Young Americans who are now in their early 20’s view the United State as having been in a war since 9/11.
They grew up with the economic collapse in 2008, with families losing their homes, jobs and struggling to take care of the family.
Hardship continued beyond 2008, seeing wages falling or not increasing. The rising costs of healthcare, childcare, and tuitions made it so families could not keep up. To make it worse full-time jobs saw their benefits slashed, as their job became contract work instead. Even the middle-class jobs, got replaced to low paying service work.
Young Americans are told to get a college education so they can get a good job in order to get out of this trap. But this isn’t true today; college graduates are buried in student debt, working for low wages or working unpaid internships. The highly sought for jobs are in large cities where rent has increased so much they can’t afford to move there or stay. Outside these cities are worse, communities are turning into ghost towns with longtime running factories abandoned alongside malls.
There doesn’t seem to be a way out and these families are all left wondering if the economic recovery will finally reach their family.
Survival has become the new American Dream, as there are fewer jobs, less pay. Although having been told in 2016 that unemployment was as low as 4.7%. What people don’t realize for this number to work, is the government counted everyone, this includes the people who are only working part-time, who are doing gig jobs and also people who are making well below the poverty line as employed.
Can you blame over half of the young population for not understanding nor supporting capitalism?
Harvard University in April 2016 polled our young between 18-29 years old. The result, support for capitalism is at a historic low of 51%, while 42% don’t support it. 33% say they support socialism.
Clearly, our youth do not understand the benefits of a capitalistic USA.
John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that these young did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting”. So, essentially, capitalism incorrectly applied?
Capitalism, in its current form, holds less appeal to our young. , especially when the invisible hand feels like a death grip.
The young haven’t had the experience the older generation grew up with, they had promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40 hour work week, union benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees.
Minimum wage by 2012 should have been around $21.72 if it had kept the productive growth from 1968. Instead, policies like $15 per hour are common. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible. This is not feasible when nearly half of Americans do not have even $400 to their name.
An illusion has been created that the economy is strong and Americans aren’t under economic hardship.
What do the youth believe in? When asked if they supported that, “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.”
To realize that things have gone wrong you don’t need to survey the young. All you have to do is look at their bank accounts, the jobs they have, the jobs their parents have lost, the debt they have and the many opportunities they are denied of because of where the economy is.
Now, this doesn’t indicate socialism but maybe it indicates that they grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter. They don’t believe anyone should suffer and want it to stop.
Our youth need to better understand how capitalism, applied correctly, provides exactly what is needed.
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.