The American economy is in trouble. It is not the first time. In the 1930s, the American economy sank into a depression. As a candidate for president, Franklin D. Roosevelt described the situation with “one third of the nation ill fed, ill clothed, ill-housed.” He took steps to revive the economy by creating jobs. They were jobs that needed doing but were not being done because, at the time, the private sector of the economy did not find them profitable.
There were forests that needed attention. They had been wiped out by forest fires or by depletion for civilian purposes like wood and paper. Under the New Deal, Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was their job to restore the woodlands, serving a double purpose. It met a national need and also created jobs.
As a young college student, I got a job under the National Youth Act. My job was to go from tenement house to tenement house to find out whether they had internal toilet facilities. This led to a federal housing program that provided millions of jobs.
Right now there are all sorts of national needs. Almost daily we hear of still another bridge that collapsed. School buildings are dilapidated and in danger. The medical needs of children lack proper attention. Put bluntly, there are endless needs that go unattended.
Yet, at this very hour, reports The New York Times, (March 16) “the Fed announced a $200 billion lending program for investment banks and a $100 billion credit line for banks and thrifts.”