Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings

If you believe the media hype, Pittsburgh's not a bad place to be right now. Businessweek recently called us a "good place to ride out the recession," while Forbes calls us out on both our positive job growth and our strong housing market, and the NY Times slobbers all over us like a $500/hr whore on Elliot Spitzer.

Well, I suppose that's because there's not been a whole lot of call for $500/hr whores in today's economy. Back in the day, John Pittsburgh wasn't actually, let's say "hot with the ladies," but with everyone else wearing cardboard belts, trying to pay for services in pocket change, and with syphilis, Pittsburgh looks pretty good and may do things to you that your uptight Republican wife would never, ever think of doing because her Mother-in-Law's church group is outside the porn store every FRIGGIN' NIGHT protesting something that should be between two consenting and possibly a goat and/or a midget. I mean dammit Louise! Why can't you meet my needs for once!?!


I seem to have strayed from my point; let's move to another strained metaphor:

Pittsburgh was the guy in Pittsburgh that was ugly, pimply, had bad teeth, and lived with his mother, who secretly longed for the head cheerleader. Now, at our 20th reunion, our classmates have gotten fat, bald, and unemployed... while Pittsburgh... well, Pittsburgh's a little less ugly, is wearing braces, still a little pimply, lives in the apartment below his mother, but, and here's the important point, looks better than all of its jock former classmates and is in a perfect position to scoop up some 38 year old, single-mother former cheerleader tail.

Where was I?

Ah, yes: Pittsburgh still sucks, but it sucks less than everyone else.

Now, that's not the kind of marketing slogan that the Allegheny Conference wants to splash up on billboards, make into T-Shirts, or advertise along side the next Bassmater Classic. So, I can only assume that this position was reached, not by some careful planning and steady growth strategy, but by accident, completely outside the control of the Economic Development powers that be.

I'm sure that's a real kick in the 'nads to them.

But, let's suppose that this *could* be a strategy for Pittsburgh: one that both invests in low cost of living, moderate (but not stratospheric) job growth in mixed fields, and some sort of modest quality of life improvements. I wonder, what such a Warren Buffet-like, no frills policy would look like? Perhaps that a question for folks with bigger economic development minds than myself.

I mean, it's not like in this economic climate, companies are going to up and relocate to the Burgh just to save a couple of bucks. Existing companies may be looking to expand, but without the appropriate financing available, it is doubtful that any new spin offs can occur during this recession. Something *could* be done, but what that something actually *is*, is something that I don't think anyone has really thought about.

Now, it's a shame that the recession is, you know, destroying the country, but at least there's a silver lining for us.

So far.

1 comment:

racketmensch said...

I saw something on tv that featured the Primante (spelling?) sandwiches that looked so good I almost drove up there from D.C. So might I suggest -

Pittsburgh - You want fries ON that?
or for more punch,
Pittsburgh - You WANT fries on that!