Bring back the WPA

November 04, 1991

The greatest idea we've heard from a politician in a long time is Gov. William Donald Schaefer's order to his state minions to get on the stick with capital projects in order to create jobs, stimulate the economy and rebuild the state's infrastructure.

The problem is, a governor can do only so much along that line. What's needed is for President Bush and Congress to push Schaefer's idea on a national scale.

Why not dust off and redeem the old New Deal idea of the Works Progress Administration? There's hardly a community in America today that can't point to some local facility or institution that was built by the WPA -- a water works, a public park or some similar undertaking that is still serving well after 50 years.

In a sense, all through the '80s we had a massive public works VTC project: It was called the military buildup, for which we are now $2 trillion in debt. Not only has that arsenal been costly to build; we are now told that it will be costly to dismantle as well.

But at last the nation seems to be coming to its senses and calling a halt to pouring yet more billions down the rathole of useless military devices. House and Senate negotiators did a great days' work when they agreed to suspend any further purchases of the B-2 Stealth bomber -- aircraft that would cost $850 million each and no longer have any purpose in the modern world.

That indefatigable arms collector, Casper Weinberger, used to argue that defense spending was good for the economy. Well, in a sense, he was right; any spending will stimulate the economy. It's just that when we have the choice, common sense would dictate that we spend that money on something of lasting value.

Why not a modern version of the WPA to rebuild the collapsing infrastructure of the nation?

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