A native of Pittsburgh finished graduate school here and went off to New York to make his fortune. The fortune wasn't made, but solid career success arrived. With some money and a spouse, he returned home to start a family and continue his career. In fact, he was going to set the Pittsburgh business world on fire with his New York City acumen. He called a high school classmate, now a successful accountant in Pittsburgh, hoping to establish a networking relationship. The accountant said this: I have a book. It has two pages. On this page, I list people I owe. On the next page, I list people who owe me. You? You're not in the book.
The lesson is a familiar one, and it's not just that it's hard for an outsider to break into the closed circle of business relationships that dominates Pittsburgh. The lesson is that if members of the Pittsburgh business community look at economic development as a zero-sum game -- if I give something to you, I lose something of my own -- then the region will continue to flounder economically. Growth requires giving without expecting an immediate return. Give, and you may get something back down the road; hoard, and you won't.
I don't care that people are selfish. In the business world, selfishness is often fine, even good. But "you're not in the book," or "I've got mine," aren't just manifestations of selfishness; they're manifestations of *feudal* selfishness. "Feudal* selfishness says "I am my own Lord, master of my domain." A growth-oriented economy depends on *market* selfishness. *Market* selfishness means my success depends on trading with you. And it assumes that development isn't a zero-sum game. If I trade with you, we can both make ourselves better off in the long run.