Friday, November 14, 2008

What I'd like to do, come the WPA

Well, all I can say is that in the last few weeks, I've been Ayn Rand-ed by Alan Greenspan's admission, or near admission, or whatever it was, that the market, left to its own devices, may not always regulate itself in such a grand and glorious fashion.

And then, my not so invisible hand involuntarily reached up to cover my mouth as I gasped - gasped! - to hear Martin Feldstein speak about something that sounded almost Keynesian, almost - dare I say it - WPA-ish.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next year or so.

Will the 'worst economic crisis since the Great Depression' turn out to be better or worse than we expected? Will everything shake out for the better, leaving us in more robust shape (as in 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger')? Will more of the institutions that have been part of the fabric of our economy since, like, forever disappear on us? Will the last company that actually makes something tangible, like a car, disappear from our shores?

And what does President Obama have up his long skinny sleeve and in that big, smart brain of his?

I'm hoping for a twenty-first century version of the Works Project Administration, the New Deal initiative that put folks back to work building roads, court houses, libraries, and other public structures.

Surely, we could use some investment in our infrastructure - all those tumbling down bridges, pot-holed roads, and crumbling inner-city schools.

And while we're at it, how about keeping branch libraries open longer hours. And set up more after school learning programs for kids?

Hey, we're already so in debt, what's another tril if it helps us out of the current funk?

And how about a resurgence of the Civilian Conservation Corps?

Surely there's environmentally useful work to be done in our parks, national or otherwise?

And, of course, while we're at it, how about a new Federal Writers' Project.

Surely, those travel guides that folks like Studs Turkel, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, and John Cheever worked on in the thirties need updating. (Thanks, wikipedia, for this list of FWP writers.)

Even if it only paid the "$80" (inflation adjusted for 2008) a month that writers got paid during the Depression, I'd like nothing better than to work on the Massachusetts guide book.

A lot of people, I'm sure, will stick their hand up to take Boston, but I'd love to do Worcester.

City of the Seven Hills. Heart of the Commonwealth. Land of my father's pride.

And, while I'm at it, I'll take Leicester (where my grandmother Rogers hailed from), and far-out Barre, Massachusetts (where my grandfather Rogers grew up and fled at the first possible moment to forge his way in the big city of Worcester).

FWP writers took oral histories down, too.

I volunteer to speak with everybody over the age of eighty about what Worcester, Leicester, and Barre were like in their day.

I'm not sure how far the FWP charter extended, but now I'd like to see it fund poets, fiction writers, essayists, playwrights, and - of course - bloggers.

What a contribution we could make to the preservation of our culture before it goes completely non-written word. Before the only written language is txt.

Federal Writers Project! Make that FWP!

Hurry! Hurry!

Where do I apply?

1 comment:

K. said...

Hi Maureen. I found your blog because you are one of three people (one being me) to include "Patterns" as one of your favorite movies. Then I see that you are a Red Sox fan and you want to revive the Federal Writers Project!?!?! Something tells me that I'll be a regular reader.

BTW, the WPA Guide to Massachusetts is a classic. Conrad Aiken wrote the entry for Deerfield, which will make you want to drop everything and head over. I don't think Deerfield has changed much since the 30's!