Young people will wake up to intergenerational theft… eventually.
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But the driving force behind this attitude is that young people don’t expect to Social Security to pay them much in return. So how can it be an investment? It’s a tax to fund retiring Boomers, taken from the same pot as everything else the government spends money on. In other words, it’s just another redistributive program, a far cry from FDR’s Great Idea. In identifying this, my generation has predicted its own future: having massive amounts of our wealth siphoned to fund the elderly.
STEVE, UNLIKE THE REST of my interviewees, is a libertarian and part of that most curious of Millennial movements, the Ron Paul Revolution. The Paul subculture stems from a growing skepticism of big government among young people. The Great Statist Dream—whether in the form of FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society, or Obamanomics— came crashing down in 2008. The idea that government could fine-tune its people and businesses to achieve better results suddenly seemed foolish. The European Union, slowly burning to the ground, embodies the ultimate failure of government utopia.
The Millennials, scarred by Barack Obama’s failures, are starting to break with orthodox liberalism. Polls show young people are more skeptical of the Hope-and-Change fraud this time around. The reflexive liberalism and idealism of the young is running up against the failures of big government. Forget grand schemes; we’d just like a job.
But there’s one stumbling block Millennials haven’t cleared yet. Even though we understand Social Security’s failures, even though our generational tab is sky-high, we can’t quite abandon the idea of entitlements. Polling—and comments from many of my interviewees—shows that young people still support the core idea of Social Security and don’t want to junk it. They also don’t blame the Baby Boomers that the program lies in shambles. It’s an egalitarian fatalism. This thing exists, so we have to pay it off, even if it’s going to hurt us in the long run.
But it’s not just going to hurt us in the long run. It’s going to ruin any hope of prosperity for our generation. Even with a robust economic recovery (which is unlikely to swoop in anytime soon), how are we supposed to pay off untold trillions in entitlement debt when we can barely pay our student loans? Even if we turn Social Security into a welfare program completely, we’re just transferring the debt to the rest of the government. How can we pay that off? And yet the entitlement machine grinds on. The left, and many on the right, are unwilling to make even the smallest alterations. Among Democrats, the slightest peep of concern about Social Security is considered blasphemy.
The only hope for Social Security is if my generation, the Millennials, loudly demands change. We’re already part of the way there. We see the problem looming in the distance. But how much longer before we finally put our feet down? Young people love to talk about fairness. But when will we acknowledge the unfairness of an older generation that creates a crisis and then rides off into the sunset on our dime?
All this will happen eventually. As millions more Boomers weigh down the Social Security payrolls and the bill starts coming due, Millennials will react at the voting booth. The fact that Congressman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity even exists shows that public opinion is shifting. Many of the president’s political masquerades—the War on Women, his gay marriage “conversion”—have been aimed at young people. He sees the writing on the wall. His economic policies have failed, and Millennials are feeling it.
My generation is waking up slowly, drowsily. But wake up it will. And when that happens, it could pre- cipitate the greatest ideological shift away from stat- ism in American history. But until then, we’re groping in the dark. There’s an economy for us to rebuild, a $16 trillion national debt for us to pay down, and a burgeoning student loan bubble. Who really has time to think about retirement anyway?
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