Isn't time to recreate a jobs program like the CCC?

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a great program under Roosevelt. My dad’s brother was in. A lot of state parks and roads were built by the CCC. If you search for it you can find CCC plaques in the parks they built.

My dads family really needed the money my dads brother made in the CCC. It literally made the difference in eating every day and not eating. Life was damn hard in the 1930’s for small farms.

With all the natural disasters we’ve had this year. CCC would be perfect for clean up and rebuilding after disasters. The people in Joplin Missouri, most of Vermont desperately need help. Hell, parts of New Orleans still haven’t recovered from Katrina. The infrastructure in the U.S. is falling apart. Some of it could be fixed by a federal work force like the CCC.

Why can’t we get this done? They had the CCC up and going pretty quick. There was no computers to help organize or run it.

Get some retired military guys to set it up. Create work camps, get tools, chainsaws, bulldozers and get to work. This isn’t rocket science.

The skill set learned in the CCC would go up in time. A little construction experience and gradually the CCC could handle bigger jobs.

What do you think?

Who’s gonna pay for it?

We just passed that huge stimulus package last year. Several trillion dollars worth. Just sitting there wasted.

Plenty of people will argue that the stimulus did quite a bit of good. And what is your proposal, if not another version of the stimulus?

That’s correct. There’s plenty of unused stimulus money. I’m merely suggesting we use some of it to restart the CCC. People need jobs.

People are hurting in Vermont and other storm damaged areas. We could have boots on the ground cleaning up within a few weeks. A good retired general and a staff of officers could restart the CCC pretty quickly.

Start with cleanup crews. Then as skills get better issue chainsaws. Then slowly get into construction. Bit by bit you develop skilled crews.

I’d like to see a program like that as well but with today’s Congress, the likelihood of that happening is less than zero.

It is not just that we need the stimulus, but that we need the work done on the infrastructure. Bridges are build to last 50 years and the average across America is 47. it is not make work, but work that will bite us in the ass if we don’t get it done.

Strike one, strike two, strike three, strike four. The stimulus was passed in 2009, it was not anywhere near trillions of spending (in fact only about $250 billion was for construction and related activities), the money is pretty much all gone, and it created somewhere up to a million jobs.

Plus there’s lots of people who have new roads or improved bridges, so that may be strike five.

Does your plan pay Davis-Bacon wages? If it does it will be prohibitively expensive, if it doesn’t you will be undercutting the current companies employing the 90% of American with jobs.

Does your plan believe in the National Environments Policy Act (NEPA)? For every project you are going to need an environmental review, done by professionals, quickly, that won’t be litigated.

If you are between 18 and 24, unmarried, want to live in a tent and work your ass off in the woods for the federal government*. Avue digital services and USAjobs both have lots of wildland fire jobs listed every spring.

*Requirements for the CCC, not for fire fighting

The San Francisco Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Hoover Dam all almost qualify as “Wonders of the Modern World” and all were built at the height of the Great Depression. These stand as a tribute to the can-do American spirit; the Golden Gate Bridge was actually funded by private citizens:

It is heart-breaking to compare Roosevelt’s New Deal and the can-do Americans of the 1930’s with the Greed is Good; Taxes are Robbery; the Poor Deserve their Poverty mentality of today’s America.

Can’t be less than 0. But seriously, I’ve been saying for three years that we desperately need a CCC. But this is GD area, no?

Note that there are state-funded organizations that are modeled on the CCC, including one in Vermont.

We sorta do have the CCC and WPA today. Instead of all those people working directly for the government, they now work for contractors that bid for the projects.

It’s is a shame. I’ve said for years the last two generations has sponged off the hard work and sweat of our grandfathers and great grandfathers. The majority of our infrastructure was built prior to 1960. Now it’s all falling apart around our ears from lack of maintenance and old age. The projects that were completed in the 1930’s is stunning. The TVA is a huge one that ultimately gave us the electricity to win WWII with the Nuclear Bomb.

That literally was the greatest generation that America ever had.

Even if they restarted the CCC, it would take decades to rebuild what’s falling apart.

I’m baffled by the defeatist attitude we have today too. In terms of resources and opportunities the U.S. is still the richest nation. But, no one sees that. It’s all gloom and doom. We’ve legislated and regulated construction to the point that almost nothing gets done. The towers fell on 9/11/2001. They should have been rebuilt and standing proud by 2008. Instead they are just getting started rebuilding.

There is also Americorps. One of the branches is the National Civilian Community Corps. In other words, there are opportunities for one to serve if one wishes.

As for using such organizations to build infrastructure, many such projects (e.g., rebuilding of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge or the Water Tunnel No. 3 project in New York) are much too complex to be built by amateurs.

Perhaps a CCC in the form of providing businesses incentives to hire Americans instead of offshoring. Also, there seems to be a trend of corporations making a lot of money and sitting on a lot of cash, but not hiring, which is a big part of our economy’s jobs problem right now. I think that we should take measures to insure that hiring isn’t as risky as the chicken little market geeks keep implying. This is tough, though, because I think a lot of businesses are participating in the right wing plan to tank the economy until Obama is out of office so they can go back to being unfettered robber barons. “Uncertainty” is just code for “Oh, shit, they’re going to make us play fair”.

An infrastructure bank is a similar solution. Once projects get started, people would be put to work, and money begin to flow in local economies again.

From here.

It isn’t just a simple problem of jobs. The bigger problem is the continued erosion of one of the country’s biggest assets: its infrastructure.
Our infrastructure, once first-class, has fallen to 16th in the world.

It will cost us dearly.

Decaying infrastructure costs the U.S. an estimated $129 billion a year. In fact, according to a report conducted by the Economic Development Research Group of Boston for the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation’s deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 870,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $3.1 trillion by 2020.
However, I’m very pessimistic about any progress being made on these issues. People in the U.S. seem to have very stupid and backwards notions of how infrastructure gets built and how it gets paid for. They seem to have no concept of the value of insfrastructure, and no concept of the huge and devastating effects of its decay.

Corporations having piles of cash will not generate hiring. It requires demand. That is a byproduct of fixing the infrastructure. The workers will have money and will buy things and go places stimulating demand. That results in more hiring and more people paying taxes.
The idea that we can keep cutting and fix the economy is wrong. That will have the opposite effect. it would put our economy into a sinking vortex with no way out.
But all government work must be done with American products by American citizens. We can not buy the steel from China . It has to be with our products to get maximum effect.

I’ve been reading about the Depression and I thought about this question as well. But besides having no money or congressional backing, I can see the government struggling with a number of issues:

  1. States have laid off a number of employees that would be responsible for rebuilding infrastructure. In my state, the DOT was the poor bastard agency that got torn up in the last round of lay-offs. The natural resource agencies aren’t faring that well either. It would look awfully bad for the state to fire all these fine folks, only to have the federal government swoop down and replace them with some young kids fresh right out of high school, with no families to support and who can live on minimum wage (or less).

  2. The program would butt heads with the private sector. Again, how would it look for the federal government to employ people for low wages, even if it is providing housing like the CCC did, to provide work that the private sector would normally do? Private employers will have to lay off people because they won’t be able to score those contracts…which will just then feed more people into the New CCC. Wages then drop. Everyone loses.

  3. After all the towns damaged by natural disasters are fixed up, then what? Do we really need another Hoover Dam? No. I could see us using the cheap labor to take advantage of renewable energy sources, like building windmill farms in the Plains and off-shore. The private sector’s moving in that direction, but maybe the Feds could do it faster because it has the power to waive all the environmental regulations that would otherwise be a (necessary) stumbling block. But where would the money for such a grand endeavor come from? The government had some chips to play with during the Depression. We ain’t got none now. The only hope I could see is that maybe some private endowments could pour in and fund the Greening of America Project. Maybe young adults would be so desperate they’d work for simple room and board. I guess things would have to be pretty bad for it to come to this, but I guess it would be better than having the Lost Generation that Japan is experiencing.

  4. The New CCC would mainly help a small portion of the population–young, mostly males. I don’t have anything against young guys, but they aren’t the only ones unemployed right now. We’d still have a major problem to contend with. If the New CCC is the only thing we can afford to blow our collective wad on, then we’re screwed. Even during the Great Depression, the CCC did very little to fix things. It helped some individuals, but it didn’t save families or fix the economy.

I think that having such a program would be worthwhile. Yeah, it will cost us some money now, but we do desperately need to rebuild our infrastructure, because as it is now, we’re not doing it, and it’s gonna bite us in the ass in a very short time. We need to start NOW, and we should have started about 20 years ago.