6.02.2004

A Sleeping Class: Young Americans fight for every cause but their own. Wake up, already. The Village Voice (6/01)

Frustratingly few young people seem to recognize their shared interests across the lines of class, education level, and ethnicity. Now, in this election season, a few people have stopped hitting the snooze button. Josh Green, a 25year-old Harvard grad student, co-founded the 2020 Democrats in 2002. His 1,500-member group is working on long-range policy ideas while raising generational consciousness. "We've started to wake up to the fact that the baby boom generation is saddling us with an extraordinary set of problems," he says. "They're enriching themselves with tax cuts, and if we don't make our voices heard, we're literally going to be paying the bills. I would say that besides class and race, there's starting to be a generational cleavage in this country."

The numbers back Josh up. Tuition at public colleges is up 47 percent since 1993, and the increase is landing disproportionately on students' shoulders. Grants used to make up half of all school aid; now they make up just over 40 percent. The average undergraduate debt in 2002 was $18,900. Right now, the picture is getting yet worse: Republican lawmakers are talking about saving money by eliminating the low guaranteed rates students lock in when they consolidate unbearable debt. Variable rates put borrowers at the mercy of the market, and by some estimates individuals would pay $5,484 more in interest on a typical $17,000 loan. Hitting seniors in their pockets like that would cause a revolt.

And now where are those nice middle-class jobs the college educated were expecting? You know, don't you...

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