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josie's avatar

Would the current generation of Americans respond well to a modern version of the WPA?

Asked by josie (30931points) March 18th, 2020

FDR established the WPA during the Great Depression

Americans out of work could draw a salary, out of the US Treasury, in exchange for working on infra-structure projects, like dams and highways and the like.

Given the current circumstances, if nearly all commerce had to shut down, would Americans sign on to a program that offered a paycheck in exchange for infrastructure work?

I wonder.

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20 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think so.
If they want to pay the bills.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The situation here is different. The disease may indeed trigger a depression. But we don’t want people concentrating ANYWHERE.

josie's avatar

Why not
If they earn the money, why does it matter where it is earned?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Crowds spread disease! When & if the outbreak has swept past us is the time to have such programs in place. This also holds true for attempts to compensate people with cash. We have weeks, possibly months in which to work on recovery strategies. As it is, measures must be taken to counter the reality of so many of us living right on the edge in the midst of what Trump
called “the best economy in history” These shelter in place orders, and closings of so many businesses and services makes for catastrophic consequences for the paycheck to paycheck subset of our economy, and that subset is enormous.

josie's avatar

I get that. And you are correct.

But I am talking about after the crisis passes, but the economy needs a way to recover momentum.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes, one thing is rather clear. Trump will be compelled to burden our credit card well beyond Obama’s record.

seawulf575's avatar

I think there would be several groups of people here. The first would be people who want to be paid for doing nothing. Then there would be a group with a rash of excuses why they couldn’t physically do the work. Then it would finally get down to the ones that would be willing to work to earn their pay. And that would be the ones currently doing that…working to earn their pay…but can’t because their job disappeared.

ucme's avatar

I know one thing, if this generation had experienced a world war, we’d all be fucked!

Patty_Melt's avatar

Have you seen YT EVER??!!??
Can you see any of these people involved in such ventures?

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. Almost every country, will be affected, by this virus. Maybe one, will figure out how to jump start a staggering economy. Perhaps. Providing a road map…

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

We’re going to have to gather in groups again eventually. Just like the world recovered from the plagues and the 1918 flu and polio epidemics.

My grandparents were all about 18 at that time. It would be interesting to hear their memories of how people regained confidence again.

Patty_Melt's avatar

The one thing they have going for them is one thing elders have been so concerned about. Social media. Our youth find the comfort of friends through their devices. They probably can handle voluntary isolation best of anyone.
I can’t see many stepping up though, and putting themselves physically into economic recovery. They are quick to assign themselves to a cause verbally, but backing themselves with action is not something I see much of.

seawulf575's avatar

@Patty_Melt as to your YT examples, I’d probably sell tickets to see them when they were told they HAD to do actual work. But here’s the scary thought…could you imagine the quality of the work they would do? I wouldn’t trust them to drop a brick much less build something of quality.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Bricklayers? I mean, what’s the big deal, right? I mean, drop some goop on a brick, and stack another brick on that, right? I mean, how hard can that be?
Of course I would never do it because, wow, that goop looks dirty!

seawulf575's avatar

I know that during the last WPA, many, MANY, brick roads were laid. And what is most amazing is how long they held up. Usually they ended up having to be repaved not because the bricks wore out, but because the ground under them got various sink holes and low spots.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If history’s any indication, they will.

Patty_Melt's avatar

When I was a pre teen I lived in Ottumwa Iowa for a couple of years. That is where Tom Arnold is from, and the character Radar O’Reilly was from.
There were several brick streets there. Some were left just brick, s I me had blacktop put over the bricks. As potholes formed, the bricks would become exposed. I loved riding over those because it made a cool plip plip plip sound. I didn’t like going on them with my bike though, because it always made me need to pee.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The old Charleston peninsula, has lots of cobblestone streets. There’s not much of a reason for speed limits. If you go over 10 mph, it’ll destroy your vehicle, and rattle your teeth out…

There are brick roads too. Some are pretty nice. Some…

My father is a former drill sergeant. When I was growing up, I had to dig ditches, chop down trees (and cut up, and split the wood.)I had to build fences, which began with using a post hole digger (a Hellish tool,) and involved cutting wood (with a hand saw,) and LOTS of nailing.

I remember the drill we had was so old, it was driven by a hand crank. Every shovel. Every tool, was very old. So. I got plenty of splinters, and various injuries.
Our axes, were very old. When the axe head got beyond sharpening, my father would make a big fire. He would get it good and hot, then throw the axe head in the fire. It would take a while, but eventually, the axe head would be glowing red.
Then. He’d take it out, and pound the blade flat. Then we would sharpen it, and put it on a new axe handle.
There were more efficient tools available. And, easier ways to do things. But… He made me do things, the older ways…

When I was in my late teens, I was a roofer/painter/construction worker.
My boss, was similar to my father. Even though nail guns were available, we used hammers.
Power sanders, paint sprayers, etc, were all available. But… We used paint scrappers, and paint brushes. Whatever was the cheapest. And my boss would yell at us, if we didn’t do things fast enough, or if the work didn’t turn out well.
In case you haven’t had the pleasure. Putting tar on roof, in a Charleston summer, is just awful. We used scolding hot tar, and application was done with a 30 year old mop. Of course, it was also like 100° outside, and we had to carry the hot tar up long ladders, in 5 gallon buckets.
It was brutal. To say the least.

It’s very difficult for me, to think of younger people (today,) doing all this stuff…

Patty_Melt's avatar

I remember using a hand drill. Fun if you only use it for small projects. I wouldn’t want to use one all day.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I never enjoyed using it. And sharpening the bit, by hand, is no fun…
Using the hand crank drill, on a ladder, is no fun either…

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