Comments on: The case for a new Works Progress Administration Bridges, budgets, bonds Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:29:08 +0000 hourly 1 By: mrtapeguy Mon, 06 May 2013 03:48:41 +0000 The key to successful NEW WPA is to employ people already being paid benefits. That way, the additional expenditure is minimal.

By: MarkSadowski Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:21:17 +0000 Actually the WPA’s initial appropriation in 1935 was for $4.9 billion (which was about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP). I do not know the amount actually spent in 1935.

I have corrected the Wikipedia entry. Please be advised that Wikipedia is full of errors.

By: brilyn37 Wed, 13 Jun 2012 15:41:10 +0000 If my worse fears are accurate, Republican governors would either reject federal money to hire state employees or would drag out the hiring process until after the election. Consider what they have already demonstrated with Obama care mandates and the prior stimulus money.

Politics in this country used to be somewhat analogous to sports, but it has now become a sport where team loyalty and the imperative to win trumps civic duty and the imperative to govern. – Brian Lynch

By: Cate Long Wed, 13 Jun 2012 01:29:26 +0000 Wonderful comment. Thanks so much Mr. Motta.

By: ArthurMotta Tue, 12 Jun 2012 22:31:51 +0000 WPA is showing up in the media with increasing frequency. Back in September, speculation ahead of Obama’s Jobs Bill speech was that it might include some kind of WPA-like program. It didn’t materialize, perhaps, as someone noted, it could recreate a depression era feeling. A little late for that.

Historians and economists continue to argue the merits of the WPA but all acknowledge it provided immediate employment to millions of Americans from 1935 to 1943.

WPA workers across the country built and refurbished thousands of public buildings, roads and parks, repaired aging infrastructure and also added to the literary and artistic heritage of 20th century America. Workers came from all walks of life. They shared a common misfortune: they were unemployed and looking for work when national unemployment was nearly three times today’s rate.

In 1936, when embattled WPA officials in Washington and Boston wanted to show how much a community could accomplish under the program, they turned to New Bedford, Massachusetts. At the urging of Paul Edwards, Massachusetts’ WPA administrator, Mayor Charles S. Ashley orchestrated WPA Day, one of the first cities in the nation to tout its WPA projects.

There was so much to brag about, they threw a daylong celebration – WPA Day took place 75 years ago on September 23, 1936. More than 85 mayors, federal, state and local officials came to see and learn from New Bedford, which had done more under the WPA than any city its size in America.

The more than 300 projects included buildings still in use today. Many were constructed with thousands of recycled bricks, each hand-cleaned of old mortar, which WPA workers salvaged from defunct textile mills they had dismantled by hand.

Speeches by the federal officials where decidedly defensive. Edwards extolled the city for the many buildings it produced. “They stand as an answer to misinformed, vicious criticism about what is being done with this work program,” Edwards said. “The WPA does not operate these projects. The city of New Bedford has initiated them and has the responsibility of seeing that they operate efficiently,” he added.

Indeed, it was the city’s efficiency that caught federal attention. The New Bedford Standard-Times reported the city’s 3.6% administrative cost “was the lowest of any city in the country” for its management of the federal relief programs, CWA, ERA and WPA.

New Bedford continues to benefit from the WPA as so many of the buildings it produced remain in active use. That any federal initiative could somehow produce a similar benefit across America’s cities lasting 75 years is probably an unrealistic expectation for the current situation. However, that is the legacy of the WPA in New Bedford, in which the community built enduring landmarks with their own hands, for their own use.

Arthur Motta