Long Range Assignment

One of the subjects we were “subjected” to in school in the 1930s went under the name of “Ancient History”. Little did we know that some 75 years later we’d be looking back at those years and treating them as “Ancient History”.

The value in those old, old stories – we were told – were the lessons to be learned from them. Well, if that’s true, let’s look back at the messages our 1930s “Ancient History” has taught us.

Let’s start with the stupidity surrounding the “infrastructure” programs officials are promoting. The construction, repair and modernizing of highways, bridges, schools, ports, and the like, will create millions of new jobs, they tell us. But that’s the same tack taken initially by the government back in the 1930s when unemployment during the Great Depression was such a problem.

They called it the WPA. It didn’t work out then and duplicating that duplicity won’t work now. Those apparently well-meaning attempts to end joblessness by directing money, material and manpower toward the nation’s infrastructure didn’t bring an end to that Great Depression. What did work out, though, was the eventual reliance on FDR’s Emergency Shipbuilding Programs.

Infrastructure programs? You want to talk about successful and meaningful “infrastructure” programs? The Maritime Commission (MARAD) began by devising a program to build 500 merchant ships of a new design – a new design! Imagine that! – and it was this shipbuilding program that became known as the Long Range Program. The well-known and unusually successful C1, C2 and C3 type ships had their beginnings in this program.

The subsequent Emergency Shipbuilding Program would eventually turn out almost 6,000 cargo ships – cargo ships! Imagine that! – and provided jobs for hundreds of thousands within our revitalized shipyards and for millions of supporting workers offsite. These programs were successful in spite of the limited number of residents in the coastal cities and towns where shipyards were located, because the rapid migration of the unemployed to these coastal localities brought about acute shortages in housing, schools, hospitals and other needed services. It was a perfect example of the “multiplier effect”. Along with the labor force needed for the revitalization of shipyards, millions of additional skilled workers were required to provide necessities within the growing communities.

Were those additional skilled workers engaged in “make work” scams? Not at all. It was the only time in history – ancient history, even – that infrastructure programs were purposeful, and unless funding directed to such programs produces a similar “multiplier effect”, then the money, material and manpower expended will be a total waste.

The “shovel-ready” infrastructure programs being pushed by Congress and Obama’s administration are all nonsense – or worse. No good will ever come from the billions of dollars taxpayers will be required to pay for this latest hoax, so you can forget about any “multiplier effect”. Instead, all these meaningless infrastructure projects will end up as political “sweetheart deals”. You’ll see.