Welcome World to Pittsburgh: Time For More Than Yak at the G20?
Can Obama Help Forge A Global Consensus for Deep Economic Change?
By Danny Schechter
Author of The Crime Of Our Time
Dear International Leaders and Guests,
FROM THE PRESIDENT'S WELCOME:
Michelle and I look forward to welcoming world leaders to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh on September 24th and 25th and we thank the people of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania for opening their city as a showcase to the world.
The Pittsburgh Summit is an important opportunity to continue the hard work that we have done in confronting the global economic crisis, and renewing prosperity for our people. Together, we will review the progress we have made, assess what more needs to be done, and discuss what we can do together to lay the groundwork for balanced and sustainable economic growth. Pittsburgh stands as a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy.
FROM THE DISSECTOR'S RESPONSE
Being a welcoming host may not be enough. The summit will be judged by what it does. So far, as the NY Times noted, Obama's style and desire to change the world's attitudes towards the US has not been matched by new policies.
Nevertheless, Pittsburg was carefully chosen as a perfect backdrop for the 'Every World Leader in Action' photo op. Did you know: there are 8 Fortune 500 Companies, and less unemployment than mant others. Pittsburgh is also the 10th CLEANEST city according to Forbes. It is also supposedly the most livable, labeled "America's Most Livable City" by Places Rated Almanac and then in 2009, Pittsburgh named most livable city in the United States and 29th-most-livable city worldwide by The Economist.
Yet the G20 has not assembled to live there--but to talk, and hopefully reach agreements. We can only hope this conclave will be remembered for more than parties at the Andy Warhol museum.
Once America's steel Mecca, known for its 446 bridges, it was an epicenter of industrial strife in the bad old days. Its lead companies, US Steel and Westinghouse are long gone. I remember documenting a factory closing in the once vital Mon Valley with all its manufacturing plants. How depressing!
(And speaking of PA. I was just honored to write an intro to a new edition of murckraker Ida M. Tarbell's classic and long out of print two volume History of the Standard Oil Company (Cosimo), one of journalism's greatest works, an expose of corporate exploitation of, in Billy Joel's words from his song Allentown, "the Pennsylvania I never found.")
One writer called the place then "hell with the lid off." The lid is back on even as the population shrunk down to 312, 000. Clearly not everyone is enjoying its livability. It is now only the 61st most dangerous city in America with the Pittsburgh murder rate at 2.61 times the national average.
The town has its own dialect, "Pittsburghese;" locals who speak it are known as "Yinzers." The cool subculture revolves around an annual Zombie Fest.