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August 21, 2009

What's the G-20 Doing in Pittsburgh? Where's the Emphasis?

Many people ask, What is the G-20 Doing in Pittsburgh?

Generally, these questions develop along the lines of: Why Pittsburgh and why not: San Francisco, Charlotte, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, etc? I mean, people understood why it isn't Cleveland - no question. But why not another key city? Why Pittsburgh?

When I ask, What is the G-20 Doing in Pittsburgh?, I'd like to pursue a different line of inquiry. I want to ask,
what are they doing while they're here
that's so special that it's worth shutting down Universities, Businesses, and a City? What are they going to accomplish here that's worth displacing thousands of people's lives?
What global economic improvement will be made here that justifies costing Pittsburgh janitors, cleaners, waitresses, secretaries, maintenance men and other lower-wage earners four days of pay
because their buildings and businesses are closed? What is the new deliverable made here that's worth affecting our air ambulance helicopters? What is the accomplishment that justifies the certain economic costs and risks the possible loss of human life?

There's a few possible perspectives of what gets done at a G-20 Summit:
Column A:
The Sanguine View
Column B:
The Jaundiced View
Change and progress happens at G-20 Summits. Nothing gets done between Summits. Change and progress are continually developing, in an ongoing process. Summits are dog-and-pony shows.
Heads of State negotiate, strong-arm, and jaw-bone for their causes at Summits. They play paper-rock-scissors as a tie-breaker.Qualified staff, bureaucrats, and sophisticated economists do all the work in a continual process. None of them are at the Summit.
Important work only gets done when the Heads of State get in a room together. Their presence is required for progress.These visitors are politicians, not economists. They're not qualified to set economic policy. The outcome of this facade is pre-coordinated.
These heads of state and their minions do not have video-conferencing or email. They must meet face-to-face.The G-20 Summit is simply a media opportunity for politicians.

I'm more aligned with Column B, the Jaundiced View.

Does anybody believe that the various heads of state are going to wrestle with economic problems and conflicts and come up with solutions - in 36 hours already crammed with greetings, press conferences, formal dinners, and VIP departures? Or do you think the work is already done behind the scenes, using things like video-conferencing, email, and the internet — and the Summit is a formality and a photo opportunity?

The G-20 Summit is a glorified photo opportunity. It cuts both ways; it makes the Heads of State stand up and profess continuing allegiance to the economic policies staked out by the ministers and technocrats, and it lets them get their picture taken standing up for their stakeholders and doing something about the world economy - which in truth, they hold very little sway over.

When the G-20 summit has come and gone, when the kettles are released and the lawsuit settlement negotiations have begun, when the injured are treated and the dead are buried,
what work will have been done in Pittsburgh besides announcements of previously developed positions, and photo opportunities?

Remember how the G-20 coming to Pittsburgh seemed too good to be true? How the news fed our needs? How we bought into our own dream, the basis of every swindle?

IMO, this is a sham. Pittsburgh, like all marks, has been duped because in our own dark place we want to be the showcase of the world, and we've been sold our own wannabe dream. (And we bought it.) If/when somebody dies (police, protester, bystander) what accomplishment will justify their death?

Before John Kerry was a Brahmin, before he was a Heinz, John Kerry was a clever young man who asked: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" That's an excellent rhetorical question. I'd like to ask, "How do you ask a city to risk riots for a photo opportunity?"

I notice that there are some opportunities, such as the World's Fair or the Olympics, that are highly sought after. Venues are claimed years in advance. Cities compete for the privilege of hosting those events. I notice that cities don't compete to host the G-20.

I think the irony meter is probably pegged. Pittsburgh is spreading canvas over construction sites and abandoned buildings to be a good little Potemkin Village, when the G20 itself is nothing but a facade, a setpiece provided so the politicians can preen, posture, and be photographed, in order to advance their own agendas.

How did this fiasco happen to us? I'm thinking Team-Obama was eating Pamela's Pancakes while wondering, Man, the G-20. Where can we stick this turkey? And they looked over at Mr. Rooney and said, "Ambassador Rooney, these are great pancakes. Tell us about Pittsburgh. Maybe we can do something to you for you."

Maybe Cleveland is smarter than Pittsburgh, after all.


Matt H said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

This speaks directly to the fact that Pittsburgh was #11 on the list of cities to host the G-20. The others politely declined the chance to host the summit. So that means that there are at least 10 other cities in the U.S. that have more realistic, more responsible, less delusional leaders than Pittsburgh does and who realize that the photo ops are not worth the huge toll that this will take on the city, its employees, and its residents.

Vannevar said...

Dear Anonymous@12:22,
First, thanks for the comment.
Second, WOW. Is there a link or reference for that list of eleven?
Cheers, Vannevar.

Anonymous said...


That information came to me via a reliable and well-connected individual in a local non-profit who, as PittGirl demonstrated for us just this past week, must remain nameless. I am hoping that the MSM will report on this at some point, if for no other reason than to keep Onorato, Ravenstahl, Flanagan, etc. grounded in reality.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Anon 12:12/3:08 - Since I'm a non-anonymous blogger, I can do a little active poking around. I'd love it if you could get in touch with me at and point me in a direction. I have a history of keeping confidences while reporting.

Lady Elaine said...

I don't know.

Maybe it's a quid-pro-quo.

We get the G20 in exchange for the money needed to power the police troops we wanted in the budget they took out. And we get to keep all the equipment! Yippee!

Or maybe it's a snap at our mayor for not having his homework done on the stimulus package and not being in the room when Obama addressed him personally. Who knows. And who knows why those others bowed out. Maybe they want the Olympics in 2168. Maybe they are racist. Maybe those 11 other cities are ones like Camden, NJ--complete hell holes, or New Orleans, but feel they can't deal with the influx of people right now.

What I can say is how we handle this thing can make or break us. That is a fact.

Not matter how we got the G20, we have it now.

It's our bastard child and we have to figure out how to make people think it's our real baby. You know, docture (sp?) the documents, hide it from the father, blahblahblah.

So, we have to fake it the best we can.

That means limiting access to downtown, controlling the nutbag (and I mean that with all sensitivity and compassion) anarchists who protest about nothing and everything, who smash and break everything we have worked so hard to make Pittsburgh special, bring in a million officers, specialists and military personnel to protect us and the people from other countries, and to make sure our city officials (GOD-WILLING) have a good strategic plan in place to keep everything together.

And if all goes well, people of the world and in America will see Pittsburgh isn't the same crappy, dingy place from the 80's with coal dust everywhere.

There's my two cents.


MH said...

I agree with LE, as long as the nutbags stay out of Squirrel Hill. I'm mean, aside from the nutbags that live there.

Anonymous said...

It's true, Pamela's pancakes really are good!

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