Connecting two dots of the Great Recession

Yesterday’s news items on Boston.com, the website of the Boston Globe, invited some connect-the-dots analysis concerning the Great Recession:

Item 1 — Nearly 41 million Americans receiving food stamps

Among the “most e-mailed” news items was this Bloomberg wire service piece:

The number of Americans who are receiving food stamps rose to a record 40.8 million in May as the jobless rate hovered near a 27-year high, the government reported yesterday.

…Unemployment in July may have reached 9.6 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey of analysts in advance of the Aug. 6 release of last month’s rate. Unemployment was 9.5 percent in June, near levels last seen in 1983.

Item 2 — Commuting nightmare on Interstate 93

Interstate 93 is a major artery in and out of Boston, and its traffic conditions basically control a commuter’s state of mind during rush hours.  As reported by Eric Moskowitz, I-93 commuters have faced a giant headache of a drive this week:

The surface of Interstate 93 ruptured here yesterday for the second day in a row, creating a gash large enough to swallow a car and snarling traffic for miles while the state performed emergency repairs that officials said will have the road open for this morning’s commute.

This was not your ordinary pothole situation.  As further reported by Moskowitz:

The vast holes that opened 25 feet apart on consecutive days were not the typical spring potholes bemoaned by New England drivers, but were caused by something far more serious: the decay of concrete and steel attributed to years of postponed maintenance.

It’s not that simple, or maybe it is?

We’ve got nearly 41 million people on food stamps, with unemployment levels remaining high and steady.  We have roads and bridges in this country that are badly in need of repair, with safety and quality of life at stake.

Among other things, we need a public works program that puts people back on a payroll doing the vital work of rebuilding America’s infrastructure.  The details are considerable, and from a standpoint of public policy it’s no easy fix, but for starters let’s look into matching our millions of unemployed with some of the nation’s real needs.

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