by Jonathan Decker
In a recent article in The Daily Beast, Joel Kotkin argues that millennials “battered by capitalism” could be the future “red generation.” Unfortunately for those yearning for the United States to look like Venezuela, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth — millennials will be among the most radical, free market capitalists the world has ever seen.
The evidence supporting this claim is exceedingly obvious — millennials, every day, vote against Big Government with their money. And why wouldn’t they? Does anyone really believe that a generation demanding services which are fast, cheap, and convenient will have any tolerance for the slow ineptitude synonymous with government programs? Not a chance.
Take Uber. Uber saves its customers money because their business model circumvents the unnecessary and burdensome regulations foisted on taxi companies by local governments and their unions. Additionally, Uber’s innovative service allows users to rapidly obtain a ride with just a touch of a button. When given the choice between the vastly deregulated Uber or a cab, millennials don’t even blink. In metropolitan hubs (where Uber and taxis compete head to head the most) roughly 75 percent of millennials prefer Uber.
But Uber is far from the only service where millennials “fast, cheap, and convenient” demands clash with Big Government. As USA Today noted, millennials are driving the recent spike in online shopping, and the “18-34 age group is now making 54 percent of its purchases online.” When consumers shop online, not only do they have the convenience of ditching long lines at the mall, but they can potentially save money on the sales taxes that would have been levied in-store.
While some in Congress are pushing to “close the Internet sales tax loophole” (i.e. raise your taxes) via ill-conceived legislation such as the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” enacting an Internet sales tax mandate will inevitably backfire, largely as a result of millennials. The first generation to grow up with instant access to a global market will most certainly be savvy enough shop around for their bargain — even if it means buying from outside the U.S.
When making his case that millennials are Marxists-in-Training, Kotkin largely points to various polls that he believes demonstrate strong millennial support for progressivism (though one could argue many of these answers equally signify more libertarian sympathies) and the results of the last election.
Putting aside that President Trump performed better with millennials than anticipated, it is also worth noting, as Kotkin stated, that “8 percent of Millennials voted for Third Party candidates, twice the overall rate.” While Democrats continue to maintain stronger support at the ballot box from the younger generation, the fact that millennials voted independent more than any other demographic suggests they feel a great disillusionment with both parties. And it’s easy to see why — after 15 years of abysmal economic growth (spanning multiple administrations) millennials are suffering from a lack of opportunity and the high costs of student loans, and as a result, more young Americans are living with their parents than at any time since the 1940s.
Faced with their current economic struggles, the key to winning over the millennial vote (who, market signals show, is already predisposed to support capitalism) is clear — provide them with an economy that works. And on this point, Kotkin and I appear to agree. As he notes:
As Millennials grow up, start families, look to buy houses, and, worst of all, start paying taxes, they may shift to the center, much as the Boomers did before them. Redistribution, notes a recent Reason survey, becomes less attractive as incomes grow to $60,000 annually and beyond. This process could push them somewhat right-ward, particularly as they move from the leftist hothouses of the urban core to the more contestable suburbs.
I also share Kotkin’s view that the GOP’s best chance for obtaining millennial support requires “making capitalism work for this group, sustaining upward mobility and expanding property ownership.”
But let’s remember that millennials, based on their market demands, are already showing everyone else how to make capitalism work. The millennials continuous desire for faster, cheaper, and more convenient services will always require more deregulation and personal freedom to achieve. So if we are going to create an economy with greater prosperity for all, politicians should take note of how millennials are voting with their dollars. Not only are we not communists, we are also actively fighting the Big Government policies enacted by previous generations.