Nancy E. Rose se is professor and chair of economics at California State University, San Bernardino. She is the author of Workfare or Fair Work: Women, Welfare, and Government Work Programs, as well as articles about government welfare and work program policy and history. Her recent work has focused on radicalpedagogy and on families with lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents.
After an astute analysis of FDR's New Deal crusade to subdue the Great Depression, Rose ( Workfare or Fair Work ) ties her lessons to the 1990s. First, she focuses on the seminal Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and Civil Works Administration (CWA), the voluntary programs that provided work for 4.4 million people, constructing 62,000 public buildings, plus an extraordinary number of parks, roads and playgrounds. In January 1934 CWA offered work for more people than any voluntary program in U.S. history. During this desperate era when 25% of the workforce was unemployed, business leaders complained and restrained FERA, CWA and other agencies, charging unfair competition with the private sector. The clash of production for people's needs with production for profit generated fears of socialism. Other criticism pointed out disparities in relief money and jobs for women and African Americans. Despite the turmoil, much New Deal legislation remained ``until the Reagan administration's deregulation and assault on labor.'' ``Trickle-down'' economics was a failure, Rose concludes, whereas ``bubble up'' economic policies put spending power directly into people's hands. As the New Deal showed, ``voluntary programs that make work must be a basic component of our social welfare policies.'' Rose offers an important perspective on how past nation-saving programs can be useful in solving current unemployment and homeless problems. Photos. (May)