It can often be difficult at a distance to understand the process of law-making in Washington. Aside from the sausage-making analogies which you have already heard, matters are further complicated by both the heavy partisan discord and the razor-thin majority margins now held by Congressional Democrats. During the 2022 mid-terms, which tend not to favor the party in power or holding the White House, a Democratic loss of fives seats out of 435 in the U.S. House, or only one seat in the U.S. Senate, tips either chamber back into a GOP majority. The White House’s original proposals for a massive infrastructure spending bill came in around $2.3 trillion, with some rather elastic definitions of what is considered infrastructure. Now in the final stages of negotiation in the U.S. Senate, with not all but a few Republicans onboard, that package has been trimmed to slightly more than $1-trillion, but it still packs a lot of pork.
But the Biden administration remains intent 0n cramming a great deal of “Green New Deal,” climate change and sustainable energy initiatives into this omnibus bill. One of the more innocuous and even well-intentioned sounding programs would create a Civilian Climate Corps. Modeled broadly after the Civilian Conservation Corps (also CCC) of the Roosevelt era, the new and improved CCC would be a new federal agency and program, co-managed by the Secretary of the Interior, in collaboration with the Secretary of Agriculture and other relevant agencies. This new CCC would employ young adults, most high school or college graduates in a wide and non-specific set of initiatives aimed “to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation and address the changing climate.” Quite a mouthful.
I do not deny that our global climate is warming. I have been recycling since college (four decades ago). Have volunteered on river clean-ups, tree plantings, and many a Volunteer Atlanta Hands-On Day project, to support and improve challenged communities. Have never asked or expected to be paid for any of that. It’s called giving back. The Biden Administration’s first crack at this is a $10-billion budget line item.
The state of Georgia’s entire annual budget is roughly $28-billion for purposes of perspective. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a hero of President Joe Biden’s. FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps was a voluntary work relief program, operating from 1933-1942 across the United States for unemployed, unmarried young men ages 18-25. The program was later expanded to ages 17-28.
An estimated 3-million young men worked in a variety of manual labor jobs related to conservation and the development of natural resources on largely rural land owned by federal, state, and local governments. No more than 300,000 in any given year.
That CCC was both an employment vehicle during the Great Depression as well as way to inexpensively make major improvements to state and federal parks and preserves, state highways (the U.S. interstate system was not born yet) and make significant bridge repairs and upgrades, particularly in more rural regions of the nation.
Those young men were provided shelter, clothing and food along with a wage of $30.00 per month (equivalent to $600 in 2020). The program required $25.00 of that $30 to be sent back home to their families, leaving the CCC ‘boys’ as they were then called, with a whole fiver to spend as he might that month.
From a recent editorial in the Red and Black of the University of Georgia, one of our nation’s leading independent and well-regarded college newspapers.
“The(new) CCC that we are fighting for would, if fully funded, employ 1.5 million people over five years, pay a minimum of $15.00 per hour, include full healthcare coverage and provide career pathways through education, vocational training and partnerships with labor unions. To compete for employees, private employers would need to improve their wages, benefits, and conditions, effectively raising the baseline for workers across the country,” David Weber, Athens, Georgia.
Yes, I think Senator Schumer and AOC and those drinking this Kool-Aid should perhaps instead rename is Kook-Aid. Doing some basic math, $600.00 per week, times 52, times 300,000 and tack on health care costs about 25% of comp, and you will have a budget of roughly $12-billion, before that first tree is planted. A whole lot of green maybe, but other than possibly buying a few more minds and some votes, not a lot to grow or show for it. Kick this CCC to the aging curbs of America. We deserve better.
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