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July 8, 2021

American Idles

Far too many young people aren’t working or studying, and a lot can go wrong.

“Of all the cankers of human happiness, none corrodes it with so silent, yet so baneful, a tooth, as indolence.” ―Thomas Jefferson

It’s been a highly corrosive first three months of the year for America’s youth. A report produced by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) reveals that approximately 3.8 million Americans age 20 to 24 are not involved in employment, education, or training. This is called the NEET rate, and it is up by 740,000 people, or 24%, from a year earlier, before many young Americans lost their jobs or decided to defer college enrollment when campuses shut down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report further noted that black and Hispanic youth remain idle at disproportionate rates. “About one-in-four Black 20- to 24-year-olds were neither in school nor working during the first quarter of 2021 compared to about one-in-five Hispanics and one-in-six whites,” it states.

Columnist Augusta Saraiva notes the obvious. “Inactive youth is a worrying sign for the future of the economy, as they don’t gain critical job skills to help realize their future earnings potential,” he writes. “Further, high NEET rates may foster environments that are fertile for social unrest.”

One of the CEPR report’s authors, Simran Kalkat, concurs. “Current and ongoing recovery efforts need to do more to ensure that young adults in today’s diverse working class can improve their long-term prospects in the labor market and prosper in the years ahead,” she states.

Unfortunately, the recovery efforts promulgated by the Biden administration and the Democrat Party are inimical to such long-term prospects. And nothing demonstrates that better than a report released last March by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity that sounded the alarm. “The COVID relief bill (in combination with the $900 billion package signed into law back in December) contains the largest impediment to employment in modern times, if not in American history,” it states. “We estimate that between 5 and 7 million fewer Americans will be employed over the next six months if the bill passes.”

Unfortunately, it did pass, and Biden signed what is known as the American Rescue Plan into law. One of its main provisions was extension of the extra $300 weekly unemployment payments. This payment, combined with other forms of government relief, has paid people more to stay home than work. The report further reveals how damaging this has become, noting, “In many states, a family of four — two unemployed adults with two children — can qualify for benefits (on an annual basis) that will reach over $100,000.”

As the saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Nonetheless, columnist Brian Stieglitz endeavors to frame this as a positive development. “Alternatively, those who are not working may use their time to focus on social justice issues that otherwise may not have been on their radar,” he asserts. “This is one of the reasons for the massive number of Black Lives Matter protests last year, when many in lockdown used their time to demonstrate against George Floyd’s murder when they’d normally have been in work.”

They also used their time to riot, burn, and pillage American cities in a surge of anarchistic fury that precipitated $2 billion in damage, more than 25 deaths, and 14,000 arrests. And in too many cities run by social justice warriors masquerading as district attorneys, many of those arrested were ultimately released with no charges filed against them. Even those convicted were charged with lesser crimes resulting in no jail time.

The twin messages — working or going to school isn’t essential, and criminal behavior is excusable — have resonated. Crime rates are soaring in American cities, led by Chicago, where another 104 people were shot and 19 were killed over the July 4th weekend. Among the wounded were at least 13 children and two Chicago police supervisors.

By 5 p.m. Monday, Chicago had recorded 2,000 shootings so far this year.

What other issues are on young Americans’ “radar”? “Polls dating back to 2019 show that much of America’s youth is in favor of policing speech that isn’t popular, is supportive of burning down or ransacking private businesses amid gripes with government and also resents the idea they can succeed as capitalists,” columnist Kipp Jones reveals. “Of course, these people are young, and young people are often not very intuitive without the requisite life experience to see the error in their ways. Perhaps that will change once they begin experiencing the taxes that come with homeownership, starting families and owning businesses.”

That’s precisely what the Biden administration is discouraging. Columnist Isa Cox asks, “When our young people have been led to believe that financial security is as simple as electing politicians who claim they’re going to fleece the rich so the rest of us can live easy, how can we expect them to have any sense of what it takes to make something of oneself and obtain financial security on their own?”

We can’t. And perhaps nothing better illuminates that reality than the fact that more Millennials are currently living with their parents than ever before in history. A whopping 52% remain at home, surpassing a record set during the Great Depression.

Again, this is presented as a good thing. “Don’t let the memes and jokes on social media fool you,” columnist Ivy Locke asserts, “there are actually plenty of benefits to moving in with your folks — or staying at home longer if you haven’t moved out yet.”

What about the downsides? One might be inclined to wonder if extended dependency breeds contempt for one’s country. In a survey revealing that the overwhelming majority of Americans still remain proud of their country, one group stands out like a sore thumb: Only 36% of Americans age 18-24 are extremely or very proud of our nation, making it the sole demographic group where national pride falls below 50%.

Unsurprisingly, that disdain isn’t limited to a lack of patriotism. An Axios/Momentive Poll reveals that only 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds have a positive view of capitalism, and 54% have a negative view.

Unfortunately, contempt for one’s country and its economic system is likely to accelerate. While the economy is currently making strides due in large part to pent-up demand, and what amounts to “free” money engendered by the stimulus package, the inevitable increase in inflation — and unconscionable levels of national debt engendered by both political parties — will likely precipitate even higher levels of contempt by the generation of Americans left holding the proverbial bag by their profligate elders.

Thus, it is quite possible that self-imposed idleness isn’t as irrational as it may seem.

Yet young Americans enamored with the Left’s socialist/Marxist agenda might cast their eyes toward Venezuela, where the government is considering a cut of six zeroes from the inflation-ravaged Bolivar. Why? To simplify transactions with a virtually worthless currency. Before its descent into economic disaster, Venezuela boasted about being a model for “21st Century Socialism.”

Be careful what you wish for, Millennials. You might just get it — in spades.

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