More than most age groups, Millennials know that they are being set up for a generational scam of epic proportions. Indeed, Obamacare’s individual market is explicitly predicated upon overcharging relatively younger, healthier, poorer people to subsidize lower premiums for relatively older, sicker, and wealthier people (who really hit the jackpot when they turn 65 and get Medicare). A full 51 percent of Millennials believe they won’t receive any Social Security benefits and an additional 39 percent say that they will receive reduced benefits if they get anything at all. That’s not even factoring in analysis by Urban Institute researchers who show that virtually all workers getting Social Security after 2009 will get less out of the system than they paid in. Wait until that sinks in on younger Americans.
Given that, the real question isn’t why most Millennials are turning their backs on institutions, it’s why any of them are still clinging to the old ways? The Pew study documents instances of what I would charitably call the confusion of youth (despite huge and ongoing disappointment with Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and political parties, 53 percent of Millennials still say they want “a bigger government that provides more services”). But it also shows an optimism that should be genuinely bracing and energizing for Americans of all ages.