Perhaps no group has been hit hardest by the recession than young Americans. While others have slowly returned to work, the official unemployment rate for people under 25 years of age remains in the double digits, and the long-term effects are worrisome.

This is a highly educated, yet unemployed generation of workers in an economy that remains highly competitive, especially for those with little or no experience. Worse, a record one in five households now carries the burden of student loan debt, which will exceed $1 trillion nationally for the first time in 2013. If you are right out of college, how could you possibly afford it?

LIBRE’s Youth Initiative works with the universities to inform college students about the challenges that they will face once they graduate, but most importantly, how we got here. Well intentioned policies have resulted in disastrous consequences and supporting these policies will no doubt lead to an uncertain financial future for today’s youth. Government programs that claim to help this generation are actually piling on the individual debt. How selfish to tax the unborn to pay for things we want today.

Programs like the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are the perfect example of wasteful governmental regulations that say will make healthcare cheaper, when in reality, they grow government to unhealthy amounts, and leave healthy college grads footing the bill to compensate for the baby boom generation’s health care problems. We also see legislators pushing agendas to tax the productive class, America’s job creators, who could otherwise hire college graduates, with mandates that we don’t want or need.

As a direct result of the poor economic policies and a disregard for the proven principles of economic freedom we are seeing policies that restrict the market and stifle innovation. Did you know that each young American currently owes at least $53,242 as their share of our national debt? This amount is further exacerbated with the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare that raises the individual debt to as much as $401,000.

And to add insult to injury, studies show that young Americans lose valuable work experience and the opportunity to perfect their skills when they earn low wages following a period of unemployment. The impact of unemployment will haunt them and society at large for years to come. Not only will this generation lose an estimated $20 billion in earnings over the next decade, it also results in slower economic growth and greater taxpayer burden in the form of lost revenues, increased crime, additional welfare payments, and government-provided health care.

This man-made recession was built on bad economic policies that our generation can choose to reject in the future. More government, more taxes, more regulation is the worst solution to an already bad situation. Only through personal responsibility, job creation, free markets and limited government can we achieve the next generation of educated, wealthy Americans. Are you in?