In this Daily Caller piece, Rachel Maddow describes her new ad which will be shot at Hoover Dam. The theme seems to be that we can build ourselves out of our current economic woes as we did in the 1930s. There are a few reasons why that will not work.
First, in the Great Depression you had large numbers of men that needed work and the skills they had were primarily those suited for labor. These men were well qualified for cutting hiking trails, building huts in National Parks, working on CCC projects and to provide labor for massive projects like dams. While we certainly have unemployed that have those skills today, it is not the type of thing that will employ the large numbers of white collar workers that are out of work. It is simply not practical nor does it make sense.
Secondly, if someone wanted to build another Hoover Dam, it would be tied up by environmentalists for years, maybe decades. The Dam simply could not get built today. And the same thing would be true of many large public works projects. Think about the nearly ten years since 9/11 and all we have is a hole in the ground at the site. And roads would not necessarily be the best use of money as they do not lead to as much employment and prosperity as you might think. In Japan's "Lost Decade" they paved nearly every road in Japan and it did not move the needle for them economically. The new refineries, power plants, offshore wind farms (Cape Wind) and energy drilling that would lead to new job creation are exactly the types of projects that are being held up today. If you want unemployment to abate in Fresno and the surrounding areas for example, let the water flow!
Maddow seems to think that we have done this before successfully in Depression. However, what ended the Great Depression was WWII. There is debate as to whether the Great Depression was extended due to the New Deal rather than shortened. Keynesian economics has not proved to be the panacea the Left would like us to believe. What has been tried this time around was really just a short term effort to prop up union jobs. How has that worked out?
Times have changed. Maddow's approach has not. If she really believes we need to build our way out of this perhaps she should focus her energy on the Left and their opposition to projects like Hoover Dam. They are willing to spend. They are not willing to spend it on the types of projects that Maddow proposes. Oh, and we are broke!