Tuesday, June 30, 2009

afternoon musings

Not around to comment on the Act 47 machinations... but man is that weird.

Top of the fold front page comment in the Financial Times that pokes a bit at recent 'livability' rankings that have come out: If cities are so liveable, why are people not living in them. The irony will be obvious when you see the news tomorrow.

But Pittsburgh comes in the top 5 of Forbes latest ranking of most affordable places.

and steel demand may at least be stabilizing.


Anonymous DBR96A said...

I noticed on that Forbes list that Pittsburgh was the only city to rank in the top 10 in all three categories (housing affordability, unemployment, cost of living).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Winston said...

I get PGH in the affordability list, but not many of the others... Any place where you have to have a car inserts a huge potential expense that doesn't seem to be factored into their equation.

""There are just not the same regulatory barriers for land development that you find in other places.""

Interesting that they assume that these people will be able to afford an auto commute. They're just looking at the cost of the mortgage, not the added cost of gas and car repairs/insurance, which you don't have to pay when you live in a lot of slightly more pricey cities.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous PghTruth said...

Who says you need to have a car in Pittsburgh? According to the Census Bureau, the city has a higher percentage of its workforce walking to work than San Francisco (second only to Boston). Pittsburgh ranks among the leaders in the U.S. for transit commuters and percentage car-free households. Pittsburgh being an "auto-centric" city is yet another one of those myths that needs to die.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 8:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see Pgh also makes Forbes' Top 5 in Best Cities To Get Ahead (too bad they left out "In Which" in that headline, but thank goodness for the capital "A"!)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: the FT article, kind of makes me feel bad to be "living"--however that's defined--in Pittsburgh. Do our ideas shape the world?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 9:07:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

By 'irony' did you mean that the rate of population decline for Pittsburgh has slowed? That reminds me too much of all of the economic reports where the "good" news is that things are getting worse at a much slower rate than they were six months ago.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Winston said...

@PghTruth: "Who says you need to have a car in Pittsburgh? "

Uhm, The point of my post was that PGH seemed like the only truly 'affordable' city mentioned because it was the only real 'city' in the list, and they kept mentioning how those places were 'affordable' because of their sprawl, whereas PGH is affordable because of its vacant urbanness.

My point was that because you DON'T need a car in PGH, it's actually affordable; the rest of the cities mentioned might have cheap houses, but the amount of money you blow driving 150 miles/day for work makes it a false economy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...


You are probably right about the car, but don't forget that public transit is hardly free, especially if you attach a value to your time, especially if you are talking about the Port Authority. Over 95% of my life is spent within four blocks of a 61c stop, but we keep two cars and will continue to do so baring poverty, $10 gas, or a huge improvement in bus service.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 1:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Arsenal said...


Well, I think most Americans place *too much* value on their time, which accounts for their unusually high levels of stress and heart disease. ;)

The real cost of auto ownership is in the big "unknowns"; even if you own an older car with cheap insurance free and clear, you could be hit with a $700.00 repair bill with no warning. Cars are fickle things - always so needy and always surprising you with a new whine :P

Even if you lose a couple hours of your life every week at bus stops, at least you can accurately budget the cost of transit, which you can't do with cars, unless you have an expensive all-inclusive extended warranty or something.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 4:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Arsenal said...

@MH - regarding: value of time:

Also forgot to mention: there's tons of stuff you can do on transit or even waiting for transit (reading, crafting, web surfing if you have a mobile connection); you can't do that stuff behind the wheel.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 4:10:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I don't think I overvalue my time. I know that if I lose an hour, I have to either sleep an hour less, lose an hour of leisure, or hire somebody to do some task for me (i.e. purchase prepared food instead of cooking or getting a painter instead of doing it myself). There's only so many hours.

As for reading on the bus, I found that I couldn't do that while standing and being bounced about, especially on the way home when everybody has to exit through the front of the bus regardless of the fact that there are more people in the aisle than the seats. (It was the exit/enter through the front door only policy that convinced me that the PA wasn't merely incompetent, but actually hated its passengers.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 4:47:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm also convinced that Public Works is deliberately trying to flatten my tires, but they having been successful lately.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 4:51:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Arsenal said...

@MH: "It was the exit/enter through the front door only policy that convinced me that the PA wasn't merely incompetent, but actually hated its passengers."

Ah, Pittsburgh - the only city I know with bulimic public transit ;)

I have to stand most of the time, too, which means I usually just play games on my phone or surf the net. I mostly meant crafting or surfing at the stop, rather than on the carriage, since you wouldn't be able to read whilst driving either.

Everything has a trade-off; I'm just saying that I think transit's is much less, even if it's standing-room-only and involves long waits now and then... My personal solution is just to leave home less often and try to find what I need closer to home. That's not for everyone, but those people can live in Austin ;)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 5:35:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

"My personal solution is just to leave home less often..."

That's my solution to loads of problems, including the drink tax, the parking tax, bad weather, and people who won't shut-up during movies.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 8:46:00 PM  
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