We’re Pretty Annoyed!

We’re in dire straits. We need about 40 million new jobs. When candidate Obama was on the campaign trail he assured us that he would create new jobs. Millions and millions of them.

Since he was elected, however – or appointed , if you will – this country has lost millions of jobs. And once he took over in the “Oval Office” he spent his working hours talking about health care programs, the nation’s deficit, global warming, and just about everything but job creation.

This past Wednesday, however, the president gave an important talk about job creation. He called on Congress to renew legislation critical to the maintenance and improvement of the nation’s highway system, warning that a failure to do so would have disastrous economic consequences.

Obama said that for the nation’s construction workers and their families, the bill represented the difference between making ends meet or not making ends meet.

“It’s inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry that’s already been one of the hardest hit over the last decade,” he said. “It’s inexcusable to cut off necessary investments at a time when so many of our highways are choked off with congestion, when so many of our bridges are in need of repair, when so many commuters depend on reliable public transit, and when travel and shipping delays cost businesses billions of dollars every single year.”

Brendan Buck, a political spokesman for the GOP, blasted Obama’s remarks, calling them a form of political fear-mongering. “No one has ever suggested that the highway bill will be allowed to expire,” Buck said. “These types of scare tactics are irresponsible, transparently political, and needlessly add uncertainty to our economy.” But Mr. Buck should have said something else. He should have asked Mr. Obama why we should waste money on highways and bridges. We already tried that unsuccessful strategy when things were pretty gloomy in the 1930s, he shoulda said.

And he would have hit the nail right on the head. The WPA – known as The Works Progress Administration, The Works Projects Administration, and finally, The Work Projects Administration – was created in 1935 under the New Deal and was meant to stimulate the economy during the Great Depression. But the WPA had numerous critics, the chief objection being that the program wasted federal dollars on many projects that were not needed. Critics referred to it as “We Piddle Along”, “We Poke Along”, or “We Putter Around”.

[Funnyman Billy Loes, the old Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and New York Mets pitcher put it this way: “The Mets is a good thing. They give everybody jobs. Just like the WPA.”]

But did this program solve the unemployment problem? Or did this effort create money-making industries? No, and no. That well-meaning attempt to end joblessness by concentrating money, material and manpower on the nation’s infrastructure didn’t solve the problem then, and that strategy won’t work now, either. Shipbuilding was the only answer then – and it’s the only answer now.