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Evergrey

The Glory and the Gutting: Steeler Nation and the Humiliation of Pittsburgh

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I found this to be a sobering... but well-written piece on the struggles of Pittsburgh... the economic void... the leadership failures... the suburban antagonism... and a perverse anti-city ideaology on the federal level. It's hard to stomach some of these things... but the article is on-target. We all know Pittsburgh is one of America's greatest cities... and is making efforts to improve itself... but there are major issues holding us back. We built America... and America thanked us by destroying us.

http://www.monthlyreview.org/1205mccollester.htm

"Pittsburgh is little known or appreciated nationally despite the important role that the city played in the rise of U.S. global power. Pittsburgh’s birth . . . flows a story of collective work, struggle, and skill that arguably created the most productive region on the earth . . ."

Moderator Edit, please abide by the rules for copywritten materials . . . it is encouraged for moderators to suspend members who don't

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I don't really have time to read the article right now. Can you tell me whether it says anything positive? Such as mentioning the ways in which the city has bounced back, its strengths in the new economy, etc? Or is it one of those things that makes it sound like we're still depressed?

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It explains how the state and federal governments have screwed over one of America's greatest cities. It's not a Pittsburgh-bashing article.

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^^Excellent piece! Something I would have never found out there on the WWW. It is a great lesson on where we are headed as a people if we don't value industrious progress like Pittsburgh at one time represented.

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Some thoughts... Recently a PG article said the income gap of city vs suburban residents is narrowing. But overall he's right on target in his attack on the Act 47 and ICA. Anything good that's happening is in spite of their damaging manipulations of the city's economic policies. Eventually cities like Pittsburgh are going to have to make their case in front of the Supreme Court because this basically comes down to taxation without representation.

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I finally got around to reading this. It's a very interesting article. I do not agree with everything it says but it makes some excellent points.

An out-of-towner who reads it might get the impression that the city is in much worse shape than it really is. And that bugs me. But I think it's a great article for pointing out how the state and federal gov't have screwed us over time and time again.

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The most sobering part of this whole article is how Pittsburgh in the 70's, 80's and beyond became the poster child for what WE didn't want, hard work ethic, industry, etc. It is similar to how the Roman Empire became soft and oriented on "service" and "consumerism" before it fell. Cool and hip was everything BUT Pittsburgh.

Now the article says how when the DOD is asked why Humvees don't have armor plating after months and months and going on years, Rumsfeld just shrugs and says "production problems" the article points out that most of the nation's premier armour plating plants were located on the Southside and in Homestead, today they are temples to "valley girls" and MTV instead of a prosperous industrious nation.

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Now the article says how when the DOD is asked why Humvees don't have armor plating after months and months and going on years, Rumsfeld just shrugs and says "production problems" the article points out that most of the nation's premier armour plating plants were located on the Southside and in Homestead, today they are temples to "valley girls" and MTV instead of a prosperous industrious nation.

Actually the armor shortage isn't relevant in the context of the article. One of the things that really struck me as taking a bit too much creative license to add some drama to his piece. The shortage has to do with the Pentagon's inflexible appropriations process and extremely poor pre-war and in-war planning. A lot of the trucks we went over there with were 20 years old and weren't heavy-duty enough to carry the extra armor. A lot of the contracts for things like trauma plates ended up with defective products that had to be recalled. A few times I've read the armor manufacturers say that the government simply didn't place any more orders even though they had more capacity. Let alone that we were promised to be out of there in 6 months, tops.

If you look at military appropriations during WW2, you'll see a different picture. Vehicles were designed to be just simple enough to be manufactured at the largest number of factories. Nothing ever came from just one source. If the Pentagon needed anything, the generals were more or less free to order from whomever had the capacity and willingness to build it to specifications. Look at the Jimmy and the Jeep. Not so anymore. Defending the idea of Intellectual Property and a few favored contractors has become more important to our government's ideology than the military's mission. The irony of the entire last string of "pro military" administrations is that they have all done this to an ever-increasing extent. We have the capacity, and while once in a while officials may try to shift blame on the manufacturing sector, it's really not the issue.

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Very interesting insiders view Blue, thanks for shedding light on it from someone who's lived it.

You mentioning the Jeep brings back memories of my discovery of Bantum in the North Hills inventing the Jeep (in some respects the first 4 wheel drive all terrain vehicle), but then selling it out to Ford I believe to manufacture them by the tens of thousands.

This profiterring is nothing new, Pittsburgh's own Charles Schwab (the steelmaker not the investment banker) made his personal fortune after he left U.S. Steel and Carnegie in a huff, by securing monopolistic contracts with the Army and Navy for World War I, as well as Britain if I recall. I forget the exact details but for any student of the history of Big Steel's glory days Schwab's golden touch with military contracts exclusivity is legendary, Bethelhem Steel became his vehicle and before his magic touch arrived B.S. was not even on the radar screen when it came to Big Steel companies.

DuPont is another cross stater that is legendary in the fortunes they made from exclusive contracts with the Pentagon.

I think what has changed is that America no longer has a "big" industrial or chemical or hardware corporation anymore, the rules of the game have remained the same but the players all disappeared. Today GE, Motorola, the ole Westinghouse are all diversifieds with larger steaks in communications, entertainment and telcom then in heavy manufacturing. The closest we come to heavy industry units that can walk and chew gum at the same time (turn out millions of tanks, ships, guns, and jeeps at a moments notice) are companies such as foreign based Siemens, Mitsubishi, and the like.

He did say Gary works is capable of it now, his explanation might be off but his point is a sorespot with me, in lieu of the center of industry we have AEO HQ and the Waterfront respectivley, oh don't forget TCF. I appreciate these things but if I could choose it would be to see 100,000 employed along 10 miles of steel and iron works in Industry Valley again.

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Wow, I wonder where Mr. McCollester keeps his United Steel Workers membership card? I just read the article and I agree with some of his points. But his blatant disregard for some major reasons for Pittsburgh's past decline almost make him not credible. I lived in Pittsburgh during the 70's and 80's and like other 10's of thousands left during the collapse of the steel industry/industrial base, and I can assure you the unions and their paid for political machine that has run the city forever were every bit as culpable in what happened as some vast right winged conspiracy. I travel all over the U.S. and often marveled at how other cities were able to attract major organizations with decent paying jobs without having the incredible natural resources that Pittsburgh is blessed with. Unfortunately I see many of the reasons in Mr. McCollester's attitude. Trust me, there are hard working people throughout the country, no city or region has a monopoly on that. It's offering a climate where entrepreneurship thrives, free of massive tax burdens and a pro business climate. I wish I had the time to dispell many of his points but perhaps another day. I travel back home to the 'Burgh often and I'm so proud to call it my hometown. It's just I've heard the same lines before and it's getting a little old. It disappoints me when I see, like I did in the today's Pitt Biz Journal, that Pittsburgh is ranked 48th out of 50 by entrenpreneurs as a place to start a business. That has nothing to do with mean union busters.

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It disappoints me when I see, like I did in the today's Pitt Biz Journal, that Pittsburgh is ranked 48th out of 50 by entrenpreneurs as a place to start a business. That has nothing to do with mean union busters.

And Expansion Management magazine just ranked Pittsburgh as one of the 10 best cities to expand or relocate a business. For every hare-brained study out there... there is an equal and opposite study.

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Wow, I wonder where Mr. McCollester keeps his United Steel Workers membership card? I just read the article and I agree with some of his points. But his blatant disregard for some major reasons for Pittsburgh's past decline almost make him not credible. I lived in Pittsburgh during the 70's and 80's and like other 10's of thousands left during the collapse of the steel industry/industrial base, and I can assure you the unions and their paid for political machine that has run the city forever were every bit as culpable in what happened as some vast right winged conspiracy. I travel all over the U.S. and often marveled at how other cities were able to attract major organizations with decent paying jobs without having the incredible natural resources that Pittsburgh is blessed with. Unfortunately I see many of the reasons in Mr. McCollester's attitude. Trust me, there are hard working people throughout the country, no city or region has a monopoly on that. It's offering a climate where entrepreneurship thrives, free of massive tax burdens and a pro business climate. I wish I had the time to dispell many of his points but perhaps another day. I travel back home to the 'Burgh often and I'm so proud to call it my hometown. It's just I've heard the same lines before and it's getting a little old. It disappoints me when I see, like I did in the today's Pitt Biz Journal, that Pittsburgh is ranked 48th out of 50 by entrenpreneurs as a place to start a business. That has nothing to do with mean union busters.

While I agree with you on the innacuracy of the article, I don't think being pro business has anything to do with unions. Businesses themselves have always had a hand in corrupting unions, to the point of hiring people to infiltrate and manipulate them. A healthy union is definitely pro-business and areas with strong healthy unions tend to have strong economies. Areas with very corrupt unions reflect an overall corrupt corporate culture and non-competitive climate. In the end it's really a chicken or egg question and Mr. McCollester isn't right by blaming just one side of it while avoiding all the other possible causes. Nor does his article reflect a realistic picture of what's going on in Pittsburgh with people and businesses starting to come back into the city and quality of life going up even higher than before.

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I get sick when I see this headline keep popping up. The old Pittsburgh is gone (Thank the universe!). We moved here from L.A. 2 years ago and settled within the city limits in the east end. Our quality of life is so much better here than in L.A. Amenities of the larger cities are catching up. Real estate prices are slowly appreciating, but more so in hotter neighborhoods, yet many of the other "hot" areas of the country are in a real estate slowdown. I think it says a lot for slow and steady growth. Now if we could only consolidate the smaller no name fiefdoms into the city to show growth and more room for expansion, and to get us on to higher population count lists that more accurately describe our metro area.

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Yeah this argument would be fine in 1985, but it's irrelevant now. Steel is dead as is most industry.

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And Expansion Management magazine just ranked Pittsburgh as one of the 10 best cities to expand or relocate a business. For every hare-brained study out there... there is an equal and opposite study.

Ain't that the truth!!! It's just most of these types of studies I see lately by nationally recognized sources don't reflect well on the city. Forbes Mag. July 06 rates Pittsburgh 71st for employment based upon job growth, income growth, median income, etc. Bringing corporate headquarters to town does not equal jobs. To displace another myth blueblack, most of the cities that rank highest for good paying jobs, job growth, etc. have no or weak union representation. Also to blame the the ICA for the cities current woes is like a drunk driver who crashes his car getting upset with the tow truck driver who comes to give a tow....

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Great, let's celebrate low paying jobs which have been the mechanism for growth in many cities.

Damn those unions. Why can't they just go away and let Ken Lay do his job..?

Again this isn't '85, so union bashing isn't relevant, but if you want to sing the praises Wal Mart America, go ahead....

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Great, let's celebrate low paying jobs which have been the mechanism for growth in many cities.

Damn those unions. Why can't they just go away and let Ken Lay do his job..?

...and according to the FBI 4 out of the last 8 Teamster presidents have been criminally indicted, but neither of these statements is the point. My intent was to counter some of those offered by Mr. McCollester's posted article which seems to point to unions as being the potential saviors of the city and the cause of current woes due to their demise. This may be true for union employees, but a total falsehood for everyone else, especially tax payers and the vast majority of non-union workers. It just seemed strange timing for such an article since the city has seemed to make major strides over recent years at being more business friendly in an attempt to attract more of them. I can assure you in years prior the exact reason many businesses did not come to Pittsburgh can be attributed to unions which is relevant. The free thinking, bright, and independent entrepreneurial minds that are today driving the job sector in high tech fields,etc., have little need or interest in unions. Pittsburgh should be on the forefront of such growth with its well educated work force, outstanding universities, hardworking citizens, and abundant natural resources. For an interesting read from someone who speaks much more intelligently than I see the following article. It is relevant....

Pittsburgh Unions

Thanks to all for the interesting conversation.

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There is no mainstream thought that sees a future with unions. Too much has changed to this country. It's becoming more and more service focused with a struggling middle class.

A discussion of unions as relevant, is irrelevant.

The middle class is getting crushed and Americans are partially to blame. There will be no growth of unions, because we want to buy from China.

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There is a difference between how Pitt is perceived and experienced. I never thought about Pitt and often sortof forgot it even existed...then my girlfriend took me there. I fell in love with the place. It's now easily among my favorite cities. Yet whenever I tell people about my time in Pitt they almost always remark negatively about it. That's the perception. When I talk to people who have spent some time there they almost always remark positively. That's the experience.

I still say Pitt will be rediscovered one of these days and people will start coming to the city. Then the rents will go up so all you Burghers enjoy it now while you can.

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