It seems that many people are very eager to push their film. If you check sites such as Flickr or other communities discussing film photography, it can feel like almost as many people are shooting at a higher ISO and then pushing in development as there are using the box speed and standard development times, if not more. The websites of film producers and vendors boast about the ISO to which film can be pushed. Labs sometimes offer an option to push by one stop or even more while possibly no option for pulling is available.
What I'm wondering is, if push processing seems to deliver such desirable results, why wouldn't film just be rated at a higher ISO and its reference development times increased accordingly? Are the suggested speeds and dev times "safe" options that are the most likely to get a good exposure or sit in the comfortable middle of the film's latitude? Or is pushing simply popular to get the benefits of a higher film speed at the cost of image quality and with more potential risk for bad end results?