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UNLOCKING THE YOUTH VOTE



Published: Thu, July 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Christian Science Monitor: Eighteen- to 24-year-olds are voting much less often, according to a new survey. And that's despite highly publicized efforts to get them to the polls.

Only 42 percent of eligible voters in that age range voted in 2000, finds a study done by University of Maryland researchers. That's a troubling 13 percent drop since 1972, the first year that Americans under 21 could vote in national elections. The drop greatly exceeds the decline in total adult turnout during the same period.

Door-to-door canvassing

How to reverse this trend? One way is just to knock on doors. A Yale University study done in 2000 showed that door-to-door canvassing raised turnout in the youth age bracket by a head-turning 8.5 percent in all but one of six cities where it was done.

But a lot more than that is needed to convince young people that even one vote can make a difference. Parents with young children, for instance, can make an early start by taking them to the polls and talking about political issues at home. Also, candidates, who too often focus on older voters, can take stances on matters important to younger people.

Eligible voters under the age of 24 represent a block of 21 million votes. They shouldn't ignore their own clout in a democracy, and neither should politicians.

A MEASURE OF HEROISM

Scripps Howard: Those who have fashioned agricultural policy in this country, and who were responsible for the recent farm bill, like to claim status as heroes.

But here is a measure of that heroism: $1 billion worth of nonfat, powdered milk that the U.S. government has purchased from dairy farmers and stuck away in caves and warehouses at a storage cost of $20 million a year.

The facts about this dry milk come our way from the Associated Press, which reports that the government has purchased this amount from dairy farmers over the past three years to keep their prices high. Some of the powdered milk is given away, AP says, and some is sold for such uses as animal feed.

Market demand

The scandal of this agricultural subsidy and others is that they prevent farmers from adjusting their production to market demand, they sometimes get in the way of the best possible uses of those products, they lead to higher consumer prices, they destabilize world trade as European and other nations hit back and they worsen the impoverished conditions of Third World countries that cannot compete with the subsidies or find U.S. markets for their agricultural products.

There is also the cost in tax dollars, of course.




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