The Intolerant War Against Enterprise

Treasury Secretary Snow after returning from Europe: Aides say Snow is not preparing to be lectured about US deficits, but instead will tell the Europeans they need to fix their "growth deficit", which Washington blames for the global imbalances that have led to trade deficits and, in turn, a drop in the dollar to record lows against the euro. (...)

"They have to get at the structural barriers that they put in place that restrain the natural potential of their economy. They've got to embrace the spirit of enterprise," he said.

I am not going to delve into the arrogance of telling others that you will not be lectured just before launching into a lecture against others, as I think it speaks for itself. As James Wolcott notes, it also seems to be speaking for itself on the bottom line: In late October, the Financial Times had a front page story "Well-known US brands see sales in Europe fall."

Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Marlboro, and GM were all revealing problems echoing those "already faced by Disney, Wal-Mart and Gap."

When it comes to domestic social policy, contemporary conservatism has become almost entirely defined by the Culture War. When it comes to international diplomacy, contemporary conservatism has become obsessed with nation-baiting. Hysterical, insulting proclamations against both homosexuals and nations such as France have become hallmarks of contemporary conservatism, and both are starting to function as, in Snow's own words, "structural barriers... that restrain the natural potential of [our] economy."

Every time we come up with some insipid name like "Freedom Fries," or publicly blast the people of other nations as "appeasers," our economic viability drops in the countries we insult. Open conservative intolerance of the opinions and attitudes of leaders and people of other nations serves as a structural barrier to American enterprise. We already have a huge trade deficit as it is. The last thing we needed is another structural barrier to American enterprise, in this case open intolerance, hindering our entrepreneurs and the growth of our economy.

The intolerant, conservative war against American enterprise goes beyond international trade and foreign markets. The Culture War cannot simply be understood as a war against tolerance and modernity that is being fought entirely within a textual and cultural realm. . A war against gay Americans is also a war against our continued economic growth. To again quote from Wolcott:

Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, numerous times has cited Procter and Gamble's efforts along with gay groups and civic activists to overturn Cincinnati's Article XII, which discriminates against homosexuals. They're not doing it out of simple idealistic atruism. It's smart self-interest.

P & G recognizes that it needs to be gay-friendly to attract young, innovative workers, and Cincinnati recognizes it too needs to be seen as tolerant and accepting in order to prosper in a postindustrial economy.

A gay community is often a creative community, and a creative community tends toward the entrepreneurial. With our nation hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs, more than ever we are dependant on non-industrial business growth in order for our economy to keep growing, and in order to have any hope of closing our trade deficit. Conservative intolerance is a significant detriment to our economy, and a significant barrier to American enterprise. For them to continue to give the finger to wealthy allied nations and to continue their efforts to enshrine discrimination against homosexuals into law is a problem that negatively affects all of us.

Tags: Money (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Richard Florida in the Washington Monthly
Creative Class War: How the GOP's anti-elitism could ruin America's economy..

Great article on the connections between entrepreneurship, intellectual creativity, and a culture that embraces personal and cultural differences.  Considerably shorter than the book, and free, too!

by RT 2004-11-15 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Florida in the Washington Monthly
By the way, could the media stop buying into this Republican frame of the "elite"?  

Fuck!  The Republicans are anti- a lot of things, but the "elite" isn't one of them.  

What they really mean, is "The GOP's anti-Europe stance could hurt the economy"

This "elite" business is one of the R's most effective and annoying linguistic manipulations.

by readcom 2004-11-15 01:35PM | 0 recs
maybe the GOP is too accustomed
to acquiescent Dems.  Their professed surprise that other nations (and their citizens) won't roll over is simply astounding.  And with Rice as schoolmarm-in-chief at State, I wouldn't expect the picture to get any brighter.
by silverleaf 2004-11-15 12:20PM | 0 recs
Great friggin post
No comment, just a great friggin post.

One more reason why MYDD is becoming my favorite site.  

by readcom 2004-11-15 01:32PM | 0 recs
Just Like Argentina
After Snow learns that his hectoring doesn't produce the desired results, this clutch of clowns will decide to adopt a cheap dollar policy. Of course, they won't realize they have so insulted their trading partners that no amount of dollar decline will prompt the Europeans to purchase American goods.  Of course, the American trade position will be in perilous condition at that point that Dubya and the clowns will just allow the dollar to continue its descent, trying to make trade conditions better for their corporate overlords.

The question is, do Dubya's blind supporters ever learn that the administration is pure evil, when the inflation rate and domestic interest rates begin to rocket skyward.  Do we all see a return of the "misery index?"

by VizierVic 2004-11-15 01:42PM | 0 recs
Which is easier for the government to control?
The governments of Europe may be interested in growth, but the people there may not be. How is the government to promote a culture of enterprise when it is elected by the culture itself?

Our case is somewhat different and yet the same. In our case, the government can control spending and tax revenues, yet chooses not to because of a culture of gluttony and eagerness for Ragnarok.

While we may be eager to blame Snow for deficit policies, the people put him there. The same people exchange dollars for ~600 billion ~700 billion in foriegn commodities each year and complain when there is a comensurate job loss.

Both governments hold each other accountable for the actions of their constituents. I do not. The people get the government they deserve; if you want a better government, make the people more worthy.

by Paul Goodman 2004-11-15 01:55PM | 0 recs
Why are they so full of hate?
Here in Michigan our Democratic Governor, Jennifer Granholm, has started an initiative dubbed "Cool Cities" (I know, calling it that nearly precludes any actual coolness) which aims to draw and keep young, entrepreneurial types in towns that win "Cool Cities" grants. This is a good example of a state government trying to duplicate trends that have sparked vibrant development elsewhere. Arguments about whether the top-down deployment of "coolness" is even possible aside, the interesting thing to me is that many of the ideas that have been proposed to win these grants have to do with arenas where homosexuals have historically played prominent roles. Theaters, restaurants, funky shops and art galleries. Being gay-friendly is good for your economy. One of the most crushing aspects of our horrific electoral debacle was the passage of all those Hate Amendments. (And why the hell is it so easy to ammend a state constitution, anyway? A simple majority? Are you fucking kidding me?) I really think our task is so difficult. It is SO EASY for those bastards to appeal to bigotry and fear, and harder for us to appeal to love, tolerance, reason, FACT! Why are all these "Christians" so concerned with Other People's Sins? I hope my children grow up in a world where we can overcome this reflexive hatred. Fomenting it really seems to be working for the conservatives, though. Along, hard slog, indeed.
-Charlie Hazzard
by hazzcon 2004-11-15 02:16PM | 0 recs
Snow should lecture people...
...who aren't kicking our ass. Last I checked we've been having our butts handed to us by those people in the trade game. And not because a lot of cheap, shoddy products were coming out of there. They make solid stuff.

(So much for the theory that powerful unions ruin quality and productivity.)

by goldengreek 2004-11-15 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Snow should lecture people...
yeah, the hubris is thick enough to cut with an axe.  And the funny thing is that other than cars and bad policy, we don't make anything here anymore - we outsource it all to China and put our brands on the cheap, shoddy shit that they made for us.

$

by joby 2004-11-15 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Snow should lecture people...
Sad but true. Mind you -- it's not because we Americans are lazy and stupid. It's because the people who run this country have been stabbing us in the back for decades now.

We do have a long history of falling short on nurturing native talent, though. I'm the first to admit that as a college dropout. We're always having to import talent, like the use we made of German scientists to get a man on the moon.

But even that can be fixed with proper attention.

by goldengreek 2004-11-15 05:22PM | 0 recs
This has historic parallels in civil righs
Good that you bring up these consequences this right wing assault. There exists a parallel with the civil rights movment beginning in the 50's.

I believe there was a study done that showed that at the time, Birmingham Ala. and Atlanta, Ga. were near the same size and stage of development and no clear business hub existed in the south. Atlanta leaders ended up embracing change faster than the segregationist leaders of Birmingham. Atlant became the business hub of the south in no small part to just this change in additude.

I wonder what will become of the 'red states' as they get Redder?

America's position might even deteriorate more given the right's propensity for a strong military and the continued imbalance/strain it places on all areas of R&D and industry in this country.

What's good for LockMart is not good for the country long term.

by Arrow 2004-11-15 02:31PM | 0 recs
Richard Florida's Premise
Be careful about how you infer and draw from Richard Florida's work.  Statements like "A gay community is often a creative community" are somewhat misrepresentative as they imply that somehow gays are more creative than straight individuals.  This is a dubious and biased claim at best.

More correctly what Richard Florida has observed is that the presence of openly gay communities is a good and more easily measurable proxy for social tolerance.  Where the social atmosphere is more tolerant you are also most likely to find the most creative workers as they tend to be highly motivated, highly mobile, and not interested in toiling in places they regard as 'backwaters' or where they (or their friends) may even be threatened for the work they do.

This doesn't dispute the basic premise of why companies like P&G and state universities are concerned about creating atmospheres of tolerance, but I think it is important not to burden ourselves with a reversed bias that too easily allows others to dispute the basic conclusions of Richard Florida's work.

by PghArch 2004-11-15 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Richard Florida's Premise
Absolutely. I'm a gay man, but I couldn't decorate my apartment if you stuck a gun to my face.

Just pull the trigger, man. I'm toast.

by goldengreek 2004-11-15 05:24PM | 0 recs
Just to add one more piece to the puzzle
The other day I discovered a piece on brand erosion published on Business 2.0's website.  It's an interesting corallary to the decreased profits for various American companies.  And here, when I say American, I don't mean those based in America, but those that are immediately associated somehow with distinctly American ideals and culture.

Excellent post, by the way.

by beloit08 2004-11-15 03:50PM | 0 recs

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