I have always held a deep respect for Americans who lived through the Great Depression. Although their generation is slowly fading into history, their ethics and determination remain a valuable symbol for modern Americans. This was a generation that employed practical solutions to economic problems, both at the household and the national level. One New Deal policy allotted funding for a series of national work projects meant to employ thousands of out of work Americans. Much of the national park system was constructed during this time.
A few years back I was visiting the isolated and less popular side of the Grand Canyon, the North rim. It surprised me to see a vast section of guest quarters completely closed off to the public due to lack of maintenance. Here were dozens of cozy cabins once enjoyed by vacationing Americans as they explored the wonders of the canyon, now likely facing demolition due to lack of funding. It seemed to me to be a tragic waste of hard work and valuable resources.
America is facing the exportation of it industrial sector by companies desperate to increase profits through the exploitation of low twage, unorganized labor forces in the developing world. Will we sit idly by as hard working Americans are left working in service oriented jobs that pay low wages and offer low benefits? The costs of such apathy are too high. It is the government and the tax payer who will end up paying to heal these disenfranchised workers when they get sick or when their children want to go to college. Shouldn't we provide meaningful jobs and decent wages to Americans who want to work?
I propose that we create a New Deal style program that will employ displaced industrial workers in the rejuvenation of our detiorating National Parks system. We can not only repair what exists, we can rebuild in a more sustainable way that has less impact on the unique ecosystem each park contains by replacing unnecessary roads with trails, installing solar and wind power, and composting toilets. Furthermore, we could employ even more Americans in projects to clean up the many forgotten environmental disasters on the EPA's waiting list.
Such work would provide former industrial workers with more than decent wages and benefits. It would provide them with meaning and pride. What do you think?
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