Originally posted at AEIdeas. Our Academic Programs team recently asked Nick Eberstadt, author of “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” questions on entitlement spending related to Millennials. Below is part two of our three-part series with Nick. Part one is available here. Many observe a heightened sense of entitlement in the Millennial generation. Do you think government programs have aided this development? Also, will this sense impact the policies promoted by our generation?
My perception, just as a parent, is that there is a greater sense of entitlement among young people today than among my generation when we were young people. I don’t think this has been abetted by government. I think this has been a consequence of family life. My generation has helped to entitle our children for a variety of reasons, sometimes for feelings of guilt and compensating for not spending the time with them that they might have, on reflection, wish they had, but that’s done. If there’s a positive side to that, my impression is that an awful lot of people in your generation have a, you may call it cynical, but a more realistic sense of the way the world works. I don’t think the notion that there are a lot of free goodies out there is as widespread among my kid’s friends, among their generation, as it was among my generation, and that’s a very positive starting point.What would you say is the most important mistake students make when thinking about entitlements? The largest myth they believe?
I would say that for Americans as a whole, the most pernicious myth is that entitlements are mainly a benefit arrangement for an underclass. In a pure arithmetic sense the main beneficiaries of something for nothing politics are our working Americans and our middle class Americans, just as I explained with the actuarially, wildly unsound Social Security and Medicare systems. We’ve made something for nothing politics absolutely mainstream in the American dream today. We’ve got to stop that. It’s going to be incumbent on Generation Y, our students and our young Americans, to do this. It’s going to fall on their shoulders. That’s probably the most important thing. The second most important thing to understand is just how easy and how pernicious it is to kick the can down the road.Read the rest of this post at AEIdeas.