Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Letting our forests burn to balance the budget

(Above: A wildfire near Idyllwild, California that has caused thousands of evacuations, burned up thousands of acres of natural areas, and hurt businesses that rely on vacation & tourism dollars. See Idyllwild Fire In Southern California Mountain Grows. Original YouTube video link here.)

During the Great Depression, new deal work & construction programs (mainly the CCC & WPA) built thousands of miles of firebreaks, removed dead trees & vegetation, built roads to access remote areas (improving fire response), fought fires directly, and much more.

In other words, threats to our natural areas and the problem of unemployment were addressed simultaneously during the New Deal era.

During the current Great Recession, on the other hand, the unemployed are scolded and told that their salvation lies in low-wage McJobs with stingy--if any--benefits, and huge record-setting wildfires are burning across the country. Meanwhile, to make matters worse, Congress has cut the budget of federal firefighting agencies (see here and here).

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal: Where the big banks are making record profits after a taxpayer bailout, but we have to let our forests burn to balance the budget, and Congress turns its nose up at the unemployed (in September of 2012, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have created a new CCC-type program for unemployed veterans).

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