Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Ignore the unemployed while our forests burn

(Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

While 26 million Americans wish they had a full-time job but can't find one, and while 6.5 million American teens and young adults are neither in school nor in the workforce, our natural areas burn.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, over 1,000 people had to be evacuated from Los Padres National Forest in California due to a "wind-whipped White Fire." A few weeks ago, 9,000 acres burned in Wisconsin, causing Governor Scott Walker to declare "a state of emergency in Douglas and Bayfield counties, which makes the Wisconsin National Guard available for recovery efforts."

During the Great Depression unemployed Americans were hired into the WPA and CCC. Among their many activities and accomplishments, these men built thousands of miles of firebreaks and regularly fought wildfires.

But today, as we get ready for a possible record-setting wildfire season, we cut the budget of the U.S. Forest Service, and we scold the unemployed as "takers"; even as private sector job creation is anemic and governments continue to shed jobs.

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where we refuse to connect the dots of unemployment & the fires that are burning our country to the ground. 

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