I am 79 years of age, a Democrat and I am angry. It seems our leaders have forgotten how Franklin Delano Roosevelt pulled this nation from its greatest economic depression with such things as the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal project contractors to pay workers a “prevailing wage.”
In 1933, I became a graduate of a high school in Wisconsin. That same year the population of my town dropped to just under 2,800. As demand for iron slowed, the blast furnaces which provided work to the majority of the citizens of my small town ceased operations. My mother, a widow, saw her income from her small women’s clothing store drop sharply.
That fall I began work for a leather goods company. My pay was 15 cents an hour. The workday was 10 hours long. The job lasted less than four months when the factory closed for want of orders.
Shortly after my discharge, the Democratic administration decided to take measures to ensure that any man unemployed and willing to work would be given work. For instance, my brother parlayed a stint in the Civilian Conservation Corps into a government job and entry into the business world from which he retired a millionaire. In 1937, as things began to improve, I entered the University of Wisconsin. My four years there would have not been possible had it not been for the National Youth Act (NYA) which provided pay for good students.
It is now 1995. I am near the end of my life, but I have four children, all gainfully employed and, all but one, college graduates.
When I read about the attempts by Gingrich and the freshmen Republican legislators to build more jails while denying to the poor any chance for escaping from the underclass, all I can say is: “Georgie, you aren’t old enough.” The trickle-down theory never did work. The Republican administration will ensure that the corporations will gain enormous benefits in the next few years while the buying power of the working class erodes. The Davis-Bacon Act must be preserved so that the ordinary worker may continue to receive a reasonable remuneration for his endeavors.
Anything less will just hasten the next great depression.
MEMO: Your Turn is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion page. To submit a column for consideration, call Rebecca Nappi/459-5496, or Doug Floyd/459-5466.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.