Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Accomplishments of the National Youth Administration (part 7 of 10): Infrastructure

American infrastructure in the 21st century?

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave American infrastructure a letter grade of D+, noting numerous problems with our schools, airports, roads, water systems, parks, etc. Like other New Deal work and construction programs, the National Youth Administration (NYA) played a significant role in modernizing our infrastructure.

NYA infrastructure work (new constructions, repairs, and improvements) included just about anything you can imagine--courthouses, schools, airports, recreation centers, bus stations, picnic camp shelters, bleachers, swimming pools, bridges, conservation dams, gymnasiums, tennis courts, roads, retaining walls, drinking fountains, fire hydrants, libraries, hospitals, and more (Final Report of the National Youth Administration, pp. 135-140).

Considering our current and long-lasting problems of youth unemployment and deteriorating infrastructure, wouldn't it be nice if our policy-makers connected the dots and created a new NYA? Of course, to do that they'd have to take a break from the hard work of creating tax cuts and tax loopholes for their super-wealthy campaign contributors.

In other words, don't hold your breath. 

(A stone/block gutter at Inwood Park in New York, built by the National Youth Administration in 1938. Today, our National Park system has a maintenance backlog of about $11 billion. State and local parks, even more desperate for funding, are becoming increasingly reliant on charity. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

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