ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2010


Chuck Lanigan’s Working Pittsburgh is now part of Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies! Chuck will be joining us as well to do outreach for ALCStudies. His previous Working Pittsburgh posts on work and identity are now included here as part of ALCS Journal. Please stay tuned for future entries. And be sure to visit our site at  as we ramp up to offer new and improved post-modern interpretations of labor and culture for the 21st century and beyond.

Best regards.

David Abramoff Ph.D., ALCStudies Director


Guest Blog

Please see the following guest blog by David Abramoff, Ph.D., who was introduced to me through a colleague. Dr. Abramoff is Director, Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies. (CDL)

An old Carpatho-Rusyn parable says that two people cannot drive a wagon at the same time. If they do, it goes into a ditch.

Marx invented dialectical materialism to explain how disparate phenomena become more alike than different throughout history. Dialectical materialism claims two sides of the same coin — say communism and capitalism — merge over time to form a new synthesis. The Pennsylvania unemployment office is a wonderful example of dialectical materialism in action. It has advanced state bureaucracy as a raison d-etre (it’s own reason for being) to limits undreamed of in the former Soviet Union. This has resulted in a virtual gulag of unemployment in the little Commonwealth.  Alexandr Solzhenitsyn described the Gulag as a "place where people are exterminated by labor". If so, the state of unemployment is a place where people’s souls are exterminated by lack of labor. The greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression faces us. Thousands are on the rolls dependent on government insurance they have paid into for their daily bread (if not mortgage and electricity payment). This provides the opportunity for the PA UC to help, but mostly they help themselves. One pretty lady friend I know has been on unemployment benefits since last fall, having lost her job as many others with a local music non-profit. She has been able to secure intermittent contract work without benefits. She duly notified  the unemployment office of this income in May of this year. In repeated conversations she asked if this will affect her benefits. "No problem!" said the kind people in Harrisburg. "You will keep collecting what you earned," At the time the congress in Washington considered an extension of benefits for deserving unemployment. However, this was delayed while they went on well-deserved holiday and were fiddling around while Rome burned. Over Memorial Day my friend celebrated the sacrifice of many brave patriots who gave their lives in WWI and WWII, and now Afghanistan and Iraq, by watching patriotic baseball games and eating hotdogs. The day after her holiday a faceless state of PA bureaucrat suddenly and sadly informed my pretty lady friend that her unemployment would lapse on June 3rd. Moreso, she owned the Commonwealth money. Why? She was supposed to have filed a new UC claim because of her contract work. Since no one told her, she failed to do so. "Our new people don’t always communicate what’s required," the official admitted.

In the aftermath of the U.S. state and national elections Republicans have now taken the House. Democrats barely hang on in the Senate. America has become a tea-bag nation. The house is divided because the people could not stand it. My friend still waits for her deserved benefits. Who is driving the wagon?


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