The stock market might be up - though it's had some turbulence of late - but the job market and the economy as it affects real people still doesn't seem so great. Lousy, in fact.
So has that stimulus really made so much of a difference? At the least, "quantitative easing" is too hidden, too much an obscure mystery only the true adepts can grasp.
So now's maybe a good time to revisit the New Deal, and lucky for us, there are many tangible - literally concrete! - things from it that are still with us and are easy to grasp.
|Two images from the design competition |
(75th anniversary site)
- The Second Post Office (now Executive Building)
- North Salem High School
- The Capitol Building
- The State Library
- West Salem City Hall
- Forest History Center (former CCC HQ)
- Murals by Louis Bunce for Bush School, now at North High
- Diversion Falls behind Kettle Chips
It is remarkable that these things are all going strong after 75 years of service, and with appropriate investments in preservation and maintenance look to meet the century mark easily. (How many buildings today are erected with a meaningful expectation of 75 or 100 years of service?)
Here, by contrast, is the City's site for things funded by ARRA, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Rather than big new construction, it funded mostly programming and maintenance with $13.5 million in Salem. Think the project for abatement on the lead paint covering the Union Street Railroad Bridge, for example.
There's a very good case to be made that the stimulus package was not ambitious enough, too small and too modest, capable of no more than simply staving off the worst. If the deficit spending on the New Deal projects seems large, take a moment to consider the lifetime value we have received on these projects.
* And this doesn't include the murals or the oral histories and writers work that led to books like Willamette Landings: Ghost Towns of the River. There was a ton of different kinds of labor that the programs of the New Deal supported.