Bring back the WPA

Barack Hussein Obama is starting to show his true colors: a tax and spend liberal. While he has been criticized for being vague on what, exactly, he would do as president, he now has revealed some rather unsurprising proposals. Tax the “wealthiest Americans” and spend on infrastructure. From the WaPo:

The newest element of his [Obama’s] proposal was the establishment of a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank, which would spend $60 billion over a decade to rebuild deteriorating roads, bridges and waterways. Obama said the spending would generate 2 million new jobs, many of them in a construction industry that has been hard hit by the housing market downturn.

Sounds an awful lot like that marvelous pork-barrel project from the 1930s that FDR foisted on us: The Works Progress Administration, or WPA. Even its name connotes lefty goodness. Who could possibly be against “progress?” What WPA was, was a make-work enterprise, a handout by any other name. Did some good things get done? Sure. Had to have; it would have been like dropping napalm on the forest: you’re sure to kill some critters.

From the Wikipedia entry on the WPA, this should be noted:

The WPA had numerous conservative critics unlike the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was quite popular. One of the principal criticisms was that the program wasted federal dollars on projects that were not always needed or wanted. A relic of this criticism survives today in the form of a satirical observation that WPA workers were hired ‘to rake leaves in the park.’ White-collar WPA projects in particular were often singled out for their sometimes overtly left-wing social and political themes.

I have no first-hand knowledge of the WPA; I was patiently waiting a few years to be born. But my parents lived through it, and, although they were liberals, they scoffed at the monies that were wasted on make-work and needless projects.

The WPA was merely an expensive form of welfare. Since it did not contribute to any market forces, but, rather, artificially engaged a significant fraction of the labor force, it also arguably delayed the actual economic recovery. It took World War II to actually get us out of the depression that was never tackled by FDR’s socialist nostrums.

Welfare is needed for people while they seek work, or for those unable to work.  In the 1930s, regardless of St. Franklin’s responsibility, we should never let people starve to death to prove a political point.  But let us be crystal clear:  make-work projects are just welfare, gussied up in leftist cant.  Looks like we’d be getting more of the same from Obama.

How do I know Obama’s plan would be wasteful?  For the simple reason that infrastructure is a local matter, and while the Federal taxpayers may have to pitch in to help funding to the states, it is always wasteful to attempt to direct local enterprise from Washington.  Always.

Some people either never learn, or are too blinded by their own ideology to learn. Obama appears to be one such.

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7 thoughts on “Bring back the WPA

  1. “…it is always wasteful to attempt to direct local enterprise from Washington. Always.”

    Did he indicate that the infrastructure projects would be directed from Washington, or just that the funds would flow from federal to *local* gov’t (much like how housing subsidies work)?

    If you’ve got some quotes from the Obama campaign, please post more details – this is fascinating stuff, but I want to make sure we’ve got the facts straight.

    I agree that infrastructure is primarily a local concern. But if the private market or state and local gov’t agencies don’t update our roads and bridges (see Minneapolis bridge collapse), then maybe earmarking $60 Billion from Washington is not a bad way to beef up our local construction efforts to keep people safe and productive.

    Please respond, I’d like to continue the conversation…

  2. David S, I don’t have quotations and don’t need them. Since when did a conventionally liberal Democrat such as Obama not want to run things from Washington, DC?

    As far as earmarking, by definition this is done without regard to national priorities — which states, which communities, should get the monies first? Who decides?

    The way it is done now is a national disgrace and should be a major campaign issue. The congressman with the greatest clout gets the greatest earmark. Rep. Young of Alaska, call your office; your bridge to nowhere is ready. Regardless of need. Young is a poster boy for why most Republicans are not better than most Democrats (especially young Barack Obama) on the pork scoreboard.

    If states and communities have failing infrastructure, let them pay to repair or replace it. Don’t ask the rest of us to foot the bill.

    Unless, of course, you think it’s “fair” for folks in places with relatively new infrastructure (e.g. Arizona) to have to pay for an old, crumbling place (e.g. Detroit or Cleveland).

  3. “Since when did a conventionally liberal Democrat such as Obama not want to run things from Washington, DC?”

    If you want to criticize what someone does, they have to do it first. This is nonsense – I think you need quotations.

    But the bigger question is whether it is appropriate to use federal tax revenues for projects that don’t directly benefit all Americans. So I ask:

    If federal economic & trade policy is responsible for the rusting of the rust belt (and not the personal failings of auto workers in Detroit and Cleveland), then why should job outsourcing be their own problem to deal with? The cities with crumbling infrastructure were the engines that drove our economy for decades. What did places like Arizona contribute to American prosperity during those years?

    It is unfair to burden local governments with the task of cleaning up the rubble of past federal gov’t policies. I think it’s absolutely “fair” for Arizona taxpayers to chip in rebuilding the cities that made their own city’s prosperity and growth possible.

    As for earmarks, I believe they CAN be an effective way to allocate resources IF the federal government is transparent about it. A Bush-style, no-accountability, no-bid contract approach would not suffice. That’s how we get wasteful spending and bridges to nowhere- I should hope we are not doomed to this style of government indefinitely…

    There’s no point in evaluating Obama’s proposal if you are assuming it would be administered using the George Bush method. Any thoughts?

  4. to David S.
    I’m pretty neutral on this issue, but it strikes me that you would use the term “George Bush method” for the “no accountability, no-bid contract approach” that has always been used during every administration.
    Every government administration from county commissioners’ courts, city councils, state and national offices continue to be (as they always have been) anything but transparent. Additionally, most of the earmarks are snuck in as riders to important legislation in order to guarantee pork-barrel spending for both parties… it’s how business gets done, and it’s a disgrace.
    To use any forum simply to make anti-bush statements concerning a common practice that Obama will likely continue, is really anathema to your presumed intent to educate.
    I’m not really sure how it’s relevant to throw Bush into the mix unless your own political philosophy is simply anti-bushism.
    You make some good points, but then summarize your own stance as nothing more than a desire to scapegoat an unpopular official.
    one could equally blame Clinton for the lack of transparency in government… or are we only able to look so far back as the current administration?
    if our hindsight reaches only as far as our current presidential term, then that is a problem.
    depending on the definition of the word “is” of course.
    I agree with your point about national responsibility (in context of national response to emergency, I’m sure everyone does), but I also understand John’s statement that the democrat party has consistently (with no reason to believe it will change) attempted to empower Washington in regard to local issues.
    And I’m just as uncomfortable with that as he is.

    you said: “If you want to criticize what someone does, they have to do it first. This is nonsense”
    actually, since Obama hasn’t done anything at all in his brief period of service, one is left with nothing to criticize according to your policy.
    so to win your vote, all a candidate must do is refrain from taking a position on anything, do nothing, and openly criticize the person you least appreciate (wait, that may actually be his campaign strategy).
    That is why we can criticize a person based on their party loyalty… I have no idea what Obama personally stands for in most areas, because he’s done nothing so far. and I don’t trust anything a politician simply SAYS.
    But I know that he tows the line of the party, and therefore John is able to surmise what his position may be based upon the party’s declared position.

    just my 2 cents…
    (oh, and as far as WPA’s, check on other socialist or communist regimes to see how their systems are working… but before we begin a new deal, let’s spend a couple bucks teaching CITIZENSHIP in our schools so that our children will grow up giving a rats ass about this country)

  5. whats wrong with people working for their handout instead of just sitting on their a– and cashing their check and getting free rent,section 8, and food stamps? Everyone is capable of working in some way, why aren’t we teaching self discipline,money management and dozens of other subjects so people would want to be responsible and contributing citizens to our great and glorious countrbuuy. I’m sick of the lazy ingrates living off the hard work of the middle and upper classes. They get free college
    educations and all it teaches most of them is how to fill out the forms that help take advantage of the rest of us.
    Steven Hawking works! So get off your butts and produce more then one illegitimate child after the other prove that you’re as able as the rest of the population,and start NOW!!!

  6. Pingback: Yes, he is bringing back the WPA «

  7. Mr. Rich,
    The WPA and CCA helped literally thousands of people who were in dire need of work of any kind. These were not make work programs. These were projects that were already planned and unfunded prior to the creation of programs like the WPA and CCA. All of America benefited from these programs in a time of need like no other in the history of the US. Evidently you don’t have a problem with the current waste of our taxes given to people that live only to abuse the welfare system to the fullest extent that they can construe. I believe it much better to spend money in a way that not only puts it in the hands of the consumer but gives that consumer a job to do instead of sitting around doing nothing and still getting paid.

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