Ah, summer is almost upon us. That causes me to think wistfully of how much better
my life could be.
I am a writer, you see. I have been working hard to keep up with my corporate
clients. With the economy as bad as it is, I am afraid to turn down any paying work.
My hard work has been cutting into my private writing time, however. It is much
harder for me to find time to work on a book I've been struggling to complete 22
stories about growing up in the '60s and '70s.
I think the government should pay me to complete it.
During the Great Depression, you see, the government established the Works Progress
Administration. The program hired nearly 8 million unemployed folks to build
buildings, parks, bridges and roadways.
And it paid writers to write.
As part of the Federal Writers' Project, nearly 7,000 writers were hired to compile
local histories, guidebooks, children's stories all kinds of things. The
government edited and published the books.
Much to my disappointment, no similar program exists now but it should.
Our government has wasted some $20 billion interfering with a private auto company
that is only going to go bankrupt anyway. We'll never get that money back.
Our government has spent billions more bailing out financial companies that made
horrible decisions. We did so, we're told, because things would have been even worse
if we'd done nothing.
Our esteemed leaders passed into law a "stimulus" program that squandered billions
more on every pet project under the sun hardly any of them have anything to do
with stimulating the economy.
Since the birds in Washington, D.C., aren't making any effort to stop wasting money,
they might as well create another program to support writers and painters and other
Sure, I know what you're thinking: If someone wants to be a writer or painter, that
is his business. An artist shouldn't expect his neighbor to fund his chosen
I know, too, that the greatest writers this country has produced became great, in
part, because they made their own way. O. Henry is one of my favorite writers. He
worked odd jobs to pay the bills and his experiences became the source of his
most colorful stories.
And as much as I hate to admit it, I know that struggle is the foundation of great
art that great writing comes from those who find a way, late at night or early in
the morning before their day jobs, to find the time to write.
That is how I've been working on my book. But I'm tired of working so hard. I think
the government should bail me out, too.
I propose that the government hire 100,000 writers at a salary of $100,000 each. Our
package will include full benefits and the standard four weeks of paid vacation
(hey, writers need a break, too).
Before you complain that my proposed salary is too high and my proposed program too
costly, consider this: 100,000 writers times $100,000 in salary is only $10 billion.
That is such a small amount of money in these big-spending times, I am going to
revise my figures. I suggest we hire 1 million writers to bump the program up to
$100 billion per year still a drop in the bucket.
Think how much better our world will be if a million writers many of them now
struggling in unpleasant non-writing jobs are paid to write. Think of all the
wonderful prose that will flood bookshelves, thanks in part to the government
editors and government printing shops that will produce our works.
And if we produce too much prose for a hardworking America to ever get around to
reading, I have a solution for that, too: We can put other people on the government
payroll to read.
In any event, summer is almost upon us, and such are the thoughts that cause a
writer to muse.