Most upper-middle-class Americans living in their bourgeois bubbles have probably never heard of Job Corps, but their tax dollars have been paying for the $2 billion federal program for 50 years now. Job Corps was founded by Sargent Shriver, the brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy and father-in-law of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Job Corps was a key component of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which was supposed to eradicate poverty and all other social ills by spending federal money. The purpose of Job Corps was to get ‘disadvantaged’ youth into jobs by having them live on a residential campus for about a year where they would be taught job skills. Like every justification for expanding the government, the idea sounds good in theory, but in practice leads to a tragic tale of government failure.
Embedded below is a two-part investigative report by the local Fox station in Dallas. The report, horrifyingly revealing and well worth watching in full, uncovers rampant violence, fraud, and corruption at Job Corps. The program seems to do little or nothing to improve the employment prospects of students, but is effective at creating income and employment for the private contractors and managers who run the centers. The contractors receive about $45,000 in taxpayer money for each student, which is more than most people pay per year to attend a private 4-year college. Job Corps managers can make upwards of $200,000 per year.
Since the students are cash cows, the contractors are loath to discipline or expel unruly students. As a result, the centers devolve into lawless Lord of the Flies environments, riddled with violence and drug use. After watching the Fox reports, I don’t know how any parent could send their son or daughter into the hellish environment of Job Corps.
Job Corps is under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Labor, but the department refused to answer any of the Fox team’s questions. Such is the level of accountability and transparency that U.S. taxpayers receive from their government.
If members of the 88th Congress that created Job Corps in 1964 had access to a crystal ball so they could see what the program would become decades later, they never would have voted for it. But they did, and now we are stuck with it.
The 88th Congress should have known: Government Always Fails.
Investigation: Trouble at the Job Corps
Investigation: Trouble at the Job Corps, part 2