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Tackling the Youth Unemployment Problem

Updated on July 9, 2017
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.


In conversations with some here on HubPages, I am frustrated by the common miss conception about conservatives and the conservatism philosophy. They seems to believe that conservatives wants to do nothing and just let things be. The false narrative is that you either support government programs or you are for the status quo. There is a third way and that is apply conservative principles to problem solving. It works in many areas and it should help in the current youth unemployment issue.

- May. 2016


The current high youth unemployment is many years in the making. The solution will take time as well. Some people have suggested various programs to help. The truth is, the problem has many underlying components and just providing a job training program will fail and they have failed as the Cato Institute reported. What are the contributing factors?

1. Poor Education in inner city schools.

2. Government mandated minimum wage limits.

3. Rise of illegal immigrants able and willing to take entry level jobs.

4. Lack of good work ethics.

5. Glorification of Pop Culture and Drugs in the Media.

6. Failed government social programs that discourage work and breakdown families.

7. A growing entitlement mentality that believes people are "entitled" to benefits.

8. Lack of trade schools to train people for real jobs

Conservative Solutions

Here are some proposals that Conservatives believe will help. There are no magic bullets and as I mentioned before, it will take time. Our youth is our future and we need to help them get on the right footing. Help does not always mean more money or higher taxes. It might be a change in public policy or a change in regulation or just a change in "thinking" about problem solving.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, I had no problem finding work. What has changed?

Let me address the points one by one in my previous module.

1. Public education in inner cities have been a failure and yet our government officials and teacher's unions and some parents don't seem to care. Why are we insisting of keeping the status quo when some experiments have shown Charter schools have delivered better results with less money? Conservative principle believe competition is a way towards excellence and efficiency. We need to give parent's a choice where to send their kids. This one act will incentivize schools to improve or loose. A better educated student will give them a leg up in getting a job and keeping it and advancing.

2. The minimum wage debate is moot. The problem is not the low wages. It is the fact that the entry level jobs of past has been co opted by a permanent class of low skilled workers. By making a law that mandates $15 per hour minimum wage in some cities will have the opposite desired effect. Either companies will shut down or they will move towards automation which will lead to less jobs available.

3. Illegal immigrants are being exploited and they are taking jobs away from citizens. This is a fact and it hurts poor Americans more than it hurts wealthy Americans. In my neighborhood of a suburb of NYC, I can say first hand that the majority of fast food restaurant workers are immigrants. This was not always the case. When my kids were growing up in their teenage years, they worked in some of these places. It was a great training grounds for being a responsible worker and learning the social skills that benefit them for future careers. The current illegal immigration debate is front and center related to lower wages and higher youth unemployment. It is also present in landscaping jobs where low skills and hard work is the norm. I don't buy into the argument that they are doing the jobs that Americans won't do. How did America survive in past years?

4. Good work ethics are not rocket science. It includes showing up at work on time, being dressed appropriately and being responsive and respectful of customers. Apparently, these basic skills are not taught in our schools.

5. Related to the last item is the current glorification of Pop Culture and the Drug culture by some in the media including music and film and social media. Where are our roll models of past? We have protesters such as Occupy Wall Street being promoted by anarchist. We have people rioting in the street in Seattle on May Day.

6. Failed Government Social Programs such as welfare that pays people to not work. We have families that are torn apart because a "compassionate" government will pay for child services and housing and food subsidies to single mothers only. Why are we surprised at the high teenage out of wedlock births?

7. A growing entitlement mentality that government owes a person free healthcare and free colleges...Nothing in life is free, there is a cost to everything. A free lunch means another is paying for it.

8. The lack of trade school programs. I agree with some who say we should adopt some other countries such as Japan and European countries of training people for a skill. Not everyone is suited to attend college such as Bernie Sanders propose. We need all kinds of workers white and blue collar. There is nothing wrong with having a job that pays well but require working with your hands instead of your brain. Our government can take the lead here to help train people for vocations instead of promoting college education and providing student loans that they can't pay back.


This hub was initiated as a discussion response to help solve a current problem. I try to define the scope of the problem and outlined some conservative solutions. It is not meant to be a definitive answer. There will be local communities that will find unique solutions that fit their special situation. That is perfectly fine and in alignment with conservative principles.

My goal here is to start a dialog between various political factions and debate various proposals based on their merit. I also want to stress that I only care about results. If a program that works, I will support it whether it is a liberal or conservative idea. It should not matter. A good program or policy should stand on its own regardless of who or where it came from. I welcome comments and new ideas.

© 2016 Jack Lee


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    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      5 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, I just published my solution here -

      Care to comment or offer an alternative?

    • Credence2 profile image


      5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Thanks, Jack, need to get up to speed will respond soon.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      5 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Credence2, I have a topic that is dear to my heart. The problem at the VA is continuing... I am working on a conservative solution to solving the problems at the VA. I would be glad to see if you have an alternative solution. Our veterans needs help and time is running out. Our officials at Washington does not seem to care enough. They had 2 years to work on this since the scandal broke. It should not take so long.

    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      5 years ago from Yorktown NY


      I am glad you read my piece and it seems we are on the same page on quite a few issues despite or political differences. I think that's a very good start.

      With regard to the minimum wage, what you are proposing has been tried in some cities such as Seattle and the results after one year has not been good.

      Here is one news article -

      The problem I see as I explained is that who should set the limit? Is it the role of the federal government to set minimum wages and to what amount? If $15 is good why not $20 or $25... Do you see the delemma?

      Minimum wage is tied to other parts of our economy. By raising it arbitrarily, you set up the motion for possible increase of inflation which in turn will raise prices and in the end hurt the low wage earners.

      With regard to public education, here is an organization that is trying to make a difference -

      Campbell Brown started this organization because she finally realized that what we have is not working and she is not unafraid to try something new. Something we conservatives have been talking about for years.

      Here is their web site -

      I hope this is a start of meaningful dialog so that together we can find some common ground solutions.

      I am willing to debate other topics of your choosing. Perhaps we can educate each other and not have miss conceptions.

      If you have questions about conservatives and our positions, please ask and I will do my best to explain them.

    • Credence2 profile image


      5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Great article,

      Charter schools are ok only if the quality and EQUALITY of their curriculum and enrollments are to held accountable by Municipal Governments/School Boards. Conservatives want to give these institutions more latitude then I would like. They are using my tax money and I must hold them accountable for the fact that education be made available to everyone on an equal basis. Development of preppy private schools with my money is not acceptable. Just another pet-peeve of being on the progressive side of the ledger.

      Conservative always complain that progressives want to control outcomes. Well, I am not like that but I damned well need to be sure that everyone get an equal start in grades K-12. Its all about equal opportunity, another annoying feature of being a progressive.

      As for the minimum wage, I could never understand the conservatives resistance to the principle involved when virtually every other society on earth has such provisions in place. What is that they all know that the political Right fail to recognize? I am curious.

      You are quite correct in your observation that the minimum wage jobs of the past have been assumed by a permanent class of low wage workers, most who are adults. Well, I lived here in the 1960s and 1970's when I was involved in jobs at this level. In spite of that, there was a minimum wage in place then, as well. Those adult that swell the ranks of the fast food outlets today, use to work in manufacturing, clerical and other areas made obsolete with technology and offshoring. While not true in the past, most jobs that pay above the minimum will require trained skill sets and higher education. It is important that young people, through partnership between Government and the private sector work on curriculum in 9-12 grades to prepare them for the labor market of the future. That is how we get to where we are. I say a $10.00/hour minimum is necessary, nationally. In urban high cost living areas, $15.00/hour is certainly within the realm of possibility. And the sky will not fall as conservatives always have warned us all about since 1938. Somehow, things manage to keep going and I get my 'Whopper' regardless of a few pennies added on to the price.

      No problem with immigrants as long as they are legal. Ask the merchants why they hire the immigrants over teens? Are the teens even attempting to apply for the jobs, or perhaps, particularly in the agriculture/harvesting areas, the work is too hard and younger people are not interested? We had 'Bracero' type programs for Mexicans to come and work to collect the harvest back in the 1950's, so what you speak of is not exactly a recent phenomenon. So, I would say that there are jobs that Americans are not flocking to...

      Yes, the civility associated with good work habits have gone by the wayside, I agree completely. Oddly enough, the Asians seem to maintain discipline in their pursuits in life, I wish that we, as a group, could move closer to that norm. The deterioration seems to be the norm across demographics, its effects take longer to reveal for some groups in comparison to others, but it is happening to all of our children.

      Being teen means being hooked onto the 'latest thing'. It was the 'Rolling Stones' and "Beatles" for previous generations. The older I get, the less I understand, appreciate and remember what it was like to be that age. The relative affluence of the post-WWII generation and the Baby Boomer padded things so much for the children, that the idea of 'working' for the things they wanted was passe. It was easier to just ask Daddy. Earlier generations have had to work much harder. Just a sign of the times.

      Yes, the moral compass has gone awry. The plight of the Black Family has been documented, but the 'trend' is also affecting Whites and White families, their relative wealth allows a buffer for them, but it is temporary at best. Single motherhood is a reality. I am in favor of a support system with work/job training with other welfare recipients performing child care under supervised conditions. Tax breaks or subsidies can be made available to merchants that employ them rather than immigrants. They must participate in the program if they are otherwise able bodied or risk losing benefits and children. I am not interested in servicing an eternal under-class of society within a endless maze of poverty and disfunction.

      You ought to see Michael Moore's film "Who do we invade now"? Most European societies have universal health care for their citizens with little if any increase in the average tax rate of their citizens. Seems the byproduct of a civilized and responsible society, in America, we call that 'Socialism'. So, where is all that money that we don't have, going. Tax cuts for the rich, a ridiculously expensive Military complex created to deal with all the 'bogey men' that the Right says we have to be on the guard against. Who says that I want to pay for that?

      I think that we are on the same page in regards to the need tor trade school programs and such. I would almost like to say that middle-school is not too early to get young people quickly oriented and prepared to make their choice rather than having the choice made for them because of lack of preparation.


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