Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The New, New Deal

I was listening to the president elect outline the beginnings of his economic plan. This plan, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, proposes to create (or save) 2.5 million jobs by building roads, bridges, and schools; while also focusing on alternative energy and more efficient cars.  Now a couple of things seemed kind of funny about this to me, so being the kind of person that I am, I had to sit back to think about it.

My first concern was pretty obvious, and it was because of all the comparisons that the media made to this economic plan and FDR’s New Deal. For those of you who don’t spend far too much time reading history books (or watching the History Channel), the New Deal was a series of programs instituted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1936 in an attempt to turn around the country during The Great Depression which began with the stock market crash of 1929. FDR’s programs provided jobs for many people who needed them at the time by massive infrastructure projects like building dams, roads, and bridges. 

Of course this New Deal also created the foundation of the welfare state, strengthened the union’s position in collective bargaining, and created Social Security (but that’s a topic for another day and posting). While these programs did provide jobs for many out of work Americans, they did not however end the Great Depression. Many historians in fact believe that these programs in fact delayed the recovery of the American economy through its interference; and that the Depression only ended when the country entered World War II and went into a wartime economy. 

The second part of this second New Deal is that the infrastructure jobs being proposed seem to me to be predominantly union jobs. Road and bridge repairs are usually done by unionized workers at each state’s respective Department of Transportation. School’s are usually built under government bids, which in non-right to work states like Ohio means that they must pay “prevailing wage” (union scale) and in some cases, must be performed by union workers. The money proposed for creation of fuel-efficient vehicles will undoubtedly go to the Big Three, and not overseas manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, and KIA (who already make such vehicles). 

As a consequence, this money will make its way down to union auto workers. Quite frankly, the only part of this package that doesn’t seem to make its way directly into the hands of union employees is that being directed to alternative energy. I’m not an expert on the subject of alternative energy companies (or anything else for that matter), but based on the other programs I am forced to conclude that I have simply not figured out the union connection to this part of the program and not that there is none. 

I would like to see the president-elect and his economic team come up with some bold new economic initiatives. I would like to see this new administration successful in stimulating the economy, and ending the recent downward spiral. I would also like to see something come from government other than handing out taxpayer dollars in programs designed to benefit only a select type of worker (and I think you know what I mean). I would like our president-elect to show us some real change instead of trotting out tired "old" ideas that didn't work when tried under similar circumstances before I was even born. 

 

4 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Tim,

Remember that no one ever got fired for buying IBM products; the same can also be said for recycling the old WPA game...

As for bold, new ideas, it goes against all that is (labor) union.....

Dawn said...

Amen brother!! We gotta keep saying it....but is anyone listening??

Tim Higgins said...

HT and Dawn,

I am all for recycling, but would prefer that it was done with ideas that worked. I know, pretty quirky on my part...

Roland Hansen said...

Fear itself comes to my mind in this whole economic minefield!