Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Republican Governor Defends the Poor and the WPA

(John Kasich, image courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

In a reversal of expectations, Republican Governor John Kasich (Ohio) recently said: "I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy. You know what? The very people who complain ought to ask their grandparents if they worked at the W.P.A.”

Between President Obama's proposed cuts to Social Security, and Governor Kasich's defense of the poor & the WPA, one has to wonder if we've all been transported into an episode of the Twilight Zone.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The New Deal vs. Sallie Mae: A comparison of ethics

(A WPA poster advertising free classes. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal there was an effort to provide free classes & free training, in a number of disciplines, to a variety of Americans. The New Deal highlighted a "common good" way--a way that had been started with public school initiatives before the New Deal, and a way that would continue after the New Deal with programs like the G.I. Bill and Pell Grants. 

In modern times, we've moved away from the path of public investment. For example, in higher education we've scaled back public funding in favor of saddling our young adults with crushing debt (student loans); and so we're converting these young adults into indentured servants. Why? Greed...plain and simple. Those who despise the common good see our children, teens, and young adults as financial transactions, not as human beings. They know that if they can ransom a huge debt out of young Americans who want an education, they can make a fortune. And so they have.

If you doubt this explanation, consider the fact that Sallie Mae collaborated with the right-wing group ALEC, to draft legislation to to scale back public funding of higher education (see, e.g., here, here, and here). What a nice formula for those who wish to turn our children & young adults into debt slaves: Withdraw public funding of higher education and force young Americans to take out large loans if they want to better themselves.

(New Deal policy-makers were focused on helping Americans, not turning them into indentured servants for personal profit. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

(The WPA offered free art classes all across the country. Today, we've moved away from public art and creativity. Today, we're more concerned about putting our children through standardized tests so they can be standardized workers for corporations who want to employ them at poverty-level wages. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

(In the Civilian Conservation Corps young, low-income men received work experience and training...and a small paycheck to boot. Today, a national program like the CCC could never exist. Right-wing politicians would call it "Socialism!", and other politicians are too busy seeking campaign contributions to actually work towards a large-scale federal jobs program for the unemployedWPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

What ethical system do you prefer? The ethical system that sees our youth in terms of the common good, as New Deal policy-makers saw them, or the ethical system that turns them into debt slaves, as Sallie Mae has done?   

This is what happens when public goods & services are turned over to the private sector. Greed takes over: Private prison companies seek more prisoners, private health insurers mock those of limited means, retirement systems are gutted, historic buildings are sent to the auction block, and private lenders create debt slaves through usury, lobbying, and the ransoming of education. 

What's next? We already know that there are those that wish to privatize all K-12 schools. They say that the government can issue vouchers to pay for this. But, even if true, how long will it be before they end up saying, "We can't afford these vouchers!! The national debt is too high!! Our taxes are too high!!" Then we'll have student loan corporations like Sallie Mae telling low-income families, "Well, we have several nice loan options for you if want to send your child to the first grade." 

But, ultimately, the question is not "Why is this happening?" (we know why selfish people are destroying people's lives--for profit) the question is "Why are we tolerating it...when our elders and ancestors showed us a better way during and after the New Deal?" 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: A perpetual failure to connect the dots

(A bridge built by WPA workers in Allegany County, Maryland, 1937. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's bridges a letter grade of C+, reporting that "one in nine of the nation's bridges are rated as structurally deficient...

Currently, over 25 million Americans would like a full-time job but can't find one (, and about 6 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are not in school and not working (see "Idle youth: 15 percent of US young people out of school, work").

Why can't we offer job opportunities to the unemployed, to help repair & modernize our nation's infrastructure?

It seems that no amount of dysfunction is enough to motivate our political "leaders" to connect the dots. Indeed, the "Reverse New Deal"--the era that we are living in now--is an age of economic dysfunction, political bickering, social apathy, and plutocracy facilitated by campaign contributions and big-business lobbying.

It wasn't this way during the New Deal. For example, the WPA provided jobs to millions of unemployed Americans between 1935 and 1943. These workers engaged in hundreds of thousands of infrastructure projects, including 78,000 new bridges and viaducts (and thousands more repaired or improved). These bridges lasted for decades and we are still using many of them today. This fact probably prompted Ronald Reagan to write in his autobiography, "The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR's alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it."     

(WPA workers painting and re-decking Nobles Mill Bridge in Harford County, Maryland, 1935. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

 (Nobles Mill Bridge today. Still in use, thanks in part to the WPA. Photo by Brent McKee.) 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

New Deal Safety

Many WPA posters were intended to enhance public awareness about dangerous situations, and also inform the public about safety measures to be taken in response to such dangerous situations. (Images courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Friday, October 25, 2013

Post Office Buildings & Art: Are we too distracted by pop culture to save our history?

(This building was a Post Office in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, built during the New Deal era. It is now part of the Prince George's County Public Library system. This was a fortunate fate for the building considering that other Post Office buildings have been sold to private interests--sometimes at bargain basement prices and in questionable "arrangements." Photo by Brent McKee.)

Historic Post Offices buildings, many of them from the New Deal era, are in jeopardy. Often sitting on prime real estate, these buildings are being sold to private entities, becoming victims to America's increasingly rabid & compulsive desire for privatization (privatization that is often wasteful of taxpayer dollars and harmful to society). 

 (In many of our historic Post Offices, one can find artwork celebrating our American heritage. Here, a Post Office mural in Towson, Maryland celebrates America's transportation history. Other sections of the mural show a locomotive, a wagon train, and river boats. Photo by Brent McKee.)

As our Post Offices are sold to real estate firms, developers, and other private entities, the status of the artwork inside the buildings is less-than-clear. Sometimes, the new private owners of our taxpayer-built Post Offices are generous enough to propose public viewing of the art, briefly, once every few months. Isn't that nice of them? Perhaps they'll even offer a convenient viewing time for us, like 3am to 4am.

(Benjamin Franklin, first U.S. Postmaster. Public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

The Post Office is one of the most direct ties we have to the early days of our United States, and one of our most direct ties to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. However, despite the constant battle cry of "Founding Fathers! Founding Fathers!" from many on the political right, you don't see many on the political right standing up for the preservation of our Post Office buildings and art. Indeed, even many democrats are apathetic, or even obstructive, to the preservation of this rich history. Perhaps this is because Ben Franklin can't hand out campaign contributions?

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Fortunately, there are some dedicated citizens trying to save our Post Office history. Letters have been written, petitions have been started, and sidewalk protests have occurred. Dr. Gray Brechin has written on the issue. Dr. Harvey Smith has written on the issue. Dr. Steve Hutkins has a website devoted to saving Post Office history (Save the Post Office). Investigative reporter Peter Byrne has exposed scandals related to the sale of Post Office buildings. And concerned citizens across the country are sounding alarm bells. But, are their efforts enough to counteract the immense forces of corporate money and public apathy, coupled with the distracting power of pop culture?

   (Cartoon from Almost Makes Sense, used with permission.)

Are Americans so wrapped up in pop culture, and so mesmerized by reality television shows like "Bridezillas," that the sale of our shared American heritage doesn't faze them, or perhaps isn't even on their radar? 

The privatization (i.e., destruction) of our Post Office history has been going on for a long time. It is merely one example of our acceptance of privatization for privatization sake. Privatization seems to be accepted as the optimal outcome, regardless of the outcome. Private prisons are another example. Despite blood-curdling abuses and monumental frauds, private prison companies continue to acquire taxpayer-backed contracts. If you want to truly appreciate how sheepishly we've accepted privatization of public services, regardless of the end product, consider this recent exchange between journalist Amy Goodman and attorney Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia:

Amy Goodman: "What happened to those prisons for kids in Pennsylvania, the ones that were involved with bribing the judges who are now in jail?" 

Marsha Levick: "They continue to operate."   

Considering this societal acceptance of privatization, regardless of the end product, and considering the corporate cash pouring into the wallets of our policy-makers, and considering the mesmerizing, distracting, and apathy-inducing powers of pop culture, those who try to preserve American history face a daunting challenge. So, let's hope the country wakes up--and heeds the warning--before every last shred of our national heritage is auctioned off and fenced off from public view.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mobilizing Michigan!

Another beautiful poster by the WPA! Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The WPA helped win the war!

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

Among the many things WPA workers did to bolster America's defenses, and help achieve victory in World War II, was the creation of public information posters.

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

In addition to creating posters that promoted salvaging, WPA workers also performed salvage work themselves. For example, from April 1942 through March 1943, WPA workers salvaged about 376,000 tons of scrap metal and 10,000 tons of scrap rubber. 

(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
Many WPA workers, after their stints in the WPA, went on to work in the armed services and defense industries. They worked, and sometimes died, to protect the freedom we have to utilize the things they created. (And today, remarkably, there is no national day of recognition for the 8.5 million WPA workers who improved our infrastructure, built thousands of schools, improved our national defenses, and much, much more.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Democracy vs. Wealth

(Harold Ickes, director of the Public Works Administration, and Secretary of the Interior, during the New Deal. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Of the troubles that existed during the Great Depression, Harold Ickes said in a speech: "It is the old struggle between the power of money and the power of the democratic instinct." And in his diary, he wrote: "The fight in this country today is one between the great mass of the people and wealth."

His words were true then, and they are true today. As more and more corporate money pours into our electoral & political systems, our government turns increasingly cold to the great mass of American people who seek justice, democracy, and some basic level of economic security.      

Quotes found in the book The New Deal: A Modern History, by Michael Hiltzik (2011).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

FDR--Economic Bill of Rights Conference at Columbia University

Above: President Franklin Roosevelt proposes a "Second Bill of Rights" for economic security. Among the rights he proposes are "the right to a useful and remunerative job, the right to earn enough to provide adequate food, and clothing, and recreation." Sadly, America has "dropped the ball" with respect to FDR's proposal, but dedicated citizens are still trying to push America towards this Second Bill of Rights...and away from the apathetic and mean-spirited policies that govern us today. (Original YouTube link at

Above: Flyer for An Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century conference, at Columbia University, Friday, October 18, 2013. You can download the flyer at

Live Stream!

The conference organizers are planning to Live Stream their event at Tune in!

"A Useful and Remunerative Job"

Above: For the millions of unemployed Americans, a right to "a useful and remunerative job" would be a godsend. As it is now, they face endless insults & insinuations of laziness from right-wing politicians and pundits, they have to deal with heartless debt collection agencies sent after them by the very financial institutions that destroyed their jobs, they live in an economy that offers mostly low-paying jobs (that they are frequently overqualified for and thus not considered for interviews), and they face bankruptcy laws designed to make it difficult to escape the hell of debt and financial dread. There's a better way to treat our fellow citizens, and the conference at Columbia University is one of many efforts to inform Americans about that better way. In sum, it's about compassion towards others, and public policies designed to lift people up, not tear them down. It's about creating opportunities, not stereotyping people who are crying out for help as "takers" and "parasites."

Press Release Below!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homelessness: Why Did We Give Up?

(William Bastian died in 1939, at the age of 64. Mr. Bastion was a homeless American, employed in the WPA on a National Park Service project at the time of his passing. His grave is on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Local sources indicate that he probably lived in a work camp on, or near, what is now Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Photo by Brent McKee.)  

(Before enrolling in the Civilian Conservation Corps, "CCC Boys" lived in extreme poverty, often homeless and riding trains from town to town across America looking for work. Once in the CCC, these young men were given food, shelter, health exams, recreational activities, educational classes, training, and work. In return, they created and developed state & national parks that we still utilize today. Indeed, parks developed by the CCC are huge economic engines for America, via tourism and vacation spending. Above is Fort Frederick in Maryland. The men of the CCC restored the walls of the crumbling fort and, today, the fort is a National Historic Landmark. Photo by Brent McKee.)  

On October 14th, 2013, a story written by a homeless woman in New York City was published by The Guardian: "What I Learned About Humanity From Living on the Streets." It is a heart-wrenching story, a story that could happen to many of us, due to the current political & socio-economic heartlessness that governs our country today. The story ends with the author stating:

"My dream is to be a middle school math teacher. My college degree is in computer science, and I used to be a substitute teacher. I know this probably won't happen. For now, I do what I have to. I just wish people wouldn't make assumptions about me, especially that I am crazy or a criminal."      

(During the New Deal, there were many governmental efforts to lift people up. Today, not so much. Indeed, right-wing politicians are feverishly trying to cut back America's social safety net, a safety net that already ranks as one of the stingiest among industrialized countries. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

So, considering the historic lesson of what can happen when we give the homeless & unemployed opportunities, i.e., useful projects/creations that we still use today, why did we give up? Is it because "we can't afford it!!" as we so often hear from right-wing politicians and pundits? Well, if that's true, maybe it's because we've chosen, instead, to operate the largest military-industrial complex in the world, equaling in cost almost every other nation combined. Or maybe it's because we've chosen to operate the largest prison-industrial complex in the world. Or maybe it's because the United States loses hundreds of billions of dollars, every single year, to illegal tax evasion, corporate tax avoidance, and historically low tax rates on the super-wealthy.

Or maybe "we can't afford it!!" because we've lost our minds, and our hearts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Deal Democracy vs. Tea Party Plutocracy

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

(Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Franklin Roosevelt stated: "We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."

(President Franklin Roosevelt, image courtesy of the National Park Service.) 

We would be wise to heed these warnings today, as Republican and Tea Party politicians are working hard to subvert our democracy, backed by big money. In their hatred of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")--a law that passed both houses of Congress, the President's pen, and Supreme Court review--Republican & Tea Party politicians have shut down our government. In other words, they've shut down "We the People."

Republican & Tea Party politicians tried to stop the Affordable Care Act over 40 times, but they couldn't get their efforts through our democratic and constitutional process. So, in anger, they shut down our government and even subtly changed a rule in the House of Representatives (shortly before they orchestrated the shutdown) so that only Republican leadership could bring a vote to end the shutdown. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) accurately said: "Democracy has been suspended" (see, "House Republicans Changed The Rules So A Majority Vote Couldn't Stop The Government Shutdown").

(The new Affordable Care Act--while certainly not a perfect law--is an attempt to make health care more affordable for lower-income groups through, for example, the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for lower-to-middle income Americans. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

Make no mistake about it, our democracy is under full-scale assault. And behind the Republican & Tea Party tactics to subvert of our democracy is big money. For example, Ted Cruz--the prime architect of the government shutdown--is backed by Goldman Sachs, one of the big financial institutions that doesn't want the government monitoring its financial dealings (see "Hypocrites! Corporate Leaders Bemoan the Default Crisis Created by Tea Partiers They Funded"). And, of course, the Koch brothers--in their endless mission to limit government oversight of their frequently questionable business activities--have given generously to the Tea Party.

(When big money manipulates who will be in Congress, and what policies Congress pursues, is that democracy or plutocracy? Especially when those policies end up favoring the the detriment of everyone else, e.g., the allowance of loan shark interest rates, lower taxation on investment income, and more harsh rules for personal bankruptcy. Image courtesy of

Republican & Tea Party plutocracy is driving income inequality to record levels, distracting us from white collar crime, and labeling lower income groups as the true cause of our economic problems; which is why Republicans & Tea Partiers are constantly attacking unemployment insurance, minimum wage increase proposals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and any other government program or policy designed to help non-rich Americans. To them, it is not insider trading, interest rate rigging, mortgage & securities fraud, accounting fraud, etc., that is causing our economic woes, it is the guy working at Walmart for $9 an hour, and utilizing SNAP to help feed his family who is the true cause of our problems.

(Unfortunately, many Republican & Tea Party politicians--and those who vote for them--blame the poor for our dismal economy. They say the poor are moochers and parasites, living a life of luxury on endless government handouts. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

It's true that big money has always helped both major political parties, but at least the big money that helped the Democrats during the New Deal went towards programs & policies for the common man. Harry Hopkins, in a reply to Herbert Hoover's criticism of the New Deal, asked: "Is it dictatorship to try to operate a government for all the people and not just a few? Is it dictatorship to guarantee the deposits of small depositors, and keep phony stocks and bonds off the market? Is it dictatorship to save millions of homes from foreclosure? Is it dictatorship to give a measure of protection to millions who are economically insecure and jobs to other millions who can't find work? Is it dictatorship to try to put a floor under wages and a ceiling over working hours?"

(Harry Hopkins, head of the WPA and champion of the unemployed. Photo courtesy of the Social Security Administration).

Brandeis's warning is worth repeating: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: The Promotion of Pain & Suffering

(Instead of making workers, the unemployed, and the poor sacrificial lambs so that the super-rich could be safe from any degree of sacrifice--as we are seeing today--New Deal policies & programs were designed to help the common man. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

During the New Deal, there were tremendous efforts to help people in need: Social Security to fight poverty, voluntary work programs to help the unemployed, health clinics for low-income families, funding for new hospitals, distribution of surplus food, free education & training, and much, much more.

Today, things are quite different...

The Republican & Tea Party shutdown, financed by the Koch brothers and big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs (see, e.g., here), is creating havoc and fear across the country. Heating assistance for low-income Americans is in jeopardy, food assistance for children is in jeopardy, children with cancer have fewer treatment options, businesses around national parks are being devastated, and veterans are planning an event at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. because they are afraid of impending financial ruin.

While all this, and more, is happening, here are seven messages we have received from Republican & Tea Party politicians:

1. "We have to make a decision that’s right (in the) long-term for the United States, and what may be distasteful, unpleasant and not appropriate in the short run may be something that has to be done” (Congressman Morgan Griffith, Republican-Va.). This statement seems to imply that, if people have to suffer or die in the "short run," so that things will be more pleasant in the "long-term," so be it. But wasn't that the same philosophical foundation for the "Final Solution." Is that really the type of ethical system we want to adopt for America? Do we really want to go down that road?

("It Can't Happen Here" was a WPA theater production, examining the possibility of a Nazi-like government occurring in America. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

2. "If you are a furloughed government employee, we encourage you to reach out to your financial institution as soon as you worry you may miss a paycheck. Financial institutions often offer short-term loans..." (Congressman Steve Pearce, Republican-N.M.). So, while workers miss their paychecks, due to the actions of Republicans & Tea Partiers, Congressmen Pearce advises them to go into debt. Of course, Pearce doesn't need to take out a loan. Why? Because he's a millionaire.

3. "We're not going to be disrespected, we have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is." (Congressman Marlin Stutzman, Republican-IN). So, while children with cancer are told, "Sorry, we can't start your clinical trials," this man is concerned about getting some respect.

  (New Deal politicians and policy-makers did not seek to harm the ill, they sought to help them. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

4. Speaking on the possibility of the United States defaulting on its debt, "I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets." (Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican-FL). Nearly all economists agree that a default would cause major problems across the globe.

5. Speaking about government workers, involuntarily furloughed during the Republican & Tea Party shutdown, "If they're not working they shouldn't get paid." (Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican-FL). Easily said, when you're a wealthy congressman collecting government paychecks.

6. When asked if she would forgo her government paycheck during the shutdown, a shutdown that her party created, and a shutdown that has deprived hundreds of thousands of workers of their paychecks, Republican Congresswoman Renee Elmers (NC) replied in the negative, stating: "I need my paycheck. That's the bottom line."

(A WPA worker proudly shows his paycheck. The New Deal sought to provide work & paychecks to Americans. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.)

7. When asked about his government salary during the shutdown--after hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed without pay--Republican Congressman Lee Terry (Neb.) said " know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly."

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where Republican & Tea Party politicians promote pain and suffering--as long as it's not their pain and suffering--to "heal" the nation.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Hurt Soldiers & Veterans

(WPA poster promoting respect for veterans. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

During the New Deal there was a strong effort to help soldiers & veterans. For example, PWA funds and WPA labor were used to improve military bases across the country (e.g., new or improved barracks). Veterans were given opportunities in the Civilian Conservation Corps. And, even when President Franklin Roosevelt chose not to support the early disbursement of bonus payments to World War I veterans, the Democrat-controlled Congress overrode him. (Roosevelt, on some matters, was more conservative than what is generally known/remembered. In this case, Roosevelt supported opportunities for unemployed veterans in the CCC, but not the early disbursement of bonus payments.)  

Today, the story of how we treat our soldiers & veterans is much different. For example, in September of 2012, Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create a new CCC-type program for unemployed veterans. Apparently, to these Senate Republicans, service is a one-way street.    

(A WPA work project to improve roads at Fort Meade, Maryland, in April 1941. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.) 

As if soldiers & veterans are not struggling enough in today's depressed economy (depressed for everyone except for the super-rich of course), a new assault has been unleashed on them. The Republican & Tea Party-created government shutdown is hindering many assistance programs for, and payments to, soldiers & veterans. Furthermore, some financial institutions and debt collectors, in their perpetual pursuit for more money, are targeting our soldiers & veterans for further victimization. 

For a small sampling of how soldiers & veterans are being victimized by political radicals and greedy financial institutions, see:

Now more than ever we need a new New Deal, one that is even bolder than the original. We need a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" (words from a famous Republican), not the plutocracy we have now. 

(Union and Confederate veterans, at the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, September 1937. The WPA performed extensive work at Antietam National Battlefield, and also helped create the 75th anniversary event. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.)  

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: Hurt Babies

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

The Republican and Tea Party-fueled government shutdown--which Republican U.S. Senator John McCain has more specifically blamed on the Tea Party--has hurt millions of people. Even babies are not immune from the effects of their shutdown:

"The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday it would stop issuing vouchers for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children because of the federal government shutdown" (see "Government Shutdown Leaves WIC Recipients In North Carolina Without Baby Formula").

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

During the New Deal era there was an effort to help babies and their mothers. For example, unemployed nurses were hired into the WPA to provide medical care to low-income families. But we've come along way since then. Today, many Americans scorn the unemployed, try to prevent low-income families from receiving affordable health care, try to cut children off from food assistance, and now shutdown the government so that, among other things, babies can't receive nutrition assistance.

And all the while, multi-national corporations avoid taxes, the U.S. Treasury loses about $300 billion dollars every year due to illegal tax evasion, taxes on the super-wealthy remain historically low, and income & wealth inequality skyrockets.

But we can't afford to assist babies? Welcome to the Reverse New Deal.

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kentucky and the WPA

(Flag of Kentucky, public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

In the state of Kentucky, home to such "government-is-the-problem-not-the-solution" stalwarts as U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the WPA created, repaired, or improved 14,000 miles of road, 3,600 bridges & viaducts, hundreds of schools, and 167 playgrounds and athletic fields. (From the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, by the Federal Works Agency. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Texas and the WPA

(Flag of Texas, public domain image, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

In the state of Texas, home to such anti-government zealots as U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry, the WPA created, repaired, or improved 32,000 miles of road, 7,600 bridges, 800 schools, and nearly 200 parks. (From the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, by the Federal Works Agency. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946)   

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Children with cancer need help, not political extortion

(Click on images to enlarge. All images courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, whose website is now closed due to the shutdown.)

 (WPA poster. New Dealers helped children with illnesses, they didn't harm them through political extortion.) 

Republican & Tea Party politicians, in their cruel mission to keep low-income families and children from receiving affordable health care through the new Affordable Care Act, are hurting children with cancer. (See, for example, "No, the House GOP Isn't Standing Up for Kids With Cancer")

And, if you have any doubt about what this shutdown is about, and who is causing it, you should read this excellent piece by Professor of History Ellen Fitzpatrick, of the University of New Hampshire, and Professor of Government and Sociology Theda Skocpol, of Harvard University, "Worst shutdown in modern U.S. history."    

(WPA poster. New Dealers helped children with illnesses, they didn't harm them through political extortion.)

In a strategy to save face over their shutdown, Republican & Tea Party politicians are now trying to pass bills to fund only the parts of government that they want funded, or the parts that might win them some political points, while they put a stranglehold on the rest of the government. For example, they put forth a bill to fund the national they can showboat about how they really "care" about the parks, and how they really "care" about the vacations Americans planned months ago.

The problem with the Republican & Tea Party strategy, is that it is government-by-extortion, followed by disingenuous attempts to show concern. If this strategy is successful, then Republican & Tea Party politicians, whenever they are angry, can circumvent the U.S. Constitution and govern the country with a continuous combination of government shut downs and "piecemeal funding." The Affordable Care Act was enacted by Congress, signed by the president, and passed judicial scrutiny in the Supreme Court. The Republican & Tea Party refusal to fund the government until the law is changed is extortion, plain and simple. It is not how laws were meant to be enacted, implemented, or repealed. It is not the constitutional process.

This is a sad and shameful time in American history. Children with cancer need help, not political extortion by the right.

(WPA poster. New Dealers helped children with illnesses, they didn't harm them through political extortion.)