What is it with these people?
Here\’s a suggestion: in the 1930s, with the centre of the country devastated by dust storms, with coastal erosion, and with an underfunded national parks infrastructure, Roosevelt\’s administration created the Civilian Conservation Corps, blending environmentalism with public works. Huge numbers of young Americans were put to work salvaging endangered local environments, bulking up the country\’s environmental infrastructure, and building trails, coastal resorts, campgrounds and the like, that, three generations later, still enrich our collective experience.
Today, the Gulf Coast\’s wetlands and marshes are being inundated with crude oil, and, despite the thousands of volunteers and paid workers engaged in clean-up activities, news reports continue to show evermore damage being inflicted on these beautiful, and ecologically vital, coastal areas. At the same time, around the country state parks are being closed and the services offered in those that remain open pared back, as a result of brutal state budget crises. Flood protection systems in many regions are dilapidated. And large numbers of polluted Superfund sites remain unrepaired and dangerous.
Given the public anger at Big Oil these days, as well as the staggering number of unemployed Americans, the administration would be wise to harness this anger in order to push for a modern-day Civilian Conservation Corps. In a very limited way, the Clinton-era AmeriCorps programme performs this role; but the numbers of people who go through the programme are relatively small and the breadth of its activities is somewhat narrow.
Why not marshal public fury at the Gulf oil disaster to generate funds for a huge new environmental corps, capable of hiring, and training, hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans?
Do they want to restart the production lines of socialist realist art or something? Buff peasants and proletarians looking to the new dawn?
Look bubbas, the technology of the 1930s was still pretty minimal. An army of labourers using picks, shovels and backs was not notably less productive than the more mechanised methods of the time.
But today? What in hell are you thinking? We\’ve had another 80 years of mechanisation and automation. Chiselled abs are gained in the gym these days, not shifting a tonne or two of dirt a day. That tonne or two being what our, 80 year on, mechanised methods can shift in 15 seconds.
There just isn\’t anything for an army of unskilled labour to do out there, nothing that we cannot do more efficiently at least.
Jeebus, you\’ll be suggesting that everyone go out into the fields to help get the crops in next, just like they do in Cuba…..oh, wait…..