Washington’s War on Millennials

CascadeNewLogoBy Jared Meyer

Tens of millions of Americans are between the ages of 18 and 30, and achieving success will be more difficult for these so-called Millennials than it was for young people in the past. This is because politicians and bureaucrats in Washington have put in place policies that restrict economic opportunity for the young.

It does not have to be this way.

Washington’s expansion of entitlement benefits and other government services places a major future financial burden on the young—one that many did not even vote for. The federal government has a debt of $18 trillion, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Unfunded liabilities driven by Social Security and Medicare push the total federal fiscal shortfall to more than $200 trillion.

As if this were not enough, the Affordable Care Act has raised health insurance premiums for the young in an effort to pay for older Americans’ health care. Now, even though people under 30 only spend an average of $600 a year on health care, young people cannot pay less than one-third of what older people pay.

In elementary and secondary school, ineffective teachers are protected from being fired. This serves the interests of older teachers and their unions, but it harms those who would benefit from high-quality teachers. Common-sense reforms to improve education outcomes such as vouchers and charter schools are consistently opposed by teachers unions.

In their college years, young people are encouraged to attend a university even though four in ten college freshmen fail to graduate within six years. The current system of excessive federal student aid raises the cost of college tuition, which forces students to take on mountains of debt.

As if this were not enough, after high school or college graduation, Washington and state governments prevent young people from entering the job market. Occupational licensing requirements are meant to protect public safety, but often they mostly protect established businesses and workers. This comes at the expense of everyday consumers, entrepreneurs, and young workers, as unnecessary licensing makes many promising career paths too prohibitively expensive or time-consuming to enter.

Minimum wage laws, though they may seem well intentioned, make it more difficult for young and low-skilled workers to acquire valuable experience. Again, the government is telling young people that they are not free to work. Destructive labor-market laws need to be scaled back so that the first step on the career ladder can again be within reach.

Some think that if government were larger and gave more handouts, and taxes were raised to pay for these programs, then young people would do better. However, this would only make matters worse. Government tends to pick winners and losers, and the politically unorganized young are ineffective at lobbying for their interests. The key to restoring Millennials’ lost economic opportunity is for government to get out of their way.

Washington is robbing America’s young. Our country is facing a crisis, and change is essential for young people to achieve the future they deserve.

Jared Meyer is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the coauthor with Diana Furchtgott-Roth of Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young (Encounter Books, May 2015). Cascade Policy Institute will host Meyer to speak on this topic in Portland on Thursday evening, October 22. The event is open to the public, but registrations are required in advance. More information can be found at cascadepolicy.org and http://disinherited-event-at-cascade.eventbrite.com. This article was originally published by The Salem Statesman Journal.

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Posted by at 10:00 | Posted in Economy, Education, Employment, Federal Budget, Federal Government, Government Regulation, Government Spending, Government Waste, Health & Human Services, Health Care Reform, Individual Responsiblity, Leadership, Liberalism, Life, Obamacare, Right-to-Work | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ron Swaren

    If you don’t support immigration control this is disingenuous. There are ways for individuals to improves their lives no matter what the economic statistics or government policies are. It is known as Self Sufficiency. Or Yankee Ingenuity.

    Because our country had been through some trying times we did create a taxpayer funded safety net. But, in pursuit of pumping up the economic statistics, people from all across the spectrum will condone high levels of immigration. But politics, being what they are, this just means more people supporting entitlement programs. It is human nature to do so. More people means more cases of human nature wanting entitlements paid by “the taxpayers.”

    • While “more people means More cases of human nature wanting entitlements paid by ‘taxpayers'”, more people also means more of what Julian Simon called “the ultimate resource” – namely, the human mind. On balance, Simon made a compelling argument that legal immigration is on balance positive for the country. A comprehensive book he wrote on this subject can be found here:

      • Ron Swaren

        OK, observe what has happened on the I-5 freeway. It was working just fine, absorbing new persons in the metropolitan area, until within a short period of time it accelerated into a real mess of congestion. It reached a tipping point. Much of our utility infrastructure has a similar ideal peak load. Yes we can increase it—and demand is falling per capita in many respects–but replacement would be costly, and plagued with lots of disagreement, due to the nature of free public discourse.

        Personally I don’t like the inflation inherent in rapid population growth but maybe if you are a libertarian landowner waiting to subdivide your land you would. I don’t think that us peasants, whose families may have migrated here with little more than the clothes on our backs, really want to be confronted with rising costs at every turn, and stuck basically with diminishing investment opportunities, while a fairly small number economically benefit from rising costs—and then send their money to overseas business enterprises anyway.

        Inflation sucks, but we’ve got it in spades now..

  • HBguy

    Yeah, what’s wrong with those millennials. All they have to do is vote for Republicans who pledge to ban gay marriage and abortions. Don’t believe in climate change or even in protecting the environment if it means any less growth in GDP. Oppose to the feds making student loans available at the same rates the fed makes money available to banks and won’t even fund a program to refinance student loans at current interest rates lest their banker friends see their profits reduced.

    I get it. The Millennials are on the short end of the stick. The question is, will they move to the GOP, or will the GOP move to them.

    • .

      And you, HBguy, bong skewered and smoked over a Greece trap oracle spit.

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