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Great Depression and the WPA

Every politician seems to agree that this country needs jobs. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree. Jobs, jobs, jobs! They chant. Yet no jobs seem coming. Nobody seems to know how to create jobs. American corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars but will not spend any of it to create jobs. Not surprising because corporations is in the business of creating profits for their shareholders. Spending money to hire people cost money and they are not in the business to spend money that might reduce their profits. That is the capitalist way. The United States Supreme Court may think corporations are people just like you and I, but corporations do not have patriotic allegiances to the United States. Capitalism has nothing to do with patriotism, only profits.

How are we going to create jobs, the politicians ask. Tons of bailouts and stimulus funds may have helped banks, Wall Street, automakers, and the like, but did not help the working people of this country, which is the backbone of this country. Trickle down from the Republican Party’s “job creators” has not trickled down to working people regardless of what Ronald Reagan and their party contend.

Not enough has trickled down to working people to allow them to afford to live, keep their homes, or care for their families. Trickle down does not and has not worked.

I do not understand why these politicians or even why President Barack Obama has not remembered what did work during the Great Depression. I do not understand many things. Perhaps it is simply because they were not alive during those days.

However, I do remember the Great Depression. Born in 1933, I was raised on a farm in Oklahoma. The high school I attended, Moss High School, was built during those depression years. It was built of stones among which proclaimed the building the school was built by the Work Projects Administration (WPA). So were our gym, and our outdoor privy and coal bin. [See WPA]

The WPA built parks, public buildings, roads and bridges we crossed, and numerous other public projects. My school was a rural school. The school’s district was located in an area of family farms. (Corporate farming was unheard of in those days; they have replaced most family farms in this “modern” age.) Those of us that attended that school lived on those family farms, some as owners, and others as sharecroppers. The WPA benefitted rural and western areas of the United States.

The WPA came about during the tenure of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, can you believe. Unemployment during the Great Depression was rampant nationwide, just like now, only worse. If you have ever read the book or seen the movie, The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, told of those depression years, the Great Dust Bowl, and the migration of millions of Okies, Arkies and others that fled from their homes to travel the now old Route 66 to California looking for work. Hobos rode the freight trains traveling to California seeking work. I personally know families that made that migration to work in the farm fields of California doing farm labor, following the crops.

The WPA hired millions of unskilled workers. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs. [See Colorado Archives]

The cost of the WPA program cost a whole lot less than the cost of Bush’s borrowing of money to pay for the invasion, war, and occupation of Iraq. To my knowledge, the cost of the WPA did not harm a single human being. Americans were not killed. Innocent civilians were not killed. Nothing was destroyed. On the contrary, things were constructed. People had jobs.

I know that the Republican Party is paranoid about government, socialism, and all that. I also know that working Republicans need jobs too. The Republican Party seems determined to convert what we know as the American Government into a private enterprise for the corporate “job creators” to run. That will not work. Maybe another WPA will.


4 Responses to “Great Depression and the WPA”

  1. This article was fantastic!!! I’ve been walking around for over 2 years now saying just this very thing… get people back to work like the WPA did… The History Channel this weekend did a series of programs showing the need for our infastructure to be repaired, in the levees, Electrical, dams, roads,
    It is Obama’s fault. He walked into to the mess that was made due to Bushes reaction (because they knew what was coming and ignored it- so did Clinton by D by)(I still can’t believe the congress let him get away with spending a billion dollars a day on the war. I still can’t believe how he treated our citizens victimized by Katrina. It makes no sense at all ! I’ll stop… thank you for writing your article…

    Posted by Linda | August 15, 2011, 8:56 pm
    • Thank you Linda for the comment.

      Lots of reasons exist, I believe, for the lack of jobs.

      Corporate outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.

      The lack of consumers spending for goods and services because the consumers haven’t the money to purchase them–thereby reducing demand for goods and services–thus lack of need for industry to produce them. That results in a reduction of jobs for working people.

      I suppose an entire could be written about the subject.

      Posted by Jack Wood | August 17, 2011, 10:17 pm
  2. “How are we going to create jobs, the politicians ask.”

    It’s very easy to see where the problem lies. The Republican Party has now morphed into an unmanageable mess of right wing extremism that only pursues the complete and utter destruction of President Obama. This 112th Congress, with its majority of Republican/Tea Party/whacknuts, has decided to pursue a course of action of party politics. They prefer to tank the economy to get back in power. If the U.S. goes to hell in a hand basket in the process? Oh well. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

    We could wait til the next election. But that’s too long off. America may turn into a third world country ranked behind Zimbabwe if we keep going like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll enjoy voting out every Republican I see, but other measures need to be done right now. We can’t wait for them to grasp any semblance of reasonable sanity.

    To fix what is going on now in the 112th Congress, which is on course now to be probably the most useless Congress in just about sixty years, especially in the area of job creation, which they place no priority on, is indeed a daunting task. But it is the most important task they need to do. Talking about the infrastructure areas you outline like in the Great Depression.

    First step, someone needs to come up with a major jobs bill and present it to Speaker Boehner (and I’m sure that is being done right now).

    When that gets rejected, you take note of what the Republicans in the majority didn’t like, then slim it down and present a smaller, streamlined jobs bill.

    When that gets rejected, you present a plan to provide unemployment financial assistance to the more than 14 million Americans who are unemployed/under-employed.

    When that gets rejected, investigation proceeds to find out which Republican Congressman asked for stimulus money for their areas, bundle them all together and ask for it to be approved to selectively get money and jobs created for their districts.

    When that is rejected, identify bridges, roads, public works and other areas of infrastructure that require maintenance in Republican Congressman’s districts and bring that up in Congress to allocate money for…in order to create jobs.

    When that gets rejected, you come up with a plan to raise the taxes on the filthy rich and the corporations to raise money in order to provide financial help to the unemployed and to start another stimulus program. This in light of rejection of all of the above.

    When that gets rejected by this do nothing 112th Congress, each and every Congressman who voted down all the above needs to be identified, and present a bill that curtails their health care, their pay and any other perks they receive. And it should be removed all the way up until they can indeed prove they have the will and ability to represent their constituents and not just obstruct and say no all the time.

    I could think of many more steps, but you get the idea. It’s way past the time for logical discussion. It’s definitely time to use negotiation, and push it HARD. Mainly because the Republicans in this 112th Congress clearly expressed they would rather run things like a protest movement rather than what they were elected in office to do. They need to be taught how to do their job. Especially the whacknut Tea Party ones.

    It’s time for the Democrats to politically grab a two by four, approach them, rear back, and smack them hard in the kisser with it.

    And do it repeatedly. And hard.

    That’s all they understand. You shame them into doing something.

    Of course, I am very, very sure the American people will welcome this action and cheer it on to continue until something gets done.

    They set the rules with political gamesmanship all the time. You just use it against them. Call them out.

    I’m sure there are many other steps in there, but I think I just outlined what to do. Let’s get it done.

    The rest is up to the people in the 2012 elections to vote them all out.

    I know that I personally am a willing and active member of the GROHAH* Movement.

    *Stands for Get Rid Of Heck And Hell.

    P.S. I have read “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. It is indeed a great American classic. I just hope it’s not going to be a primer for what may come: The Over Reaching Republican Party Caused Mother Of All Great Depressions of 2011.

    Posted by ColinFromLasVegas | August 15, 2011, 7:45 am
    • Well, Colin. Think you could sell that approach?

      The government moves with the speed of cold molasses. Working people are caught in a vice that continues to tighten. The elite wealthy class doesn’t seem to suffer.

      We’re evolving into a two class system–The Haves and the Have-nots.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Posted by Jack Wood | August 17, 2011, 10:24 pm

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