Earn, learn ... or kill: a new policy for Australia's youth

When employment minister Julia Gillard declared that the onus was on young people to "earn or learn", she forgot to mention the third option open to young Australians struggling to find a job — killing people.

For the thousands forced off youth allowance by the government's decision to tighten eligibility requirements, joining the military will be an increasingly likely option.

When announcing the reforms in May, the Rudd government declared the youth of today would not bear the burden of the economic crisis.

But evidence shows those without year 12 qualifications face a very difficult time finding work.

With the harsh welfare reforms, unemployed youth will struggle to support themselves.

On the other hand, the pro-corporate government has no such qualms about supporting struggling banks and retail giants with billion-dollar handouts that are in no way guaranteed to save jobs.

Despite its claims to the contrary, making the youth pay for the economic crisis is exactly what the government is doing.

Ever since the global recession began, the government has been banking on an increase in military recruitment.

Job applications to the Australia Defence Force (ADF) have grown. Recruits from the Gold Coast, for example, have shot up 16% since last year.

But the government is still short of its immediate recruitment target.

Those who sign up do so for the promise of an exciting career, rather than patriotism. Trade apprenticeships and other forms of training are increasingly hard to get, so the military can be an appealing option.

Despite the struggle to find recruits, the government will expand the ADF massively over the next 25 years. An extra $15 billion will be wasted on buying 100 new fighter jets alone.

Forcing youth off welfare payments and into the military is just one part of Labor's policy of militarisation.

The Rudd government recently raised troop numbers in Afghanistan. This is despite the fact that the majority of Australians oppose the move. More than 50% of Australians support the withdrawal of all troops according to recent polls.

Key quality of life indicators, such as infant mortality rates, have fell dramatically since the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Ultra-conservative lawmakers continue to oppress women's rights.

But the Rudd government has prioritised supporting the "war on terror" over the will of the Australian people, and the oppressed millions in Afghanistan.

The militaristic stance of the Rudd government has consequences for us here in Australia.

The Talisman Sabre military exercises in July bring together Australian and American forces to train in crisis-action planning and contingency responses.

The exercises cost over $100 million to run, and will build "seamless interoperability" between the Australian and American armed forces. That is, Australia's armed forces are being trained to take part in more US-led imperialist wars, such as the occupation of Afghanistan.

Not only are these exercises costly to run, but they do a huge amount of damage to the environment.

Talisman Sabre will take place in highly sensitive areas of the Great Barrier Reef national park. The war games threaten endangered species such as the dugong, the blue whale and the loggerhead turtle.

Over the next 20 years, the government will spend a staggering $300 billion on the Australian military. This money could be spent on fighting climate change, creating green jobs and helping end poverty in the Third World.

The government should ensure a real future for young people, rather than the "option" of becoming soldiers in wars for profit.