Bernie Sanders’ Plan for America’s Young Adults
I first saw the video excerpt below at dailykos.com. It is well worth watching. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) addressed the Senate on July 08, 2015.
In the 17-minute speech above, Sanders’ words are pointed as he tells Congress that it is “out of touch with the American people.” He talks of the need to raise the minimum wage. Sanders notes the redistribution of wealth in America over the last 30 years. He talks of the shrinking middle class, of how the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans own 22 percent of the wealth, and how the bottom 90 percent also own 22 percent of America’s wealth.
He notes that in America, “the richest country in the world ever,” around 50 percent of school children are on free or reduced lunch. Sanders also discussed parents drowning financially from trying to afford child care and calls for universal pre-K.
And he calls No Child Left Behind (NCLB) “a failure.”
Sanders next discusses youth unemployment, an issue he says has gone unaddressed, with over 5.5 million young people as either having dropped out of high school or having graduated and are not employed. Sanders cites that according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the average real unemployment rate for high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 was 33.8 percent for whites and 36.1 percent for Hispanics (April 2014 to March 2015). Sanders also noted that average real unemployment rate for black graduates and dropouts was 51.3 percent.
Sanders: “It is no great secret to anyone that without work, without education, without hope, people get into trouble…. In the US today, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth… more than China, with a population of over three times our population.” Sanders cites the tragedy that over half of America’s black males are arrested by the age of 23.
Sanders: “If current trends continue, one in four black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. This is an unspeakable tragedy. It is something we cannot continue to ignore. But this crisis is not just the destruction of human life. It is also very, very costly to the taxpayers of our country. Locking people up in jail is a very expensive proposition.” Sanders notes that America pays $70 billion a year on correctional facilities.
He notes that Congress has been remiss in not focusing on helping young Americans “begin their adult life in a productive way.”
Sanders: “Let me be very clear… it makes a lot more sense for us to be investing in jobs and in education than to be spending billions of dollars on jails and on incarceration.”
And the point of Sanders’ speech:
“I have introduced legislation, along with Representative John Conyers in the House, that would provide $5.5 million in immediate funding to states and cities throughout this country to employ one million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24, and to provide job training opportunities to young adults. …It is a lot less expensive to provide jobs and education to our young people than to lock them up and to destroy their lives.”
An excellent point. And I must add that it is nice to hear about legislation that is separate from the mammoth ESEA reauthorization.