Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, January 31, 2009

How to Create Four Million Jobs in Two Months

No, this isn’t some sort of scam, like how to make thousands of dollars a week stuffing envelopes at home in your spare time. According to this article, Franklin Roosevelt — with his Civil Works Administration (CWA) — created four million jobs in the winter of 1933.

What’s more, as a percentage of the population, four million people in 1933 is the equivalent of ten million today.

During its five months of existence, the CWA gave the country 12 million feet of sewer pipe. The agency also built — or repaired — 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools and almost 1,000 airports.

And it wasn’t all manual labor (which most of today’s population “can’t” or “won’t” do). These projects employed thousands of teachers, architects, statisticians, bookbinders; and even 3,000 writers and artists (??). The CWA’s total budget was $1 billion. That’s equal to $16 billion in today’s dollars. About 80% of that money went directly into workers’ pockets. THAT’S how you stimulate the economy. What are we waiting for?

Our entire infrastructure is crumbling. Imploding. We have millions of Americans out of work, and we have work that needs to be done. Why can’t we put these two things together and solve both problems? We did it 76 years ago; we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

The bad news from this article is that Obama’s proposed stimulus package doesn’t have much in common with FDR’s successful Civil Works Administration. Instead, it has a much closer resemblance to FDR’s failed Public Works Administration. Hopefully Congress and the White House will make some important adjustments.

In a related story, Republican governors are telling their colleagues in the Senate to stick their lofty slogans up their asses and come down to the real world. It’s easy for senators to sit around blubbering about “self-reliance” and “bootstraps” since they don’t have to deal with any real-life consequences. Governors — and mayors, county supervisors, city councils — are the ones who have to slash funding for schools, hospitals, libraries and fire departments.

And regardless of their political views, they’re telling those asswipes in Congress to quit masturbating with soundbites and platitudes, and start putting America back to work.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Mauigirl said...

I agree. The bill needs to be focused on jobs and doing things that need to be done right now. While I like the idea of some of it going to things like health care, etc., I don't think they belong in this particular bill. And of course the tax cuts are not at all helpful. I hope the final legislation is different. We shall see.

January 31, 2009 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mauigirl: Yup, creating jobs is what we need to do. And there's tons of work that needs to be done, so it wouldn't be just "make-work" projects. I don't think tax cuts and rebate checks will help the economy. Most people just put that money in the bank or use it to pay bills. Which is fine, but it won't stimulate the economy.

January 31, 2009 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger DB said...

I was (and still am) hoping for more of an infrastructure oriented bill like Obama spoke to during a few of his speeches (energy grid, etc). I am kind of disappointed in the latest attempts at "stimulating" the economy. Too much politics involved, not enough action.

February 1, 2009 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Wow. I can't imaging doing something CWA-like sure can't be a bad idea. It definitely can't be any worse than giving a brazilian dollars to the banks without rules or conditions.

Re governors...how refreshing to see reality prevail over party. Except for that Sanford idiot anyway. ;-)

February 1, 2009 at 4:47 AM  
Blogger DB said...

I am curious about what happened to all that talk about building the energy grid infrastructure. Is that in this bill? Or did that get scrapped like so many other pre-election projects?

February 1, 2009 at 6:15 AM  
Blogger DB said...

Lol, I may have already sent a comment similar. I forgot you had comment moderation and I have a habit of leaving the page before my comment goes through. You can delete this and my last comment unless you want to add humor to your page at my expense. Either way ;-)

February 1, 2009 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Pelmo said...

A simple solution to what everyone wants to make a complex problem.

Do you realize how many highly paid advisers and cunsultants will be out of work, if we just used some common sense to solve all these problems.

February 1, 2009 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

jesus...talk about a bad edit in my post: "I can't imaging doing something CWA-like sure can't be a bad idea" should've been "Doing something CWA-like sure can't be a bad idea."

Teach me to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday!

February 1, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

The linked story is excellent, as is the CWA approach.

Right now, in the dead of winter, we've got 1 million people in Kentucky and surrounding region without electricity. Many will be a month getting their power back on.

Having suffered through a paralyzing ice storm in '96, I can tell you the jam they're in. Got forced-air gas heating, as most in my city do? Well, without electricity, the only heat you get from your furnace is the tiny amount the pilot light generates. Got a nice fireplace? Great, use it and see how it will suck whatever small amount of heat remains in your place right up the chimney. The only way you get warm from it is to sit directely in front of the fire. And when the fire goes out, your place will be colder than before you started.

How to keep ice storms, heavy snows, windstorms and hurricanes from repeatedly knocking down powerlines? Bury those powerlines. Problem solved — for the indefinite future.

Also, on last night's local news, we saw the condition of a 100-year-old elementary school. No, it's not a rat infested nightmare, but it's got roof leaks, mold in the walls and is badly infefficient. With tax revenues dropping like a rock, there is no money to fix it.

The point? These are things that can be fixed by something like the CWA, rapidly and without a huge lead time. I'm sure everyone here can come up with several things they know about that need doing. The lack of shovel-ready projects argument won't wash.

TH wrote, "Hopefully Congress and the White House will make some important adjustments."

This train's leaving the station. The president and the honorables want something done fast. If you want important adjustments, write or call your U.S. representative and senators this week and let them know.

As for Obama, he knows from and respects grass-roots input. Let the White House know how you feel, and that you're letting your people in Congress know also.

Just blogging and commenting isn't going to do anything to change that omnibus spending bill mislabeled as a stimulus bill. Getting in touch with people who can amend it and vote it up or down in Congress might.

February 1, 2009 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

DB: That's true, Obama did seem more focused on infrastructure and job creation during the campaign than he is now. This is definitely the time to put politics aside and get something done.

Carlos: This CWA approach seems like exactly what we need right now. Beats the shit out of handing out more money to banking CEOs. Funny how governors are less interested in slogans and “principles” and more interested in actual results.

Pelmo: Good point. A simple pragmatic approach would put too many advisors and consultants out of work. We wouldn’t want to do that.

SW: Those are perfect examples. And there are undoubtedly thousands of examples like that all over the country. We have tons of work that needs to be done, and millions of people are out of work.

February 1, 2009 at 8:58 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I think Obama and the Dems will give the GOP a little while longer and then just go ahead and to their lefty thing. They'll let the Republicans in Congress be unanimous and united in their naysaying for another month or two, then basically "Oh well, you had your chance to get on board." And as S.W. suggested, they can also say to the GOP, "Now the train is leaving the station without you."

I work in public schools, and I see buildings falling apart, kids failing, overcrowded classrooms and programs being cut left and right because of all the cuts being made. We need new schools, more teachers, programs like art and music added back into the schools... Of course the problems I listed above are all things the wingjobs would use to "prove" that the whole thing needs to be defunded and privatized... as if that wasn't the basic idea behind NCLB anyway.

What I am hoping for is a vast public works project that will include building new schools, repairing public buildings, fixing roads and bridges, building new roads where they are needed, building new green energy facilities, etc. Jobs are higher-tech now than they were in 1933, so I would guess that four million jobs in a couple of months might be pushing it... but how about a million jobs in the next six months, then add a few million more over the next couple of years after that? It is doable, despite the efforts the Republican leaders will desperately make to see that such a positive thing doesn't come about.

The governors know what's going on. They are closer to the trenches, less insulated than the people in Congress. Congress needs to listen to the governors, and it needs to get going on getting the package through.

It wouldn't hurt my feelings if there wasn't any pork in it though. Times are tough, and the money is tight. Use the money only for things like public works programs for jobs, rebuilding schools, and building more infrastructure and rebuilding the old. View it as an investment.

It's a lot of money to spend, but in my book, money well spent = fiscal responsibility.

February 2, 2009 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Thank God for Republican governors. They're down in the real world dealing with real problems, instead of sitting in an ivory tower and spitting out slogans. It's too bad the Democrats don't have a spin machine like the Bush Administration did. Then these Republican senators could be smeared as "obstructionists" who are "undermining the will of the people."

And now it seems Republicans are actually pushing for government-backed mortgages with 4% interest rates. That's great, but they never would have suggested anything so socialistic if they weren't trying to compete with a popular Democratic president.

February 2, 2009 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin Solah said...

Congrats for finally criticizing the Dems. Thought you'd forgotten you guys had a change for a moment ;-)

February 3, 2009 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Benjamin: Hell no, I criticize everybody. I think the Democrats are the lesser of two evils, but they're still beholden to their corporate donors. But they aren't quite as corrupt or dictatorial as Republicans. That's my hope anyway.

February 3, 2009 at 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin Solah said...

Yeah, I thought you thought that. I just noticed that you still were talking a lot about the Republicans even after Obama was sworn in.

I tend to think the danger with Obama is that he will use his fancy orating skills to justify invasions, cuts to workers etc. with left-wing rhetoric and because the left seem to be in love with him, they'll cave and defend him - meaning no fight back.

February 3, 2009 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Benjamin: I sure hope that isn't Obama's plan, to continue the neocon agenda but keep it hidden behind leftwing slogans. I don't think he will but it's definitely something to be wary of.

February 3, 2009 at 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

You know, it's nice to see the republicans feeding off of each other, which is pretty much what we're seeing now. Cantor and his "united republican front" in the house last week won't last, because they are inherently unstable.

As for the stimulus, one thing I would like to see is a nice big chunk to stop the foreclosure hemorrage - because until that stops, I don't see anything much really improving anytime soon.

February 3, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Bee: Ironically, Republicans are now pushing for government-backed mortgages with 4% interest rates. Undoubtedly they're just trying to compete with the Democrats, or be a watered-down version of Obama, or something. If Dumbya was still in the White House, they'd still be yelling "those dumb bastards got themselves into this mess!" "They should've read the fine print!"

February 3, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

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