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Friday, June 24, 2011

Lindorff to young America

Return from joblessness, homelessness, inertia to Protest
Edited excerpt by Carolyn Bennett

Expecting the White House to act on the crisis of long-term joblessness and diminished expectations for young workers is foolish, journalist and author Dave Lindorff says in a late May article at “This can’t be happening” and Common Dreams.

Half-truths and lies

Unemployment among Egypt’s young men and women soars at 30 percent; Tunisia’s exceeds 40 percent and Washington says conditions like that threaten rising democracies.

Unemployment among U.S. young people also stands at underreported and alarming levels: official numbers overall at 20 percent but among young African-Americans, the unemployment rate is 44 percent; among young Latinos, 30 percent.  Moreover, in that the government’s official numbers exclude part-time workers who want full-time work and job seekers who have given up looking for work,  the Labor Department’s official rate of 9 percent unemployment for all Americans has to be false.

Eliminating from the youth unemployment numbers an adjustment for people working part-time who want full-time work and keeping the adjustment for those who have dropped out of the labor force because there are no jobs leaves actual unemployment for U.S. young people (30 percent overall, 45 percent for young Latinos, 66 percent for black youth) at levels found in Egypt.

Why then is Washington concerned with providing economic support to boost jobs in Tunisia and Egypt to ‘support democracy’ while “throwing in the towel” on job creation in the United States? Government’s statements defy belief by reasonable people.  

Africa’s present meets America’s past

Traditional U.S. groups (the labor movement, civil rights and political groups on the left) that used to organize “frustrated and angry young people” and bring them onto the streets in demonstrations have been effectively “neutered.” These groups have entered campaign mode and are focusing on elections, recalls, and the 2012 presidential contest — instead of on organizing unemployed and frustrated young people for their future.

“Expecting the White House to act on the crisis of long-term joblessness of and diminished expectations for young people is foolish,” Lindorff says.

In Egypt and Tunisia, young people took to the streets and stood down police and soldiers, ultimately bringing down their governments. However, although young Americans see national policies, state policies and corporate lobbying focused on cutting taxes and boosting corporate profits, and robbing them of their futures — they are mostly like their parents: quiescent, inert, inactive.

To a great extent, they react to frustrations of joblessness and underemployment with self-destructive or anti-social excess: with drugs and alcohol, gang activity, crime.

A better way forward

If people banded together and took over city squares, demanding government action — though they would face tear gas- and baton-armed police as Tunisians and Egyptians did — they would capture the attention of and obtain help from governments local and state and from the White House and houses of the U.S.  Congress.

“Young people,” Dave Lindorff concludes, “have the stamina and courage” to act positively, constructively, progressively in their own behalf and for the future.

Sources and notes

Dave Lindorff’s article was first published Saturday May 28, 2011, at This Can't Be Happening,  “Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?” Copyright © 2011 This Can’t Be Happening

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist and author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains and The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net


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