Brave new world: A majority of millennials reject capitalism

The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

Just yesterday, John told you about a majority of Palestinian young people who support knife attacks on Jews. I hate to sound too much like the old man standing on his lawn yelling at clouds, but perhaps we have something of a parallel here in the United States in terms of rejecting sanity. Most of our millennials apparently have rejected capitalism, seeing it as the cause of all their woes, and they may be turning their eyes wistfully toward a more socialist style of living as the answer to their problems. (Washington Post)

In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism.

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Is this something real or is it just some sort of offshoot of the Bernie effect? 33% of the entire nation doesn’t sound like much but it probably works out to a fair portion of the supporters that Sanders is pulling in from the Democratic base. If that’s the case then it may tone back down once the primary ends and Bernie sails off toward retirement. They clearly won’t be getting a lot of support from the smaller percentage of young people supporting Hillary since her associations with the gold mine of Wall Street are well known.

But a more disturbing possibility is that we’ve entered a period where the population begins to fall victim to the old maxim of forgetting history and being doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The truth is that socialism has gotten something of a makeover in the modern era, with people frequently looking to places like Switzerland as a model. (Never mind the fact that Switzerland is actually one of the more capitalist places on Earth.) Further to the north, Sanders and his followers also like to point to the Scandinavian nations as the socialist paradise of their dreams. But as an excellent article in the Federalist pointed out recently, it’s really no paradise at all.

In the modern era, if our unhappy millennials really want to learn something about the true face of socialism they should look to places like Venezuela. Under the control of Hugo Chavez, the people of that nation didn’t actually experience any sort of boom times and are now facing the implosion of their society, as Kevin Williamson recently pointed out.

If you consider the most meaningful measure of a country’s economic output — GDP per capita over time — you’ll see that the fat years under Chávez did not actually happen. In fact, if you chart that real (inflation-adjusted) GDP per capita by year, you’ll see that Venezuela is significantly poorer today than it was in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. In fact, Venezuela’s per capita GDP reached its all-time low in 2003, under Chávez. This is no surprise: Making well-off countries poor and poor countries starving is what socialists do.

Things are bad in Venezuela to be sure and the citizens there are under constant threat from their own government as well as economic collapse. But if these unhappy millennials truly want a lesson on social experimentation they should look at the Russian socialist revolution of 1917 and the ensuing virtual enslavement of the citizens who surrendered all their property and rights to the government. These are the wages of socialism and it always ends badly. In case you missed that… It Always Ends Badly.

There is no good outcome from socialism in the long run and those who have lived too long in a prosperous nation like America need to crack open their history books before signing on for a new revolution. Democratic capitalism has its own warts and flaws to be sure and not every outcome is a happy one for every citizen, but it’s also a self-correcting system. Gross imbalances tend to be ironed out through the political force and will of those for whom it fails to deliver. So be careful what you wish for, millennials. You might just get it good and hard.