While surfing through my backlog of unread items on Google Reader, I stumbled upon an interesting piece by Ethan Porter and Elon Plotkin at Campus Progress arguing for a new National Youth Administration, a piece of Roosevelt’s New Deal in the ’30s and ’40s.

In 1935, via Executive Order, President Roosevelt created the National Youth Administration to boost their economic prospects. Today, President Obama would be wise to dust off this oft-overlooked item in the New Deal toolbox, and restart the NYA. Under the auspices of the NYA in the 1930s, young people built ballparks and buildings; today, they should build wind turbines and solar panels.

Obviously, much has changed in 70 years, and a reconstituted NYA would have to differ dramatically from Roosevelt’s in order to be successful. But if it incorporated the lessons of the original NYA, and adapted to the contours of the twenty-first century economy, a new NYA could bring youth out of the doldrums and give the whole economy a shot in the arm. Moreover, a new NYA could be the incubator for a life-long productive relationship between government and the youngest generation of workers—who, as part of the “Millennial Generation,” are the largest age cohort in American history.

In sorting through why the NYA might benefit today’s youth, Porter and Plotkin note the already increased willingness by Millennials to serve others, while also pointing out by the increased mobility of young people today.  Not to mention, youth unemployment — a burgeoning problem in today’s recession — would ideally decline as a result.

Porter and Plotkin note the legislative difficulty such a proposal might face, and rightly so.  It still is an idea to think about, though, as today’s youth continue to fall behind.