Millennials are often characterized as whimsical and ideologically incoherent. Much has been written about social media dependence and ignorance of basic economics, the latter of which is best exemplified by our generation’s simultaneous support for increasing the size of government and reducing it in the event that higher taxes are involved. Such confusion is understandable given the desperation produced by widespread unemployment, not to mention the predominance of Keynesian thought and even Marxism on our campuses. But beneath the layers of intellectual distortion lies a collection of ambitious, entrepreneurial and resilient individuals who are increasingly critical of the tax-and-spend policies of the Administration they helped propel into power.
A recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) details a number of interesting economic facts about Millennials, predictably concluding that there is much the President can do to help our generation in the way of handouts that “promote opportunity.” Ironically, many of the findings help to explain why Millennial support for these kinds of policies is not nearly as solid as the Administration assumes, and why it can be expected to wane over time. The reason is simple: As income rises, support for redistribution decreases (click here to see the corresponding article). And as the CEA report demonstrates, our generation stands to gain from unprecedented investment in career-specific education, widespread technological expertise, and long-term career orientation that transcend gender and racial boundaries.
The CEA notes that 42% of Millennials are non-white and that a greater percentage of minorities than ever before are currently enrolled in higher education. It also states that Millennials are more likely to pursue studies geared toward specific jobs. These trends can be expected to amplify and translate directly into a reduction in racial income gaps, leading to less uniform support for higher taxes among minority groups. Moreover, because Millennials tend to focus on career for longer than previous generations (and choose to marry later), the same hypothesis applies with regard to gender. As the report observes, “Millennial women have closed an educational attainment gap with men that dates back to World War II,” and their “higher earnings translate into greater household income for their families.” As our earnings increase over the next few decades, we will gradually forget the doom and gloom that pundits channel with regard to our generation’s economic prospects. Millennials are well-equipped to emerge from the shadow of recession, and the result will be a more diverse and more prosperous generation than any that came before it.
Millennials currently place a higher value on social issues than economic policy, and as a result most lean Democrat. The Republican Party will be forced to reconsider some of its 1950s-style positions well before young people start to see the light of fiscal conservatism. However, the prescient among us might begin by questioning the premises underlying the President’s student loan forgiveness program. How can a policy that transfers wealth to college students from taxpayers (including Millennials) without accounting for the probability that the funds will be repaid, possibly be offered in the name of fairness? As with Obamacare, there is hope that the detrimental effects of Obama’s interventions will be countered by a hastening of the pace with which our generation perceives them.
Of course, it is unlikely that any large-scale epiphanies will occur before the 2016 presidential election. But it is no coincidence that comparisons between Carter and Obama abound, and it is worth remembering that the same “radical” Baby Boomers who transformed our culture in the 1960s turned out to vote for Reagan in 1980.