Ed Rendell and New Deal Jobs. Spending is Happiness.

Here in Pittsburgh, suddenly there are multiple bridge and road rebuilding projects going on at the same time, so driving from one end of town to another requires at least one major detour. I now realize the assigning of money to do the work must have been done before Governor Tom Corbett took office. I think, given his druthers, he would wait and wait, until he’d gotten some jails privatized or something before loosening up cash for repairs. He detests spending as much as he seems to detest prison inmates; at least, apparently, those in Dauphin County Prison, and wouldn’t mind if they suffered some more in order for the state to get money.

I had expected to be falling into one river or another, soon, from a collapsing bridge. We have so many.

But former Governor Ed Rendell, who tonight was on the Rachel Maddow Show, made my poor heart leap because he is indicating the road we can take to fix the entire economy: He suggested that we start immediately to fix the roads and bridges and stuff — sort of like Roosevelt did after the Depression. Jobs programs. In fact, he obviously set in motion some helpful money here before leaving office, because work is going on right now.

I can drive around town and see some beautiful examples of Works Program buildings from FDR’s legacy: for example, the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s used for classes, for university offices, meetings, events, cultural activities, you name it. Things were built that were useful and lasting.

Such a route is precisely what people like Paul Krugman have been saying urgently was the answer. That yeah, we actually do have to spend our way out of the hole we’re in. When a powerhouse like Rendell says now that this is what we have to do — now that the artificial crisis of the debt ceiling is over, now that the presidential candidates are lining up like beauty contestants and being found very ugly — it carries possibility. It carries an air of reason. I guess timing is everything.

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