On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went before Congress to talk about her plan for a "civilian climate corps," among other things.
AOC starts out by talking about how the bill she is co-sponsoring with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in which "there is no age limit to participation." As of now, neither AOC nor anybody else has mentioned how this could possibly mesh with existing child labor laws on the books, considering, as is mentioned below, she considers that positions with this "civilian climate corps" would be financially-compensated work.
AOC then goes on to talk about how, in her opinion, her generation hasn't "personally witnessed a thriving economy" since "the 90s, when we were kids."
"We were told to go to school and to get a good job, and that a quarter-million dollars of student loan debt would easily pay itself off. And then after that, if you wanted a job and go to graduate school [sic], another quarter-million [of student loans] is what would create economic opportunity for you."
According to Forbes, the average student debt is currently around $33,000 for each borrower.
The next subject AOC talks about is how, in addition to the climate corps and in tandem with it, more unionization is needed in the US, in her opinion:
"We have a student loan crisis, a housing crisis, a climate crisis ... how on earth can we possibly overcome this? I think one of the ways that we overcome it is by being one of the most unionized workforces and unionized generations in American history. By collecting our power as workers in the economy, we can take our futures back."
"And what's important about the civilian climate corps is that it is an on-ramp, and it can function as an on-ramp to unionization, when we plug this in with union labor. But it's going to require putting us to work in the externalities of climate change, in reforesting land, in carbon mitigation, but also in resiliency, and in justice work."
A bit later on in her speech, AOC admits that the work is "not profitable, but it is beneficial," followed by a nervous laugh.
Finally, AOC mentions "unjust jobs and unjust labor" and uses as an example how prisoners are used to fight wildfires in the state of CA. "These people are nobly, while incarcerated by this country, saving the lives of others. But it shouldn't have to be that way."