Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tennessee Tales: A Stimulating Tale

Perry County was named after the War of 1812 naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry. Located about 90 miles southwest of Nashville, the Tennessee River is to the west and the Buffalo River dissects it from north to south - a fisherman’s paradise. This bucolic setting is rural and has a population of only 7,600 people.

After the Fisher & Company auto parts plant closed, the unemployment rate rose to 25 percent. People lost their homes, their savings and their health insurance. So, what makes this story different from the thousands of similar stories across the country?

A modern version of that socialist program called the New Deal.

Welfare money from the stimulus package is being used to underwrite 300 new jobs with employers such as the Tennessee Department of Transportation all the way down to a soda shop near the high school.

The New York Times reports:

Tennessee is planning to pay for most of the new jobs, which it expects will cost $3 million to $5 million, with part of its share of $5 billion that was included in the stimulus for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. . . . The state did not wait for the federal paperwork to clear before putting residents of Perry County back to work.

Other states are still drawing up plans for spending the welfare money, which is typically used for items like cash grants for families and job training. Some are likely to use part of it to subsidize employment, as Tennessee is doing, but it is hard to imagine many other places where the creation of so few jobs could have such an
immediate and outsize impact as it did in this bucolic county.

The impact has been enormous, all across the county. Even the look of the place is changing, following the old W.P.A. model. In addition to the jobs for adults, there are 150 summer jobs for young people, some of whom have been working with resident artists to paint murals depicting local history on the buildings along Main Street in Linden, the county seat.

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