Progressives Propose Rebirth of Civilian Conservation Corps

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Progressives evidently intend to resurrect every aspect of the hallowed New Deal. Just 37 days after his inauguration, FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps to control erosion, build fire roads, and plant trees. The CCC moved hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men from cities in the East to forests out West. As the adulatory CCC Legacy site explains:

ccc

Eventually there would be camps in all states and in Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. By the end of 1935, there were over 2,650 camps in operation in all states. California had more than 150. Delaware had three. CCC enrollees were performing more than 100 kinds of work.

Enrollees numbering 505,782 occupied these camps. Other categories, such as officers, supervisors, educational advisors and administrators swelled the total to more than 600,000 persons.

Now the Center for American Progress along with 80 other progressive organizations is proposing the creation of the Clean Energy Corps. As the press release explains:

The Clean Energy Corps is a bold proposal that combines job creation, service, and training to combat global warming, grow local economies, and create green pathways out of poverty. The CEC aims to launch a national effort to comprehensively apply cost-effective, energy-efficiency measures - from adding insulation to replacing inefficient boilers - to over 15 million existing buildings. 

"At a time of severe hardship in the construction sector, retrofitting residential buildings to cut energy use can save consumers money, expand economic growth, reduce pollution, and create jobs," said Bracken Hendricks, senior fellow at Center for American Progress.

By retrofitting millions of structures, the Clean Energy Corps will create at least 600,000 living-wage, career-track jobs in green industries, train people for them, and directly engage millions of Americans in diverse service-learning and volunteer work related to climate protection…

The CEC will work with employers, unions, educators and community organizations to offer job training and job placement programs.  It will also work to engage disconnected youth and jobseekers from disadvantaged communities and connect them to further education and training that result in industry-recognized credentials and places them on sustainable career paths.

The tide of New Deal nostalgia is running strong. The new vogue for mobilizing the masses for giant government projects is only going to get worse. 

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  1. Reason is always, and always rightly, blenching at the endless calls for “national service,” though, judging from that CCC poster, Andrew Sullivan may be on board (ha, ha, ha).

    I continue to rely on the assumption that American young people would rather party than swing a sledge hammer for room and board. The odds are very good that Obama et al. will spend a lot more money on “student loans” (i.e., good times for kids loans) than barracks in the boondocks.

    I’m confident that the middle-aged do-gooders who think up these projects will continue to be disappointed.

  2. The NRA is still unconstitutional right?

  3. As long as I can still get a bunch of mexicans to mow my lawn for cheap.

  4. So, they want to revive the New Deal. I suppose that includes reviving the Great Depression? ‘Cause that seems to be one of the goals to me.

  5. Alan: “I’m confident that the middle-aged do-gooders who think up these projects will continue to be disappointed.”

    Not so. It’s a general truism that if you don’t follow a state-approved career path, you’re going into the private sector.

    That used to be just fine. But when Obama and Pelosi really hit their stride growing “green” (read: state-funded) business and attacking the private sector, it will become miles more difficult to start a career outside State oversight.

    Sensible parents will make sure their kids get this stuff on their resume.

  6. And we inch ever closer to the Department of Digging and Filling Holes.

  7. I’m excited about who Obama’s Huey Long’s gonna turn out to be.

  8. Arbeit macht frei.
    Work makes freedom.

  9. Eventually there would be camps in all states

    This part is true.

    The NRA is still unconstitutional right?

    Obama has shown he doesn’t give a rip about the constitution in one NRA, why care about it with the other?

    So, they want to revive the New Deal. I suppose that includes reviving the Great Depression?

    The New Deal is a launchpad from which Obama intends to go much further. Ergo, instead of the Great Depression, we’re targeting a complete immolation of the American economy. If a crisis is good, a bigger crisis is better, right?

  10. As long as I can still get a bunch of mexicans to mow my lawn for cheap.

    Nah, the Mexicans are all going home. You’ll have recent college graduates mowing your lawn for cheap instead, though.

  11. Well if we’re going to have another Depression, can I at least get some ennui and the ability to talk down to future generations, saying “You just don’t understand…”

  12. I wonder if, in the spirit of the new deal, they will start bulldozing houses to prop up the prices of the ones that are left. You know, like they did with beef, pork, cotton, and other commodities back in the 30s.

  13. You know what could also work for to encourage jobs in retrofitting homes? Ending electricity subsidies.

  14. The National Recovery Act was declared unconstitutional during the pre-Wickard era of SCOTUS jurisprudence. There’s no way it would be declared unconstitutional today.

  15. By retrofitting millions of structures, the Clean Energy Corps will create at least 600,000 living-wage, career-track jobs in green industries, train people for them

    I seriously doubt even a recovering economy will need 600,000 “green industries jobs”. This is like bragging about training 600,000 circus clowns. Sure, you could do it, but there’s not going to be any work for 90% of them once you’re done.

    “Look, I’ll handle this, Bingo. You just get in your little midget car, and your fucking big feet, and you fucking fly around.”

  16. From page 2 of the full report:

    New funding at an estimated cost of less than $3 billion per year over 5 years to underwrite the financing for a $50 billion public revolving loan fund-with tax exemption, credit guarantees, and the ability to package loans for sale to secondary markets -to make investments and leverage private money in the national building retrofit effort. The fund would be replenished both by its proceeds from projects approved for direct investment and through its sale of packaged loans via private investors.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  17. Holy shit, training 600,000 John Wayne Gacys would be the best thing they could do. Think of the awesome horror movie plots it would inspire!

  18. Nah, the Mexicans are all going home. You’ll have recent college graduates mowing your lawn for cheap instead, though.

    Ahh! Humanities Majors.

  19. Clipped off this last bit:

    The fund would be replenished both by its
    proceeds from projects approved for direct investment and through its sale of packaged loans via private investors.

    I know the CCC. My grandfather worked on the CCC. You, CEC, are no CCC.

  20. Maybe, if we really work on it, we can make this downturn last a dozen years as well. That is how success is defined vis a vis the great depression and FDR, right?

  21. Or, Warty, 600,000 Steve-O’s. Think of the self-damaging hijinks that would ensue everywhere.

  22. From page 2 of the full report:
    New funding at an estimated cost of less than $3 billion per year over 5 years to underwrite the financing for a $50 billion public revolving loan fund-with tax exemption, credit guarantees, and the ability to package loans for sale to secondary markets -to make investments and leverage private money in the national building retrofit effort. The fund would be replenished both by its proceeds from projects approved for direct investment and through its sale of packaged loans via private investors.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    I love you, man.

    In a totally heterosexual way, of course. 😉

  23. Here’s another good one, the breakdown of the expenditures:

    We estimate that the three different components of the CEC would require $33 billion over a five year period, distributed as follows:
    $50 million Technical assistance, planning, evaluation and administration (O?ce of the Clean Energy Corps)
    $29.175 billion Retro?t ?nancing and job creation ( Department of Energy)
    $1.6 billion Service (Corporation for National and Community Service)
    $2.175 billion Training (Department of Labor)

    Yep, only 0.15% administrative overhead.

    Also: 3 billion per year for 600K jobs?

    $5,000 per job? When the claim for the stimulus was more like 150K per job?

  24. Ronald Bailey,

    I’ll note that there was significant resistance by the general public to these sorts of government funded work projects during the 1930s; which is why those who could participate was ratcheted back over time. And of course even FDR was uncomfortable with such programs; which is why his administration killed them and then restarted them I believe three times under the guise of newly minited programs each time. The CCC though was I think generally popular in part because it dealt with unemployed youth.

  25. Do the people whose residences are slated to be “retrofitted” get any say in this, or is it we’re from the government and we’re here to fuck you over help you?

    Should we now join hands and intone the CEC prayer? “God bless and keep the CEC…far away from us!”

    Either way, I’m a good citizen. I welcome our sweaty, shirtless, vaguely village-people-esqe overlords.

  26. New stereotype: instead of cowboys, Americans are now a bunch of scared morons that believe anything an authority figure tells them and fall in line when ordered to do so.

  27. So they’re gonna come in and retrofit buildings to make em green?

    One wonders if the owners of such property will have any choice.

  28. The fund would be replenished both by its
    proceeds from projects approved for direct investment and through its sale of packaged loans via private investors.

    Either that, or the Tooth Fairy will leave the money under Obama’s pillow.

  29. I hope they keep that awsome homoerotic logo.

  30. Whatever boiler-making company planted the idea of a suddenly urgent mass boiler “retrofit” is going to make out.

    $5,000 per job? When the claim for the stimulus was more like 150K per job?

    “Disconnected youth” from “disadvantaged communities” comes cheap. Especially as a condition of probation.

    I seriously doubt even a recovering economy will need 600,000 “green industries jobs”.

    The traditional “shame if anything happened to it” crew is two goons. This “green” version would need two goons who double as semi-skilled labor, one plumber/goon-wrangler, and a creepy missionary girl with pamphlets and a clipboard. It adds up.

  31. At least the Center for American Progress doesn’t have influence over the Obama administration. Oh fuck…..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Podesta

  32. after taking a short look at their video on the homepage, maybe they should change their motto to ‘green for all …. black people’. i don’t think there was a single white face in that little clip of theirs.

  33. So would all the CEC participants be required to join the various labor unions that obviously have stakes in construction, electricity, HV/AC, etc? Because if so, the Democrat-controlled Congress is gonna effin’ **love** this.

  34. So if they make homes more energy efficient and so that they use less energy, energy prices will go down?

    What about water? If we conserve water, will water prices go down?

  35. This “green” version would need two goons who double as semi-skilled labor, one plumber/goon-wrangler, and a creepy missionary girl with pamphlets and a clipboard.

    You’re creeping me out, dude.

  36. “brotherben | June 12, 2008, 12:41am | #

    What I see in America with Obama as POTUS and a democrat controlled congress is a monstrous make work project. Imagine the peace corps meets the CCC of the 30s doing works on the infrastructure. ”

    damn. right again.

  37. Actually, I kinda can’t wait for the day when the country side is filled with miles of worthless brokendown windmill and solar plants, as a living monument to how fucking stupid the green energy advocates really were.

    Cause that is exactly what will happen. The government will build a bunch of shit, it will turn out to be brutally expensive and difficult to maintain, and it will eventually be turned over to a cut-rate subsidized company, and finally abandoned.

    1. I’m assuming you don’t feel the CCC built “a bunch of shit.” Improvements they built in the National Parks and Forests are still in place and being used 75 years later.

  38. Progressives evidently intend to resurrect every aspect of the hallowed New Deal.

    So…is WW2 next?

  39. So…is WW2 next?

    The real question is who’s going to play the part of Germany.

    My guess is it will be us

    GODWINED!!

  40. Reinmoose, the thread was pre-Godwined for you at 11:07am. I was trying really hard NOT to be the initial Godwin-ner at 11:05.

    To speak a word in my own defence, it’s kinda hard to avoid Godwin when discussing Obama’s economic plan.

  41. Here’s a great idea. Use the new group to undo the damage done by the old group. It’s the perfect gummint-sponsored jobs creation program!

    The U.S. Soil Conservation Service began testing kudzu in 1935, believing that the plant-with its fast growth and deep roots-could solve the South’s erosion problems. Farmers were paid $8 an acre to plant kudzu on eroded lands. The Soil Conservation Service shipped 100 million plants in the 1930s and 1940s from nurseries in Georgia and Alabama. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted more than 70 million seedlings from Maryland to Texas during the 1930s.

  42. Reinmoose, the thread was pre-Godwined for you at 11:07am. I was trying really hard NOT to be the initial Godwin-ner at 11:05.

    uhh..uhh…uhhh…

    DOUBLE GODWINED!

  43. I have a dream of a kudzu/cannabis hybrid.

  44. That shirtless ax boy is so hot!

    Kiss Kiss!
    YFQ

  45. “I have a dream of a kudzu/cannabis hybrid.”

    Whatever happened to hash? Did they quit making it? I have a dream that they start making it again.

  46. “I wonder if, in the spirit of the new deal, they will start bulldozing houses to prop up the prices of the ones that are left.”

    We could use that here in Motor City.

  47. “New stereotype: instead of cowboys, Americans are now a bunch of scared morons that believe anything an authority figure tells them and fall in line when ordered to do so.”

    There’s a name for people like that. Cattle.

  48. “”Disconnected youth” from “disadvantaged communities” comes cheap. Especially as a condition of probation.”

    They also carry guns. And their aim is shitty because they can’t afford to practice at the local shooting range.

    Seriously, as someone who has worked with at-risk, inner-city youth for years I can confidently predict this isn’t going to work out at all.

  49. Some interesting testimony by William Happer, Professor of Physics at Princeton University:

    I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view the period just before the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit “the manufacturing, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” At the time, the 18th amendment seemed to be exactly the right thing to do – who wanted to be in league with demon rum? It was the 1917 version of saving the planet. More than half the states enacted prohibition laws before the 18th amendment was ratified. Only one state, Rhode Island, voted against the 18th amendment. Two states, Illinois and Indiana, never got around to voting and all the rest voted for it. There were many thoughtful people, including a majority of Rhode Islanders, who thought that prohibition might do more harm than good. But they were completely outmatched by the temperance movement, whose motives and methods had much in common with the movement to stop climate change. Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. Prohibition was a mistake, and our country has probably still not fully recovered from the damage it did. Institutions like organized crime got their start in that era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways.

    But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about? In a word, they are wildly exaggerated, just as the purported benefits of prohibition were wildly exaggerated. Let me turn now to the science and try to explain why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.

    The earth’s climate really is strongly affected by the greenhouse effect, although the physics is not the same as that which makes real, glassed-in greenhouses work. Without greenhouse warming, the earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. However, at least 90% of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player. There is little argument in the scientific community that a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the earth’s temperature — on the order of one degree. Additional increments of CO2 will cause relatively less direct warming because we already have so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it has blocked most of the infrared radiation that it can. It is like putting an additional ski hat on your head when you already have a nice warm one below it, but your are only wearing a windbreaker. To really get warmer, you need to add a warmer jacket. The IPCC thinks that this extra jacket is water vapor and clouds.

    More at:

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=84462e2d-6bff-4983-a574-31f5ae8e8a42

  50. We could use that here in Motor City.

    You could always just let them burn, instead of putting them out.

  51. By retrofitting millions of structures, the Clean Energy Corps will blah, blah, blah…

    Why do I suddenly think of Bob Hoskins in Brazil?

  52. These calls for national service are the strongest when the private sector is laying off people. If the private sector alone could provide full employment, there would be no calls for such.

  53. I note (with a smile) that this article does not dismiss the work of the CCC, which by all accounts was a huge success (except perhaps in it’s failure to fully fight Jim Crow). You can say what you want about the New Deal in general, but you’ll not convince many that the CCC was a bad thing. Also, the CCC was not a “call to national service,” it was SURVIVAL for the roughly 3 million enrollees who WORKED in the program and for their families who received most of the enrollee’s monthly pay check back home.

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