Saturday essay: Commanding failure
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
The good news is that government officials in Pittsburgh finally have declared the Era of Revitalizing the Golden Triangle with Big Box Anchor Retailers to be over (although everybody else knew it to be over years ago). The bad news is that Pittsburgh officials still suffer from the fatal conceit that government can command the marketplace to serve its vision du jour.
The 12-year tenure of former Mayor Tom Murphy was a textbook example of Command Economics Failure 101. Think Lord & Taylor. Think Lazarus. Think of almost bulldozing a large swath of the triangle. Now, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says the government plan is to create an “urban village” atmosphere, offering amenities and an ambiance not to be found in the suburbs.
That's all well and good — in theory. But it remains a government central plan, one that by the very nature of government central planning is doomed to failure — and usually on the backs of taxpayers and to the perversion of the marketplace.
Having the 21st-century iteration of the 18th-century butcher, baker and candlestick maker certainly is attractive — if it develops naturally and, dare the word be used, organically. Think of the Strip District and the South Side (sans the Southside Works) or even Bloomfield and Brookline, for that matter.
Indeed, government can facilitate such eclecticism and funkiness — not by attempting to command the marketplace but by getting out of the way. It's a lesson Mr. Ravenstahl and others would be wise to heed but, conceited as they are, never will.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Tuesday takes
- Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
- Greensburg Tuesday takes
- The Malaysian jetliner probe: Passport insecurity
- The market speaks: Cadillac dealers reject another electric folly
- The Thursday wrap
- Sunday pops
- THE BOX
- Market perversions: Chrysler retreats
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- ‘Un-American’? That’s Harry Reid, the Senate’s lowly smear artist