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Time for another WPA?

WPA: Works Progress Administration Poster (Blue Construction Worker)Driven across a bridge lately? Used a public park? Visited a library? Walked on a sidewalk? Hiked on a trail? Taken your kids to a public school? Enjoyed a drink of clean water thanks to water treatment facilities? Taken a swim in a municipal pool? Thank the Works Progress Administration (WPA), through which these were built in cities and towns across the nation. The WPA wasn’t a welfare program; it was an infrastructure investment program that paid people for their work, sustained commerce and enabled a high quality of life for generations.

Seven decades later, the public infrastructure created by the WPA has aged, is crumbling and needs replacement. Unemployment is surging and the income of working Americans has been sinking for years (2008 reasons, esp. #76-83). The U.S. Government has tried the strategy of giving hundreds of billions of dollars to financiers… and rather than investing with it, those financiers are stuffing the money in their figurative mattresses.

Is it time to resurrect the WPA?

4 thoughts on “Time for another WPA?”

  1. Jim says:

    There’s a trivial criticism I anticipate of plans to resurrect the WPA: that some WPA employment programs were “silly.” “Silly” refers to non-material WPA programs. Artists were paid for public art, others were paid for interviewing people or taking photographs. The response to this is simple: jump-start a new WPA that works on infrastructure projects only.

  2. Hard G says:

    The art and interviews were not silly. They now serve as important historical documents and cultural artifacts.

    Anyway, bring on the WPA! They made some kick ass graphics (the one you posted, for example) and some great literature and some awesome brick walls and sidewalks and how-to manuals and kept a lot of hopeless people out of trouble.

    In fact, can you make a BRING BACK THE WPA line of products? Put my order in for one of each. I have a CD full of WPA images somewhere around here that I can dig up if needed.

  3. Jim says:

    I agree with you, Hard G. I think public investment in art and social research is important. I was just anticipating what I think some people will say — and if I had to prioritize, especially in these times, I think it would be reasonable to put physical infrastructure first.

    I’ll get cracking on that bring back the WPA line…

  4. tom says:

    We need our government to invest in our infrastructure, Green Tech and renewable energy included, as well as the arts, programs for the elderly and children, health care, etc. If we’d get off the military dominated budget – a huge waste of money – we could put these programs and many others into effect. Don’t forget, we’ll also have to help out those military members who have come home severely impaired, disfigured, and mentally stressed by fixing the VA hospitalization system, which is critically run down.

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