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Young, Poor and Fed Up

With elections for the French presidency set to take place later in the spring, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new organization, Young & Poor, “has set itself the task of rating candidates in the presidential election campaign on their youth policies and their credibility in the fight to bring down youth unemployment.” Borrowing the measures of Standard & Poor’s and other financial ratings agencies, the organization will assign each candidate a grade ranging from AAA to E.

How are the candidates doing so far? None received a AAA rating. François Hollande, considered the frontrunner, earned a C, while President Nicolas Sarkozy got a D.

The rebuke is well deserved. Youth unemployment in France has surged to 22.4 percent, and the government’s own forecast for economic growth this year is a measly 0.5 percent. “Fears of a lost generation alienated from the workplace” have driven the issue to the forefront of the campaign season.

Via Meadia thinks the United States could use something like this. Young people should be far more interested than they currently are in what Via Meadia has called the “War on the Young“; maybe a politician-ratings agency is one way to go about that. Today’s young people will inherit towering challenges like Medicare and Social Security, and they ought to care and understand which candidate is most likely to fight for their rights.

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  • Jeff Medcalf

    That’s what the 18 year old vote was supposed to fix. The problem is that it’s an age that thinks more about whether the President wears boxers or briefs than the national debt. I am not mocking: I remember being young. It’s just silly to think that the young hold any short term hope for better policy. They have to get some wisdom beaten into them first. Of course, that’s true of our politicians as well.

  • Anthony

    “ViaMeadia thinks the United States could use something like this” (rating of PUBPOLS by Young, Poor and Fed Up) No doubt about it.

  • alex scipio


    Ever stopped to consider that in 1972, the first year we gave 18-yr-olds the vote, the National Debt was $400B, for which we had gained a continent and invented the modern world?

    And now, after letting the kiddies vote for two generations, the Debt is $16T and we’ve invented nothing?

    Who’s idea was it to let kids too dumb to understand the world vote on how it was run? Oh, yeah – I remember.. we figured that if they were old enough to go kill and die in Vietnam, they were responsbile enough to vote.

    Now that history has proven wrong that assumption, obviously we need an analog to the XXI.

  • Kris

    Génération Précaire grew in stature in early 2006 as it met with then Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin during the protests and strikes against the creation of a special employment contract for those getting their first jobs. The protests led to the government abandoning the new contract, which would have given young workers less security.

    Which means that young people trying to enter the workforce are subject to the existing inflexible rules, which makes them much harder to fire, which in turn makes employers much less likely to hire them. End result: a small number of very happy un-fireable young workers, and even higher youth unemployment. How unpredictable! Way to go, Génération Précaire!

  • Gerald

    It would be particularly useful if the “ratings” were initiated by people who had some understanding of economic analysis, and could evaluate the likely outcome of the policy positions of candidates. On the other hand, if evaluations are made simply on who “promises” to do the most for my group, young or old – it would just be more noise without any real relevance.

    Given the abysmal state of economic education of the very young voters, this is likely to turn into advocacy of the candidate with the most glorious and unrealistic promises (see candidate Obama in 2008). Your blog could do a great service in communicating the consequences of our current policies as implemented by the Federal Reserve, the President and the Congress in assuring the indebtedness of the younger generation and advocating some solutions.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Not that I would change it, but giving women the vote changed the country much, much more than giving it to 18 year olds and has much more to do with the condition of the country.

    And that debt may look small now,but it was large then, when Everett Dirkson said, “A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon we’re talking real money.” And thazt was a year after Nixon repudiated the Gold Exchange Standard. We’ve been going into debt for a long time, almost 1/3 of the country’s history.

  • Toni

    The problem is that young people in both countries believe they know more than they actually do. Who among us older folk hasn’t discovered how little we actually knew?

    In France, Sarkozy — once wildly popular — was elected on a platform that exalted work. But when the French learned that improving the prospects for new jobs would require backing off some of France’s Blue Social and Economic Model, they quickly cooled on him.

    Oh well. If Hollande wins, France will go broke even faster than it already is.

    Neither article mentions Marine Le Pen, who is also running. Googling the matter, I turned up this very interesting website, GalliaWatch — run out of Juarez, Mexico, of all places.

  • Jim.

    Any politician who promises special treatment of the interests of a demographic you don’t belong to is a candidate that’s hurting your interests. Does this new ratings agency take that fact into account?

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