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Ask any recent college graduate the most shocking statistic about our economic slump and you won’t get any percent GDP or loss of market capitalization number.
Instead, the cry of the college aged is summed up in this simple statistic: Nearly 70 percent of those graduating from college this year are estimated to not have a job.
While the seeming wizards of Wall Street cast blame on others as easily as a child waves a toy wand, the now defunct dark magic of collateralized debt obligations or credit default swaps looms large when nearly three-fourths of us don’t have a job. Fault should be apportioned, but we should also focus on the future. Yet, in the words of 2Pac, hip-hop’s first Icarus, “it’s on us to do what we gotta do, to survive… and still I see no changes.”
Change and survival are words this generation now knows all too well. They are also terms our nation of immigrants has embraced. We must continue to persevere through hard times by adopting those public policy solutions that work — wherever we may find them.
FDR, hero to a generation at home and captain of the arsenal of democracy to those abroad, did much to avoid a jobless recovery during his Administration and young Americans today are learning the right lessons from that time.
Two young progressives, Ethan Porter and Elon Plotkin, have proposed instituting a version of FDR’s National Youth Administration that would put young Americans to work and sow the seeds of a long term recovery. Porter and Plotkin’s proposal asks that we dig deeper and think about instituting a version of this successful New Deal effort that was a “part jobs program, part student aid program.”
Such a 21st-century version of the youth program could be financed at a fraction of the financial bailouts, and an investment in college tuition relief would reap many long term benefits.
Further, a coalition of youth policy and activist groups have come together to demand action for young Americans without jobs. This ambitious coalition entitled 80 Million Strong — 80 million for the number of youth they hope to speak for and unite — is gearing up for a national summit and raising awareness of the critical issues surrounding not only the job market, but also related issues with health insurance coverage and access to higher education.
Such efforts may not ultimately sway serious legislation, but the cry is clear
Those intent on creating American jobs would do well to listen to our past when confronted with market capitalization statistic that hides the hard numbers of unemployment:
“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.” – RFK
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