To Americans who have lived through the Cold War, the very idea that a socialist is running for President of the USA is unimaginable. After all, the country that ruled its population with an iron fist and denied their personal freedoms, killing over 20 million of its own citizens and threatening the extinction of America with thousands of nuclear missiles targeting us, was the USSR – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
This fact doesn’t appear to cross the minds of Millennials today; in a January 2016 survey conducted by YouGov, a shocking 43% of respondents under 30 expressed a favorable view of socialism, compared to only 32% who viewed capitalism favorably. They actually have a higher opinion of socialism than capitalism. And, Millennials are “feeling the Bern”, supporting self-described socialist Bernie Sanders by wide margins over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primaries. Their generation apparently doesn’t give a second’s thought to the economic system that gave them things like their iPhones, computers, music, entertainment, advanced healthcare, and higher education - capitalism. Socialism never did or ever could provide anything close. People chasing a profit, with the greatest economic opportunity ever afforded in the history of the world, is what drives these innovators to invent the ideas and technologies we take for granted everyday today.
Not to mention the fact that the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has dropped by half over the past 20 years, dropping from 43% in 1990 to 22% today according to the United Nations. This, thanks to the fall of the Soviet socialist empire and the benefits of capitalism and free trade. But if you tell this to a progressive young person, their eyes will likely glaze over with arguments at the ready about the supposed evils of capitalism and the benefits of socialism. They are on the “Anti-Opportunity” train, attacking the free market and the economic opportunity it brings with their ideas of massive, central government control over education, healthcare, businesses and most every aspect of our lives.
In an article written by OU professor David Deming, he notes that our youth’s attraction to Bernie Sanders is a symptom of our failure to educate them. He writes, “Socialism is a dead end. For hundreds of years, it has failed everywhere it's been adopted…You don't have to be a student of ancient history to know socialism doesn't work. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was an unequivocal demonstration of the moral and economic superiority of capitalism. The misery caused by socialism is unfolding today in Venezuela. Since Venezuela embraced socialism in 1999, poverty, crime and corruption have all increased. Grocery shelves are empty and the annual inflation rate is estimated to be as high as 200 percent.” This is all true, of course, but you won’t find many college professors teaching these kinds of facts to their students today at the increasingly far-Left universities in America. They’re too busy bashing capitalism on a daily basis to ever consider defending it.
Capitalism, of course, also brings with it the chance of personal failure, and weeds out those ideas and visionaries who don’t have what it takes to compete and win in the market economy (and, rightly so). Removing this capitalistic ideology will remove the chances of suffering failure – something almost half of Millennials apparently want to avoid at all costs – which, at the same time, also means removing the opportunity of success. Yes, capitalism may seem “mean” and insensitive to some, because there ARE winners and losers, and that’s no very PC. However, capitalism also produces the best results by far compared to any other economic system.
Why are so many young people today so on board with socialism? They grew up being rewarded equally for most any effort; whether they won the race or came in last place, they got the same blue ribbon in school. Winners often weren’t lauded because it might make the slower kids feel bad; when there are “winners” that means there must be “losers”, an anathema for Millennials. (This was NEVER the case in my years growing up, as an X-Gener). The same went for almost every other endeavor they attempted - everyone, they have been told repeatedly, is a “winner”. Really?
Their progressive teachers, parents and coaches would have it no other way – they grew up to believe that they were entitled to almost everything they wanted, whether they worked hard for it or put in no effort at all. They don’t just want equal opportunity, they demand equal results. It’s just not fair if someone is smarter, stronger, faster, or harder working, everyone deserves the same damn blue ribbon, fair is fair. To hell with the greedy champions and hard workers always stealing the spotlight.
Welcome to the making of a socialism here in America.
Bernie Sander’s “democratic socialist” agenda provides everything a Millennial could possibly hope for: free college education, no-cost healthcare, big government safety-net programs and extremely high taxes on the rich – to redistribute their wealth to others, including Millennials, who didn’t earn it. At a cost of nearly $20 Trillion in additional new taxes, of course this can never, ever be paid for, but who cares? It’s more free stuff! The young generation today will be faced with paying the bill for this “free stuff” in the future that they won’t be able to cover, and they better brace for extremely tough times ahead if a politician like Sanders is ever elected to office. Bernie’s 90% taxes on the rich? How about 90% taxes on everyone and sky high unemployment rates??
Attacking the productive to “spread the wealth” to the unproductive is particularly appealing to generation who are living in their parents’ basements faced with some of the worst employment opportunities in decades for college graduates, and with the highest level of student debt in history. Millennials want government to step in to “fix” the problem, never mind that one of the main drivers of the sky-high college tuition costs is directly attributed to the federal government itself and its limitless student loan guarantees. This policy effectively gives colleges a blank check to increase tuition exponentially without penalty. The students will just keep borrowing more to pay for it, as they have been doing, no matter the market value of their degree.
When young people listen to Bernie Sanders spout his firebrand ideas of a “democratic socialism”, they champion the idea of the European model of free college tuition. But, they fail to recognize that under this socialist system, only the very best students are granted entry to the universities, often chosen in their elementary school years, and they are told where they are going to college and what degree they will earn, at schools typically far inferior to American universities. The rest are placed in manual trades and labor disciplines of the government’s choosing, no questions asked. Their government will choose the winners and the losers.
If you can’t earn enough to get the apartment you want, no problem – the central government is there to save you. But you will live where you’re told to live, and you have little choice in the matter. You will get free (generally inferior quality) health care, and your doctor will be chosen for you. It is the big trade off of giving over a very significant degree of your personal liberty to live in a “democratic socialist” society that takes away a big chunk of your freedom - and property in the form of high taxes - in return for the security of a nanny state to protect and support you cradle to grave.
Millennials have come to expect the kinds of freedoms they enjoy in America today, and are in for big shock when they find out that they can’t have all of the “free stuff” from the government without giving up the kind of choice and opportunity they now enjoy. And, when they do decide that they want to pursue their dreams, they better be prepared to have the wind taken from their sails when they are forced to pay almost all of their earnings to the federal government as they penalty for their success – according to Bernie’s tax plan.
The “democratic socialist” Scandinavian havens that Bernie Sanders admires so dearly have never landed a man on the moon, invented things like the combustible engine, electricity, the computer or mobile technology – there is just very little incentive to innovate when you know the central government will take most of your hard-earned profits to redistribute to people who never worked for it. Why put in all the risk for so very little reward?
Millennials are the generation who will be determining the future of our country, and with their heavily socialist leanings, the future looks grim. Whether they realize it or not, their support of socialism translates directly to the “Anti-Opportunity” movement, removing economic and personal opportunity in place off massive socialist government programs – and government control. Just wait until they really “feel the Bern” – the burning up their future.
Conservatives must provide a very convincing counter argument to instruct the young generation of the real dangers of socialism and the freedoms – and opportunity – they will forfeit if they don’t change course. We need to better educate Millennials about the true nature of socialism and the inherent value and benefits of our capitalist economy. We must make “opportunity” the cornerstone of the new conservative movement, and we need to make socialism a dirty word, once again.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that socialism is a danger to America, and how do we better promote the value of capitalism to the Millennial generation?