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Editorial Note by Historical Chair: "Throughout history Civil Engineers have been integral to building, improving and preserving our nation. And, if given the chance, could make an important contribution now towards truly "bailing us out" from the economic woes while also rebuilding much of our aging infrastructure. Reflecting on similar prior times in our history, the potential for a meaningful bailout strategy was eloquently addressed by UT Arlington civil engineering student Bo Chapman. His "bull" paper, written in November 2008 as part of his initiation to the national civil engineering honor fraternity Chi Epsilon, is reprinted below with his permission. Bo is in his JUNIOR year of study at UT Arlington and plans to graduate in December of 2009. Raised in the small town on Ivanhoe, Texas, his desire to study civil engineering stems from a special interest in construction and the construction process. After graduation Bo hopes to contribute to the civil engineering field as he works in the DFW area. Thought you'd enjoy reading the well-formed thoughts of a young civil engineer who will be making history in the years to come."

Terms for a Bailout by Bo N. Chapman

In the shadow of another vicious national political cycle, an economical nightmare is being realized and the onset of a recession is upon us. While our markets continue to plummet, national leaders debate how best to distribute the congressionally approved $700 billion bailout. The same $700 billion bailout that promises to suppress any hope of reducing the national deficit before we pass it along to our children and grandchildren. Some would argue that the bail out is necessary to ensure the 1 in 10 jobs in America tied to the auto industry or that it is necessary to promote the steady flow of capital within our nation’s banks and financial institutions. Others, however, claim to have a better suggestion.

During his presidency and in the midst of even tougher economic times, President Franklin D. Roosevelt invested in the American people and instituted a national public works program that created thousands of jobs for more than a decade. Deploying a similar national public works program today would be a great way to solidify the investment of the American tax payer and promise the return on investment that corporate executives could never guarantee.

With such a well distributed investment into our country’s infrastructure, we could expect to see a widespread creation of jobs with, of course, engineers, planners, developers, and contractors at the center of these news jobs. In addition to these new jobs, the program could stimulate cash flow on every level of our economy all while improving and expanding those systems which are so vital to physical and digital commerce in this country. Certainly this option would eliminate the risk involved with handing ill motivated CEOs a blank check, and restore confidence in the American worker.

I realize that the topic of this paper does not “shoot off on a tangent into the realms of fantasy” and does not possess a certain clever humor; however, in these difficult and important times I feel that all solutions to the issues at hand should be heard and debated thoroughly. After all, each and every decision we make is sure to drastically change the world we leave to our children and future generations.

- John P. Wier, P.E., R.P.L.S., Historical Chair, Fort Worth Branch ASCE, May 2009

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