The Pro-Youth Pages
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The (Not So) Latest

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11/27/08: Newt Gingrich Starting to Come Clean

In the 90's, House Speaker Newt Gingrich helped President Clinton attack youth, even as he fought Clinton on everything else. Gingrich now admits our society is doing teenagers an injustice.

"Adolescence was invented in the 19th century to enable middle-class families to keep their children out of sweatshops. But it has degenerated into a process of enforced boredom and age segregation," Gingrich wrote in a recent issue of Business Week.

The former Speaker (who holds a PhD in history) explains, "early adulthood, early responsibility, and early achievement were the norm before the institution of adolescence emerged as a system for delaying adulthood and trapping young people into wasting years of their lives."

He proposes letting teenagers enjoy the rights and responsibilities of adults. His proposals include paying youth for the time and effort they put into being students: "[G]oing to school should be a money-making profession if you are good at it and work hard. That would revolutionize our poorest neighborhoods and boost our competitiveness."

Gingrich has some good ideas. How sad that he didn't act on these ideas back when he had the best opportunity. In the 90's, Newt Gingrich was America's second most powerful politician, controlling congress and heading the Republican Party. But he lacked the courage then to stand up for youth. As with most elected officials, his desire to be popular with voters made him a follower rather than a leader.

It's an old story. The first time George Wallace ran for Governor of Alabama, he ran as a racial moderate; the NAACP was rooting for him. But he lost to an ardent segregationist. He learned his lesson and repositioned himself as the most ardent segregationist in America, and he won election after election.

Eventually, after the political tides had turned, Wallace broke down, rolled into a black church, and apologized for his career. He worked afterward to make amends. I hope we are witnessing the start of something similar with Newt Gingrich.

Now that he has returned to life as a private citizen, Gingrich has shown some willingness to admit our society's treatment of youth is damaging. Let us hope he will use his money and his name to help America improve.


11/22/08: Ford on the Ropes

Last month, the Pro-Youth Pages called on conscientious consumers to boycott Ford Motor Company after they announced plans to give parents more control over their children's cars. This week, Ford's CEO went before congress to beg for financial assistance. That's what happens when you mess with America's youth.

Okay, our boycott isn't the only reason Ford is hurting. But it is related. Their financial problems are resulting from their managements' misplaced priorities. While other automakers have invested in making their cars more reliable, more fuel-efficient, and more safe, Ford has focused instead on making their cars more frustrating for youth and on convincing gullible parents to buy unsafe, over-priced, fuel-wasting SUV's.

Ford's CEO still doesn't get it. He doesn't understand that what consumers want is, not better marketing, but better cars.

Rather than take responsibility for the poor strategy, Ford's CEO blames their troubles on America's faltering economy. Evidence suggests that is not the real cause. Toyota, for example, is doing fine even though they sell their vehicles in the same markets as Ford and have their cars built in the same places. (Toyota builds more cars in the United States than Ford builds in all of North America.)

Ford doesn't deserve to be bailed out with taxpayers' money. They made their bed. It is time for them to lie in it.

Please contact your Senators and tell them, No Bailout for Ford.


9/10/08: Rangel Listed among Congress's Most Corrupt

Rep. Chuck Rangel, best known for his efforts to re-instate an ageist military draft, has been named one of "The 20 most corrupt members of Congress" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Congress has 535 members, so making the top 20 is quite a distinction.

Rangel, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee (responsible for writing tax codes), has been caught hiding money from the taxman. His lawyer says it was an innocent mistake, that Rangel simply forgot his beachfront villa in the Dominican Republic, which he rents out for over $1,000/night, had given him any income. That's like saying John McCain can duck his property taxes since he can't remember all the mansions he owns.

This comes on the heels of a revelation that Rangel violated House rules by using taxpayer-funded resources to raise money for a $30 million tribute to Rangel's favorite Congressman: Rangel.

And there's more. Read CREW's full report on Chuck Rangel.


8/28/08: Gore Finally Gets It

At the Democratic Convention tonight, former Vice-President Al Gore gave a speech in which he praised Sen. Obama for getting youth behind his bid for the presidency, saying:

Many people have been waiting for some sign that our country is ready for ... change. How will we know when it's beginning to take hold? I think we might recognize it as a sign of such change if we saw millions of young people getting involved for the first time in the political process.

This election is actually not close at all among younger voters; you are responding in unprecedented numbers to Barack Obama's message of change and hope. You recognize that he represents a clean break from the politics of partisanship and bitter division. You understand that the politics of the past are exhausted, and you're tired -- we're all tired -- of appeals based on fear. You know that America is capable of better than what you have seen in recent years, and you are hungry for a new politics based on bipartisan respect for the ageless principles embodied in the United States Constitution.

Obama's energizing youth is indeed an accomplishment that offers hope. Every great social movement that has succeeded has done so with the energetic support of youth.

The Civil Rights Movement, for example, which paved the way for the black Sen. Obama to win this nomination, was built on the talent and dedication of youth, from the teenager who gave us Brown v. Board, to the Birmingham Children's Crusade, to Martin Luther King himself, who accomplished his greatest achievements before he reached the age at which one is allowed to run for President of the United States.

Gore's recognition of the importance of youth has come painfully late. Gore spent most of his political career alienating the age group he now finally values.

Gore made his name in the 1980's by supporting his wife's crusade against youth culture. As Sen. Joe McCarthy once used congressional hearings to hound communists out of Hollywood, Sen. Al Gore used congressional hearing to hound musicians who dared entertain youth without pandering to listeners' parents. Gore attempted to ban stores from selling albums to those younger than 18. Gore and his wife, later discovered to be mentally ill, publicly shamed parents who allow their children to choose their own music.

As VP in the 90's, Gore stood by the most ageist President in modern times as Bill Clinton demanded V-chips and pushed for age-based curfew laws, school uniforms, and moralizing abstinence lectures (not aimed at people his own age, despite the obvious need, but aimed at youth other than White House interns).

In 2000, when Gore ran for president, he threatened to build on Clinton's anti-youth record. Gore lost that election. Why? Because he did poorly with the youth vote. Young conservatives voted for George W. Bush while young liberals largely rejected Gore as soon as Ralph Nader offered an alternative. Had Gore done as well with youth as earlier Democrats had done, Gore would have won the White House.

And now, eight years later, Gore finally admits young people matter.

Gore is not, of course, the only politician to reach this conclusion a little late. At the 2000 Republican convention, Bob Dole, who had run for president just four years earlier, said something to this effect: "Don't be fooled by their dress or their hairstyles; today's youth are as great as any generation America has produced." (This was quite a compliment from Dole, whose own generation survived the Great Depression, liberated the Nazi death camps, bravely examined their own prejudices, and elected to pay higher taxes so the next generation could get a virtually-free college education.) If only Dole had had the courage to embrace youth before he retired, we might have cut Clinton's presidency in half.


8/23/08: School Violence Rampant, Study Reveals

Last year, more than 200,000 American children were physically attacked by teachers and school administrators, according to a recent study by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. Even in 2008, 21 states allow corporal punishment in public schools with children as young as three-years-old being hit with boards for such crimes as gum-chewing. If adults convicted of child-molestation were hit this way, the Supreme Court would step in, since such punishment is "cruel and unusual," violating the U.S. Constitution. But children who chew gum do not enjoy the same rights as adults who rape children.

Perhaps what is most outrageous is that these children are being punished for breaking rules they never agreed to in schools where they don't even want to be. Adults who rape children have been allowed to vote and have therefore given their agreement to live by the laws of our nation. They live in this country by choice. When they choose to violate our laws, they deserve punishment. But the children hardly deserve to be treated even worse.

More on this story. Read the full report by Human Rights Watch.


8/8/08: Pregnancy Pact Hoax Exposed

Remember earlier this Summer when every news outlet in America was breathlessly reporting how a group of high school students made a pact to all get pregnant? They kept using this as the smoking gun proof that teenagers are out of control, irresponsible, and morally bankrupt.

Turns out the whole thing was a hoax. Read how Mike Males details the dirt.

If only the wilding hoax had been exposed this quickly.