A new survey finds that a slim majority of young adults in the U.S. reject capitalism.
The Washington Post reports on the survey:
In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism.
The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.
Socialism fared worse:
It isn't clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
The Washington Post states the obvious:
The results of the survey are difficult to interpret, pollsters noted. Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking.
All the same, that a majority of respondents in Harvard University's survey of young adults said they do not support capitalism suggests that today's youngest voters are more focused on the flaws of free markets.
Blame the education system–at least in part. Most young people believe that capitalism is an unfair system. They are unaware that there are moral arguments for captitalism. On a less abstract level, most have no idea that capitalism is the one system that has raised more people out of poverty than any other system in the history of the world. .
David French acknowledges that most young adults don't know what the heck capitalism is, but adds another disturbing thought: today's safe-space-seeking snowflakes are put off by the rough-and-tumble of capitalism:
That being said, there is still startlingly broad opposition to capitalism, and I can’t help but wonder if part of it springs from the same well-spring of risk aversion that gives us safe spaces, micro-aggressions, and trigger-warnings. Actual free markets are risky. Companies can fail. Entire industries can vanish. Entrepreneurial dreams are crushed every single day. Free markets don’t care for your feelings, your ethnicity, or your gender identity. Is it any surprise that when millions of people demonstrate an extraordinarily low tolerance for emotional risk that they’d be hostile to an economic system that can so callously disregard their wants and needs?
Free markets have brought vast improvements to the human condition, but they always carry risk. If you’re a person who can’t handle hearing that America is a “melting pot” — or if you need a roomful of coloring books and cookies to help you cope with the fact that a conservative woman is speaking on campus — then imagine the shattering effect of a bad performance review or an actual layoff.
Many of the most fragile snowflakes spend a lifetime avoiding the rough and tumble of the market — staying ensconced in academia or working for the government — but others have to face reality sooner or later, and they don’t like what they find. Free markets are hard — and they can be scary — but they’re also demonstrably the world’s best economic engine for human flourishing. We just can’t flourish without risk, and for some millennials virtually any risk is too much to take.
It is interesting that President Obama seems to believe that they should be protected from this rought-and-tumble world. He believes that people who go to work for nonprofits rather than in business deserve breaks on their college loans.