Saturday, September 26, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: 167 Battle Stars

(The PWA-funded U.S.S. Enterprise (CV-6) was the most decorated American ship of World War II, earning 20 battle stars and other awards. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy, National Archives, and

In 2009, Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell said: "But one of the good things about reading history is you learn a good deal. And, we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15%."

Actually, unemployment in 1940 was about 9.5%, less than half of what it was when Roosevelt became president. McConnell arrives at his 15% figure by not counting workers employed by the CCC, WPA, and other relief programs, as employed. This is a deceptive tactic commonly used by the political right. It is also highly insulting to the millions of workers who built or improved many of the roads, water lines, national parks, etc. that we use today. McConnell and his ilk are essentially saying to our elders & ancestors, "You weren't working when you created that state park for us. You weren't working when you installed that water line that I drink from today." How ridiculous and insulting is that?

In any event, if the "big spending programs of the New Deal did not work," how is it that 32 PWA-funded Navy vessels (see my blog posts over the past two weeks or so) earned 167 battle stars and helped us win World War II? The political right does not want you to know that thousands of tradesmen received jobs (or were spared layoffs) constructing PWA-funded Navy vessels during the early-to-mid 1930s, and that those vessels helped us win the war. In 2010, Dr. Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute wrote: "Both organizations [the WPA and PWA], but primarily the PWA, turned out to play major roles in the American victory in World War Two. It was the PWA that funded construction of the aircraft carriers Yorktown and Enterprise whose aircraft were responsible for sinking the four Japanese aircraft carriers. No stimulus money, no aircraft carriers and no victory at Midway" ("The Battle Of Midway Was Won With Stimulus Money").

Did the New Deal solve every problem under the Sun? Of course not. But did it help millions of workers and, ultimately, help us win the war? You bet it did. And those 167 battle stars--and those hundreds of soldiers who were killed or injured on those ships fighting for our freedom--proves it. Reject the lies and deception, and learn the truth. Turn off the television, and go to a library or an archives. Learn what America's greatest generation did in the CCC, the WPA, the war, etc.

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