Op ed writer E.J. Dion’s newest piece appeared in our local newspaper this morning titled, Political dysfunction spells trouble for democracies. It is a timely and terribly important topic about which we here at MMR have bandied around for some time. It focuses on youth, primarily American and German, who face ever-smaller slices of the economic pie.
Of course, there is a difference between American youth and the German youth even though nations both belong to the G8. One political the other educational. German children are educated on a two-tier track: they either go on to higher education or begin studying a trade depending on high school testing. They aren’t tossed to the wind on graduation day as are American students. And college tuition is free in nearly all of the states and only moderately expensive in two [500€ per semester]. Thus German youth are prepared well as they enter the workforce.
Secondly, as Dion points out, today’s youth, according to a recent report titled, The Democratic Disconnect, are facing obstacles that post-war children never faced: “The collective engagement of a concerned citizenry for the public good is eroding. Democratic governments often seem crippled in their capacity to deliver what their people want and need.”
Here in the U.S. many of us know that and are lamenting the gridlock that has kidnapped our democracy. As Dion says at the end of his article, “They could begin by pondering what an unemployed 28-year-old makes of a ruling elite that expends so much energy feuding over how bureaucrats rewrote a set of talking points.”
Dion points out, in a 2009 survey by the German polling firm Forsa: “that zero percent — yes, zero percent — of workers in Germany believe they can have a significant impact on how policy in Germany is shaped via the ballot box.”
At least they are realistic. Of course, at the present time, the German social safety-net is much broader and tighter than here in the U.S. Germans take care of their youth and pensioners. Their cities run well, transportation and infrastructure is excellent as are their schools and their economy is relatively stable.
Here in mid-May many high schools are holding graduation ceremonies. For many, it is the end of their formal education. They will walk across the stage, smile, get their diploma and face the reality that this piece of paper guarantees nothing. It is essentially useless in planning for a solid economic future. Of course, this all sadly suggests that our society may become responsible for the care of this person throughout their life.
What a jackpot for right-wing political banter!
And the vicious cycle.
And the gridlock.