“The book costs $129.” A clerk at the local bookstore looked at me with eyebrows lifted. He could probably tell by my shocked expression the price wasn’t what I’d expected. “What?”I resisted. “Are the pages made of gold leaf?”
The young man laughed. “It’s a textbook. After tuition, most of my money goes to buy books.”
Not surprisingly, I didn’t order the volume but walked home incensed. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, a book is a book is a book. Why should textbooks, like college tuitions, be hyper-inflated? The only answer that came to mind was, “it’s what the market will bear.” Students are in no position to haggle. They can’t ask for a senior discount and they’ve nowhere else to go. What’s at stake is the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, what their money buys comes with no guarantees. Enlightenment is fine but what students hope for are good jobs. Unfortunately, those prospects have been diminishing. “Between 1992 and 2000, 18 million people joined the workforce. Between 2000 and 2010, only 2.2 million were able to join.” (The Anti-Economist,” by Jeff Madrick, Harper’s, Dec. 2013 pg. 14.) What’s more older, people are delaying retirement because of the economy, making the future for youth look dimmer. (Ibid, pg. 14)
Europe has recognized the job problem and created a program called Youth Guarantee. It assists young people with apprenticeships or job training, making the cost of their education less burdensome (Ibid pg. 14) Bill Clinton created a similar program during his administration. AmeriCorps gave 18-24 year-olds intensive community-service experiences that included stipends, health-care coverage and job training. His budget, years ago, was 80 million dollars. Today it is significantly reduced.
There’s a cost to be paid for neglecting our young. Preferring to pour money into weapons and surveillance programs may make us feel safe but the looming danger could be civil unrest. Should that occur, the damage to the country will be greater than any leveled by foreign aggression.
(Courtesy of topdefinitions.com)