My wife Maggie graduated from an art school in 1987. This was in Bulgaria, a Communist country at the time. Everything was government-owned so the only job a person could get was a government job. It shouldn’t have been too hard: Communist propaganda at the time promised that the ill of unemployment – which capitalists in the West used to keep the workers’ class in subjection – was going to be eradicated under Communism. Everyone would have a job and no one would have to wait in lines at employment agencies. Even more than that: since everything was planned under Communism, even education and the specialties in the universities and the specialized high schools, every young men and woman would be able to find a job in their own specialty.
Or that’s what the propaganda said.
My wife ended up unemployed for months, looking for a job. She wanted to go to college as well but the rules at the time required that she had at least 8 months of job experience in order to apply; which of course she didn’t have because she couldn’t find a job. Even if she wanted to pay for college, she wouldn’t be allowed because education was all free – free, that is, but subject to so many rules and regulations that in the end, a person couldn’t get education even if it was free. And she couldn’t get a job.
May be if she tried to find friends or connections in higher places, she would be able to find a job. But she preferred to go by the legal channels. So she stayed unemployed. And so did millions of young people in Eastern Europe, in the face of propaganda that promised jobs and career growth more than anything else.
Youth unemployment is not limited to the Communist brand of socialism in Eastern Europe. It is also a feature of the “democratic” socialism in the West these days. After decades of Keynesian policies and promises for job creation, the age segment between 16 and 24 years of age is unemployed more than any other time in history, percentage-wise. The latest unemployment statistics for Britain show that while the 16-24 age group is only one-fourth of the total labor force in Britain, it accounts for almost half the unemployment. Numbers are much worse for Spain and Greece where between 30 and 40% of the labor force between 16 and 24 can’t find a permanent job.
And while the young are struggling under the European socialism, they are not much better under the Obama socialism in America: our own labor statistics show that youth unemployment for the US has been close to 20% for two and half years now. And even those that got expensive college education and are generally luckier to have found a job, it is usually a lower-paying job than normally expected; which in its turn means that the education loans would be repaid much later in life and therefore a young family will have harder time buying the family home or accumulating inheritance for the children.
All in all, young people are the ultimate losers from any kind of socialism, whether Communist or Liberal-Democrat. Socialism means they have bad start in life, which later will affect their family lives, their careers, and their financial growth.
There is a reason for it. From the perspective of an employer – whether a government employer or a private employer – there is much higher risk involved in hiring a young man or a woman. A person’s job history is usually the best indicator for their reliability and work ethic. Granted, it is important that a person is talented and innovative in their work – and young people are more open to innovations – but most of the time a company needs people who have proven to be stable, reliable, and long-term oriented. The key word here is “proven”; and the proof is their professional resume. Without a resume, a person stands lower chances to get employed.
There is only one hope for the young; a situation in which employers would be very open to hire them. This is when the market allows taking higher risks in terms of investments and invention; and therefore the employers can take higher risks at hiring people with less aversion to innovations and risk. When the employer knows that whatever risk he takes on the market, won’t be subject to government interference and regulations; and when an entrepreneur knows that any investments they make – if they are successful – will produce profits for themselves and won’t be punished by taxes, unions’ demands, or other means of government or private confiscation. The freedom to take risks and gain from them – or lose – leads directly to the willingness to give younger people the chance to prove themselves.
But when investors, entrepreneurs, and employers are choked by taxes and government regulations, their main concern is the preservation of things as they are. And that’s why socialism always produces youth unemployment in large numbers.
In the 19th and early 20th century, American youth were employed and worked and prospered, learning new jobs, conquering new lands, and building a future for themselves. The key word there is for themselves, not for a government, and not for the goals of an elite class of social engineers. At the same time, their European counterparts started riots and revolution, or ended up in the self-pity of “lost generations.” Only when socialism really hit America in the 1960s, America saw youth unemployment on the rise, and therefore American youth acting as the European youth. A generation that wanted socialism, eventually got hit by the results of socialism.
But they didn’t learn from it.
Hopefully this generation will.