Rain Noe | January 26 2017 | Core77
The New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration got us back on track
We’re currently working up an entry on a very cool toolbox of historical significance. But before we can get to it, we have to give you this brief history lesson to provide some context. We hope you’ll find it interesting on its own merits.
In 1933 America was doing poorly; the Great Depression meant millions of people were starving and out of work. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in January of 1933, he brought with him a couple of brilliant ways to improve the lives of citizens while boosting the long-term health of the country. Two of the New Deal programs he used to do this were the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration.
The Civilian Conservation Corps, as the name suggests, was focused on conservation. The CCC took hundreds of thousands, then millions, of young, unemployed men and sent them to camps. (I know that doesn’t sound promising, stick with me here!)
At the camps these men were provided food, shelter, free medical care and a living wage. They were trained in how to build, fix and grow things, and then they were put to work in teams.
Gabriel Milner | December 18 2016 | Living New Deal
One of the many unknowns of Donald Trump’s impending presidency is the fate of America’s New Deal legacy. Last Tuesday, Newt Gingrich spoke before the Heritage Foundation in a wide-ranging speech celebrating Trump’s victory and the social, economic, and cultural changes it seemed to auger.
Gingrich’s speech centered on his vision of an America gutted of New Deal programs, not to mention ideals. As Ian Millhiser writes for ThinkProgress, the former Speaker of the House exclaimed, “this is the third great effort to break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model.” He pontificated that if a Trump presidency is followed by another Republican administration, the “FDR model” would be done for. Ambitious infrastructural projects promised by the president-elect may resemble New Deal efforts, but would likely have little in common with the mass job generating, civic minded public works of the New Deal. And, no doubt, the liberal social programs that went along with them will have little place in any new iteration of government stimulus projects.
Gingrich may be more of a spiritual advisor to Trump than anything else. Still, as Millhiser notes, “Early signs suggest that Gingrich’s predictions that Roosevelt’s legacy could be undone should be taken seriously. Republicans in the House hope to cut Social Security benefits by 20–50 percent. [House] Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to voucherize Medicare would drive up out-of-pocket costs for seniors by about 40 percent. Then he’d cut Medicaid by between a third and a half.” And despite Trump’s campaign promises to protect the social safety net, his recent cabinet choices suggest that his agenda will align with that of Speaker Ryan.
America appears to be far, far away from the kind of new New Deal that those who remember President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s legacy have envisioned for the country
Gabriel Milner is Project Manager for The Living New Deal. He is a trained cultural historian who teaches courses in U.S. History at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University
by Elizabeth Drew, published February 14, 2016
2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure
by the American Society of Civil Engineers
available at infrastructurereportcard.org
Rust: The Longest War
by Jonathan Waldman
Simon and Schuster, 288 pp., $26.95
Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead
by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Norton, 325 pp., $26.95
The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure
by Henry Petroski
Bloomsbury, 322 pp., $28.00
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
by Ted Koppel
Crown, 279 pp., $26.00
It would be helpful if there were another word for “infrastructure”: it’s such an earnest and passive word for the blood vessels of this country, the crucial conveyors and connections that get us from here to there (or not) and the ports that facilitate our trade (or don’t), as well as the carriers of information, in particular broadband (if one is connected to it), and other unreliable structures. The word “crisis” is also overused, applied to the unimportant as well as the crucial. But this country has an infrastructure crisis.
The near-total failure of our political institutions to invest for the future, eschewing what doesn’t yield the quick payoff, political and physical, has left us with hopelessly clogged traffic, at risk of being on a bridge that collapses, or on a train that flies off defective rails, or with rusted pipes carrying our drinking water. Broadband is our new interstate highway system, but not everyone has access to it—a division largely based on class. Depending on the measurement used, the United States ranks from fourteenth to thirtieth among all nations in its investments in infrastructure. The wealthiest nation on earth is nowhere near the top.
by Eric Zuesse, published August 22, 2015 on Washington’s Blog
I state here why I have come to support Bernie Sanders for President: Whereas Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — the modern Democratic Establishment — have been so conservative they might as well have called themselves “conservative” (and they didn’t say it because they needed to be able to win Democratic Party primaries), Sanders’s record shows that he isn’t like that at all; he’s an authentic democrat, and always has been, even when he didn’t call himself one (but only a “Progressive,” and a “socialist — like in Scandinavia”). I don’t care what a politician calls himself or herself, only what the person actually is, as the person has proven to be by the actual record as a public official.
The entire careers of Bernie Sanders, versus Barack Obama and both Bill and Hillary Clinton, display a stark difference. Whereas Obama and the Clintons were trying to win the votes of Democrats while secretly supporting Republican policies to redistribute even more wealth upward from the public to the aristocracy (and they did so) (and how!), Sanders has consistently been trying — and helping — to do the exact opposite: to redistribute wealth downward, from the aristocracy to the public. Taxes, and all of government policies, are inevitably wealth-distributional (who pays how much, and who gets how much of the benefits; and what benefits pay needs, versus what benefits pay mere wants). Any politician who says that government isn’t largely about the distribution of wealth, knows that what he is saying is false — he or she is lying about government. (Only their suckers can believe it.) The question isn’t whether government should redistribute wealth; it’s how. That’s reality, and every public official knows it.
THE VIEW HELD BY OBAMA & THE CLINTONS:
Lawrence Summers was the leading economist for both of the Clintons, and also for Obama; and one of the reasons they chose him was that he agreed with them that the richer a person is, the better the given person tends to be. Summers shared their money-elitist values. (They secretly despise the poor.)
Tucked away in President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal released early last week, say union critics, is a renewed proposal by the administration to destroy one of the last remaining success stories that resulted from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” more than 80 years ago.
According to reporting by The Hill on Tuesday, Obama’s inclusion of a previously floated plan to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority—created by FDR and Congress in 1933—have put unionized workers employed by the TVA on the “attack” against an idea they say will cost them their jobs and destroy a federal entity that has fulfilled its mission in every way.
by Living New Deal, published April 3, 2015
This conversation took place on March 21, 2015 at John’s home in Mill Valley, California.
John, who was the person that most influenced you?
There isn’t any doubt that it was my grandmother, my mother’s mother Eleanor Roosevelt. We grandchildren called her Grandmère—she learned French before she learned English. She was such a gifted person. She let me absorb who was and what she treasured. I think I learned my basic values from her — for example, her attachment to her family, her devotion to human rights; her absorption with the United Nations; her affection for Israel.
What are your early memories of her?
I was very young, but I still remember Grandmère getting off an airplane in Seattle and coming to stay with us on Mercer Island. Later, while I was still a young child, my mother and I moved to the White House during WWII, but I hardly remember her from that time because she was gone so much—overseas, visiting bases in the Pacific, London or elsewhere.
My memories of her are more vivid from the years I was a student at Amherst College. My parents had gone to Iran for two or three years, so she said, as was her way, “Johnny, if you don’t have a home to go home to, you have mine. Come to New York City or to Hyde Park, wherever I am. And I did.
What do you remember of those times?
There are so many memories…like when John Kennedy won the presidency from Richard Nixon and we watched it on television at her apartment on East 83rd Street, and when JFK visited her at her home in Hyde Park. There were two houses on her parcel of land on the estate at Hyde Park. The family home, Springwood, we called The Big House, Her home, called Val-Kill, was named for the stream that meanders through the land. Her home at Val-kill was actually constructed as a small furniture factory that produced amazing reproductions of traditional American furniture. It was my grandmother’s way of employing a few local craftsmen that would not otherwise have had work.
A Short History of the Great Depression
By Nick Taylor, the author of “American-Made” (2008), a history of the Works Progress Administration. Originally published in the New York Times.
The Great Depression was a worldwide economic crisis that in the United States was marked by widespread unemployment, near halts in industrial production and construction, and an 89 percent decline in stock prices. It was preceded by the so-called New Era, a time of low unemployment when general prosperity masked vast disparities in income.
The start of the Depression is usually pegged to the stock market crash of “Black Tuesday,” Oct. 29, 1929, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 23 percent and the market lost between $8 billion and $9 billion in value. But it was just one in a series of losses during a time of extreme market volatility that exposed those who had bought stocks “on margin” — with borrowed money.
The stock market continued to decline despite brief rallies. Unemployment rose and wages fell for those who continued to work. The use of credit for the purchase of homes, cars, furniture and household appliances resulted in foreclosures and repossessions. As consumers lost buying power industrial production fell, businesses failed, and more workers lost their jobs. Farmers were caught in a depression of their own that had extended through much of the 1920s. This was caused by the collapse of food prices with the loss of export markets after World War I and years of drought that were marked by huge dust storms that blackened skies at noon and scoured the land of topsoil. As city dwellers lost their homes, farmers also lost their land and equipment to foreclosure.
Three months have passed since I talked with you shortly after the adjournment of the Congress. Tonight I continue that report, though, because of the shortness of time, I must defer a number of subjects to a later date.
Recently the most notable public questions that have concerned us all have had to do with industry and labor and with respect to these, certain developments have taken place which I consider of importance. I am happy to report that after years of uncertainty, culminating in the collapse of the spring of 1933, we are bringing order out of the old chaos with a greater certainty of the employment of labor at a reasonable wage and of more business at a fair profit. These governmental and industrial developments hold promise of new achievements for the nation.
Men may differ as to the particular form of governmental activity with respect to industry and business, but nearly all are agreed that private enterprise in times such as these cannot be left without assistance and without reasonable safeguards lest it destroy not only itself but also our processes of civilization. The underlying necessity for such activity is indeed as strong now as it was years ago when Elihu Root said the following very significant words:
“Instead of the give and take of free individual contract, the tremendous power of organization has combined great aggregations of capital in enormous industrial establishments working through vast agencies of commerce and employing great masses of men in movements of production and transportation and trade, so great in the mass that each individual concerned in them is quite helpless by himself. The relations between the employer and the employed, between the owners of aggregated capital and the units of organized labor, between the small producer, the small trader, the consumer, and the great transporting and manufacturing and distributing agencies, all present new questions for the solution of which the old reliance upon the free action of individual wills appear quite inadequate. And in many directions, the intervention of that organized control which we call government seems necessary to produce the same result of justice and right conduct which obtained through the attrition of individuals before the new conditions arose.”
It has been several months since I have talked with you concerning the problems of government. Since January, those of us in whom you have vested responsibility have been engaged in the fulfillment of plans and policies which had been widely discussed in previous months. It seemed to us our duty not only to make the right path clear but also to tread that path.
As we review the achievements of this session of the Seventy-third Congress, it is made increasingly clear that its task was essentially that of completing and fortifying the work it had begun in March, l933. That was no easy task, but the Congress was equal to it. It has been well said that while there were a few exceptions, this Congress displayed a greater freedom from mere partisanship than any other peace-time Congress since the Administration of President Washington himself. The session was distinguished by the extent and variety of legislation enacted and by the intelligence and good will of debate upon these measures.