Seventy-five years ago millions of young men were out of work. The Great Depression was in full swing. The ruling powers, nervous that so many idle, impoverished young men might might destabilize society, created the Civilian Conservation Corps. This pseudo-military organization enlisted three million young men in forestry, flood control and construction projects that ultimately led to the creation of the country’s most prominent national and state parks. Many people today have no concept of how decimated the country’s forests and agricultural lands were back then. These men planted five billion trees, which in part were responsible for helping end the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s and revitalizing the country’s farmlands.
Today we face The Worst Economic Crisis Since The Great Depression. Is it time for another Corps? How about the Civilian Information Technology Corps?
The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank, believes it’s a good idea. In a new 22-page position paper entitled The Digital Road to Recovery (PDF), the foundation says the federal government should invest $30 billion into the country’s “national information technology infrastructure.” By investing this money into upgrading the country’s broadband capabilities and the IT systems of the health care system and the national power grid, the country would create nearly one million new jobs while boosting productivity and innovation, according to the foundation. Not only will jobs be created to build this infrastructure, but the infrastructure itself will encourage the creation of new businesses and new jobs.
“Building out an IT-based network like broadband, health IT, or the smart power grid leads to new jobs generated upstream by investment in industries that create new and innovative applications and services to take advantage of the more robust IT network,” the paper reads.
Like the CCC and the WPA of the Depression, will there be a New IT Deal? Barack Obama is known to love his CrackBerry. No doubt he knows just how important such a targeted stimulus could be for the national economy. It should also resonate with those of you who raspberried my post about how a good network engineer is hard to find.