"Great Achievements in American Socialism"


I yield to no man in my love for LaGuardia's Marine Air Terminal. A few years back, when I was flying frequently between New York and D.C., the Delta shuttle offered "youth" tickets. For less than $50 a pop, I not only got to NYC toot sweet, I also had the great luck of skipping over the main terminals at hellish LaGuardia, in favor of breezing though this lovely freestanding Deco-filled structure which catered exclusively to the Shuttle set.

However, contra an article/slide show in today's Salon, this does not mean that socialism is a good idea.

The slide show's author, Mark Schone, offers "two dozen excellent things the federal government bought with your money" as a kind of visual quasi-defense of "red, white, and blue 'socialism'" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Works Progress Administration. Exhibiting these aesthetically-pleasing edifices is supposed to help cast a rosy (pinko?) glow on some of President Obama's plans.

But the squabble over the New Deal isn't whether the WPA made some nice buildings—Schone's selections certainly are lovely, and I always enjoy a nice slide show. It's about the what that money could have been doing instead. In the absence of a WPA, Astoria would still have pools, Oregon would have hotels ("lodges," even), Oakland would still have a courthouse, and Louisiana State would certainly still have a football stadium. Fresno would have its auditoriums, Salmon, Idaho, its city hall. They might have been built later, people might have made do with less glamorous facilities during the 1930s. But all the money that went to stonework and gilding might have done more good if it had been left in taxpayers pockets. Someone would probably even have snapped some photos of gaunt women without government dollars. 

The first iteration of the Baseball Hall of Fame is also on Schone's list. Perhaps that is supposed to make us feel better about the Mob Museum?