FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights- “Full Employment” Part II

by Stephen Seufert, The Seufert Papers, January 15, 2014

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“The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR’s alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other projects… It gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it.” – Ronald Reagan

In my last article, I explored the idea of Youth Social Security. Many said it was a good idea in theory but would be difficult to pay for. Sure, it would be difficult for us, the average American, to pay for. It’s well known that nearly 70% of income taxes are paid by the wealthiest Americans (keep in mind their rates have also steadily dropped over several decades); while almost half of those currently working don’t pay any income tax. However, has one ever considered that half of the country is too poor to pay? All the while, the shrinking middle class is wondering whether it will end up richer or poorer.

That being said, Youth Social Security affords more people the opportunity to enter the middle class. But hey, if it doesn’t bother you that the wealthiest eighty five people in the world own more wealth than the bottom 50 % (3.5 billion people) then by all means disregard everything I write. As of 2014, the top 1% controls $110 trillion out of $241 trillion of the world’s total wealth. This economic trend isn’t abating.

Youth Social Security’s primary goal is to address student loan debt ($1 trillion and rising), the depressed purchasing power of millennials due to stagnant wages, and the 11.8% unemployment rate among 18-29 year olds. Simply put, these issues won’t disappear by maintaining the status quo.

FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address laid out a bold goal- full employment. That may not be possible, but it should be every elected official’s singular obsession. In previous articles, I wrote about FDR’s Works Progress Administration. The WPA alone could never hope to fully employ every American- let alone every millennial. However, to encourage full employment, every 18 year old should be given these options: work, go to college or a trade school, join the military, or sign up for the WPA. Anyone who doesn’t do one of those things wouldn’t be eligible to receive the benefits of Youth Social Security. Any idle American between the ages of 18 and 21 not contributing to the general welfare of the nation is making it weaker as a whole. Such a plan echoes the timeless American motto, “united we stand, divided we fall.”

One of the strongest supporters of the WPA was conservative icon Ronald Reagan. During the Great Depression, Reagan’s father- Jack Reagan, unemployed and seeking work, became an administrator for the WPA in Dixon, Illinois. President Reagan spoke fondly of the work his father and the WPA did in his childhood town.

Silver Lake Park in Bristol, Pennsylvania is a local example of work done by the WPA. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, famously dubbed, “America’s First Superhighway”, was one of the more prominent accomplishments of the WPA. At one point or another, I’m sure nearly every Pennsylvanian had to use the PA Turnpike. For decades, it has faithfully served the general welfare of the commonwealth and nation.

National service and hard work is crucial to the strength and stability of any nation. Time and again, I’ve stressed the importance of the common defense and general welfare. A more coordinated plan of action tied to national service is the necessary remedy to the nation’s economic woes; as opposed to Herbert Hoover’s well-intended “self-government” volunteerism or Ayn Rand’s idiotic Objectivism.

Look at it this way- Youth Social Security tries to maximize probabilities. Regardless of the individual outcomes, the key to the nation’s success has always been that we never stop being bold, creative, and innovative. Additionally, what’s more important: how one starts out life or how it ends? I would say the former.

At the end of the day, Youth Social Security is about investing in the future. It’s the sincere hope of this millennial that Americans of every age recognize that truth and act accordingly. In the final analysis, the nation can choose to lift up the youth of America or leave them behind.