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February 19, 2014

The Catholic pope has rightly portrayed world-wide youth unemployment as one of the two most pressing global problems we have today, and apparently Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany and the daughter of a Lutheran minister, may agree. This is especially telling since Merkel is Madame Austerity in the flesh who dictates the economies and effectively trashes the sovereignties of such losers as Greece, Spain and Portugal via “loans” under EU auspices, but loans with conditions that almost guarantee that the debtor states’ wounded bond markets cannot recover. After multiple loans, Greek bonds are still in junk status. Greece, Spain and Portugal, unsurprisingly, have massive unemployment among their youth, and that reality contains the seeds of civil commotion and unrest – not a desirable situation for the establishment to continue its prosperous ways.
Unlike here, at least European nations are openly discussing this perhaps dangerous unemployment situation among their youth and are (even though austerity exponents) planning a Keynesian approach to its solution. The EU plans to expand its youth-employment initiatives by setting aside $8 billion over the next seven years to finance work programs in regions where youth unemployment is high. In the works is a so-called Youth Guarantee in which EU member states have guaranteed that anyone under the age of 25 who leaves school or becomes unemployed will “receive a high-quality offer of a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship” within four months. This forward-looking effort to head off massive unemployment among European youth is an excellent means of heading off the crisis within the EU and its outline is clearly Keynesian and definitely not the product of any known austerity view. I predict that the EU will solve its youth unemployment problem with such a program in secular terms and please the pope in terms of what he considers moral, fair and just as well. Not forgotten in this discussion is that the EU with such a program will have better trained workers to help them compete in a global economy and where with Keynesian wherewithal such workers will be paying taxes into rather than withdrawing social payments out of the governments’ coffers. Over time, such an $8 billion dollar investment will likely not only pay for itself, but show a profit to the sponsoring governments. Everyone wins!
So is there any chance that our Congress could follow the EU lead and adopt Keynesian tactics to put our nation’s youth to work on public projects, pay them to go to vocational tech schools (some welders are making $50 an hour now and paying big time taxes to our treasury), or otherwise involve such youth in work preparation schooling so that they can live decent lives and pay in rather than take out of our treasury? None; we are in the clutches of austerity economics where orderly reduction of our bills is more important than our future as a viable state. So experts say that our failure to address our youth-employment crisis will lead to long-term difficulties for our country; that without good work prospects, young people will pay less in taxes over the years and depend more on Medicaid, food stamps, and other social assistance; that our prison population will continue to expand? So what, say our austerity hawks. We have to reduce the deficit even as we fade into Third World obscurity. Keynesianism is a four-letter word; let’s not prepare our youth for work – that’s their problem. (We know that after WW II the United States graduated a higher proportion of teenagers from high school than any other nation, and our economy hummed. As of 2011, we rank 18th out of 24 wealthy nations, and our economy is not humming – except for the 1 percent). Forget America and its people; just keep Wall Street happy. Is this our fate? I fervently hope not, but we just can’t sit here and watch it happen. Let’s wake up! GERALD E


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