Millenials the Most Anti-Liberty Generation

On many Objectivist and liberty blogs, it’s almost as if Charlie Sheen has been writing the narrative: individualism is decisively #winning. To those for whom hope truly does spring eternal, Obama and his evildoers are perpetually one scandal away from impeachment (surely the VA scandal will be the one to topple his house of cards). The American people, meanwhile, are just one election cycle shy from taking back their government in a Fifth Great Awakening for liberty.

Stark reality, however, tells a different story in a new report from the Brookings Institute. Based on surveys of thousands of individuals, the report concludes that millenials will bring to the workplace and political scene a major shift in attitudes and voting behavior toward progressive values. Millenials (born 1982-2003), if you believe the data, might very well be the most anti-liberty generation in American history. Reading their responses to questions on America’s culture, politics, and economy, one gets the distinct impression that the culture war has not only been long won by progressivism – it wasn’t even a close contest.

Particularly striking is the growing hostility toward business and for-profit activity generally:

“About two-thirds of the Millennials surveyed in 2012 also agreed that “businesses make too much profit,” which was the highest level of agreement among all generations. At the same time, less than half of Millennials thought “unions had too much power”; by contrast, a majority within all other generations agreed with that statement. Even more telling from a generation noted for its general lack of trust in institutions, 72 percent of Millennials, compared to only 61 percent of Xers and Boomers, agreed with the statement that “labor unions were necessary to protect the working person,” a level statistically significantly higher than that of older generations.”

Millenials are the generation most comfortable with regulation of private market activity, with roughly three quarters agreeing that the marketplace needs government regulation. Telling also is where millenials say they want to work: the CIA, FBI, and NSA were high-ranked across multiple surveys, with the State Department coming in second on one survey and government agencies placing second after high-tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Most troubling is the degradation of societal trust that has occurred across the generations:

In its latest study of the Millennial Generation, Millennials in Adulthood, the Pew Research Center found that America’s youngest adults were the least trusting of any generation. Only 19 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement that “most people can be trusted,” a percentage that was about half of all other older generations.

This is the millenial voter in a mutshell. You make too much profit, you can’t be trusted, and you need to be watched. Liberty has its work cut out for it.

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16 thoughts on “Millenials the Most Anti-Liberty Generation

  1. “To those for whom hope truly does spring eternal, Obama and his evildoers are perpetually one scandal away from impeachment (surely the VA scandal will be the one to topple his house of cards). ”

    “At this very moment, Glenn Beck has all the information necessary to bring the Obama administration to its knees. And he’s going to reveal it on his next episode… stay tuned!” – standard, templated verbiage for the closing credits to Glenn Becks TV show each day

    • It’s an interesting question why some individuals seem to be immune to the natural habituation process:

      “Habituation is a form of learning in which an organism decreases or ceases to respond to a stimulus after repeated presentations. Essentially, the organism learns to stop responding to a stimulus which is no longer biologically relevant. For example, organisms may habituate to repeated sudden loud noises when they learn these have no consequences.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habituation)

      • I think Dennis May over at OL was a jolly-good example. That dude was convinced that Glenn Beck was perpetually one episode away from pulling back the veil from the Obama administration, and that Beck was just stringing Obama along, waiting for the right moment… in perpetuity. I even asked him, and he said he expects to be murdered, along with a good percentage of the population, by the Obama administration.

        If you recall, I wrote about this at length over there – that a mutual friend of ours seems to feel that the nation is perpetually on the brink of disaster, that most of those OLers are also convinced that the dreaded progressive nirvana is close at hand, that death panels are taking place as we speak, that gays are going to turn out children into homosexual automatons, and that Obama will soon declare himself God and the tribulation will begin.

        Oh wait, I think I might have gotten my loonies mixed up at the end there…

        Anyway, yeah… the end is always near. It reminds of the adage of the bar with the permanent sign that says “Free beer tomorrow”, or the fundamentalist nuts who have, for about 2000 years, believed that we are living in the end times. No amount of Harold Campings with their failed predictions will prevent more from springing up.

      • Doomsday prophesying is the flip side of the Pollyannaism I’m describing, and you’re right, they tend to show up to the party together. It may be that the same outside-the-mainstream thinkers drawn to individualist philosophies are more prone to seeing signs in the tea leaves at the bottom of every cup. Genius is seeing patterns where others do not; insanity is seeing them where they do not actually exist. There is a fine line, and sometimes only hindsight can tell us which was truly which.

        I wouldn’t presume to speak for our friend, Mordecai. Perhaps he would like to defend himself from these charges in a comment of his own. I have never personally seen him engaging in the type of hysteria you’re describing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he hasn’t.

        If you go back to the very first post on TNV, I don’t set the stage with a very cheerful scene:

        “The national debt is larger than ever before. The federal government is larger and more powerful than ever before. The District of Columbia suburbs are the wealthiest in the country. Workforce participation is at its lowest level since the Carter administration. Disability claims are at an all-time high. Food stamp dependency is at an all-time high. More laws and regulations are on the books this year than ever before, and the same is projected to hold true next year, and the year after that.”

        I could have gone on…higher education costs and resulting student debt are exploding (now over $30k average for college grads), medical costs continue to rise, home ownership is beyond the reach of most of my generation, etc. Not coincidentally, these are the areas where government has substantially stepped in to regulate and subsidize the market. There is a lot to be rationally pessimistic about, but admittedly, the effects are gradual, not acute in nature.

        If I recall correctly, you dismissed all of the above on the basis that when you look around you (i.e., examine your own life), things have just kept getting better and better. I counter that this is ONLY true for a small and insulated minority of people – namely those at the top of the business world and salaried professionals in the public sector. This is the origination of The New Versailles – life is good inside the palace. Outside the gates, not so much.

  2. Hang on… I don’t think I’ve ever dismissed the facts as you’ve presented them. But I have disputed your characterization of them.

    Let’s just take one easy one – you say “The national debt is larger than ever before.”

    Well, yeah. And that statement would have been true every single day since the John Quincy Adams administration. You could have spoken those words every single day since Adams’ presidency, and it would have been true. And it’s been beyond any hope of ever paying off within anyone’s lifetime since long before any of us were born.

    So while I don’t dispute the fact stated, what I dispute is the impending doom or crisis it implies.

    “The federal government is larger and more powerful than ever before.”

    Perhaps. But again, this has been true for a long long time.

    “Workforce participation is at its lowest level since the Carter administration.”

    Okay. But as I understand it, we are in an economic recovery thanks to two unfunded wars and unfettered spending during the Bush administration.

    “Food stamp dependency is at an all-time high.”

    Is it? Or are more people being helped these days?

    “More laws and regulations are on the books this year than ever before, and the same is projected to hold true next year, and the year after that.”

    Perhaps. I haven’t noticed.

    So like I said… I’m not disputing your fact-claims. I’ve only ever disputed the doom-and-gloom conclusions you’re drawing. Pretty much everyone I know is doing alright. Including Mordecai.

    • “So like I said… I’m not disputing your fact-claims. I’ve only ever disputed the doom-and-gloom conclusions you’re drawing.”

      And those would be…?

    • “And that statement would have been true every single day since the John Quincy Adams administration.”

      I don’t have the data to analyze whether this statement is literally true (I suspect that it isn’t), but if you extended me the benefit of the doubt, you’d assume I was talking about real debt (adjusted for inflation), which decreased dramatically and held steady for decades after World War II. In fact, I was not talking about nominal debt, which I fully acknowledge is a meaningless metric across long time periods.

      (Re: Growth of Federal Government) “Perhaps. But again, this has been true for a long long time.”

      That’s a subjective statement, and I mostly disagree. The federal government only became a major presence in people’s financial lives during the lifetime of my living grandmother, and it only became heavily involved in regulating the economy and private activities after my parents were out of college in the 70’s. I consider that a dramatic expansion within a relatively short period of time. It’s also not reasonable to assume just because something has never been a problem before means it won’t be a problem in the future as a trend continues. As the saying goes, “there’s always plenty of money until there isn’t anymore.” As you mention it, I’m agnostic on the question of how quickly America’s decline will occur. I’m inclined to believe it will be gradual, as I’ve said, but it’s important to remember many countries, states, and cities had very cheerful economic outlooks, then went bust very quickly in the financial crisis. I like the metaphor of people throwing pebbles in a stream. Each one does little in itself, but they build up, one by one over the years, until the flow of the river begins slowing. Eventually, they can even stop or change the course of the river.

      “Okay. But as I understand it, we are in an economic recovery thanks to two unfunded wars and unfettered spending during the Bush administration”

      I don’t know anyone who claims the recession was “thanks to two unfunded wars.” I’m pretty sure the consensus is it was caused primarily by a crash in the housing market. I’m also not making a partisan argument against any particular party or president.

      (Re: food stamps) “Is it? Or are more people being helped these days?”

      They can’t (or won’t) feed their families, and government is feeding them instead. Call it whatever you want; it’s a bad state of affairs.

      (Re: Increased regulations) “Perhaps. I haven’t noticed.”

      Of course not. You don’t own or work for a business. The business community has certainly noticed.

      “Pretty much everyone I know is doing alright. Including Mordecai.”

      I have no way of knowing who these people are, but in any event, the statistics paint a different picture.

  3. “Food stamp dependency is at an all-time high.”

    ‘Is it? Or are more people being helped these days?'”

    Come again?

    • Food stamps (SNAP cards) are intended to assist people who cannot help themselves. Whether or not we agree on their merits, that is what they are intended for.

      Recognizing that they are frequently obtained fraudulently (people pretending to need them when they just don’t feel like working), there are also cases of people genuinely requiring assistance that haven’t been able to get it.

      You seem to characterize all SNAP recipients as “food stamp dependent”, indiscriminately. (This, incidentally, is one issue I take with conservatives. Liberals tend to characterize all SNAP recipients as “in need” – that’s one issue I take with liberals.) What I’m saying is that perhaps more people who genuinely need help are receiving it.

      A dichotomy I have long identified between conservatism and liberalism is that tendency to make blanket assumptions. Conservatives see all who request government assistance as moochers. Liberal tend to see them all as being in genuine need. The reality is that discerning between the two is a very difficult job. I understand that as a libertarian, you likely oppose all forms of compulsory social assistance – even to those in genuine need. But whether or not your position is the socially responsible one is not germane to the question of how many people are *dependent* on food stamps.

      You simply can’t know – using only the data on how many people receive food stamps – who is dependent on them and who isn’t.

      • This argument isn’t warranted. “Dependent” simply means relying upon something. I only pointed out that having a record number of people relying on government to feed them is a bad economic indicator and it’s bad for a healthy democratic process.

      • As the population continues to increase, the numbers will always be “record high”.

        Is the stock market a good indicator of the economy? Because that is constantly setting records too.

      • The growth in people receiving food stamps has greatly outpaced population growth, and therefore the percentage of people on food stamps is at a record high, making your observation irrelevant.

        Kacy, I’m trying hard to be respectful now, but are these really the types of word games and technicalities you want to focus your intellect on? What point are you trying to make here? 1 in 7 on food stamps – YAY! (??)

  4. ““So like I said… I’m not disputing your fact-claims. I’ve only ever disputed the doom-and-gloom conclusions you’re drawing.”

    And those would be…?

    “I’ve listed them out. Scroll up.”

    You listed the fact-claims, which you do not dispute. The contention seems to be the “doom-and-gloom conclusions.”

    Seems to me the trends listed are all negative and snowballing. I think that’s a fair assessment. What statements of ours go over and above that fact into hysteria or “doom-and-gloom”?

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