A New, New Deal
The U. S. government uses acronyms in so broad and pervasive a fashion it’s qualified them as a separate and distinct language.
Perhaps the most timely and memorable acronym of the twentieth century was a signature component of FDR’s “New Deal,” the CCC: Civilian Conservation Corps. It existed for nine years, 1933-1942, and served as a voluntary work relief program for unemployed, single men between the ages of 17-28. It came on the heels of the Great Depression when unemployment was at record highs and morale among single, young men was low.
More than three million men participated in the CCC during its tenure, no more than 300,000 at any given time, and all were engaged in a wide variety of physically demanding, outdoor projects. These included bridge improvements; road, airport and dam construction; erosion and flood control; reforestation, public picnic and camp development; stream improvements, fish stocking, landscaping, lake and pond development.
There were more types of projects and all fit neatly under the broad umbrella of infrastructure improvements. After nearly a century, infrastructure issues have re-emerged as a national priority.
It’s time to resurrect the CCC.
It’s time for a New, New Deal.
It’s time to rethink the New Deal of old and repurpose the New, New Deal of today. We should roll up our sleeves and begin work building and improving bridges for example. Many are crumbling under the weight of ever-increasing traffic. A recent engineering audit of bridges across the country classified 50,000 as “structurally deficient”. 50,000. This qualifies as a national emergency.
Not only is demand high for rebuilding our country’s infrastructure, but unemployment is back to Great Depression levels resulting in an excessive supply of labor. It’s a perfect storm for creating a New CCC.
As we move forward, we need to update and restructure the New CCC. Let’s open it up to men and women, drop the age and marital proscriptions, increase compensation and benefits. We should revive most of the project scope of the original CCC and add new projects such as digitizing our power grids and including redundant, “fail-safe”, cyber-security protocols. Let’s concentrate on technical training and make mandatory basic and advanced ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) training for all participants. We need to coordinate with private industry and provide 100%, fiber-optic or better, signal coverage for all citizens.
Management of this group could fall under the Army Corps of Engineers. We could adopt their existing compensation and benefits programs as well as their established command structure. In effect, the New CCC would be a hybrid; a civilian division of the U.S. Army.
The best way to get things done is to organize under a plan, assign responsibility, develop a budget and set a timetable.
Then get to work.
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