It’s Time for a WPA — It’s Time to fix that Leaky Roof

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The Problem: Unemployment, is just supposed to keep getting worse:

Unemployment rate rises to 10.2%

It’s the first time it has hit double digits since 1983.

By Don Lee and Jim Puzzanghera — Nov 7, 2009

Not since 1983, after a double-dip economic downturn had sent the auto, steel and housing industries plunging, has the jobless rate gone so high. And many economists predict that it will go higher still in coming months — and remain high for most if not all of next year.

Some 15.7 million workers now have no jobs, the government said in releasing its monthly unemployment report, and an estimated 5 million more are working fewer hours and drawing smaller paychecks than they were before the country fell into the worst recession in a generation.…

Funny, you’d think that a Country with SO Much to Fix, in the Backlog, could find SOMETHING for ALL those Millions TO DO?

One possible Solution, from the lessons of History:

When America was facing record unemployment in the 30’s a unique solution was put in place. A Works Progress Administration (WPA) program was started by FDR, who’s primary goal was to match up “People who needed a Job”, with the “Jobs that America needed to get done”.  

If 10% of workers are going to collect an Unemployment Check anyways, Why not pair up our Routine Maintenance with the Dignity of Meaningful Work:

Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration [WPA]

Joel Kotkin, Forbes —  Mar 24, 2009


To really revive the economy, learn from New Deal programs that worked.

Unemployment today may not be as extreme as in the 1930s, but for whole segments of the population–notably young workers under 25–it is on the rise. Already young workers with college educations suffer a 7.7% jobless rate, while employment is nearly twice that among young workers overall. Hardest hit, in fact, are young people without college educations, whose real earnings already have dropped by almost 30% over the past 30 years, according to one study.

Tapping the energies of this new “millennial” generation–those now entering their teens and early 20s–would make enormous sense both for economic and social reasons.…

In the 30’s the WPA have many, many concrete accomplishments, not least among them was giving idle hands an opportunity to build something of lasting value:

The Works Progress Administration (WPA).

This government office hired unemployed Americans to work on various government projects. Many of these projects were similar to ones sponsored by the Public Works Administration.

During its existence, the WPA constructed:

more than 600,000 miles of roads and

built or repaired more than 124,000 bridges,

125,000 public buildings,

8,000 parks, and

850 airport runways.

In addition to hiring people from traditionally working-class backgrounds, the WPA also created programs for academics, actors, and artists.


The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was instituted by presidential executive order under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of April 1935, to generate public jobs for the unemployed. The WPA was restructured in 1939 when it was reassigned to the Federal Works Agency.

By 1936 over 3.4 million people were employed on various WPA programs. Administered by Harry Hopkins and furnished with an original congressional allocation of $4.8 billion, the WPA made work accessible to the unemployed on an unparalleled scale by disbursing funds for an extensive array of programs.

Hopkins argued that although the work relief program was more costly than direct relief payments, it was worth it. He averred, “Give a man a dole, and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit.…

The Need for investing in America:

It’s not like there’s no shortage of things that need to be fixed, or built in this country.  For instance most Bridges have an expected life time around 50 years.  Guess how old most of them are? … over 50 years!


It’s like your roof was leaking, and everyone, just keeps rotating buckets under the leak — INSTEAD OF doing the Hard Work of actually fixing the roof!

Sooner or later SOMEONE needs to do the Routine Maintenance! It only costs more to put it off, and LET SOMEONE ELSE fix it later!

Structure in 10% of U.S. bridges is deemed faulty

August 3, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS – More than 70,000 bridges in the United States are rated structurally deficient, as was the one that collapsed in Minneapolis on Wednesday, even though such bridges carry more than 300 million vehicles a day. But fixing all of them, which amount to about 10 percent of all bridges in the country, would take at least a generation and cost more than $188 billion, transportation specialists and engineers said.


“A failure like this is a real wake-up call,” he said. “It reminds us that we can’t take our infrastructure for granted. We need to consistently invest new money into what we’ve already built.”…

So why is it so hard, for America to invest in those things that NEED to be done?

Why is it so hard, for America to invest in Ourselves?

Here is a Video summarizing the many “civilized” problems, America needs to face as a “civilized” nation: CNN Video  Poor infrastructure fails America, civil engineers report – Jan 29, 2009

The Reporter in that clip summarized the Infrastructure need:

$2.2 Trillion needed is roughly 3X the size of the entire Obama Stimulus Package.

As I recall only about a 1/3 of the total Stimulus Package Bill ($800 Billion) was actually targeting “Infrastructure” projects.  Much of it went to more Tax Cuts (funny how those Cuts, didn’t trickle down into MORE Jobs!)

The latest American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Report says actually $2.2 Trillion is needed, to “fix our Infrastructure”:

the 2009 ASCE Report Card:

So you can see there IS NO “Shortage of Work”

Only a shortage of the Proactive attitude to Fix what needs to be Fixed — to invest in OUR collective futures! … and if you factor in the long run need for a Green Infrastructure, this “meaningful work” could last a lifetime!

Don’t get me wrong, the Stimulus Package, WAS one huge Step in the right direction — it’s just that we could USE about 2 or 3 MORE Steps, just like that one. (at least according to those bookish Civil Engineers — about $2.2 Trillions worth)

Roadmap to Recovery

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a strategic and significant investment in our country’s future. The Act will save and create jobs immediately while also laying the foundation for a robust and sustainable 21st century economy by modernizing our health care, improving our schools, modernizing our infrastructure, and investing in the clean energy technologies of the future.

Recovery Blog

SO GOVERNMENT CAN CLEARLY do Good Things, especially when WE The People set Goals, and drive the Agenda, for building that Better World, we all want to see. Future Generations are depending on US.

But with so many “London Bridges” is falling down, so many Expressways Clogging and Smogging, and with all those Ice Caps melting so rapidly —

you’d think we could summon the urgent will, to FIX WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED!……

You know do some “planetary” maintenance, that HAS to be done Sooner or Later. The Earth’s Roof is Leaky, and we just keep switching out those Buckets of Denial.

“Is Govt part of the Problem, OR part of the Solution?”

“CAN Big Govt GET anything Right?”

The GOP is sure to raise those canards in the next Election Cycle.

This is another WHY —

Why we need a New Deal on a New WPA!

This is an argument that we should all ponder …

If Govt can’t even fix “its own roof” — If America refuses to invest in Ourselves, even when so many of our People go begging for a Job  

— Well then maybe the GOPhers may just have a Talking Point that they can sell.   Maybe they are RIGHT(?) that ONLY Private Industry can fix OUR PUBLIC problems?

Maybe we should Outsource — EVERYTHING!?  

If Public Works can’t be organized to fix OUR Public Problems — just MAYBE applying the Profit Motive of Private Industry WILL get er done???

Afterall if your one of the +10% out of work for a over year, I’m sure you’ll be itching for SOMEONE to blame!  “Idle Hands” make for Angry Voters. … Status Quo beware.

Sooner or Later America needs to take the long run perspective, and realize “we’re all in this together” — Enough of the Mentality of “Every person for themselves” — this isn’t an episode of Survivor — this is REAL Life!  

Real Life, where the issues of ‘Survival’ play out …for REAL, everyday, for millions.

also posted on dkos


Skip to comment form

    • jamess on November 8, 2009 at 23:14

    and the Human Species, really needs to start,

    taking better care of it.

  1. Why will there be no WPA?


    America population 307 million, world 6 billion.  America produces what.  Financial “services” and Hollywood?  Yet consumes 25% or more of the world’s resources and has this inconvienent concept of being free?  Wake the fuck up and smell the Globo-corporate owns(when I used to work ass) my wife’s ass.  There is far more profit in the exploitation of developing countries such as Vietnam than there is in the defunct United States.

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