Over the weekend, PBS presented a program detailing the Civilian Conservation Corps which was in effect from 1933- 1942. Men ages 18- 24 were enlisted to help with construction and conservation projects throughout the United States. During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide that would become the start of most state parks, developed forest fire fighting methods and a network of thousands of miles of public roadways and constructed buildings connecting the nation’s public lands.
It was a win-win deal, giving hard to employ young men jobs which enriched the land and the lives of Americans. It was the dream of Franklin Roosevelt who said of it:
“I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control and similar projects. I call your attention to the fact that this type of work is of definite, practical value, not only through the prevention of great present financial loss, but also as a means of creating future national wealth.”
President Obama needs to revive this program.
Many any of the projects that were completed 70 years ago need to be fixed, maintained or redone and the U.S. has a large pool of undereducated and unemployed men who could benefit from the reinstatement of this program. The benefits were not only financial, said those interviewed by PBS, but these young men learned great life skills such as organization, discipline and the ability to follow through with assignments- all necessary for employment in society at large.
Many disadvantaged youth seek military service for these benefits, yet there is an enormous pool of American youth that would not be able to serve in the military, but could reap great benefits from service in a CCC-style program. Not only would they themselves benefit, but society at whole would as well with less mischievous, crime and baby-making. As the poster above says, “A young man’s opportunity.”
There would be little to lose and enormous benefits to gain with a renewal of a New CCC. However, I’m sure that there are all sorts of reasons for denying, stalling or killing such a plan. Congress has a knack for shooting Americans in the foot.