therefore, he, again, is overstating it when he views the current economic turbulence in The Great Reset that will overhaul the metropolitan geography of North America. Moreover, it is clear that a chain of mutually underlining developments has put on this collapse. Most significantly, Americans have continued to live beyond their means. There is a countless number of problems that no longer afford a high-consumption lifestyle that entails owning large homes, ownership and fuelling of multiple cars. Governments are so pressed; it is proving so hard for them to maintain the existent road system, leave alone expanding it for more vehicles. There, however, exists the threat of global warming, which makes people shift from ceaseless driving to relying on transit walking and riding bicycles by living closer to their daily necessities, which is an ecological imperative. All those factors are in line with Richard Florida’s idea of a more urban than the current future.
However, The Great Reset is, generally, a fantastic book. It is well-structured and rich with information that would be useful for any economist about the global economic downturns. Richard Florida skillfully organizes this analysis in a good historical flow and a clearly-understandable language. One cannot fail to notice the solid recommendation he makes; that Americans need to shrink their expenditure on cars houses and energy so as to enable them to get enough to spend on newly upcoming goods and services. These include new biotechnologies, more powerful computers, new experiences and forms of personal developments. There is the need to invest more in infrastructure. These prescriptions from this great author of this stimulating book should be put on the national agenda.
One of the things that raises the credibility of this book is the fact that Richard Florida provides a lot of wealthy information on the former Great Resets; and analyses their times and more importantly their impact on the economy. He does this by doing a lot of reading and taking material from previous writers and researchers’ works. He incorporates info from the books by other writers, his own book, magazines, websites, newspapers and his own real life experience and of others. While he quotes the names of the writers when referring to their works, Richard Florida also provides a well-structured bibliography of these works, which makes it easier for the reader to refer to the works for more information. Moreover, he provides numerical figures where necessary; for example, he talks of a 20 to 50 percentage increase in high school graduates between 1920 and 1950, which promotes the credibility of this book.
Richard Florida was brought up by his Newark-born parents; his father was a factory worker. In the past six years, he has worked in Carnegie Mellon University, George Mason University and Toronto. He neatly and skillfully puts social and economic changes in a historical perspective. He has a strong reputation in motivational speaking, writing and has previously written books and newspaper columns.
This book just comes at a very critical time; when the third economic depression, or as Richard Florida puts it, the 'third Great Reset’ is developing. The author gives us the cause of this problem and urges us to get preoccupied with it, and not just wasting time treating its symptoms. In my opinion, The Great Reset remains to be the most valuable book of all the economic-oriented books I have read. It has wealthy information on the economic landscape’s timeline America has experienced since the last 150 years. Considering the repetitive nature of these economic crises and the long time (Richard Florida talks of two to three decades) it takes for their impact to be realized, this book should have everyone. One needs to buy the book, read it over and over again and keep it for future reference.