The Race To Be the First "Shovel Ready" Project

shovel stimulus recession photo

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

We griped when the first stimulus project out of the gate was, surprise, a highway bridge, hoping that it might be a bit more inspiring. The California Conservation Corps to the rescue, with its work in the San Bernadino National Forest, where they are actually using shovels.

"Our project is definitely the first one to use shovels," said Jimmy Camp, a spokesman for the agency in the New York Times.The government appears to side with Missouri and the backhoes:

"The concept of 'shovel ready,' which is neither a legal term nor a term of art in road construction, means projects ready to be started as soon as money becomes available," said Jim Berard, a spokesman for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

While the committee keeps no official tabs, that definition leads to one conclusion, Mr. Berard said. "I think Missouri has the best claim to the title," he declared.

conservation-corps-shovel ready workers


My heart is with the Conservation Corps, which has a history going back to the first Depression. As it says in our slideshow Great Stimulus Ideas from the Great Depression

The Conservation Corps put hundreds of thousands of young people (it was limited to those unemployed and between 19 and 25) to work planting trees, building camps, cutting trails. They left the Corps fit and ready for work:

At the time of entry, 70% of enrollees were malnourished and poorly clothed. Very few had more than a year of high school education; few had work experience beyond occasional odd jobs. The peace was maintained by the threat of "dishonorable discharge." There were no reported revolts or strikes. "This is a training station we're going to leave morally and physically fit to lick 'Old Man Depression."

More on the Conservation Corps:

Conservation Corps — Young Bodies for Old Problems
British PM Putting Unemployed To Work Insulating Attics

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