It’s the same Pittsburgh …
Austin, Texas. Boston. North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham region.
Those are among the cities/regions that usually spot-on Wall Street Journal aviation observer Scott McCartney says airlines will be targeting in post-pandemic America to create a system of more direct flights at mini-hubs.
The airlines have selected their targets based on “fast-growing economies where one airline doesn’t yet dominate,” McCartney wrote last week in his influential column “The Middle Seat.”
Do note what city is missing in the aviation scribe’s assessment: Yes, it’s Pittsburgh.
It’s the same Pittsburgh that has embarked on a nearly $1.4 billion (and sure to grow again just as it grew from $1.1 billion) “terminal modernization program” at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), touted as “right-sizing” a 30-year-old $1.1 billion facility (in 1990 dollars).
It’s the same Pittsburgh that has had to bribe airlines with huge public subsidies to fly into PIT, many of which either went belly-up (so much for the Airport Authority’s due financial diligence) or skedaddled when the free money ran out.
It’s the same Pittsburgh that, despite all the rah-rah-sis-boom-bahing about making great economic strides over the last few years has, in reality, shown a paucity of economic growth over the last decade.
It’s the same Pittsburgh that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, continues to abide by the fallacy of “if you build it, they will come.” Never mind that it’s growth that justifies such expansions, buildups and buildouts, not the expansions that create growth in the hubris of “commanding” the economy.
(Heck, it’s the same Pittsburgh that, even with computer-aided programs, can’t even acceptably plow the snow from its streets in the winter.)
And it’s the same Pittsburgh that is no stranger to this hubris.
The hubris of government building department stores that, by their very nature – the “skin-less” risk to retailers — are doomed to failure.
The hubris of government building inefficient light-rail extensions that the public has to be bribed with free rides to use.
The hubris of government building sports stadia as economic generators when the only thing they really generate are increased profits for the barons of sport and sweetheart, marketplace-perverting deals for developers.
The hubris of grand social re-engineering programs that leave mechanical and educational infrastructure rotting, if not the social infrastructure that “leaders” profess they will revive.
Hubris, we are reminded by the definitional gurus, indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities.
Sadly, this has become the defining characteristic of Pittsburgh. And, tragically, as wry social observer P.J. O’Rourke reminds, “Hubris is one of the greatest renewable resources.”
As Pittsburgh’s “leaders” keep proving, ad nauseum.
Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (firstname.lastname@example.org).