Monday, June 05, 2017

Trump's Clueless About Pittsburgh - Just Like Everything Else

If there is one thing that one can depend upon, it is that Donald Trump, a/k/a Der  Trumpenführer, doesn't know what the hell he is talking about and that his facts and figures are more or less pulled out of his ass.  A case in point is his comment about Pittsburgh when he was declare that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.  Specifically, he said he was more concerned about the citizens of Pittsburgh than the citizens of Paris.  The reality, however, is that Pittsburgh cared little for Trump and Hillary Clinton garnered 56.4% of the vote as  opposed to Trump's measly 40% (Gary Johnson got 2.5% of the vote).  Stated another way, almost 60% of Pittsburgh voters did not want Der Trumpenführer.  And then there's they myth that Pittsburgh longs for the "good old days" of coal and steel.  As a piece in Politico points out, the city has long since moved on and now has one of the most educated and truly is indifferent about Trump's false claims that he will revive the moribund coal industry.  Here are article excepts:
Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords was framed as his obligation to “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” The line conjures an image that a reindustrialized Pittsburgh will return to its smokestack roots, becoming once again the center of the nation’s steel production, fueled by Appalachian coal, and delivering raw material to vastly expanded American manufacturing industries. And it seems to suggest that this blessed future awaits not just Pittsburgh, but virtually all of the American Rust Belt, once crippling environmental regulations have been vanquished.
But Pittsburgh is not muddling through a post-industrial funk. In fact, it is a leading example of a city, and a region, that has rebuilt itself to compete in the post-industrial 21st century economy. Much of that transformation has only been possible because of the concerted efforts to clean the land, air and waterways damaged by virtually unregulated industrial use for over a century. Yet Pittsburgh has been able to generate new jobs, attract new workers and successfully compete against the world.
This truth got lost in the 2016 election which radically oversimplified the debate about how to strengthen America’s manufacturing industries and declining regions.
Three decades ago, a handful of macro-economic forces—the mass obsolescence of industrial capital, contractionary monetary policy, global over-capacity and disruptive technology within the steel industry—came together to eviscerate Pittsburgh's historic advantages in producing steel. Until then, few regions had fought harder, or failed more dramatically, to retain their industrial base than Pittsburgh. Moving forward was made all the more difficult by the scale of the collapse that the region endured in the 1980s. Over 150,000 manufacturing jobs permanently disappeared from southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Pittsburgh metropolitan region contracted by 176,000 people—the single largest population loss of any metropolitan region over the decade.
A lot has happened in Pittsburgh in three decades that followed the worst of the job destruction. Pittsburgh has been forced to redefine itself, a transformation that started with its workforce. Where once Pittsburgh was possibly the most blue-collar city in the nation, the region today relies on a workforce that is one of the most educated in the nation. . . . . . Once dependent on a singular industry, Pittsburgh has created new jobs across a range of industries. Building upon a core of stability in both the health and education sectors, employment has been shifting into finance and a broad range of professional service industries. Of late, Pittsburgh has attracted new technology-based investment by the likes of Google and Uber and looks to become a center of self-driving cars.
One pole of the city’s growth has been the expansion of both academic research and enrollment at Pittsburgh’s universities and colleges. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh—the city’s two largest universities—together expanded their annual research and development expenditures to over $1 billion dollars for the first time in 2010. Much of that growth has been fueled by federal research funding that appears to be at risk in the new priorities coming from Washington. Take into account that Pittsburgh’s university-based research is focused in the fields most agree are economic drivers for the nation: life sciences, information technology, robotics and more, the potential harm of diminished research funding is even greater.
More than anything else, the public has been told relaxed environmental regulations will aide a beleaguered coal industry. Yet, peak employment in the coal industry in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia came a full century ago. Today, less than a thousand coal miners are still employed across the Pittsburgh metropolitan region. Fewer than 6,000 coal miners are employed across Pennsylvania, and this is less than were employed in the state before the Civil War.
The hope that a reinvigorated coal industry will in the long run help Pittsburgh, or its neighbors across northern Appalachia is a false one. Regulation is easy to blame for coal’s continuing decline as a fuel choice, but new domestic supplies of natural gas have put coal at a competitive disadvantage that will be almost impossible to offset short of direct subsidies.
Make no mistake, Pittsburgh’s transformation is incomplete, uneven and ongoing, but there is no rational reason for the region to turn back on the progress it has made.
Unlike Pittsburgh, much of Trump country will not be able to transform itself through education and recruitment of new industries.  In contrast to Pittsburgh, they eschew education, reject scientific knowledge and have few reputable colleges and universities. I'm sorry, but unaccredited bible colleges will not make a positive impression of progressive and innovative business.  Nor will right wing Christian extremism and open racism and bigotry. Pittsburgh demonstrates the route to economic improvement and an embracing of the 21st century.  Sadly, most of Trump country wants to return to the 1950's - something that will not happen - and the war against modernity and diversity will only accelerate the economic death spiral for these regions.  Bigotry and the embrace of ignorance (much of it Bible inspired) carries a huge economic cost. .   

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