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There is a better way.

Byline: Frank Lepore

COLUMN: Frankly Speaking

During the extremely severe depression era of the 1930's, I was no admirer of four-term president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

I was quite young then and, while admiring his ingenuity, his overall intelligence and ability, I was no admirer of his personal character. I believed then, and still do, that he was a fabricator and could not be trusted. However, it is my belief now that successful politicians must occasionally cut corners to be truly effective.

I was then, and still am, a strong supporter of Roosevelt's outstanding projects designed to help the depression. In my humble opinion, these projects could still be quite effective today. Such projects could be wonderful solutions to the asinine excursions into Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the young people now demonstrating on the streets, the Civilian Conservation Corps would be an outstanding substitute to sending troops overseas only to come home in body bags or to lead destructive lives. And it would all build character not destroy it.

The Civilian Conservation Corps put 500,000 people to work in 1933 in our forests, parks, and range lands. These men effectively built schools, bridges, roads, etc., and contributed a great deal to the infrastructure of the nation.

Granted, the pay was minimum, but the work built better character than demonstrating on the streets and smoking pot.

It would also be much more cost effective, since it would be less expensive. Such troops could also be placed along the borders to Mexico to help destroy the dependence on drugs. There were also many opportunities for artists, magicians and creative talent.

Roosevelt initiated the National Recovery Act (NRA) under General Hugh Johnson. That program found employment for many in federally funded projects and brought some bread and butter to many tables. It was a life saver.

If my aged memory serves me correctly, Roosevelt and his administration initiated Social Security in 1937. The plan is still in vogue.

I really am not a supporter of any military action, but by engaging in World War II, Roosevelt finally gave the opportunity for many women to enter the work force. Women had long been ignored as capable contributors and "Roosevelt's War" gave them the long-deserved opportunity to contribute to society in a manner other than being housewives or homemakers.

Yes, I know that "food stamps" are prevalent now to help the needy. And I remember the dark days of the depression when my brother and I had to line up for food when a federal program was used in our community. It kept us from starving.

Even later, I became involved in a program pitching hay for farmers and came home with some much-needed funds.

It is still my belief that such programs would be of much more value today than the stupid excursions into Iraq and Afghanistan. Any courageous politician could initiate such endeavors and would probably be the most effective leader of the 21st century, especially by easing the way for our people to contribute rather than destroy.

Frank Lepore is a freelance columnist who was born in Clinton and lives in Sterling.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 13, 2012
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