Our economy is in the sewer – people’s IRA’s and 401Ks are dissolving into smoke, our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, and unemployment numbers are near all time highs. It’s like we are all riding on a runaway train, with nobody at the controls. I keep thinking that maybe we need to bring back the old Depression-era WPA.

Launched in 1935, the Works Progress Administration, later renamed the Works Projects Administration, provided employment for millions of Americans, who built roads, bridges, public buildings, and parks. By the time the program ended in 1943, over eight million Americans had been put to work. In many towns in America today, libraries and courthouses erected by WPA workers are still in use.

The way I see it, we have millions of Americans who cannot find work, that are receiving unemployment or welfare benefits. And while we do have a certain percentage of welfare rats in that number, who do not want to better themselves, we have millions who just cannot find a job, because there are so few jobs available.

In the meantime, we have crumbling roads, bridges that are in danger of collapse, and public buildings that are falling apart. One recent report says that one in nine bridges in the United States is in danger of collapse.

Why can’t we put those unemployed citizens back to work, rebuilding our own country? We’re paying them anyway. Let’s get something out of it. Lord knows we spend billions rebuilding every Third World country around the globe, and get nothing back in return except scorn and hatred. Let’s put some of that money back into our own nation.

Think about it – instead of pouring American dollars into other countries, if we used that money rebuilding America, we could reduce unemployment because the people who are receiving some form of public assistance would have jobs, and the companies that supply the materials and equipment needed for those public works projects are making money and providing even more jobs. Jobs mean money, which means people start spending it, resulting in even more jobs in stores, factories, and restaurants. People could start paying for their homes, instead of seeing them foreclosed on. And the end result is that our economy would recover.

Now, I admit that I’m no economist, and maybe I am oversimplifying things, but wouldn’t we all be better off if we tried it? Isn’t it better to spend those billions of dollars in our own country, to improve our standard of living, instead of sending it overseas to make life better for the people there?

I’m sure some of you are saying “Hey Bad Nick, we’re broke. How do we pay for all of this?” Well, being broke has never stopped us from spending money we don‘t have overseas. So let’s spend the money we don’t have here, instead.

At this point, what do we have to lose?        

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31 Comments on Should We Bring Back The WPA?

  1. Dale says:

    Yes, or something that works the same way! A bill has already been introduced in the Senate to this effect – to be paid for by increasing the tax rate of millionaires and billionaires. As some of our congress folk have said – this country has made them rich and they should be giving their fair share back.

    By increasing jobs, we increase the tax revenue base and we provide customers for business who would then be looking to expand to service their customers.

  2. Rachel Dewiere says:

    I’d love to see that happen but I don’t think it ever will in this country ever again. Between those welfare rats you mentioned, with their sense of entitlement, and the ultra rich who want things to stay just like they are, the good people caught in the middle do not stand a chance.

  3. Linda says:

    Good idea, Nick. I keep saying that welfare recipients should have to work for their money (and take random drug & alcohol tests too). Anyone able bodied should have to participate or lose benefits…even those who have made a career of collecting benefits for the last three generations. And able-bodied means they have the use of their arms, legs and eyes…just because you have aches and pains doesn’t get you exempted. EVERYONE who works has aches & pains of some sort. My Grandpa worked for the WPA during the Depression doing road work to earn money to feed his family. If it was good enough for him it’s good enough for anybody. Now let’s see if our politicians have the guts to do it….and not necessarily by raising taxes on the rich, but by cutting foreign aid & spending on foreign wars and using our tax money right here at home for a change.

  4. Greg White says:

    Taxing millionaires and billionaires won’t work. According to the IRS there are 8274 taxpayers in the US who make more than $10 million a year.

    These 8274 taxpayers make about $240 billion a year total.

    If you taxed them at 100%, i.e. took everything they made for the year, it would run the US Government for 24 DAYS. Not even a month.

    And of course, this would make absolutely no headway toward our $14 TRILLION national debt.

    So, does a 100% tax rate qualify as their “fair share”?

    BTW This info is from the UK Daily Mail.

  5. Allan says:

    This USA has been chasing businesses out of the country for years with more government regulations, high labor and benefits, taxes, etc. We should not raise taxes on the business owners that can put people back to work. Put in place something like the Fair Tax and cut the red tape for businesses. Open more oil and gas drilling in our country so that we are not so dependent on other countries. Business would start booming again without adding extra taxes and we could start paying down our debt. The WPA idea would add more people to the government payroll. We don’t need to add to our already terribly high deficit. The last stimulus was a failure We don’t need a repeat.

  6. Mark says:

    Nick;You have opened a can of worms about the size of one of those fuel drums we see outside of our window while traveling gown the highway.
    I typed a comment to your “Blog” and had to delete it all because this subject just makes me so mad that I get lost in my thoughts.
    Bottom line:
    This country very much needs to be hungry to the point that either one works and eats or goes hungry.
    The system as it is now is:
    Eat,multiply, and eat again.Oh and multiply again…
    Vote for me!
    It’s all FREE!!!!
    Hey,ya want to advertise my new invention,sight unseen?
    Matk T.

  7. Bill says:

    Businesses HAVE been booming Allen. U.S. corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains. So, where are the private sector jobs Allen?? And where are your facts on the last stimulas Allen?? Where do you think the economy would have been without the stimulus? And what about the “business owners” stimulus money bailed out Allen?? Where are the jobs they should have created with the stimulus money they took?? Corporate profits steadily increased last year as companies continued holding onto record amounts of cash and other liquid assets while cutting costs. And businesses have been leaving the US to take advantage of cheap labor (Mexico, etc) for years. No one has been “chasing” them out of the country.

    A WPA style public works program makes sense, notwithstanding the politics of funding. It is not something for nothing. The infrastructure, for one, in this country is abysmal. Putting people to work on these projects would not only help unemployment numbers, it would also have tangible benefits of repairing the infrastructure.

    And, here’s an idea… bring our troops home and turn that massive spending into public works. Make our “national guard” a “national” guard again, instead of sending them to civil wars around the world.

    Bill in Neb

  8. Sandy Stoltz says:

    I totally agree with your idea Nick. And very well said “Bill”…ditto

  9. Francis Callahan says:

    I can rembeer seeing great paintings in several post offices in new england when growing up that were painted during the depression by wpa people we also have some very nice parks and campgrounds that the CCC boys built maby we should bring both back keep unenployed people off the streets

  10. Jim Melvin says:

    I think it is a great idea, but the problem is we will never get our congress to vote for it. They cannot totally agree on anything any more. I can’t wait until the next election. If I see the word “incumbent” next to any name I am going to vote for someone else no matter who it is. They are all worthless!!!

  11. Gene T says:

    It won’t fly today!

    The people will object to spending “WPA monies” on stuff like city, state and national parks because we don’t need it.

    To spend “WPA monies” on “needed infracture” projects would be unacceptable to the unions, as it replaces a potential union worker with a non-union worker.

    We were on a tour of China 8 years ago. The street sweeping was done by hand, one laborer per block. No million dollar machines to buy, just a push broom and dust pan.


  12. Elaine & Mike says:

    It is a great idea, but I doubt it would work with the dead beat welfare bums. Most know nothing but hand outs from our government. California tried a similar program a few years ago an it was a total bust, many of them that did go to work did not last long they either quit because the work was to hard or were fired.

  13. Jim Gass says:

    Nick, I have been telling people that for years. Only I have been saying bring back the CCC. After camphosting on the C & O Canal for the summer, I think they should redredge the canal some and fill it with water so people could paddle their canoes and kyacks down it. It is a beautiful National Landmark. I also agree with you 100%.

  14. Connie Bradih says:

    WPA is a great idea. It would be wonderful to get young people into the program for two years. Let them learn about work and get paid a salary. And the country would get some of our infrastructure fixed.

    About taxing the rich, What is rich? Someone who makes $100,000 a year, more, less? Or rich is having a million dollar net worth, more or less? Why should “the rich” pay a greater percent of their salary or net worth into the government than other people?

    Right now just about 50% of those people who file income tax returns pay NO INCOME TAX at all. And how many people don’t even file? So, “the rich,” those that do pay income tax (is that the definition of rich?) pay ALL the income tax. And you want them to pay more?

    How about EVERYONE should pay income tax?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    What a novel idea. I think everyone who makes over say $20,000 a year should pay 10% of their salary (income) in income tax. Or perhaps get rid of income tax and have a use tax. 10% on every item you buy except food.

    When people PAY into the system they have a more vested interest in what happens in their country. I believe, everyone should pay something to help support their country.

    And by the way, if you keep taxing “the rich” they will simply move their business and their home out of the country to somewhere else (another country). Business is already doing this. It’s called out sourcing. You want “the rich” to keep their business and themselves here, paying taxes, you need to be FAIR to them. If they made the money, why are they supposed to “SHARE” most of it with the people who haven’t made money.

    The rewards of capitalism and democracy are the ability to make something of yourself by WORKING, MAKING MONEY and BEING ABLE TO USE THAT MONEY ANYWAY YOU WANT. Other wise it’s socialism. Since we just visited Europe again, I’m definitely NOT in favor of that.

    It’s so easy to want some one else to to pay taxes but we don’t like it when ours go up. Well EVERYONE needs

  15. Bill says:

    This isn’t (or shouldn’t be) an issue about welfare. NIck was correct in his premise, but wrong in bringing welfare into the topic. Welfare is a separate program from a public works project. WPA was not welfare. It was in fact a program to put the unemployed to work on projects that were substantial and made tremendous improvements to the country. We are enjoying the benefits of WPA and CCC today.

    And Elaine & Mike… here are the facts and misinformation on welfare:


    Bill in Neb.

  16. Carl says:

    If I remember history correct the supreme court ruled against the wpa which is what ended that. If they would of given that stimulis money equally to all tax filers can you think what that would of done.I have always heard you can’t over tax a rich man he has to many options with his money. Think about who pays those taxes when we tax business.

  17. Llana Nixon says:

    About those welfare rats:

    About 30 years ago, I worked for my state’s welfare department directly with, and made home visits to, the neediest among us, so I have a different view of “welfare rats”.

    At that time, 75% of the individuals receiving public aid were CHILDREN.

    I wish the anger directed at “those deadbeats on welfare” would somehow address the fact that most people on welfare actually are disabled, chronically ill, permanently injured on a job with no benefits and no health insurance, truly innocent and often-hungry babies and other children, the elderly without any resources of their own, parents giving 24-hour care to their own special needs children, and many other types of Americans truly in need.

    Absolutely, any abuse of the system should be stopped. But most applicants who apply for help are in desperate need and deserve compassionate assistance. And a large percentage of the needy are actually hungry children. Not EVERYONE on welfare drives a Cadillac and fraudulently abuses the system, in spite of what you may have heard to the contrary.

  18. Stan McKay says:

    Actually Carl, WPA ended in 1943 because World War II was going on and there were plenty of jobs available in defense plants, and men going into the military, so it was no longer needed.

    How did this blog go from bringing back a public works program to a debate on taxing the rich? I did not see anything about that in the blog.

  19. WPA is a good idea, as long as there are projects that some of the lesser skilled (e.g. engineers, rocket scientists, etc.) can do. Another good idea was mentioned — reduce the useless paperwork, reporting, etc., that businesses, medical offices, and others have to do to satisfy government agencies!

  20. Mary Ann Hunter says:

    My father always talked about working for the WPA as a young man during the Depression and how without it the family would have starved. He said the pay was decent and he learned a lot of skills that helped him later in life. He was always proud to point at the library here in town and telling us he helped build it. I agree that we should bring it back and fix our highways and bridges etc. As for the comment that Unions wold object, the greedy Unions have been part of what got us into this mess in the first place, and are part of the reason American jobs go overseas.

  21. Rex says:

    Stop all foreign aid immediately!
    Close all overseas military bases, bring back what is ours and burn what is left, destroy the runways and plant grass.
    Bring our troops home from around the world.
    Throw out the Geneva Convention.
    Throw the U.N. out.
    Get out of NATO.
    Mandatory drug testing for all on welfare, test positive and lose all benefits for life.
    Have more than one child while on welfare and both parents get sterilized.
    Throw out those that are here illegally.
    Bad Nick is right on the money and I think the above would help too.

  22. Linda Sand says:

    Who gets to decide which projects are priority? There are so many of them. I’m from Minneapolis where the I-35 bridge fell and people died. We drove over that bridge a week before it fell. Local Government knew it was in bad shape but didn’t want to spend the money to fix it. How will we get national government to agree to spend money on those projects? I’ve said many times and will continue to say, we are in the “decline and fall of the US Empire” stage of government. We are the country with the oldest continuous form of government; it is our turn. I’m glad we don’t have grandkids.

  23. Dennise says:

    Gee, socialists, all of ya’s.


  24. Leroy Hallis says:

    Soembody asked how we fund something like this. Just like Nick, said, we are already paying the people in one form or another, whether it is welfare or unemployment. The only change is that they have to work for what they get. Nothing wrogn with that. And if we stop spending all of our money to help other countries we’d have plenty to bebuld America.

    I liked what Linda said about aches and pains and I agree. Since when is that an excue not to work? We all have them, and the best way to deal with a lot of them is to get off our duff and do something@!

  25. bucky says:

    Great idea Nick, everytime I enjoy the forests in upper Michigan.. I remember my mothers brother talking about the time he spent in the CC group reforesting the woods in the state. He later joined the US Army, and served as a medic untill wounded at Iwo Jima…..

  26. Bob Plaskon says:

    Nick, great concept, however it would be blocked by most labor unions. And for that reason alone, it would never get off the ground. And their “chant” would be it’s taking jobs away!!

  27. T & R Martin says:

    * * * * * * * * * IF MISSION IS ACCOMPLISHED * * * * * * *

  28. Rob Fox says:

    All that most people ask for is an opportunity to work for a fair wage to feed, cloth and house their family. The fact is that such opportunities are in very serious decline.

    Corporations are expecting US citizens to purchase products manufactured in low cost locations whilst making ever decreasing contributions to the US economy. (employment or taxes)

    And such is their greed that they do anything and everything possible to obscure their objectives. They will not stop until the last drop has been squeezed from this human resource. They will not bother to re-plant or re-grow. They will simply move on to the next victim.

    One of the age old tactics of the war is to “divide and conquer”. Ensure that any opposition is fighting each other.

    Put in place a sub-set of wannabes to do the dirty work. And so we have fully paid up elected politicians.

    Control the popular media so that the desired “truth” is told.

    Above all else, keep the population in fear of the unknown.

    Yes WPA is needed right now. But it is not the answer to your problems.

    Wake up America. Stop blaming the poor and dispossessed. Turn your attention to the rich and powerful.

    I am not a religious man but, in this largely Godly country, I am increasingly asking the question: “What would the man they called Jesus have to say?”

  29. Denise Gray says:

    Firs, the majority of people on welfare at this point are there because they physically cannot work. We got rid of the deadbeats a long time ago, thank goodness! I agree with Connie. Make everyone pay taxes. I don’t care how much you make, everyone should at least pay $52 dollars a year! That is only a dollar a week. Everyone can afford that and you don’t appreciate what you get for free! I love it what I hear Mitt Romney say that he wants to give tax breaks for health insurance. If 49% of all citizens do not pay taxes, who is going to get the tax breaks! What a mess! I love the WPA idea, especially after driving across terrible roads and scary bridges! We allowed all the jobs to go overseas, and now it is coming back to haunt us!It’s really too bad that our elected officials can’t seem to get their act together to fix our problems instead of worrying about the next election!

  30. A & J says:

    Rob, I don’t usually bring up religious points on a forum like this because it tends to stir up radical view points and someone gets all bent out of shape. I am not going to get drawn into an arguement. You brought it up so I will respond although I am not the voice of God I have read what Jesus said and did. Jesus loved the sick and poor and had compassion for them. Jesus also loved the rich and knew that they too had problems. He did not try to start a class warfare. Read all the Bible and you would be amazed at the love and the logic. Some people try to pick out one or two verses to support their pre conceived ideas and distort the real message. The bottom line for this blog topic is: [Don’t put your trust in the government to solve your problems. Put your trust in God]

  31. Kevin says:

    WPA and CCC – Yes. EVERY aid recipient should work for that aid. Practically anyone, regardless of any handicap, can do something to help pay back.

    How about a federal sales tax? Make the essentials, food and clothing, exempt. That way it is not regressive against the poor or less fortunate. Those drug dealers, professional athletes, politicians, movie stars and CEOs spend a lot of money. Get the taxes due with a federal sales tax. If you only buy the essentials, you pay no taxes.

    No IRS.

    You earn $10 per hour, you take home $10 per hour. You spend it, you pay your taxes. You put it in the bank, no taxes.

    Seems too simple for Washington to get.

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