Sunday, June 30, 2013

The New Deal Saved Lives & Austerity is Destroying Them

(WPA poster promoting good health, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

"Comparing historical data across states, we estimate that every $100 in New Deal spending per capita was associated with a decline in pneumonia deaths of 18 per 100,000 people; a reduction in infant deaths of 18 per 1,000 live births; and a drop in suicides of 4 per 100,000 people."

--Dr. David Stuckler & Dr. Sanjay Basu, "How Austerity Kills," New York Times, May 12, 2013. Stuckler is a researcher at Oxford University and Basu is an epidemiologist at Stanford University. They are the authors of the new book The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Today, the story is quite different. Between the half-hearted (and long-gone) Obama stimulus (the biggest single part of which was tax cuts, not direct government spending), the recent "sequestration," and state budget cuts, the governments of America are cutting food assistance to low-income seniors, cutting cancer research, cutting funding for job training programs, cutting off unemployment benefits, and working hard to cut off food assistance to millions of low-income Americans.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has seen a rise in deaths from pneumonia and suicide, and ranks number one among developed nations in first-day infant mortality.

In their book, Stuckler and Basu show how austerity (including less spending on health care) imposed on several European nations, by the International Monetary Fund, has correlated with increased rates of deadly infectious diseases and suicides. So, while it might be a stretch to say that austerity is murder, it certainly is a slow and subtle homicide.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Buckingham Fountain

(Click on images to enlarge)

(Image in the public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

WPA artists frequently encouraged people to visit local and national attractions, such as Buckingham Fountain in Chicago.

(WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Free Education & Training, Courtesy of the New Deal

During the New Deal there was an effort to provide free education and training to a wide variety of Americans in a wide variety of fields. Many times, unemployed teachers would be hired into the WPA to give instruction to low-income Americans, thereby addressing two problems at once (unemployment and poverty). During the current Great Recession, however, the story is quite different: The federal government is more focused on cutting funding for job training programs, even as 26 million Americans wish they had full-time work but can't find it, and even as American workers are seeing their pay drop.   

(All images courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WPA Theater

(WPA theater production in New York city. Image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.) 

WPA theater productions entertained millions of Americans from 1935 to 1939. Unemployed actors and unemployed theater workers were given a chance to earn a paycheck while entertaining audiences. Area businesses benefited from the increased pedestrian traffic during theater nights.

Congress eventually shut the theater productions down and forbid Americans from enjoying the shows. Some conservatives in Congress--both Democrat and Republican--thought the theater productions were a communist plot. The program that many Americans enjoyed, and had tremendous potential, was destroyed by hysteria, finger-pointing, and witch-hunting.   

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Colorado Still On Fire As Needless Unemployment Continues

(Image courtesy of the National Interagency Fire Center.) 

Colorado has a new monster fire to contend with--the West Fork Complex Fire--which has burned over 75,000 acres. The state is still recovering from the Black Forest Fire, which destroyed over 500 homes. And there's several other wildfires burning in Colorado, such as the East Peak Fire which has destroyed about 13,000 acres. A big part of the problem is that the fires have "a receptive host in the region's vast acres of spruce beetle-killed trees and drought-parched brush."

During the Great Depression, workers in the WPA and CCC created thousands of miles of firebreaks, protected trees against insects, removed dead trees & other ground fuels, and fought fires directly.

So, given the problems of unemployment and wildfires that we face today, Congress will surely connect the dots and create a new WPA and a new CCC, right? 


Senate Republicans have blocked legislation to create a new CCC-type program for unemployed veterans, Congress has ignored the late Senator Frank Lautenberg's bill to create a new WPA, and Congress has cut the budget of the U.S. Forest Service--thereby diminishing its ability to fight wildfires

Isn't it wonderful to have a Congress that ignores works for the people, and ignores works diligently to protect our forests??

Monday, June 24, 2013

WPA Ditch-Digging

(WPA workers installing a water mainImage courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.) 

WPA workers were often insulted during the Great Depression. They were labeled "shovel-leaners," "lazy good-for-nothings," and "ditch-diggers." As unemployed men & women they were insulted, and when they took jobs in the WPA they were insulted. The insults--like the insults directed at the poor & unemployed today--never stopped. 

 (WPA workers opening the ground for new water linesImage courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

Of course, the people calling the WPA workers "ditch-diggers" failed to mention the fact that the ditches were filled with new water mains and sewer lines. And they enjoyed the luxury of clean water and modern sewage--that the WPA workers provided to them--while insulting those very same WPA workers.

  (WPA workers lowering a sewer line. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)  

Across America, the WPA installed 16,117 miles of new water lines and 24,271 miles of new storm & sewer drains. The "ditch-diggers" modernized American infrastructure. And that infrastructure allowed businesses to expand and new communities to develop.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

9.3 million acres burned, while millions of Americans couldn't find work

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

The authors of the article report a number of interesting things:

1. "Eight of the nine worst fire seasons on record in the U.S., as measured in acres burned, have occurred since 2000, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho."

2. "Last year, 9.3 million acres burned, with 51 separate fires of more than 40,000 acres each." (9.3 million acres is about 14,500 square miles, or about the size of Vermont and Connecticut combined)

3. Federal funding for fire prevention is dropping swiftly. For example, the Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program--a fire prevention effort of the U.S. Department of the Interior--is having its budget cut from $500 million in 2012, to $419 million this year, to a proposed $292 million next year. 

4. "In a 2010 blaze in Arizona...researchers found that the fire cost about $135 million. They calculated that every dollar spent on basic prevention, such as trimming dead branches and carting out downed trees, could have saved $10 in firefighting costs." 

5. Among the many things that make wildfires worse are pine-killing beetles.

During the New Deal, the WPA & CCC employed millions of jobless Americans. Among their many projects were the creation of thousands of miles of firebreaks, protecting trees from insects, directly fighting fires, clearing out dead trees, and planting 3 billion new trees.

Compare that to today's policy focus: As 26 million Americans wish they had a full-time job, and as record-setting wildfires burn the country to the ground, Senate Republicans blocked the creation of a CCC-type program for unemployed veterans, and House Republicans are working feverishly to cut off food assistance to low-income families and children.

Of course, we are reminded daily that "we can't afford the spending!!" And meanwhile we learn that we've lost over $3 trillion to tax evasion since 2001

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Shut Down the Schools and Build More Prisons

(Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Maryland. This school was built with funds from the Public Works Administration, and the surrounding grounds--including the football stadium--were developed by the Works Progress Administration. Fort Hill High School still operates today, graduating hundreds of students every year. Photo by Brent McKee.)

Across America, thousands of teachers are being laid off and hundreds of schools are being shut down. Rather than a thoughtful and reasonable budget process, this phenomena seems more like a fire sale. For example, in Philadelphia 23 schools are being shut down and thousands of school personnel are being laid-off. This is (we are told) because of the city's $304 million budget deficit. But meanwhile, they're building a shiny new $400 million prison. Indeed, the trend across the country has been to increase prison budgets while decreasing education budgets. And big business is now fully in-the-game, running private prisons for profit, which has surely facilitated longer prison sentences, wrongful convictions, and public corruption (see, e.g., "Pennsylvania Judge Sentenced to 28 Years In Massive Juvenile Justice Bribery Scandal"). 

During the New Deal, there was some prison-building. But that category of projects was tiny compared to the various projects designed to better our country. For example, for every new prison or jail built by the WPA, they built 32 new schools (181 vs. 5,908). 

Today, the emphasis has shifted towards incarceration. 

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where America is continuing to grow its prison-industrial complex (already the world's largest)....even if that means we have to dismantle our education system.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The WPA Honored Our Veterans

(Annapolis National Cemetery, photo by Brent McKee.

Across the country, WPA workers cleaned, repaired, and improved cemeteries, including many veterans cemeteries. At Annapolis National Cemetery (above)--created by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and now on the National Register of Historic Places--the WPA built & repaired structures, installed utilities, realigned headstones, and more.

(WPA workers erecting a flag pole at Baltimore National Cemetery--a flag pole that still flies the American flag today. Image from the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

Some people called (and still call) the WPA projects "wasteful" and "boondoggles." It's a shame that some people are so negative and cynical that they label infrastructure improvements, art, theater, national defense enhancement, school construction, and improvements to veterans cemeteries "wasteful."

(Flag pole at Baltimore National Cemetery, photo by Brent McKee.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Promote the General Welfare & Provide for the General Welfare.

("Promote the General Welfare." Bas Relief in Greenbelt, Maryland. Photo by Brent McKee.)

"A successful social contract has bound us together since the FDR era. The Randian State is an effort to dismantle it, replacing our nation's web of mutual trust and support with a lifelong helplessness and dependence on the whims and generosity of corporations and ultra-wealthy individuals."

Indeed, should We the People be at the complete mercy of corporations for our livelihood and economic security? And, should We the People be dependent upon the whims of charity when our jobs are eliminated? Or, should We the People be able to craft public policies that create a strong social safety net when we are abandoned by the "job creators" or harmed by economic downturns? In other words, should We the People be able to help We the People by promoting the general welfare and providing for the general welfare?   

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare..."

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States..."

"Of course we will provide useful work for the needy unemployed; we prefer useful work to the pauperism of a dole."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bryce Canyon National Park & The Civilian Conservation Corps

(Click on Images to Enlarge)

(Bryce Canyon National Park, photo by Brent McKee.) 

According to the National Park Service, "During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps made many improvements to Bryce Canyon National Park. These included Campground development, under the rim fire trail, Fairyland Trail, boundary fences, parking areas, museum-overlook at Rainbow Point, erosion control and insect pest control."

(Bryce Canyon National Park, photo by Brent McKee.)

We could use a new Civilian Conservation Corps today because, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, "The popularity of parks and outdoor recreation areas in the United States continues to grow, with over 140 million Americans making use of these facilities a part of their daily lives. These activities contribute $646 billion to the nation’s economy, supporting 6.1 million jobs. Yet states and localities struggle to provide these benefits for parks amid flat and declining budgets, reporting an estimated $18.5 billion in unmet needs in 2011. The federal government is also facing a serious challenge as well since the National Park Service estimates its maintenance backlog at approximately $11 billion."

(Bryce Canyon National Park, photo by Brent McKee.)

The Civilian Conservation Corps created or improved hundreds of parks across the country. So, while Congress is working hard cut off food assistance to low-income families and children, and while "6.5 million U.S. teens and young adults are neither in school nor in the workforce," and while we're maintaining the largest prison-industrial complex in the world, perhaps we should think of more positive alternatives to the status the Civilian Conservation Corps, whose good work we still utilize & enjoy today, and whose members still get together for reunions--three quarters of a century later--because the program had such a positive impact on their lives.   

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Shut Down Schools and Send Teachers to the Unemployment Line

(WPA workers building a school in Cecil County, Maryland, in March of 1937. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.) 

During the Great Depression, New Deal work & construction programs built schools and hired unemployed teachers to give free classes (on various topics) to low-income Americans. The WPA built 5,908 new schools, and repaired or improved thousands more.

   (A WPA art class for children, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Image courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

Today, America seems to be on a mission to send as many teachers to the unemployment line as possible. The Chicago public school system is purging itself of hundreds of teachers (and other staff). And, in May of this year, Michigan shut down an entire school district, laid off every teacher, and made no immediate provision to allow students to finish the school year (see video below). Indeed, mass teacher layoffs have occurred all across the country. The big banks got bailed out, after helping to cause the Great Recession with all manner of fraud and gambling, while teachers are given pink slips to "balance the budget."

(Michigan shut down an entire school district and laid off every teacher. Original YouTube link:

The Chicago Public School System is also shutting down 55 schools.....not to rebuild them, but to close a $1 billion deficit. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America's school system a letter grade of "D", noting "Public school enrollment is projected to gradually increase through 2019, yet state and local school construction funding continues to decline."

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that over $3 trillion in government revenue has been lost to tax evasion since 2001.

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where teachers, schools, and children are abandoned so that income inequality can flourish.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A New CCC & WPA Could Have Helped Contain (or prevent) the Colorado Wildfires

(Video of the Black Forest Fire in Colorado, courtesy of 7News and the Original YouTube link:

As of Thursday, June 13, 2013 the Black Forest Fire has burned nearly 16,000 acres and destroyed 360 homes. It is now the most destructive fire in Colorado's history (see "Black Forest Fire Turns Deadly: 2 Found Dead In Colorado Springs-Area Fire"). Meanwhile, in another part of Colorado, the Royal Gorge Fire has been declared a disaster (see "Royal Gorge Fire Update: Disaster Declaration Issued Today").

(Civilian Conservation Corps men in Colorado, image courtesy of the Colorado State Archives. Roosevelt's Forest Army stood ready to fight fires.)

During the New Deal, vast fire prevention and fire suppression efforts were implemented. The WPA created 6,337 miles of new firebreaks (Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946). Meanwhile, in the Civilian Conservation Corps, in the National Parks, "Over 414,000 man-days were spent on the work of fire prevention and over 250,000 on fire suppression." In Colorado (on federal and state land), the CCC spent 201,904 man-days fighting fires (Roosevelt's Forest Army: A History of the Civilian Conservation Corp, Perry H. Merrill, 1981). 

So what's happening today? Are we connecting the dots of unemployment with this year's possible record-setting wildfire season...similar to how we did during the New Deal? 


But we are cutting the budget of the U.S. Forest Service, thereby diminishing their capability to fight fires. And in September of 2012 Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create a CCC-type program for unemployed veterans--judging such a program wasteful. And we have created the largest prison-industrial complex in the world for future generations to reside in. And the mega-wealthy have hidden trillions of dollars in tax-evading bank accounts with seeming impunity. And House Republicans are burning the midnight oil figuring out ways to cut off food assistance to low-income families and children.

So there is some action going on...unfortunately, little of it has to do with protecting America's natural areas or alleviating unemployment & poverty. In its perpetual search for donors and campaign contributions, Congress has abandoned the country.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Colorado on fire, while millions can't find a job

(Public domain image, courtesy of

Right now there are several wildfires burning in Colorado:

Royal Gorge Fire: 3,800 acres burned, 0% contained, several buildings destroyed, historic Royal Gorge Bridge damaged.

Black Forest Fire: Up to 12,000 acres burned, covering 48 square miles, 92 homes destroyed, thousands evacuated.

Rocky Mountain National Park: 600 acres burning in the Big Meadows fire.

Klikus-La Veta fire: 50 acres burned, 200 residents evacuated.

The fires have strained Colorado's resources and they've requested federal help. But Congress has cut the budget of the U.S. Forest Service, even though this may be a record-setting wildfire season, so the amount of help the federal government can provide will likely be less than in years past.

During the New Deal, unemployed workers were hired into the WPA and CCC to (among many other things) fight wildfires, create thousands of miles of firebreaks, and plant about three billion trees.

So, will Congress give us a new New Deal, to fight the wildfires across America this year, and give job opportunities to the 6.5 million young adults who "are neither in school nor in the workforce" or the 4.4 million Americans who the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics describes as "long-term unemployed"? Of course not. They're too busy cutting food assistance to low-income children to worry about our country burning to the ground. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New Deal Deniers

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, U.S. Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said "we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work." 

Mark Calabria, policy wonk at the conservative Cato Institute, said "Most of the policies we did in the New Deal did not work."

All these statements are part of a political ideology & agenda for small (if any) government, low (if any) taxes on the wealthy, and few (if any) regulations on big business. If we look at the data, however, it is clear that the New Deal ushered in gains in GDP, gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and lower unemployment rates, as compared to the years immediately after the stock market crash. As an example, look at GDP data at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis here. Open the spreadsheet "Percent change from previous period," and compare the years 1930-1932 (the years immediately after the stock market crash) vs. 1933-1945 (the FDR/New Deal years). 
Christine Romer, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in the New York Times in 2011: "Look more closely at history and you’ll see that the truth is much more complicated — and less gloomy. While the war helped the recovery from the Depression, the economy was improving long before military spending increased...From 1933 to 1937, real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of almost 10 percent, and unemployment fell from 25 percent to 14. To put that in perspective, G.D.P. growth has averaged just 2.5 percent in the current recovery, and unemployment has barely budged."

And beyond the raw numbers, we have to look at other things. For example, Amity Shlaes said growth has to happen in the private sector and belittles the value of a "certain road or bridge." But both before, during, and after World War II, private business expanded on New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, and out of New Deal airports. Private business employed (and still employs today) people educated in New Deal-built schools. Private business enjoyed (and still enjoys today) the tourism dollars spent around parks created or improved by the New Deal.  

New Deal deniers are pursuing a political ideology, they are not telling us the facts or giving us a comprehensive interpretation of the New Deal. The New Deal was certainly not perfect, but it did work extraordinarily well in a number of ways--infrastructure modernization, national defense improvements, billions of trees planted, huge GDP gains, restored hope, etc. How can we possibly consider these things failures?

Monday, June 10, 2013

12 Ways the New Deal Helped Preserve American History

Americans involved in New Deal work & construction programs helped preserve our nation's history. Here's 12 ways how they did it:

(Click on images to enlarge)

1. Infrastructure Development to Facilitate Tourism and Sightseeing

(WPA workers improving a road at Antietam National Battlefield. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service).

To see and appreciate historical sites, Americans needed roads, trails, and bridges. The New Deal did that. 

2. Promotion of Sightseeing and Tourism

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

When people go to see historic sites they are more likely to appreciate the need for historic preservation. The New Deal lured people out with promotional posters.

3. Restoring Historic Sites and Structures

(The CCC restored the walls of Fort Frederick in Maryland. The fort is now a National Historic Landmark. Photo by Brent McKee.)

All across the country, the New Deal restored and rehabilitated historic sites & structures.

4. Funding Historic Preservation

(The PWA funded the restoration of the War Correspondents Memorial Arch in Gathland State Park in Maryland. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)

In addition to putting boots on the ground, in the form of CWA, WPA, NYA, and CCC workers, the New Deal funded preservation through the Public Works Administration, giving private contractors more work.

5. Creating and Improving Historic Markers and Monuments

(A historic marker at Antietam National Battlefield. Photo by Brent McKee.)

Across America, the WPA built or improved 1,385 historical markers and monuments.

6. Assisting in Archaeological Work

(Cover to the book "Shovel Ready.")

In various parts of the country, New Deal workers helped with archaeological excavations, e.g., digging, sifting, labeling, and inventorying. Want to learn more? Read Bernard K. Mean's new book, "Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt's New Deal for America."

7. Historic Surveys & Indexes

(A historic survey team at Antietam National Battlefield--employed by the Civil Works Administration. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)

New Deal workers engaged in a multitude of historic surveys, many of which are still used today. These include the Historic Americans Building Survey (HABS), Historic Records Survey, and the Index of American Design.   

8. Museum Assistance

(WPA poster promoting the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)  

  (WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

WPA men & women worked in many museums across America, and they frequently displayed children's art in these museums.  

9. Collecting Oral Histories

(Cover to the book "Maryland Slave Narratives: From the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1938," a collaborative publication of the Library of Congress and Applewood Books.)

WPA men & women in the Federal Writers' Project collected fascinating (and sometimes horrifying) oral histories throughout the states. For example, in the various Slave Narratives, one can read first hand accounts of former slaves, e.g., "My master was named Tom Ashbie, a meaner man was never born in Virginia - brutal, wicked and hard...I have seen men beaten until they dropped in their tracks or knocked over by clubs, women stripped down to their waist and cowhided."   

10. Promoting the Reading of History

(A WPA poster promoting the reading of African American history at the New York Public Library. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

The WPA created many posters that encouraged Americans, especially children, to read & learn.

11. Writing Histories

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

WPA writers created guide books for every state (as well as other types of books), chock-full of tourism information and history.

12. History Through Theater

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

The New Deal taught American history through the Federal Theater Project, where unemployed actors were given a chance to earn a paycheck by entertaining and informing audiences. Some conservative congressmen of the time--both Democrat and Republican--thought the Federal Theater Project was a communist they eventually eliminated it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

See America!

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the Great Depression, New Deal work & construction programs created or improved tens of thousands of recreational opportunities for Americans: Parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, baseball fields, etc. And the WPA created posters that promoted sightseeing & tourism. 

    (This blog's author at Sequoia National Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps worked in Sequoia.)

Every American should have the opportunity to see the natural wonders of this country. Unfortunately, America is the only rich country that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation or holidays; Americans have much less vacation time than their European counterparts; and American workers have just experienced the "biggest drop in hourly pay on record." It's kinda hard to see this great nation when you have little or no paid vacation time and your income is dropping (if you have a job at all).  

 (This blog's author on the beautiful California coast, squinting heavily under the California Sun!)

There's more to life than working at low-paid jobs that never provide the time and/or resources to see one's own country. Americans need to demand more jobs, better wages, and more vacation time. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Cut Cancer Research Funding

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal, there was a concerted effort to step up the fight against cancer and other illnesses.

Today, however, due to the "sequester" budget cuts, the National Cancer Institute will receive less funding, which will result in less patient clinical work and fewer research grants. The National Institutes of Health--the umbrella agency over the National Cancer Institute and other offices--is having $1.7 billion removed from its budget, likely "stalling progress on cancer drugs, research for a universal flu vaccine and treatments for both common and rare diseases."

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that America has lost over $3 trillion (yes, that's a "t") in tax revenue since 2001, due largely to tax evasion by the very wealthy. See analysis here.

So, over $3 trillion lost to tax evasion, but we have to cut medical research because, y'know, "we can't afford it."

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Senator Frank Lautenberg and a new WPA

(U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, January 23, 1924 - June 3, 2013, image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) passed away yesterday, June 3, 2013. 

In 2011, Lautenberg introduced legislation to create a new WPA to give employment opportunities to the jobless and, among other things, rebuild America's deteriorating infrastructure--infrastructure that was recently given a grade of D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Lautenberg's legislation received only 5 co-sponsors, and the bill eventually died in committee. Our Congress, more swayed by campaign contributions from wealthy donors than from a desire to improve the nation's infrastructure or help the unemployed, didn't think much of Lautenberg's noble legislation.  

Lautenberg was a veteran of World War II. As America's greatest generation passes on, and the "greed is good" society takes hold, one has to wonder about the future of America.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fire burns the country to the ground, as 26 million Americans look for work and trillions of dollars are lost to tax evasion

(The aftermath of a fire in the American west. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Several wildfires burning right now have forced the evacuation of thousands, destroyed homes, knocked power lines out of commission, and closed campgrounds which provide recreation for Americans and economic support for area businesses (see here for example).  

During the Great Depression, New Deal work & construction programs hired the unemployed to fight fires and create thousands of miles of firebreaks. 

Today, 26 million Americans would like a full-time job but can't find one, 6.5 million teens and young adults are neither in the workforce nor in school, and over 4 million Americans are considered long-term unemployed.

Meanwhile, in September of 2012 Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have created a CCC-type program for unemployed veterans because of cost concerns, even as tax evasion has cost America over $3 trillion in revenue since the turn of the century. As if that were not bad enough, the U.S. Forest service is having its budget cut during a possible record-setting wildfire season.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Read, See, and Breathe the New Deal

As of Saturday, June 1st, 2013, the Living New Deal mapping project has marked 3,784 New Deal sites, structures, and pieces of art that we still use & enjoy today. Thousands more are awaiting discovery and documentation. Click here to go to the interactive Living New Deal map.

Also, read the Living New Deal's June 2013 Newsletter. There are articles about the U.S. Post Office, workers' rights, a European New Deal, women in the WPA, an endangered historic building, American infrastructure, and several recently published books about the New Deal.  

And don't forget to visit a state or national park this summer. Chances are, the New Deal had some role in creating or improving it. Take a break from the rat race and breathe in the tranquility you can find in a New Deal park.

Read, See, and Breathe the New Deal!