Friday, January 02, 2009

March of the Cake Eaters

Big steel is now seeking some bailout love with manufacturing making a hasty retreat from the global economy. Such gloomy news still affects Pittsburgh despite the region's latest reinvention. National Public Radio elaborates:

-- Jay Rosen wants to know why, when the Senate spikes a rescue for U.S. automakers, Japanese stocks go down. One answer comes from Vinny Catalano, president of Blue Marble investment firm and keeper of a cool blog.

-- Automakers in Detroit say they're too big to fail. As business historian John Steele Gordon tells David Kestenbaum, we've heard that one before -- from the U.S. steel industry.

-- Last year, Adam Davidson went to Pittsburgh to see what remained of the steel industry and its workers. Also, to find out what a "cake eater" might be.

Davidson defines cake eater as the upper class part of the steel industry. The point of his report is how the cake eaters have taken over the entire process of what is left of manufacturing in Pittsburgh. Even the "blue collar" parts of the job require extensive education.

Janko was kind enough to bring the NPR piece to my attention. I asked him what became of Youngstown's cake eaters. He informed me that city cake eaters left. The evidence is the availablity of cheap mansions, many of which border the urban treasure Mill Creek park. My guess is that the cake eaters did not abandon Pittsburgh, at least not to the same extent experienced in Youngstown. Instead, the cupcake class runneth over. In the early 1980s, talent didn't leave Pittsburgh for dead so much as it played the geographic mobility card in order to escape the stiff competition for the jobs in the new economy.

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