Since the status quo seemed to be performing poorly, especially for the young, why not try socialism? We should recognize that millennials like entrepreneurship. A Gallup survey found that 90 percent of to year-olds viewed entrepreneurs positively. Ninety-eight percent looked favorably on small businesses. In fact, the youngest respondents had the most enthusiasm both for socialism and for small businesses and entrepreneurship. Even with their socialist sympathies, millennials have not lost sight of the dynamism that comes from private enterprise.
This makes sense.
After all, children born in have lived through a series of public-sector failures—and private-sector successes. The iPhone appeared in , just in time to turbocharge their teenage social life.
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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon—all became mass phenomena during their lifetime. A group with so much exposure to the power of entrepreneurship should be open to the notion that private-sector energy, not government control, opens a better path to widespread employment, less expensive housing, and superior medical care. The teens of the Reagan era, like myself, may have believed that the Republican program of shrinking bureaucracy was exactly what was needed to liberate the economy.
For millennials, Republican stewardship brought financial chaos and economic underperformance. In our day, empowering small businesses could mean slashing onerous regulations that stop small shops from opening in immigrant neighborhoods. Milton Friedman was a champion of free markets, but one of his most successful ideas—school vouchers—envisioned public incentives that would encourage entrepreneurs to solve social problems.
Friedman understood the failure of state-monopoly provision of public schooling; he wanted to empower parents and startups to create better schools. In the Friedmanite vision, the public sector establishes the financial incentives, but private entrepreneurs come up with the ingenious solutions. Silicon Valley moguls seem to think that they can solve any puzzle—except, perhaps, the chronic underemployment of less skilled Americans, including millennials.
A policy that encourages entrepreneurs to employ more workers could include tax subsidies to firms and workers like the Earned Income Tax Credit and reforming public policies, like disability insurance and food stamps, so that they did less to discourage work. T he case for liberty is about more than material gains, which the defenders of markets must remember more often.
For most of the past quarter-century, the advocates of economic freedom have made their case primarily by arguing that low taxes lead to economic prosperity, both in the immediate sense that families get to keep more of their earnings and in the systemic sense that strong economic incentives generate higher levels of output. The moral argument has been less prevalent.
How Republicans, Democrats view socialism and capitalism | Pew Research Center
By contrast, the left-wing case, at least at times, has combined castigation of apparent economic injustices with a call for empathy and compassion. What kind of nation would America be if, say, 40 percent of adults subsisted entirely on government handouts? The data on joblessness show the broken spirits of those lacking the sense of purpose and social connections that come with work.
The make-work public-employment guarantees advanced by Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other politicians seem almost as soul-killing. We are indeed in a race of man against machine, as new technologies threaten to replace many forms of ordinary work. Entrepreneurial imagination is the best way to ensure that workers laid off today will be able to find new, productive jobs tomorrow. Satisfaction comes from doing, not from having; and freedom—not socialism—empowers doing. Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America are just two entrepreneurial nonprofits that struggle with excessive government regulation.
Democrats should restore capitalism's promise, not abandon it for socialism
It needs to be defined again as what it truly is. My former student Laura Nicolae, of Romanian descent, offered a powerful counterargument to our intellectual carelessness about socialism in a recent Harvard Crimson op-ed. Such a system creates a government so powerful that abuse of citizens is practically guaranteed. Similarly, when Obamacare is demonized as socialism, then millions of young people who want a more inclusive safety net start thinking that they must be socialists, too.
This is no mere misuse of language. That markets incentivize kindness is a good thing. One great evil of socialist states is that they eliminated any financial reason to be friendly, yielding generations of dour apparatchiks, whose success came from subservience to their political masters, not pleasing the public. A nother step: let freedom serve the young. In manufacturing firms, older unionized workers earn far more than similarly skilled younger workers.
Occupational licensing restricts the competitive chances of new workers. Economic freedom will become much more compelling to year-olds when they see how often public interventions have benefited the entrenched at the expense of the young. The regulatory bias toward the old is particularly evident in housing policy. Passed overwhelmingly in , the measure may have struck a blow against rising property taxes, but by ensuring that home-value assessments cannot rise more quickly than the rate of inflation unless the house is sold, it glaringly favors the old over the young.
An additional downside of Prop. In other instances, local regulations have limited new construction, with policies like the acre minimum-lot sizes that exist in parts of Marin County. This creates housing shortages that drive up prices. Housing is the main store of wealth for most Americans, and regulations have clearly helped redistribute wealth from young home-buyers to old home-sellers.
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The tendency of government regulation to entrench incumbents is hardly limited to housing. Elizabeth Warren has proposed that employee representatives make up 40 percent of all corporate boards. Such representatives might look after the interests of incumbent employees, but they would have little incentive to care about new workers. A pervasive feature of labor markets in social democracies is a large gap between insiders and outsiders—and the young inevitably begin as outsiders.
T he case for socialism starts with anger against a system that seems to increase inequality and leave the most vulnerable unprotected—but we can enhance upward mobility and create a better safety net by empowering entrepreneurship and redirecting existing funding. The connection between entrepreneurial freedom and mobility is easy to make. Social insurance is harder to fit within the case for a New Freedom, but to succeed today, the case for liberty must also make peace with reasonable protections against economic and physical calamity.
Entrepreneurship can improve social mobility because so many new Americans make their own futures by starting businesses. We could do much more to help them. Appallingly, America regulates the entrepreneurship of the wealthy far less stringently than it regulates the entrepreneurship of the poor. If a Harvard undergraduate wants to launch an Internet firm in his dorm, it might accumulate 1 billion users before regulators start paying attention.
If a Haitian immigrant wants to start a grocery in Harvard Square that, say, sells milk, he must cut through a dense thicket of local regulations.
We should apply more rigorous cost-benefit analysis to local regulations and set up one-stop permitting for local entrepreneurs, with permitting offices fluent in several languages. We should experiment with after-school programs that teach entrepreneurship-relevant skills. Entrepreneurship fires job creation, which we will need more than ever. Finally, entrepreneurship can also be part of providing better schooling and cheaper health care.
Not all charter schools, which operate free from sundry labor restrictions of traditional public schools, are great, but in many communities, they provide a successful alternative to conventional schools. I would also like to see vocational training provided after school, on weekends, and over the summer. Nevertheless, the New Freedom should emphasize that social insurance in the U.
Medicare and Social Security are vast government programs funded by taxes on the young and that benefit people over the age of 65, who are often wealthy. A proposal compatible with the cause of freedom is to make our social-insurance system fairer, even if total spending remains constant. Means-testing benefits would be a great start.
Cost-containment for Medicare and Medicaid would provide trillions of extra dollars. We can offer more meaningful social insurance for the poor and young if we stop spending so much on the wealthy and old. T he current vogue for socialism among the young does not mean that most twentysomethings want the government to run pizzerias and gaming platforms, but many do want more government control over sectors of the economy. Old ideological tethers have largely dissolved, and America is at risk of moving in a far more statist direction.
In this new, wide-open world, the cause of capitalism has struggled. Republicans won the elections primarily due to older, whiter voters, many of whom were suspicious of markets. The future could increasingly belong to the radical Left—even socialists, in the true sense of the term. The global shift to the left after World War I and the Great Depression called forth a generation of legendary scholars—Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, and Friedman, among others—who used their voices to advocate for freedom, not only because of its economic benefits but also because all humans deserve a chance to chart their destiny, free from the overweening grip of the state.
Today, a new generation must make the case for liberty again. The free market is far from perfect, but the track record of state-dominated economies is far worse. Edward L.
Glaeser is a professor of economics at Harvard University, a City Journal contributing editor, and the author of Triumph of the City. Send a question or comment using the form below. This message may be routed through support staff.
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Sanders, who first ran for Vermont governor forty-seven years ago, has found a following among a new generation that is not steeped in Cold War ideology. The movement, personified by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is trying to chart a path away from a new Gilded Age of garish inequality and rising economic anxiety. In recent weeks, as I spoke with dozens of voters and political figures in Wisconsin, it was clear from our conversations that the term conjures dramatically different images, from decency to social decay.
As Democrats try to regain Wisconsin and other swing states that they narrowly lost to Trump, in , candidates are eager to redefine the Party as responsive to the needs of working-class people, and Republicans are all too eager to hang a negative label on them. The answers were all over the map. In the confusion over meanings, Trump and the Republicans see an opportunity to define the terms of the election, with socialism serving as epithet and warning. The city had three socialist mayors: Emil Seidel, who served two years, starting in ; Daniel Hoan, in office from to ; and Frank Zeidler, who served three terms between and Public libraries, public schools, a public port, public housing.
We wanted our workers to have pure air; we wanted them to have sunshine; we wanted planned homes; we wanted living wages; we wanted recreation for young and old; we wanted vocational education; we wanted a chance for every human being to be strong and live a life of happiness. The former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, barely registering in the polls so far, is warning Democrats to steer clear. In fact, Kind said, Trump is the candidate who favors state intervention in the economy in ways most commonly associated with hard-line socialism. He sees a divide by age and political party.
In the survey released in May , only six per cent of young Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic expressed negative feelings about socialism, while seventy-six per cent of self-identified Republicans did. Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican wordsmith, focus-group leader, and strategist renowned for wrapping ideas into phrases that resonate with voters, offered an unlikely endorsement of that view. What Luntz hears from voters is something different from ten or twenty years ago. More and more people believe that the wealthy have rigged the system, and they want to unrig it. That makes more voters open to a disruptive figure like Trump and to candidates who promise a fairer deal through socialism.
As the crowd dispersed, Randy Zemel, who served in the Marines in Vietnam, considered the question of socialism. At seventy-four, he works with special-education students, and still wears his metal Marine Corps dog tags around his neck. Socialism is government giving it to you, so you squander it. They are Trump fans, and they believe him when he says that the United States commands fresh respect in the world. When it comes to economic systems, they see no overlap between socialism and capitalism.