Friday, November 06, 2009

Employing workers directly through federal public works programs would be cheaper than shunting tax money to private business

I give you the wisdom of Paul Krugman:
You can make a pretty good case that just employing a lot of people directly would be a lot more cost-effective; the WPA and CCC cost surprisingly little given the number of people put to work. Think of it as the stimulus equivalent of getting the middlemen out of the student loan program.

So why aren’t we doing this? Politics, of course: government is the problem, not the solution, even when it is, you know, the solution, and cheaper than running things through the private sector.

Still, it might be worth discussing whether we shouldn’t try to include an, um, public option in stimulus, too.
We could probably more easily solve local conundrums like what to do with the Nashville fairgrounds with a federally-funded work force of architects, engineers and construction teams that could renovate that public space and build something on the scale of Fair Park in Dallas (which was mostly built by WPA and CCC workers before 1936 and includes one of the most extensive collections of existing historic art deco buildings anywhere) with of course a local and up-to-date posture.

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