The Class Nature of Hipster Economics

Hipster Economics

As manufacturing has left the urban center and pretty much everywhere else, the lack of jobs is creating a severe gap in value generation. This leads to lower incomes for First World working and middle class people which translate to a lack of taxable income. This lack of tax revenue is causing many cities infrastructure to crumble. This lack of income and jobs means housing properties plummet. Those declining values and rents lead to an increase in decaying housing. As the burden of physical commodity production is shifted to the Third World, workers in the First are left with underemployment in the service industry. These incomes are not enough to live off of which is the leading case of poverty. All of this together makes up our society today across North America.

The capitalist class is well aware of the situation we all face with declining value. They know that manufacturing which is the engine of value creation is not coming back to their cities, no matter how many tax breaks and incentives they give it. No amount of freebies to the capitalist class can compete with the poverty wages and murderous working conditions of the Third World. Because of this they have been seeking a new source of employment for their cities. The question before them is where do they get it from? What jobs can still be created or attracted?

The answer lies in our new First World economy. Some office jobs and mostly service jobs have become the new norm. The problem is these jobs, specifically the service jobs, don’t pay its’ workers enough to tax them. So the city planners, the municipal government, have to attract other kinds of businesses like software developers, Google, all kinds of tech companies. These businesses have a fair amount of high wage employees who have a significant amount to tax. These are the new in demand jobs that cities are going out of their way to attract. It brings in large disposable income spending employees and big rich corporations to tax.

How do they attract these companies, these jobs? The city spends public money on renewed infrastructure particularly with regards to internet and beautification projects for the down town business area. Tax payers are forced to have their money spent for the benefit of capitalist class, pandering to them. These usually involve restoration projects, removing lower income housing and increased police presence. Making the city (the business area) more pleasing to the eye is often a huge plus in the eyes of such companies. It is often equated with the “world class city” they want their headquarters in. Often the drive to attract them gives huge tax breaks to technology companies which leave the public with a larger burden to pay for it all. The class nature of this spending of money and use of resources should be very clear.

Here is a prime example of such a beautification project: In north Philadelphia Amtrak was bothered by its riders having to see the ruins of the city. They are offended by the buildings that have gone into disrepair as a result of the 2008 Global Collapse of Capitalism as well as the effects of neoliberalism. The city has a high poverty rate of about 28 percent [1] with some elementary schools where almost all of the students are below the poverty line. [2] Needless to say, much of the north end looks like a war zone. Well neither the city nor Amtrak want any of it to be seen from their train station. The city hired German artist Katharina Grosse along with the National Endowment of the Arts to undertake a large-scale art project to cover it all up. The project is called “Fighting Urban Blight With Art”. The supposed purpose of the project is “an experience that asks people to think about this space that they hurtle through every day” according to its curator Liz Thomas.

Of course the real purpose of this project is to shield Amtrak customers who don’t live in these blighted areas from having to see it. Who are they asking to think about that space? The people who live there don’t have to think about it, they experience it every day. It’s the people who don’t live there that have to. It’s for the professionals who live out in the suburbs who don’t want to be offended by poverty. I can think of little more that could be insulting to the working and poor class.

Tax money collected from the people is used to whitewash their own poverty, and fund their own exploitation serving the capitalist class for the purpose of attracting higher income, upper middle class workers for the tech industry. Nothing about this cures the poverty and lack of value generation being produced. It leaves the working class marginalized, ignored and pushed further into property. It benefits white professionals and excludes minorities, a point acknowledged by Spike Lee. [3] These people moving in are hipsters… welcome to hipster economics, the wave of the future.

It’s an economic policy that panders to the upper middle and upper class in society. Once these hipsters move in and take their tech jobs the property values go up. These increased values end up pushing lower income people out of homes and apartments. This disproportionately affects minorities causing an increase in gentrification. Once they’ve arrived the city starts developing the neighborhoods for them. Those schools that were ignored for so long suddenly receive the funds to do upgrades and repairs. Much needed public services suddenly appear for residents. When poor communities were asking for these things they went ignored. A greater police presence is provided so that the lower classes don’t bother the upper classes.

The shipping of manufacturing jobs to the Third World has increased social antagonisms between the domestic workers and capitalists. The ruling class now uses the influx of upper-middle class hipsters to make claims of economic revitalization and job creation. All of it a gigantic fraud to convince people that the recession is over, that any remaining poverty must be their own fault because “the jobs are there”. The new supply of jobs is nowhere near the amount actually needed to repair the economy. It’s another illusion brought to us by those who know manufacturing will not be coming back to the First World.

This is the marriage of Keynesianism and trickledown economics, the belief that infrastructure spending is only worthwhile for the urban centre so long as it attracts the predominantly white professional types. It is more of capitalism serving the capitalists and privileged classes. The hipsters that move in often describe themselves as ‘social liberals, fiscal conservatives’. The ideology they bring is typical of that of the middle class: ‘I don’t hate minorities and gays, so long as they stay away from me and my family’.

The class nature of this plan should be stark. It blatantly shoves the decimated working class out of the way in favour of the new hipsters, all the while making sure they’re not offended by remnants of the working and poor class. Proof positive that capitalism cannot pull itself out of this recession and that perhaps the limit of capital has been reached. All they have now is to lie to us about a recovery.

[1] Making the Safety Net More Visible in Philadelphia, New York Times

[2] Unrelenting Poverty Leads To ‘Desperation’ In Philly Schools, NPR

[3] Spike Lee’s Racism Isn’t Cute: ‘M—–f—– Hipster’ Is the New ‘Honkey’, Time
Spike Lee’s Racism Isn’t Cute: ‘M—–f—– Hipster’ Is the New ‘Honkey’