Monday, April 30, 2012

A Lost Generation

Mitt Romney and George Bush the Elder share at least one characteristic. As former governor Anne Richards used to say, each "was born with a silver foot in his mouth." Last week, Romney advised the young to “take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.”

It's nice to be able to borrow money from your folks. After all, Mitt entered the job market knowing that another George could serve as his banker. But, these days, an education does not necessarily lead to a job. The Guardian reports that, since 2008, youth unemployment in Europe has skyrocketed-- a direct consequence of the austerity prescription. That would be the same prescription Paul Ryan and Mr. Romney advocate for Americans.

"You’ve probably heard lots," writes Paul Krugman, "about how workers with college degrees are faring better in this slump than those with only a high school education, which is true.

But the story is far less encouraging if you focus not on middle-aged Americans with degrees but on recent graduates. Unemployment among recent graduates has soared; so has part-time work, presumably reflecting the inability of graduates to find full-time jobs. Perhaps most telling, earnings have plunged even among those graduates working full time — a sign that many have been forced to take jobs that make no use of their education. 

Europe has served as a laboratory for the Ryan-Romney solution. Last week, Britain went back into recession. The evidence is irrefutable:

As you look at the economic devastation in Europe, you should bear in mind that some of the countries experiencing the worst devastation have been doing everything American conservatives say we should do here. Not long ago, conservatives gushed over Ireland’s economic policies, especially its low corporate tax rate; the Heritage Foundation used to give it higher marks for “economic freedom” than any other Western nation. When things went bad, Ireland once again received lavish praise, this time for its harsh spending cuts, which were supposed to inspire confidence and lead to quick recovery. 

Throughout the Western World, the young are drowning in the economic wreckage of the last thirty years. They are a lost generation. Mitt Romney may have finally secured the Republican nomination for president. But putting him in the White House would merely compound the disaster.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.


Puzzled said...

Many European countries which responded to the recession with cuts to goverment spending have been left with still-faltering economies. Cuts are still being advocated by the American Republican Party and by its slavish clone, the Canadian Conservative Party.

But the current American Administration, imitating the more humane methods of Franklin D. Roosevelt, has responded with increased spending in such critical areas as infra-structure and education, investing in the future. Yesterday Fareed Zakaria claimed Americans have seen solid increases in their GSP as a result.

Why, the issue of alienating Canadian youth aside, is Harper choosing to follow the path of least economic returns? Does he see something the average Canadian cannot?

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps the answer, Puzzled, is contained in another of Krugman's observations. The Right, he maintains, has replaced analysis with moralizing.

Harper has taken dead aim at the agencies which provide the data for competent analysis.

Today, employees at Statistics Canada are waiting to see and hear how the axe will fall.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

You should be quoting yjr economist Joseph Stiglitz

The approach to balancing budgets by cutting back may be the very opposite to what should be done. Balancing the budget by shrinking the economy is a counterproductive downward spiral. Some think stimulating the economy can grow the economy and thus pay the deficit with increased income from taxes.

This is what ARgentina did in the early part of this century. They went bankrupt after they tried the neo-liberal orthodoxy of the US, IMF and World Bank. Within a few years their economy was growing in double digits. Yes they suffer from inflation and increased debt but the pain to the average Agentine was much less.

OUr Conservative government is going down this neo-liberal road. I await increased unemployment and loss of important services for ordinary Canadians.

Owen Gray said...

Stiglitz, like Krugman, has also been a voice crying in the wilderness, Phillip.

It's interesting that both men have expertise in international economic management.

They also have history on their side. But, as Stephen Harper showed last week -- and as the song says -- he "don't know much about history."