There’s a reason so many Steeler fans have left Pittsburgh

Jerry Bowyer has an excellent piece in today’s Wall Street Journal on why sports – and taxpayer subsidized sports stadiums – do not lead to broader economic gains (a point we have made over and over).  Bowyer’s case in point is Pittsburgh, along with Baltimore and Philadelphia, which despite successful NFL teams and fancy new taxpayer-funded stadiums – other with millions in other “economic development”/corporate welfare subsidies – continue to lose population and jobs.

A U.S. Census report just out shows that Pittsburgh’s population has just been surpassed by Toledo, Ohio. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, 28, the Burg’s wunderkind without the wunder, responded this week to the news. He isn’t interested in repealing the special tax breaks for favored businesses the city uses to tamp down calls for pro-growth tax cuts, or in demanding more accountability from a school system that spends $18,000 per-child every year. And he isn’t talking about repealing a steep parking tax that socks commuters. He wants a recount from the Census Bureau.

But Pittsburgh has lost half of its population since the 1950s, the decade in which the city imposed its first individual income tax. That was the peak. Since then, each new tax designed to fund public works to “keep our young people here” spurs more and more people to call for a moving van.

Maybe America should take a look at Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before getting behind Mr. Obama’s plan to use public-works projects to lead us out of economic morass.