The blue social model’s war against the young is one of the dominant — and little reported — characteristics of our time. Those curious about the long-term effects of blue social policy would do well to look to Southern Europe, where an entire generation of young people is facing the prospect of entering mid-adulthood without the experience of gainful employment. The situation in Italy is a case in point — an article in the Wall Street Journal describes a situation in which social protections originally designed to protect all workers end up strangling the country’s growth and creating a two tier society with devastating consequences for people under 30:
Among the raft of overhauls that Italy’s government aims to rush through Parliament by September is a measure that would allow companies and unions to agree to opt out of labor regulations that have deterred the hiring of young workers.But the proposals have drawn heated opposition from Italy’s powerful unions. “This would damage the rights of all workers in order to help the young,” says Vincenzo Scudiere, head of industrial relations for CGIL, Italy’s largest union. The union argues the government should levy a wealth tax, with the proceeds going to fund incentives for companies to hire entry-level workers.Under current rules, workers laid off by their employers can appeal in court and judges can force companies to rehire them if the layoff was “without just cause.” In practice, that has prevented companies from reducing their staffs in lean times. As a result, employers are reluctant to hire new workers even in good times. That means many young workers can find only short-term, poorly paid work contracts that don’t have such protections.
Partly as a result of these policies, youth unemployment in Italy stands at thirty percent, and young people can find no way into good jobs.In America, too, blue social policy is gradually turning into an all out war against the young. Colleges build larger and more complex administrative-bureaucratic structures — and bill the kids through student loans. Unions sacrifice the wages and retirement benefits of new workers to protect the status of the old. At every level of government around the country, services are being slashed as government struggles with unfunded pensions. Medicare is a colossal inter-generational Ponzi scheme; there is simply no way that younger people will get the kind of Medicare that their tax dollars now provide to the elderly of today.Youth is typically generous and openhearted and young people helped bring blue politicians to power in 2006 and 2008. It may be time for a rethink; at some point every generation needs to stand up for itself. Unfortunately, in a world dominated by the decline of the blue social model, if youth doesn’t act for itself, its elders are mostly unwilling to help.