Jack Parkos | United States
It is no secret that more of today’s American youth prefer socialism than older citizens. After all, Bernie Sanders gathered up a large majority of his supporters from millennials and the underage. According to University of Chicago study, 62% of Americans between the age of 18-34 believe that “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems”. Another study from the Victims of Communism foundation found that 44% of millennials would prefer to live in a country with socialist policies.
The question soon arises of why the youth seem to show affection towards a system that has historically failed. The answer, though, is not so simple.
Socialist Policies and Time Preference
Time preference theory states that with all things being equal, a person prefers current wealth over future wealth. Different factors can influence one’s time preference (such as if the wealth will increase or decrease over time). Younger people tend to have a higher time preference (meaning they prefer current wealth over future wealth). Thus, many millennials will fall under this category.
This same trait is evident, generally speaking, in their politics. Socialist policies simply tend to reflect higher time preference. Take, for instance, the substation of education. In the short run, it will lower or eliminate costs for college. However, in the future, it will decrease the wealth through higher prices and tax increases, but also increase inflation rates and debt. The youth, on average not having as much of an ability to look towards the future, are more likely to take the current wealth now and ignore future consequences.
Socialism in general has a trend for higher time preference. After all, the need to loot wealth from the “haves” and give to the “have nots” is a direct link of this theory. Why work or save when you can take from those who already have done so?. But this mindset, though materially rewarding initially, is dangerous. It will negatively impact on the economy, as the incentive to produce will fall; when people can keep less of what they produce, they will not have the same motivation to do so. Thus, it goes almost without saying that socialist policies will harm an economy, generally speaking.
A False Definition of Capitalism
It is also worth noting that many socialists paint a false picture of critical issues; what they criticize about the free market really has nothing to do with one, but instead is due to government interference. The cronyism that plagues the nation is not the fault of free market capitalism. The free market does not include lobbying, corporate bailouts, or subsidizing industries. America’s market is not a pure free market like the left claims it to be. Therefore, it makes no sense to condemn capitalism in the first place, when we have yet to see it.
Many millennials blame the free market for the rising price of healthcare. In fact, though, the federal government takes much of the blame here. In 1960, healthcare took up just five percent of the GDP, but in 2017, it was 17.9 percent. Healthcare costs have risen faster than the average annual income. What happened between 1960 and the modern day? In short, the government expanded and subsided the healthcare industry.
Inadequate Government Healthcare
If the government ran healthcare completely, it would be a disaster. The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ healthcare is notorious for its poor quality; imagine this for all healthcare across the whole country. Also, Canada’s healthcare system has many detriments. Our northern neighbors provide healthcare for free to every citizen, at the expense of the government.
However, consequences have been disastrous. This has lead to longer waiting times and a decrease in healthcare. In fact, waits for medically necessary procedures have more than doubled in 25 years. Furthermore, taxes in Canada are significantly higher than those in America. The last thing that our country needs is to go down this path.
Though most Americans do not support a truly free market, the number of people completely disregarding capitalism and praising socialist policies is increasing, particularly among youth. If predictions that millennials will have bigger impacts of elections is true, we should be worried about the future.