Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Living New Deal

I heard Gray Brechin speak last night in Berkeley about California's Living New Deal Project. He's attempting no less than a complete inventory (and photographic record) of FDR's public works projects in California.

What's really impressive about Gray's project, aside from his visually polished description of it, is the sheer weight of his examples. In fact, the government built a staggering number of California schools, hospitals, parks, museums, theaters, courthouses, post offices, golf courses, roads, bridges, culverts, etc. during the 1930s.

We use these facilities every day, whether or not we know their provenance. This fact, and their frequently stunning beauty, is the most effective reply to those who cast the government as an incompetent nuisance.

The event was hosted for the first time by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment--Clark Kerr's old outfit--and was very successful. Until last night, these talks happened at the Cal faculty club, which was cool in its own way, but the IRLE support is a very welcome development.


At 12:02 PM , Blogger Frances said...

I was sorry to miss the dinner but I had another commitment. I am glad you linked to the project as I don't think many people know about it. Imagine if the government today was putting all the money we spend on the war in Iraq to fixing up our infrastructure. It would make a huge difference.

At 4:12 PM , Blogger Peter Richardson said...

Yes, just think, one Wall Street bailout and one year of Iraq money is closing in on $1 trillion, give or take $100 billion. BTW, Frances, your name came up as a future speaker. I hope you like the new location as much as I do.


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