Groundless Optimism?

The Commenting in the post below about the Rand report on Pittsburgh, and the P-G story and the report itself, are interesting to me for the following simple reason: At a very low level, they suggest that the question of Pittsburgh's future is starting to appear on radar screens in a serious way. Is that right? Or is this just another round of mindless civic cheerleading?

Here's one more observation, motivated in part by a pretty clear divide among the Commenters: There are those of us in Pittsburgh who have, by and large, chosen to be here. Professional and economic circumstances being what they are, the ability to choose where you live may be something of a privilege these days, at least past a certain age. It does strike me, however, that those who've made that choice are more likely to share a guarded optimism about the future of the region. There are, by contrast, those whose presence here is essentially involuntary, whether because family or job circumstances literally limit their mobility, or because it just doesn't occur to some people that life might be different -- and perhaps better -- somewhere else. For this group, optimism about Pittsburgh, even guarded optimism, is inevitably colored by history (things were a lot better in the old days, and things haven't gotten any better in a long time), or by lives better lived somewhere else (I wish I were still in XYZ).

Reactions? If this second observation is right (and I am not at all sure that it is), in this respect is Pittsburgh any different from dozens of other cities around the country?


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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