In a recent Reason-Rupe Survey, 58 percent of Americans ages 18 – 24 said they viewed socialism favorably. However, when asked if they favored a free market economy or a government-managed economy, 64 percent of Millennials said they favored the free market. How is it possible for Millennials to favor both a socialist government and a capitalist economy? The answer is simple, Millennials simply do not understand what either of these words really mean, especially capitalism.
The word capitalism is generally unpopular on college campuses around the country. In pop culture, it is rare, though not impossible, to find a story where the capitalist ends up being the hero. All day long we are bombarded with anti-free market propaganda. Oddly enough, most of this anti-capitalist rhetoric is available to us through mediums that exist only because of the free market. For example, every time a young, enthusiastic socialist tweets about the injustices of capitalism from his or her iPhone, they are living proof that Millennials love the free market.
If there is one thing the Millennial generation struggles with, it’s patience. We have grown up in a world where everything has been available to us with the click of the button. We have never had to use encyclopedias or spend hours doing research in a library. Instead, we Google whatever it is that we were looking for and in a matter of seconds, we have a plethora of sources. Socialism is not generally associated with quick results. Instead, extreme bureaucracy usually tends to make things take even longer than they otherwise would, much like a government bread line. Likewise, a government-run healthcare system usually results in longer waiting periods even for simple office visits. Millennials hate waiting. I am willing to bet that if these self-proclaimed socialists were to spend some time in a socialist country, they would not last very long.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Aug 24, 2016.