Sustainable jobs program: Expanding the Guard is just what economy needs
October 24, 2011
Our economy needs a spark, something big enough to ignite our industry and imagination, something that will drive innovation and move America forward.
In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps captured the imagination of the nation. The CCC and similar New Deal programs put people to work and established farm, forest and infrastructure capabilities that spurred economic growth for generations. We cannot replicate the magic of the CCC; the complexities of the modern workplace make it far more difficult than it was. However, the principles that guided the CCC provide us with a path.
We need a public program that provides employment for people while they learn skills required for the modern workplace. Such a program would invest in people so that they could succeed in the private sector, while simultaneously providing the public with a sustainable benefit. In simplest terms, we need a jobs program that prepares people for the workplace -- a jobs program that strengthens our national capacities -- in a sustainable manner.
Let us triple the scale, size and strength of our National Guard. By shifting major elements of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army into the National Guard, we can expand our reach and reduce costs. This transformation of the Department of Defense is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that will fundamentally alter the way we understand war -- and its costs.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Heritage Foundation and the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, the National Guard is the most cost-effective investment within the Department of Defense. On average, the federal government saves $100,000 per year when the cost of a National Guard member is compared with an active-duty counterpart. When comparing total costs (including benefits and retirement) the difference is closer to $200,000.
National Guard members maintain the same standards, attend the same schools and fight the same wars as those on active duty. They do this with an annual training cycle of 60 days (compared with the 365 days associated with active duty), and the National Guard also provides states with a ready response for times of crisis. Expansion of the National Guard would achieve the following:
Allow our total force to be maintained (or even expanded) -- at a price we can afford.
Expand workforce-training opportunities for a million Americans, giving them skills that will benefit the private and public sectors.
Provide governors with additional assets for emergency response -- at federal expense.
Fundamentally alter the national defense enterprise, ensuring that wars are a national experience with every neighborhood invested.
It is time we put aside our differences and work together to rebuild our economy, to reunite our nation. This approach will provide our country with a large-scale jobs training program even as we reduce the cost of government, transforming the Department of Defense and providing states with added disaster response capabilities.
Demand action from Congress. This is a moment we cannot miss.
Paul Evans is a veteran and the former military/emergency management senior policy adviser for Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Original Article: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/10/sustainable_jobs_program_expan.html