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Why Young American Workers Need the American Student Union’s Proposed “New National Youth Administration”

By: Max Reed
American Student Union

During the throes of the Great Depression brought on by the cyclical crisis of overproduction, several programs were employed by the Roosevelt Administration through the New Deal. One of these programs was the “National Youth Administration” as part of the Works Progress Administration. This program employed 4.5 million American youth in vocational training and education, allowing these young men and women to find work. The program, however, like many progressive initiatives during the 1930s and 40s was terminated at the end of World War II.

Today, with rising inflation, a housing market entirely hostile to young workers and their families, and an economy thoroughly in the hands of monopolist parasites, it is now more than ever time for a New National Youth Administration. Young Americans find themselves overworked, with no future prospects, and no affordable decent housing or government relief. The current anti-labor government of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party offer no tangible way out of the crisis that faces American youth. The government which failed to pass the PRO Act and viciously crushed a railroad strike is an enemy of working people not only in the United States but the peoples of the world.

The American Student Union representing a broad section of young workers, students, and youth of all backgrounds has for this reason proposed a New National Youth Administration. Our program is not radical. It is common sense for the rejuvenation of the American working class and the salvation of this country. In short, the ASU program for a New National Youth Administration is as follows:

  1. Establish a Work-Study Program that focuses on enhancing youth training and experience in the fields of Industry, Science, Technology, and Manufacturing. The Work-Study Program will be offered at all High Schools and Colleges. All American youth will have access to this program regardless of their respective background. The New National Youth Administration (NYA) would fund and organize this program.
  1. Students/Youth should be paid monthly for projects and study. American youth who are contributing to scientific research and other initiatives should be compensated for the labor that they provide. The pay should be on a monthly salary basis and the programs would be overseen by the new NYA.
  1. Assistance for Mothers who are students (HS, Undergrad, Postgrad, Trade) such as subsidies and guaranteed income. Due to the high cost of raising children, many American women choose to not have children. This especially applies to women who are already dealing with student debt and are overworked and underpaid. American mothers should be relieved of debt, have assistance in limiting work hours while maintaining fair pay, and have access to childcare to free up mothers’ time to be full participants in society.
  1. All students should have access to stable dorm housing. This would include a limit on students per suite and dorm. Hygienic conditions must be guaranteed by the New NYA and students should not be responsible for bringing toiletries and other necessities for dorm life. The current system of for-profit room and board must be abolished and replaced. There must be assistance and protection for students who are fleeing from domestic violence; lack of housing is one of the main reasons why women are unable to leave an abusive partner.
  1. Youth-guaranteed employment in public works. America is suffering from a deep infrastructure decline. To rescue our country, we must employ all unemployed or underemployed youth in public works programs. These public works would involve building high speed rail, repairing roads, bridges, sidewalks, and tunnels, and maintaining/protecting national forests.
  1. All students and youth must be guaranteed free meals on campus provided for by the school and funded by the New NYA. High Schools and colleges must offer quality food that is up to nutritional and edible standards. Meals would include Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
  1. American youth must be given pathways apart from white-collar labor: industry, medicine, engineering, and the sciences. Paid apprenticeship programs should be initiated under a new NYA with full union rights, fair pay, and at no expense.
  1. All DACA recipients should be given immediate American citizenship. The US Government through its destructive policies has caused several migration crises. It is not the fault of the children who came to this country without free will that they are perpetually stuck. As these children were raised and grew up in America, they are Americans.

This program would solve many problems that not only young people are faced with in the America of today but many crippling economic deficiencies that Americans regardless of age face. The lack of production, sustainable energy, infrastructure, and other immense problems will of course need subsequent programs to solve. A New National Youth Administration is far from a cure to the problems brought upon young Americans by the current monopolist system, but it is a step forward toward a brighter, freer, and more prosperous America.

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