Written By Zach Champ
America has a problem. Over the past few decades, our country and its population have grown tremendously. Within the past century, our Nation has risen to become the world’s largest and most powerful economy, with an estimated $20.5 trillion GDP as of 2018 (The Balance, 2019). There is a lot of money flowing in through our Nation! However, as our economy grows, so does our Federal spending for our Congressional Budget.
With an expansion in economic and demographic growth comes higher expenses for projects, programs, and initiatives. Agencies need funds to run their budgets and pay their employees, while projects and programs also require federal funding to accomplish objectives. Congressional representatives will meet in special committees and appropriate these funds as necessary to ensure that tax revenue paid by American Citizens is allocated to their proper place. When Congressional Representatives assign money to Federal Budgets, they usually are not constrained or limited by the total amount of taxpayer funds available. Sometimes they spend more than they have available. The result is that Congress has amassed a debt of nearly $21 Trillion as of March 2018 (The Balance, 2019), a value equal to our current GDP!
SOMEONE HAS TO PAY THIS DEBT
The big concern is that this growing debt is going to continue to keep inflating higher and higher. As it stands, the Federal Government pulls funds from Social Security, which is one of the few organizations within the government that has a surplus of funds available to address the National debt. However, these are funds that are supposed to be reserved for when our generation, the Millennials, reach retirement age! The Federal Government constantly relies on Social Security funds to address the issues created by a shortage of cash for Federal budgets.
If this continues, there will be no surplus left for us Millenials when we reach the age of retirement. Our future is, literally, being cashed in to pay for a debt created by those who came before us and who currently are in charge of the system. This clearly isn’t fair, nor is it sustainable in the long run. So where is the solution?
REVISITING THE PAST FOR ANSWERS
One of the ways the United States of America can address its growing debt (which many are calling a crisis) is through a Green New Deal. This concept is decades old and based on the original New Deal progressive era reforms enacted during the Great Depression. Like the original New Deal, the Green New Deal would address infrastructure and environmental problems across the country through powerful federal projects and programs that organize and employ the nation’s youth and labor.
The Green New Deal is a great parallel to the original New Deal of the Great Depression era. Established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the original New Deal stimulated America’s economy during one of the worse financial disasters the country has even known. The original New Deal was responsible for the creation and enacting of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Social Security, Food Stamps, and other important social services and programs.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
We here at Hoodie Goodies think a modern-day Civilian Conservation Corps would be a great solution to addressing the issues we face with climate change and infrastructure maintenance. How would we fund and create a new Civilian Conservation Corps?
Well, we can start by enhancing the current AmeriCorps and NCCC programs which are the legacy programs of this historic organization. Expanding the AmeriCorps and NCCC programs would allow more young Americans the opportunity to gain critical skills and job training while helping improve their moral and civic competency.
One of the important things America needs to address moving forward into the future is updating our national infrastructure including roadways, bridges, metro rails, power plants, and more. AmeriCorps and NCCC volunteers could fill in the demand for labor for these projects, and help give back to communities all across the country. Updating our Nation’s infrastructure has to be part of a larger strategy to convert the existing fossil fuel-based energy grid to a renewable energy-based system. This is necessary to combat the effects of climate change and maximize the benefits of new technology.
FULFILLING INDIVIDUALS & COMMUNITIES THROUGH NATIONAL SERVICE!
Most of us millennials have not only just climate change to worry about, but also the looming impact of a stressed-out economy. Student loan debt has ballooned over the past decade and the average American now has close to $30,000 in student loan debt (The Insitute for College Access & Success, 2017). This is an outrageous sum of money to owe, and is comparable to a mortgage for a house!
Many millennials are unable to obtain the same quality of living and life as their parents because economic opportunity is not as widely available as it used to be. Not only that, but the cost of living has only crept higher over the past few years, meaning life’s necessities are only getting more and more expensive. Yet wages have remained stagnant!
Oddly, many feel the solution to this problem is to address rising national student loan debt with taxpayer-funded bailouts. While this sounds appealing, it is not a viable solution, as taxpayers already are overtaxed. This would only take more people’s money away! So how does America tackle student loan debt, head on?
We believe that once again national service programs may hold the key. Consider that programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps offer Student Loan forgiveness and grants in exchange for service. If national service was mandatory after college, students could earn degrees and then serve their country briefly to pay off their student loan debt.
Ultimately, we think advocating for mandatory service in either AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Fire and Rescue, or the US Military would help make U.S Citizens live better and more well-rounded lives, while also helping the Nation by providing a steady supply of Federal labor for big projects and initiatives. It’s a win-win for all involved!