Young, Green, and Out of Work

(Thanks for the cross-post. The unemployment numbers are disturbing. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

by Rinku Sen & Billy Parish

Last week, the Labor Department reported that youth unemployment stands at 18.2%, nearly twice the national average of 9.8%. The percentage of young people without a job is a staggering 53.4 percent, the highest figure since World War II. Looking deeper, the statistics for youth of color are terrible and telling.

According to the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40.7% of black youth between 16-19 are unemployed, almost double the amount of whites teenagers (23%). For Latinos the same age, the rate is nearly 30%. Get a little older and the gap grows wider. Unemployment for black Americans aged 20-24 is 27.1%, over twice that faced by white youth (13.1%) in the same age range.

The glaring differences indicate that unemployment is not only decidedly raced, but also that the current economic condition is wholly unforgiving for young people of color. Only a massive, well-funded set of green jobs programs explicitly designed to close those racial gaps can create a truly vital, full-employment economy.

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A New Number For a New Era: From 9/11 to 350

Eight years ago today, two planes flew into the World Trade Center, another crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth landed in a Pennsylvania field. The raw power of that day came to be symbolized by a date composed of three numbers. Three numbers that evoked the shock of being attacked, the horror of the sounds and images on our television sets, and the heroism of so many men and women. Three numbers that framed the events of the last decade and seemed like they would define my generation.

But eight years ago, many in my generation couldn’t vote. We didn’t choose the President, his wars, or his policies. In fact, young Americans have largely rejected the politics of fear and division that dominated those formative years of our political consciousness—voting 2 to 1 in favor of Barack Obama. Today we remember the victims and honor our heroes, but we also have a new President, new crises, and three new numbers: 3-5-0. 350.

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Walmart's Faux Greening = McCain's Faux Change

If Walmart is a green company then John McCain is a candidate of change. Both are ridiculous suggestions, and both are being propagated by these two antiquated refuges of Republican America.

McCain, for his part, is suddenly casting himself as an agent of change after spending the last two years cozying up and currying favors from the Bush-Rove-Falwell axis.

And Walmart?  Well, the world’s largest retailer has launched a much-ballyhooed greening initiative that has won acclaim from everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Bill Clinton.

Just to be fair, let’s take them at their word for second – Maybe McCain and Walmart read some polls and learned that, wow, people want change and want to go green.  

But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t make them the gold standard.  They’ve still got a lot of atoning to do.

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