Saturday, July 24, 2010

Government should put unemployed back to work

Government should put unemployed back to work

July 23, 2010

State unemployment agencies are set to resume sending unemployment checks to millions of people after Congress voted this week to restore lapsed federal benefits.

Almost 5 million people who have been out of work for six months or more have seen their benefits lapse. Under best-case scenarios, people can expect retroactive payments starting next week. For others, it will take longer.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke characterized the job market Wednesday as showing continued weakness.

In particular, the 100,000 or so private jobs being created each month so far in 2010 is 'a pace insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate materially,' he said.

With a brutal job market and fears of a double-dip recession, these millions of people are in dire need of unemployment benefits. Many rely on these payments to put food on the table for their families.

With the economy in the tank, the Obama administration should take a lesson from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and create a government-run jobs program.

During the Great Depression, Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of April 1935, with the purpose of creating public jobs for the unemployed.

During the WPA's tenure, workers constructed 651,087 miles of roads, streets and highways; and built, repaired or refurbished 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 landing fields, according to Workers also cleaned slums, revived forests and extended electrical power to rural locations.

If this worked in the 1930s, it can work now. Obviously, some modifications would need to be made but there is plenty of work that could be done through a government program.

Many of our nation's bridges are in dire need of repair. Roads, streets and highways could be repaired; and public buildings and parks could be cleaned and refurbished.

Also, broadband Internet access could be extended to rural locations.

The WPA employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.41 million projects. The agency was terminated in 1943 because it became difficult to justify with wartime prosperity rising in the 1940s.

A 21st century version of the Works Progress Administration could put millions of people back to work.

Let's stop paying bailout money to large corporations and put that money where it belongs, in the pockets of the American people.

When people have money to spend, it provides a real shot in the arm to the economy.

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WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.