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Solving Youth Unemployment and High Student Debt in America

by John Brian Shannon | July 29, 2016

THREE WAYS to PERMANENTLY solve high youth unemployment, low wages for young workers and interns, and high student debt loads faced by youth in the United States.

1) Institute a student military draft.

It’s not like we’re going to war, or that we’re likely to start a new war, anytime soon.

Each young person should be required to serve one year (their gap year) either as a cadet (between junior high school and senior high school) or at a slightly older age (between senior high and college) or even older (between college and first year university) and be free to choose when they serve their compulsory military service — as long as they complete their service by age 25.

Maybe the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could partner-up with Habitat for Humanity to get some hands-on experience and see realworld problems and solutions, firsthand.

With significant numbers of students fulfilling their ‘gap year’ responsibilities to the military, it leaves that many fewer students to compete for the same jobs or internships.

Which will obviously drive up demand among their typical employers, and thereby drive up their wages — thereby making demand for their employment comparable to the demand experienced by their parent’s generation.

Not only would these kids learn valuable skills, they would form lifelong friendships and have the opportunity to meet other kids from all parts of the country and from all walks of life.

And a real shot at a quality job with decent pay once they complete their schooling.

Problem #1 solved.

2) Serve one year compulsory military service in good order and gain one free college degree!

We’ve seen that kids with lower levels of education tend to remain their entire lives with that same low level of education. (They will always work at a blue collar job) And never have a real opportunity to move into a higher economic quintile.

But we’ve also seen hundreds of thousands of kids with college degrees working at menial jobs — and happy to have ANY job.

I ‘solved’ the problem of too much competition in the student and post-student job market in my point #1 above, so what is left but to ensure that each student has the opportunity to gain a one-college-degree-education, to have a real shot at moving up by (at least) one economic quintile.

How to pay for that?

When a young person serves in the military for their one-compulsory-year military service, that should entitle them to one, no-cost college degree.

It’s so simple!

Serve one year compulsory military service in good order and gain a free college degree!

And once you’ve completed that; Once you enter the job market, not only will you have more marketable skills and experience, you’ll notice a wide-open job market as other students will be away serving *their* compulsory yearlong military service.

3) For today’s students and post-graduate students overburdened by student debt, they should likewise be invited to serve one year in the military to ‘work off’ some portion of their existing student debt via their one-year-compulsory military service. Let’s say to a maximum of $36,000.

For some students, this may only represent half of their total student loan debt, but for as long as they remain unemployed that debt isn’t getting paid anyway. If they want to drop their total student loan debt by $36,000. all they would need to do is apply under the student draft provision.

Of course, the military may not need all those people. But there is crumbling infrastructure all over America that needs low-cost labour to bring it back up to standard. And there is plenty of planned infrastructure that needs building and low cost labour, just waiting to be built.

What could be cheaper than hiring the Army Corps of Engineers — partially staffed with student labour?

To solve housing shortages for the bottom quintile in America, what is better than thousands, or tens of thousands of young, bright, energetic students seconded from the US military to build those housing units?

Not that the students will earn a wage while working in the military, but they won’t have to pay rent for one year — as the military will house them. Nor will they have to pay for food or clothing — as the military pays for all of that. Nor will they have to pay for medical or dental or injury issues — as the military routinely pays for all of that and more. In short, the student cadets will have zero expenses and will be fed, housed, clothed, and have their medical needs taken care of.

How to pay for all of this?

Well, it’s cheaper than you could imagine.

There wouldn’t be any labour costs for student labour. And corporations and various levels of governments could help to defray some of the costs via sponsorship of some infrastructure programmes.

However, the military may require a minor increase of 5% in their annual budget.

It would be worth double or triple that, in order to solve many of the social problems of the student cohort and post-student cohort.

During their military service, the military would be 100% financially responsible for these people, but via all of the cost savings from national and state infrastructure spending (no labour cost for student workers!) and other projects where the military can direct student workers, the students will more-than pay their way.

Not only that, but some corporations may want to sponsor work-teams to beautify certain parts of their city or at their corporate headquarters via tree-planting programmes, or whatever.

Free labour for federal, state, and city infrastructure projects, lower youth unemployment levels, student and post-graduate debt-lowering or debt elimination, and higher wages for newly in-demand interns and students. What’s not to like?

A few countries already have partial versions of this sort of programme so it’s not like it couldn’t be done.

Read: It Couldn’t be Done by Albert A. Guest


Related Article:


It Couldn’t Be Done

by Edgar Albert Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.


President Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower

Ike Eisenhower was the last Republican president to balance the federal budget. He paid down the national debt. He spent money to create jobs. Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway system (begun and completed on-time and on-budget during his first term) returned more than $6 in economic activity for each $1 it cost. He did not lower taxes, cut spending, kill jobs, or increase the national debt. President Ike Eisenhower was America’s last fiscal conservative!