"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable." - Adam Smith
Should we just cut checks to the poor then? No, there are far more beneficial ways to put the money to active use. Bring back the WPA to build new roads, bridges, and parks. Perhaps invest in a few additional backhoes and such -- especially for the road and bridge work. But for the parks, skip as much of the modern machinery as possible and issue the workers a bunch of shovels, hammers & nails, and materials and build 'em the old-fashioned way. We have a shortage of decent paychecks. We can use investments in infrastructure to fix that. And when the economy picks up and unemployment lowers, we wind down projects to ordinary levels and gradually release those workers back into the ordinary system. The infrastructure improvements will remain and keep helping business. It's a win for everyone.