Sunday, July 14, 2013

No money for a new WPA or CCC, but plenty for bombs and prisons

Today, many states are spending more on incarceration than education (see, e.g., here). At the federal level, prison spending has increased one thousand seven hundred percent since the 1980s. And with respect to the military, the United States spends almost as much as every other nation combined, about six hundred fifty thousand million dollars (see interesting charts and graphs here).

Yet, if you bring up the idea of a national jobs program for the long-term unemployed--like a new WPA or a new CCC--you are likely to be scolded, and told, "Oh, we can't afford that!" or "That would be wasteful spending!"

Do you believe them? Do you believe the people who say we can't afford a national jobs program, even though we can afford the largest military-industrial complex in the world and the largest prison-industrial complex in the world?

I don't. I believe it's primarily a matter of choice.

For example, do we want investment on the tail-end of a problem?

Or do we want up-front investment?

I guess we've made our choice, but I sure wish we would have chosen differently.

(Prison cell image is in the public domain, courtesy of WPA poster art courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

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