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Jump Starting the Economy with a Triple Winner

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When egged for more specifics on jump-starting our tottering economy,Obama pulled out some figures, in dollars, in billions actually, that he might need to spend. But what popped from my mind was a program that, devised for the same problem 70 years ago, was a triple winner then, and which I think could used to the same end again.

I suggest that Obama give FDR's CCC program a hard study. While at that time the conservatives looked at the dollars required and shook their heads, now we know we spent a little money for a lot of pay back and it put young people to work exactly when and where it is disparately needed-now. We need bridges repaired before the rest fall down. And the CCCs was a total success because, in addition to what it gave to us, and still is, it gave much to our young workers then: and they loved it.

Those I knew intimately, here in the Northwest, worked in our parks, and you know and I know their condition is even more desparate now than then: As one who has walked on one recently, their disrepair is so bad it is disgusting. As your wheels squish through filth from toilets, the breeze slops the toilet paper against your windshield. Try to walk up a family-style trail and you have to carry your kids, all ages, through brush and trash, on an almost obliterated trail. While our parks aren't the only use we have for -for which to re-organize the CCCs, I speak of them because I know them best.

The CCCs I knew, like my husband, worked in Mount Rainier National Park, our jewel, which still is a jewel because of this program, but will not be much longer without care. These young crews worked hard for six hours building trails and camp facilities, then-they were free to hike and scramble, to make friends and enjoy the clean sparkling rivers and lakes. To these kids, it was a vacation they never forgot. And the work they did was so good that it still stands serving visitors. Standing in cool shade of a stone building CCC crews built 70 years ago studying the pictures of the young crews taken 70 years ago, notice the older workers in the pictures, their leaders. These facilities stand as living testimony to their skill, not just for the beauty of the buildings, but for doing the job with a bunch of kids and whatever they could find on the spot: buildings that have lasted 70 years and will no doubt be standing 70 years from now, if Obama exhibits the wisdom The Roosevelts had.

But at handling these kids from every city and every corner of them, I can't help but cheer. These men finished raising boys into fine men.
In addition to building, the crews took turns cooking. They were paid $30 a month, $25 of which went to their families.This was the Great Depression and those checks often kept families from starvation-and can only hope they will do so again. Some of these young people went directly from the CCCs to jobs due to the skills they learned and to the discipline administered by engineers, army sergeants and unemployed teachers who organized and led them. The leaders were as glad for the work as their young crews, but ask them and they too have only positive memories and stories. The rock buildings and trails in parks are still adding pleasure and offering families vacations that without these park facilities they couldn't afford. Are you having a party for your grandfather? Mention the CCCs and watch dim eyes light up, and listen as they exchange stories of adventure and fun in the CCCs.

Young crews like these, led by such leaders, can repair bridges and roads. I hope Obama has the imagination to fill in more uses. I have little doubt that they can be of use whereever it is needed while learning how to work: and, maybe, how to study. And, perhaps, an at-home military can teach them.

This program we remember as the CCCs was a triple winner then: first for the young crews, second for those who taught them, and finallyfor the Nation which had them.

It was a win-win-win 70 years ago, I have no doubt and it could be used to that end again.

When egged for more specifics on jump-starting our tottering economy, Obama-pulled out some figures, in dollars, in billions actually, that he might need to spend. But what popped from my mind was a program that, devised for the same problem 70 years ago, was a triple winner then, and which I think could used to the same end again. 

   

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Emily saw her first article in print 71 years ago. Subsequently, twenty-six earned awards. Mike Lowry, Stew Udall, then Secretary of the Interior, read her work in Congress Recently, Emily stopped when a voice called, ?Wait, I know who you are!? (more...)
 

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On September 30 OpEd published another of my artic... by emily horswill on Thursday, Oct 2, 2008 at 6:04:32 PM