Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"They must have their chance"

(President Franklin Roosevelt, image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.)

In dealing with the problem of youth unemployment, President Franklin Roosevelt stated in 1935: "I have determined that we shall do something for the Nation's unemployed youth because we can ill afford to lose the skill and energy of these young men and women. They must have their chance in school, their turn as apprentices, and their opportunity for jobs--a chance to work and earn for themselves. In recognition of this great national need, I have established a National Youth Administration, to be under the Works Progress Administration" (from the Final Report of the National Youth Administration: Fiscal Years 1936-1943, p. 23, Washington, DC: Federal Security Agency, War Manpower Commission, 1944).

Today, of course, the story is quite different. Since corporations and the super-wealthy have no need for a national jobs program, and since they control our government with campaign contributions and lobbyists, unemployed young adults have fewer and fewer opportunities for a good middle-class life (see "Middle Class Poorer, Earning Less And Shrinking"). Meanwhile, super-wealthy Americans like the Koch brothers are seeing their fortunes increase (see, e.g., "Koch Brothers Net Worth Soars Past $100 Billion"). 

To make matters worse, tens of millions of Americans stand ready to hand our entire Congress over to Republican and Tea Party politicians--politicians who are ready to give massive tax breaks to the super-wealthy and, of course, cut aid to Americans in need. The political right feels that super-wealthy Americans don't have enough money to invest, even though super-wealthy Americans control a historically high share of our nation's wealth (for example, the six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 40% of the U.S. population). The political right also feels that the super-wealthy are overtaxed, even though the super-wealthy are enjoying historically low tax rates.      

If you're an unemployed young adult these are the darkest of times. There is no National Youth Administration for you, only economic irrationality, plutocracy, and greed.     

(A young woman learns sewing skills in the National Youth Administration. This type of training helped young adults find jobs in private business. Image courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.)


  1. Kudos to The New Deal of the Day as it captures the spirit of both times: 1) the spirit of working together to solve our common problem of insecurity through the 1930s and 40s, and 2) the caustic spirit today in which the few robber barons hoard an increasingly obscene glob of wealth and resources while they leave most of the Earth and its people in dire insecurity and misery.

    1. Thank you! The common good has definitely, and unfortunately, been completely trounced by the principles of personal profit. It's sad to watch.

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  3. The saddest part of the sick spirit of wealth and power today is the shallowness of the right-wing argument. But the greed-heads back their doctrine of power with bully scare tactics. And they will use actual economic brutality as witnessed in the 2008 bursting of the housing bubble, the implosion of hard-earned shelter as as humiliating as costly shrapnel into the faces of workers.