Recycling Postwar Initiative Urban League Leader Wants to Apply Marshall Plan Model to Crumbling Inner Cities. SAVING US CITIES
Elizabeth Ross, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
NATIONAL Urban League president John Jacob is promoting an investment strategy for the United States that has already been proved successful in postwar Europe.
Called a Marshall Plan for America, it involves the principle behind the US economic plan for Europe after World War II: a major infusion of capital to get a troubled economy back on its feet. The idea is to make the United States more globally competitive through a substantial long-term investment in its work force and deteriorating urban centers. At a time when the gap between the rich and poor in the US is widening, when roads and bridges are deteriorating, and when students are performing poorly on standardized tests, the nation needs a long-term economic game plan, Mr. Jacob says.
"We have concluded that America's survival depends on developing a new spirit of national renewal," Mr. Jacob said in a speech at the annual meeting of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts earlier this month. "And we affirm long-ignored national values that bring a diverse people together for the common good. America needs to become a competitive, productive society that makes full use of all of its resources."
The idea of a Marshall Plan for the US is not new, says Jacob. His idea is an outgrowth of the "Domestic Marshall Plan" proposed by Whitney Young Jr., in 1963. Mr. Young formerly was executive director of the National Urban League. Jacob envisions his own Marshall Plan as a 10-year, $500 billion investment program. It involves a $50 billion a year allocation of funds to help the disadvantaged and rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure. Specifically, funding would be targeted toward education and employment programs as well as toward improving the country's transportation and communications systems. Western Europe rebuilt
The Marshall Plan dedicated 2.9 percent of America's gross national product annually to rebuild Western Europe - for its own national interests, says Jacob. The plan helped America gain more influence to stop the spread of communism around the world while it also opened up a new market for American exports.
The Marshall Plan for America aims to serve the national interest by revitalizing the US economy. …