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Monday, August 26, 2013

Civilian Conservation Corps Redux - It's Deja Vu All Over Again At Area 54

The rewiring of America could easily and less-expensively be done with a national service plan like the CCC. 

Besides rebuilding our transportation infrastructure, our electrical grid and fiber optic futures could be secured while simultaneously providing young - and older - with work that anyone would be able to look back on with pride; work that would pay instead of unemployment or other Federal, state, or local aid. Work like our grandfathers were proud to point to and say, "I built that!"

Imagine large tent cities where CCC 'Conservants' come in after a disaster and help communities clean up and rebuild in a matter of weeks rather than long months, or even years like after Katrina. 

Imagine government and industry partnering to provide Master Builders, Master Electricians, Master Masons, Master Plumbers, Master Roofers, Masters of all sort to train apprentices - Conservants - in a trade that they can use the rest of their lives and which will always be needed. 

Imagine that people learn to work together as one rather than pulling each on his own end of the rope so that nothing ever gets done. Imagine those Conservants going back to their communities after their 1-2 years of service to the republic and rather than sowing seeds of discontent, become the new voices of reason, just as millions of our brave warfighters have learned in their times of service.

The Great Recession was far deeper than almost anyone knew. We can point fingers, or we can fix it, but an industrious hand has no time for pointing. 

We have a national need. We have millions still out of work. We have gridlock in Washington, DC. And we have a proud history written in stone, wood, and forestland, the Crown Jewels which are our National Parks. The enduring structures built by our forefathers who served in the CCC are signs that when America wills it, we can - literally, if need be - move mountains. Our will can also protect them. Either way, it takes willpower to do it.

We don't have these testaments to the strength of our American resolve because our leaders thought small. On the contrary, they thought large, they thought in terms of centuries rather than decades, and they thought to wield the greatest weapon in our American arsenal in the war against apathy: American grit.

What we need is a President with the same, built from the steel that Detroit once hammered into the finest cars in the world. We need a President who can grip the reins of this mighty American beast and lead us down the path of renewed national service. 

He or she will certainly face opposition, mainly from Big Business whose current leaders are so blinded by short gains that they can't see the long game. That President will need to channel the man who championed our national park system - Teddy Roosevelt. That President will need to wield the bully pulpit if necessary and not back down from using it. He or she will need to lash opposition with the whip of public shame for failing to take up the cause until such time that they shrink from view and either join the cause, or retire in shame.

Between FEMA, our nation's military, and volunteers with needed skills who can teach Conservants, we can form a cadre.

There are over 11 million unemployed Americans. No single person or politician is to blame for that; we all share in that burden, and in the responsibility for its cause. But it's time to move on. This is how we do it.

       

Some of you will no doubt say that it will cost too much. I answer that by saying that we're already paying it, we should get something for our money. This will have the added value of an ongoing national service program that can help train those who have no plans for college, or help those who do set aside a special educational fund created just for Conservants.

Yes, it will be an enormous undertaking. Yes, it will require building a cadre. Yes, it will require purchasing equipment or repurposing military equipment and then letting our military have the new replacements.

Yes, it will take resolve. Yes, there will be a rocky path. Yes, there will be corruption. Yes, there will be dissent. Yes, there will be every sort of crime committed by the same demographic wherever they are.

Yes, we can do it.

Or, we can sit on our hands and hope this crisis fixes itself.