For those who recall the 1961 Inaugural Ceremony, the quote "Ask not what your country can to for you. Ask what you can do for your country," still stirs the soul.
Such words can speak to both liberals and conservatives. Where today's tea party and neo-conservative proponents decry costly, overly expansive federal government and its patronage of those who may have become too dependent upon what their country does for them, these words should make John F. Kennedy sound like one of them. And where Kennedy's Peace Corps derived its geneses from these same words, a modern day version could help solve our crumpling infrastructure problem while providing some employment and experience for today's underemployed youth.
In the decade following Japan's near economic collapse, recently educated youth were denied entry-level job opportunities, chances to complete their educational experience by working in fields related to their formal training. Ten years later when the economy did recover, those entry-level jobs went to newly graduated youth. The prior decade became "lost" permanently.
Now that no one expects a rapid recovery, wouldn't giving our educated youth entry-level experience in a 21st Century Peace Corp be more appropriate, allowing them to do something with their education for their country?
Perhaps Franklin Roosevelt's genius was his creation of a WPA and CCC that provided minimal unskilled work for those who otherwise would have stood in line at soup kitchens. Their accomplishments can still be seen today dotting our landscape. And it did not cost the country much. At that time, none of these projects were shovel-ready. It took careful planning and coordination to house, feed and direct this service corps.
So what are we waiting for? A rapid recovery is not forthcoming! Those with educational loans not likely to be repaid soon should be ready, willing and able to work their loans off, especially in fields related to that training. Those who have lost their mid-career jobs ought to be able to plan and direct these endeavors.
Whether it's replacing old crumbling infrastructure or working on highly innovative new structures like high-speed rail, renewable energy or affordable health care, we can either do it now using our own youth for labor, or we can allow both our society and our old infrastructure to crumble while our elected officials fiddle with balancing a budget.
Dale Whiting, Chandler