by Nancy Spannaus
“And we have to get, immediately, the launching of a program which is going to employ, very rapidly—in physical production—at least 2 million Americans. And you’re going to have people understand, in January, that there are going to be 2 million new jobs, in basic economic infrastructure and associated production.”
Once the U.S. banking system has been cleansed of the trillions in toxic waste through bankruptcy reorganization, the Federal government can begin to authorize the issuance of credit, directed primarily to large-scale projects of national, basic infrastructure, such as rail, water, and power systems. The object is not to create jobs, per se, but to put people into productive work re- building the country. This means getting at least 2 mil- lion people immediately employed, with a concentration on young people, along with older people who can serve as the cadre force to help with training the young. Millions more should soon follow.
LaRouche’s approach contrasts sharply with the so- called “green jobs” approach of the Obama Administration—which throws money away by employing people in useless make-work, or even counterproductive jobs. Building acres of solar-panel parks, or wind farms, as the President proposes, is actually a net loss to the economy, because such “energy forms” cost more to produce than they put out in electric power, and actually degrade the physical environment which they are purporting to save. You might as well be digging holes, and filling them in—as that fascist John Maynard Keynes proposed. Instead, LaRouche’s jobs program calls for massive investment in the infrastructure and technologies of the future, concentrating in particular on the need for a rapid expansion in the number of nuclear plants, and for rebuilding the dilapidated transportation system of the country with state-of-the-art magnetic-levitated train systems. While these areas represent the engine of technological growth in productivity for the economy as a whole, there will also be millions of jobs required for urgent tasks such as building hospitals, repairing or constructing new levees on the collapsing U.S. waterways system, and rebuilding decaying urban infrastructure.
One of the major components of such a jobs program must be a new form of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), modelled on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt created back in 1933. As we will describe in more detail below, the CCC played a critical role in taking young people, aged 18 to 25, into a work setting where they were able to learn what it means to produce actual improvements in the physical economy of the nation. Operating in camps, under the supervision of retired military personnel, who were brought out of retirement, more than 3 million young people were trained to be disciplined, productive workers over the course of 1933 to 1941, when the program ended. At that point, many of them were able to march directly out of their camps, into military units ready to deploy for the war against fascism.
While providing work, and a modicum of income, for impoverished, demoralized, jobless youth, FDR’s CCC—which he established within the first 100 days of his Administration—also had an immediately moralizing effect in the communities where the families of these youth lived. They began to see the prospect of a future for their children, and a new social dynamic was created, a dynamic coherent with the traditional American spirit, that all problems can be solved, if we simply roll up our sleeves, and get to work to tackle them.
In proposing to get immediate action in creating millions of CCC-type jobs as soon as this January, LaRouche is aiming to achieve a similar effect—within what will otherwise be an explosive situation of social turmoil and hatred against a government which has betrayed the American people. We will first review the CCC model, and then the infrastructure projects which should immediately be on the agenda.
From the inception of the American Republic, as reflected in the works of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and later, by Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton— to name only a few—the concept of government included the obligation to provide for the improvement of the nation, both its people, and the physical circumstances in which they lived. This was primarily to be done through a credit policy, whereby the relevant government institution provided private citizens with the ability to invest in the future requirements of the nation, to the benefit of all. That benefit was called the “general welfare.”
The commitment to have the government provide such credit was almost always contested, of course, and there were long stretches of the nation’s history when the Constitutional commitment to provide for the general welfare, was not realized. Franklin Roosevelt, who had steeped himself in the study of the Hamiltonian tradition, revived that commitment, under conditions when he could mobilize the population to ram it through. Thus, after having asserted government control over the banking system, through his Bank Holiday and the Banking Act, FDR moved rap- idly to create productive jobs through two measures which were passed by early May 1933—the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The TVA was a long-term project of infrastructure construction in the southeastern United States, one of the poorest regions of the nation, and subject to the ravages of unharnessed nature. While its long-term character and broad scope required a lot of preparation, the TVA ultimately employed thousands, and improved the living conditions of hundreds of thousands, by controlling water flows, and providing cheap electricity for the modernization of life. It reflected FDR’s commitment to upgrading living conditions qualitatively, not just “putting people to work.”
The CCC was explicitly aimed at creating jobs, but again, not just any old jobs with a paycheck. From his own experience in New York State, where he had served as governor (1929-32), FDR understood the need for reforestation, soil conservation, and flood control, and saw the CCC as a means of improving nature through these activities. At the same time, FDR understood that the excruciating poverty and despair among the nation’s young people, aged 18 to 2, had to be reversed, and he saw the establishment of the CCC as a means of doing so. “We are conserving not only our natural resources, but our human resources,” he said in his May 7, 1933 Fireside Chat. The CCC system paid recruits $1 a day, most of which they were required to send home to their families. In addition, the facilities took care of the food, clothing, and health needs of the youth, at what was estimated to be another $1-a-day cost.
The result was phenomenal for the youth and the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people, who came into the program undernourished and discouraged, came out of the camps as healthy, self-disciplined workers. As to their accomplishments, they thinned million acres of trees, stocked almost a billion fish, built more than 30,000 wildlife shelters, dug diversion ditches and canals, and restored Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields. They fought pests, built fire-fighting infrastructure, and they planted trees—millions and millions of trees.
The CCC infrastructure also provided much-needed work and pur-pose for their supervisors, many of whom were also in desperate conditions prior to enlisting in the CCC. Many were quite happy to also teach literacy to the youth, tens of thousands of whom first learned to read while at the CCC camps.
The CCC idea has never really died; it has just lain fallow. A vestige of the program actually still exists, in the form of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), which functions as a part of AmeriCorps, a program started by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The NCCC, like the CCC, has established camps for youth, whom it deploys out to work on various projects. Like the CCC, it employs retired, trained military leaders to organize the youth in military squad formation, usually on short-term assignments to deal with disasters, such as floods and fires.
The weakest aspect of the NCCC program is its limited scope. There are only five residential centers, with approximately 20 youth apiece, each of whom is signed up for ten months. This contrasts with the original CCC sign-up period, which ran for six months—although many of the youth willingly re-enlisted for longer periods of time. Like the original CCC, the NCCC pays a nominal salary to the youth, while providing them with their food, shelter, and health care, for free.
Combined with the Army Corps of Engineers structure, the VISTA program, and the Community Healthcorps, the NCCC provides a framework which could be immediately ramped up to absorb the millions of youth who need to be put to work in physically productive jobs. Facilities could easily be found in abandoned military bases, or deserted living places. Proposals for doing just that were advanced in the Congress during 200, but went nowhere, given the insanity of both the Bush Administration and, later, the Pelosi-dominated Congress.
LaRouche’s plan for reviving the CCC concept calls for a crash program of bringing youth into working on projects for basic economic infrastructure, under the supervision of skilled workers who, themselves, are probably out of work at this point, but who can be mobilized to come either directly into the CCC program, or into firms which would be subcontractors for the national projects. It is clear that these youth will not be able to be immediately very productive; most youth in the current culture don’t know what it means to produce things—even if they once had a job where they could pick up a paycheck.
Thus, a major aspect of the CCC will be combining training with actual labor, ensuring that the youth are building up their capabilities for the future, within the context of mobilizing to accomplish a national mission of reconstructing an infrastructure which has been collapsing for more than 60 years.
One particular target of the recruitment drive will be the inner cities of the country, many of which are largely inhabited by African-American or Hispanic youth who have been left in the most despairing or degrading conditions. Honest unemployment figures, like poverty figures, are very hard to come by in our culture, but some reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that only 13% of youth between the ages of 1 and 19 (who are not in school) are employed. The Mayor of Detroit has also provided a gruesome picture, reporting an unemployment rate of 7% among inner city youth.
These youth are often targetted by piddling make- work job programs, mostly oriented to getting them off the street and providing them some cash. That’s not what they and the nation need! This whole generation needs to learn what work is, develop their minds and their skills, become a part of achieving a mission much larger than themselves. By bringing them into a revived, expanded CCC, they can be pulled out of their demoralization, with a radiating effect back into the communities from which they come.
The new CCC will not only produce real wealth, but a new dynamic of optimistic striving for economic progress, a new sense of morale that problems can be solved. Not since the space program of John F. Kennedy has such a dynamic dominated American culture, and that was murdered by the British-inspired counterculture, the Greens who dominate and threaten us today. Under these conditions, we will again lift our eyes to the stars, preparing to colonize Mars within the century ahead.
Vital Infrastructure Projects
Since the United States has been in a state of infrastructure deficit since the mid-190s, the most crucial question in devising a plan for issuing public credit is, where should the investment most productively be applied? The Army Corps of Engineers regularly puts out a survey of the nation’s infrastructure needs, and has identified projects that would amount to nearly $2 trillion. Some prioritization is obviously needed.
Lyndon LaRouche, the economist with an unmatched track-record of forecasting and mastery of economic science, has answered that question by specifying two crucial areas: 1) transportation systems, especially high- speed rail; and 2) power systems, with an urgent focus on nuclear power. Without the massive upgrading in productivity which investment in these two areas will cause, the U.S. cannot jump start a real recovery. We are already suffering insane bottlenecks in both these areas, which waste valuable man-hours—among other destructive effects—and, when we actually return to physical economic growth, the shortfalls in electricity and transport will be even greater. Note, just in passing, that the most modern train system in the U.S., between Washington, D.C. and New York, recently ground to a near halt due to a power shortage. What a wake-up call!
Projects in these areas of transport and power should be identified for every state of the union, LaRouche argues. Federal credit will be issued for the projects, which will employ the CCC workers directly, but also issue contracts to private enterprises that will do the support work required for the jobs. Given the way in which the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy has been deliberately taken down, there will be a premium on reopening and retooling factory facilities, which will undoubtedly require the kind of improvisional, creative approach that characterized the Second World War mobilization.
It will also be necessary to bring skilled engineers, machinists, and others out of retirement, in order to train the next generation of workforce. Our entire economy, oriented as it has been to “greening,” and post-industrial services, has left our nation tragically short of the skills required to make the necessary investments, but, as we, as a nation, have shown before, this can be overcome under the proper leadership.