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Do Kids These Days Like Too Much Socialism?

The Pew Research Center released a poll in late December (way to bury it) updating a regular series on people’s opinions of capitalism, socialism and libertarianism. The responses of young people aged 18-29 particularly interested me and seemed fitting to discuss here. Our age group divided almost equally on capitalism, with 46 percent having a positive reaction to it and 47 percent a negative reaction. On socialism, 49 percent of us viewed it positively and 43 percent negatively. So more young people view socialism positively than capitalism, although the difference is close to the margin of error. We’re the only age group to do so. Oddly enough, Occupy Wall Street supporters gave socialism higher negatives than they do capitalism—52 percent viewed socialism negatively, compared with 39 percent giving a positive reaction to socialism. And 45 percent of OWS supporters said they view capitalism positively, 47 percent negatively. Fascinating. Perhaps that’s because OWS is such an agglomeration of incoherent frustration. Anecdotal evidence also supports the idea that young people expect the government will give them things, yet haven’t connected the dots about where government must get these things in order to redistribute them. Check out this video of what one college professor heard back from his students when he asked them to describe the American Dream. I’m inclined to agree with Jack Chambless’s thoughts that some of the blame for these attitudes falls on poor education in public schools, but I don’t know to what extent they deserve blame. Parents influence children deeply, too. Or this may just be an example of the “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain” aphorism. Checking into that quote, I found this article noting that Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Andrew Breitbart all followed this pattern. That makes me wonder two things. First: Is this an irreversible trend that will lead America into further socialism when our age gets older? Second: Who today are tomorrow’s Milton Friedmans?