ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

New ‘To Be of Use’ Interviews; Jobs for Main Street in 2010


I will perform To Be of Use:  Stories of Labor and Identity again at the Steel Valley Arts Council’s ArtSpace in Homestead in April 2010.  I’ve started conducting further interviews of workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I’ve got the Cookie Man from Saudi Arabia who drives a Tastykake™ truck and the guy at my gym who manages a restaurant lined up. Please let me know if you or someone you know would like to participate. The interviews take about an hour and are anonymous.

I’ve mentioned the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and other 1930s-era initiatives such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the need for similar programs now. On December 16th 2009 Congress passed the Jobs for Main Street bill (H.R. 2847). The bill directs the allocation of TARP funds for federal workforce training and infrastructure programs beginning in 2010. The money will not go toward continuing government handouts to failed Wall Street investment firms or individuals, but toward putting Americans to work. The bill is designed to fix and improve crumbling highways, bridges and inefficient railroads. It will help ensure operating fire and police services, safe schools, available public forests and development of renewable energy programs. Allowing people to develop real skills and contribute useful work endows them with a sense of competence and pride. It gives them an identity[1] and a material investment in the society in which they live. And providing folks a few bucks to spend from money they earn isn’t bad for the economy.

Happy New Year.

[1]Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: an Inquiry into the Value of Work, The New Atlantis, 2006


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