The “New” New Deal and the Mystery Revealed

I know we have all had thoughts or ideas that when first “hatched” seemed like the perfect answer to whatever question we had that produced the thought in the first place. In my own life, often after the idea is birthed, I marvel at it for a moment or two and then let it slide into that place where these types of things seem to get stored or stuck—seldom will it ever see the light of day again.

I have wondered in times past if this is one of major differences between me and someone who is a millionaire—just having sold his little business idea to a bigger company—and that is the fact of taking further action on the thought or idea itself. I guess that is why I like blogging so much—I can develop an idea in a few short paragraphs and then move on to the next thought or idea—never having fully plumbed the depths of what I have opened up. Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? Almost scary!

Yet I digress.

While on my recent train ride to New York City, I was witness to what I perceived to be the decay of what was once a vibrant industrial complex—a complex that during its time, touched every area of our lives. It was the train that opened up mass markets and rapid transit and in so doing allowed us to become a nation that every other nation in the world wanted to emulate—at least financially. I am not a history major—my high school class was taught by a football coach—and I may be off base, but I do believe that America, at one time, set the pace for everybody else to follow.

At the end of my last post, I posed this question: what do FDR, Lady Bird
Johnson, the World Trade Center and global warming have in common? Carey and DED, friends and readers of LFTLR, took the challenge and offered up their best inventive guesses. And both get “A’s” for effort and aplomb. After hearing their answers I had to admit that even the question itself was vague and that often I have no idea how thoughts seem to fit together in my mind and therefore should not have expected anyone to go where I wasn’t even to sure I was going myself.

As I looked out the train window into an American landscape that was sometimes much less than lovely—I had this thought—and here is where I try an explain how it all fits.

America is in crisis and needs a vision that we can all take part in and benefit from. Just as FDR created the New Deal, which was—”…the name that United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to a sequence of programs he initiated between 1933 and 1938 with the goal of giving work (relief) to the unemployed, reform of business and financial practices, and recovery of the economy during The Great Depression”—and Lady Bird Johnson created the Highway Beatification Act which: “…called for improving landscaping, removing billboards, and screening roadside junkyards”—so can we create a means of restoring America to its former beauty.

As a people and as a nation we are very short-sighted—we only buy fuel efficient cars when the cost of fuel rises above the comfort level. Our re-cycling efforts don’t get much push and as for developing alternative energy sources, we are content to sit back and let the free market create them—and as we all know, until there is substantial acceptance and profit in so doing, not much will happen that will help us out of our current crisis.

And in light of our most recent financial flareups, I have to ask, as an aside, who is really looking out for you and me? Greed and avarice seem to prevail and our substantial sub-prime woes have just about brought his once great nation to its knees.

As I viewed the wasting of America I also thought about FDR’s New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a work relief program for young men from unemployed families, established on March 21, 1933, by Roosevelt and designed to combat unemployment during the Great Depression. The CCC became one of the most popular New Deal programs among the general public and operated in every U.S. state.

In rapid-fire-fashion I thought about the tenacity with which the cleanup program progressed at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attack. Granted, the quick cleanup had more to its method and scope than just getting rid of the debris (I can still not fully understand the utter devastation in building and life), yet the process that was used showed what an organized effort could produce in very short order.

So here we are: Houston, we have a problem. What do we do about it. And in this sense, it is much like global warming—scientists say we will face dire consequences unless we do something about it—yet the effects, like the prospect of high gas prices years ago—are so far away as to allow us to simply ignore them. Yes, if they are right, we will pay—yet not in our lifetimes. People knew the levies around New Orleans would fail—it was jut a matter of “when” nature would point out that building below sea level might not be such a good idea. Yet we will fight for their “right” to build there and then are expected to pick up the bill when it all goes berserk. And I am really not that political—yet a chord in my heart has seemingly been struck.

My proposal is this—and I know there are many obstacles to its fulfillment—create a new CCC and hire unemployed people to clean up America, tear down all those old buildings and plant trees, flowers and grass and create parks for people to gather together in to discuss our collective future. I can see neighborhood cookouts, music festivals, yard sales and small children learning to ride their two-wheelers.

And as Carey has commented, I will so end this thought:

“Good night, America, how are you?
Don’t you know me, I’m your native son,
I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans,
I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Thank you Arlo, Carey and Ded.

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6 Responses to The “New” New Deal and the Mystery Revealed

  1. Carey says:

    Yes, it looks like the pendulum is swinging back in the CCC direction, and we know that the guy laying out the New Deal now is not Roosevelt; It almost seems to be a “perfect storm” that is disrupting our 60 year repose, and provoking us to plant trees (and other public works) where dirty old railyards and superfund sites in need of mega-cleaning now obstruct our 21st century notions of environmental harmony. It seems the name of that newer deal leader drifts in the wind of our sensibilities, and it rhymes with what we are now seeing on the world economic stage–a truly historic drama!

  2. I chuckled at Carey’s creative comment. And I like the idea of another clean-up and rebuilding operation. I wonder if it really will happen, and whether or not it would work. But I like the way you’re thinking… And I couldn’t even possibly attempt an answer to the question, so I remained silent! 🙂

  3. Terry Henry says:

    When I asked a couple of my work friends what they thought of FDR, both seemed to think that he was the right man for the job at that particular time in our nation’s history. It could work but we have come a long way from Roosevelt’s time and any forward movement government-wise would probably get stuck in some committee somewheres. Thanks for stopping by during your busy ride. I have been listening to Darren Hufford and he is quite a trip—how does he put it “you can’t tame that which is meant to be wild!”

  4. ded says:

    I like your thinking, Terry! It makes more sense than what is going on in Washington these days. At least somebody gets work and something tangible happens in your plan.Keep up the blogging!

  5. Hi Terry,”…create a new CCC and hire unemployed people to clean up America, tear down all those old buildings and plant trees, flowers and grass and create parks for people to gather together in to discuss our collective future.”Isn’t that what the AmeriCorps is supposed to be doing?

  6. Terry Henry says:

    I had not even heard of them…but I don’t get around much.Their website says:AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America. As an AmeriCorps member, you can:
    Tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth
    Fight illiteracy
    Improve health services
    Build affordable housing
    Teach computer skills
    Clean parks and streams
    Manage or operate after-school programs
    Help communities respond to disasters
    Build organizational capacity

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