Posted 10 years ago on Oct. 29, 2011, 2:49 p.m. EST by ARod1993
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
At this point, our unemployment rate is holding steady at 9-10% and U6 (which includes people qualified and searching for a full-time job but who can only work part-time) is holding steady at about 16.6%, meaning that at least one in six Americans are not sufficiently employed to support themselves or their families. The private sector seems to have a dramatic lack of interest in creating jobs; big businesses either want free money before they'll even consider hiring people or they actively outsource as much of their business to Asia and South America as they can in order to jack up already high profit margins. Given this situation, why don't we have Washington take up the slack in the labor markets?
It's been done (and been quite successful) the last time things got really bad; during the Great Depression FDR created the CCC and the WPA to provide jobs to the unemployed, and the TVA to provide electricity to underdeveloped, poor rural areas. Given the situation we're in now, how many of you here would support a revival of these programs in an attempt to bolster the modern American workforce and get people off the streets and out of the soup kitchens?
There are a number of different local and regional projects such a program could get behind, including urban renewal projects in cities that have begun collapsing (Detroit) or were decimated by natural disasters and only got partially or improperly rebuilt (New Orleans, a number of smaller midwestern and Plains towns hit by tornadoes). As far as power goes, what about installing solar farms in undeveloped areas like the Mojave desert, individual panels on newly constructed homes and buildings, and wind farms in areas of the country known for high winds? As far as a national project is concerned, we could use the money and manpower to create true HSR both along budding regional corridors like the NEC, the California Corridor, Chicago-Indianapolis, etc. and along truly national lines that can compete with airlines on a larger scale.
The best thing about a project like this is that it can pick up and employ damn near everyone. The vast majority of the jobs would be physical labor on the ground, which means that most people can be trained to do them fairly quickly and they'd make a tangible impact on the ground right away. Any of these projects would require metal workers, concrete pourers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and many other skilled tradesmen who got hit by the crisis, and an on-the-job apprentice program would be a great way to return vocational instruction to whole groups of people who were never offered an opportunity to get it.
As for people who are unemployed but have been through college and don't have much physical strength, we can take them too! We're going to need advertising and graphics people to promote the program, businesspeople and managers (albeit only a few) to oversee the whole enterprise and make sure everything goes fully according to plan, we're sure as hell going to need engineers of many shapes and sizes (civil, mechanical, electrical, computer) and materials scientists to oversee deconstruction and reconstruction, architects to help design new buildings, streets, rail stations, etc. and even groups of lawyers to deal with local building codes, zoning issues, etc. (and probably a few constitutional lawyers in case Republicans decide to take the project to court the way they did to the NRA in the 1930s). New people coming in out of high school could go in to learn and practice a trade while freshly minted college grads would handle many of the less physical jobs.
That said, I'd have no problem with everyone starting out laying rail or installing panels or stringing catenary or dismantling a house or paving a new road on the ground and then moving into an administrative or engineering function a month or so in because I believe that the more connected you are with conditions on the ground the better you're going to be managing projects that take place on the ground. I would also want to run the whole thing with annually salaried workers and set salaries for your on-the-ground workers, your engineers, and your architects all roughly even at around 70-80k per year. Your businessmen, managers, finance people, accountants, etc. would actually get paid the same to slightly less because of their lack of direct involvement with what's going on on the ground, and a few of the engineers should moonlight as accountants every once in a while to audit the books and make sure there's no fraud.