America’s young people have veered to the left. Opinion pollsters tell us so. According to a November 2019 Gallup poll, “Since 2010, young adults’ positive ratings of socialism have hovered near 50 percent.” A March 2019 Axios poll concurs, saying that 49 percent of millennials would “Prefer living in a socialist country.” And The Hill puts it more strongly, citing an October 2019 YouGov Internet survey in a story headed, “7 in 10 Millennials Say They’d Vote for a Socialist.”
Traditional liberalism still exists. In a March 2018 Pew Research Center study of Americans aged 22–37, 57 percent called themselves “mostly” or “consistently” liberal.
But “mostly” or “consistently” liberal may not be enough for young voters. This was evident in the 2018 congressional elections. Ten-term incumbent congressmen Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Joe Crowley (D- NY) were as mostly consistently liberal as they come. And they were kicked to the curb in Democratic primaries by leftists Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
What’s the matter with kids today? Nothing new. A large portion of the brats, the squirts, the fuzz-faced, the moon calves, the sap-green, and the wet behind the ears have always been “Punks for Progressives.”
As soon as children discover that the world isn’t nice, they want to make it nicer. And wouldn’t a world where everybody shares everything be nice? Aw … kids are so tender-hearted.
But kids are broke — so they want to make the world nicer with your money. And kids don’t have much control over things — so they want to make the world nicer through your effort. And kids are very busy being young — so it’s your time that has to be spent making the world nicer.
For them. The greedy little bastards. Kids were thinking these exact same sweet-young-thing thoughts back in the 1960s, during my salad days (tossed green sensimilla buds). Young people probably have been thinking these same thoughts since the concept of being a “young person” was invented.
That would have been in the 19th century — during America’s first “Progressive Era” — when mechanization liberated kids from onerous farm chores and child labor laws let them escape from child labor.
This gave young people the leisure to sit around noticing that the world isn’t nice and daydreaming about how it could be made nicer with the time, effort and money of grown-ups.
I’m all for sending them back to the factories or, at least, the barn. If I hear any socialist noise from my kids I’m going to make them get up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows. And this will be an extra-onerous farm chore because we don’t have any cows, and they’ll have to search for miles all over the countryside to find some.
They’ve got it coming. Young people are not only penniless and powerless, they’re also ignorant as hell. They think of wealth as something that’s limited, like the number of Hostess Ding Dongs on the 7-Eleven shelf. They think rich people got to the 7-Eleven first and gobbled all the Ding Dongs, leaving poor people to lick the plastic wrappers.
Young people don’t know that more Ding Dongs can be produced. They don’t know how or why more Ding Dong production is possible. And they certainly don’t know how to get the cream filling inside.
(Leaving aside the wild indignation of young people about the very existence of synthetic industrial and undoubtedly poisonous food such as Ding Dongs. They eat them anyway. Watch them shop at the 7-Eleven when they think nobody’s looking. But I digress.)
Young people believe that the way to obtain more wealth is to take it away from rich people.
You can’t do it. Well, you can do it. But you can only do it once.
You can take the Ding Dongs from the Hostess factory for free, but once you’ve eaten them you can’t go back to the Hostess factory and take more Ding Dongs for free. The Hostess factory is out of business. (Which may protect our health, reduce environmental pollution, and preserve various species of animals such as the high fructose corn weevil, which, for all I know, is endangered. Although, considering that Pew Research claims even more millennials [69 percent] favor cannabis legalization than favor socialism, somebody’s going to be sorry when they get the munchies. But I digress again.)
Young people are so ignorant about wealth that they think wealth is limited to what arrives at the 7-Eleven with the Hostess deliveryman. The reason they think this is because young people are still in school or have been recently.
School, while not without its benefits, carries the risk of over-exposure to intellectuals. And intellectuals, when it comes to understanding economic realities, are Ding Dongs.
The 19th century spawning of idle, dreamy, feckless young people arrived just in time for the Marxist intellectual fad. And Marxist thinking among intellectuals is a fashion trend that has never gone away.
Intellectuals like Marxism because Marx makes economics simple — the rich get their money from the poor. (How the rich manage this, since the poor by definition don’t have any money, is beyond me. But never mind.)
Real economics are more complicated than anything that intellectuals can make sense of.
Also, living in an ivory tower teaches few economic lessons — even fewer now that intellectuals have banned the ivory trade. Marxism puts inarticulate notions of a sharing-caring nicer world into vivid propaganda slogans. Slogans such as: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Which may be the most ridiculous political-economic idea that anybody has ever had.
My need is for Beluga caviar, a case of Chateau Haut-Brion 1961, a duplex on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, a bespoke suit from Gieves & Hawkes in Savile Row, a matched pair of Purdey 12-bore sidelock shotguns and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that recently sold at Sotheby’s Monterey auction for $48.4 million.
My ability is … Um … I have an excellent memory for limericks …
There once was a man from Nantucket …
What kind of totalitarian mind-meld would be required to determine everyone’s abilities and needs? What kind of dictatorship body slam would be necessary to distribute the goods of the able to the wants of the needy? We know what kind. The kind that the USSR and Mao’s China did their best to create.
The Soviet Union and Maoist China are two more reasons that millennials love socialism. This is not because young people learned left-wing lessons from the Soviets and the Red Guards. It’s because they didn’t.
Kids don’t get it that communists are bad people. It was too long ago. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Deng Xiaoping began market reforms in China in 1978.
I have two millennial daughters. The end of the Cold War and the beginning of China’s economic boom are, respectively, as distant in time from them as the Great Depression and the Coolidge administration are from me.
To millennials, hearing the USSR and Mao’s China used as examples of how socialism can go very, very wrong is like me hearing about the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. I did hear about the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in American History class. And I was not listening as hard as I could. Taking a guess, I’d say one was an international breakfast cereal treaty and the other had to do with the price of smoots.
For young people today, the only communist societies they know anything about are that goofy outlier North Korea and Cuba, where the Marxist-Leninism comes with cheap rum, ’57 Chevys, and “Guantanamera” sing-alongs.
Or, I should say, these are the only communist societies young people know anything about, except one … the communist society in which all young people grow up.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is deeply stupid and completely impractical. And yet there’s a place where it works. This place is my house. And your house. And anywhere else there’s a family.
To each according to his need … What don’t kids need? My 16-year-old son needs Mom to drive to school with his lunch, his homework and one sock. Never mind that she packed his lunch, did his homework and washed his socks — one of which he left behind this morning along with his homework and his lunch so that she has to drive back to school even though she just returned from driving him to school.
From each according to Mom’s and Dad’s ability, not to mention the ability of Mom’s and Dad’s Visa card credit line and the bank loans we took out to pay for school tuition.
The grim truth is, kids are born communists.