What the Millennials Do Not Know about America

Jenna Sharp-Period 1

Capitalism is a word that comes to mind when we think of the U.S. What exactly is this Capitalism that the country is associated with? Capitalism is each citizen’s right to own private property, and it is not controlled by the state. It is what the United States of America was founded on and how the lasting American dream was formed. A person has not only the opportunity but the right to use their hard work and intellect to create and own something great. Every American buys and uses the products that essentially capitalism created because the form of government allows any person to create a successful and competitive business. Coming into this world knowing that each and every individual has this freedom is inspiring and instills true ambition to leave a mark on the world. A citizen can deem what steps are necessary for them to advance economically and take them without government interference. Capitalism made America the country it is and this form of government should not be wavered.

As the upcoming 2016 presidential election arises, a somewhat new form of government for America is brought to the attention of the citizens. This is socialism. Bernie Sanders, a man who has lived off the government money for almost all of his life, has come into the mix of candidates and identifies as a democratic socialist who plans to diminish the power of capitalism in the United States. While the majority of the older generation is shocked at his plan to completely transform the very principles that America was founded on, it is not safe to say that the majority of the younger generation agrees with their parents. A survey “showed 41 percent of millennials who gave themselves at least a 50-50 chance of voting in the Democratic primary support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), while 35 percent prefer Hillary Clinton. Just 9 percent say Sanders’ description of himself as a Democratic socialist makes them less likely to support him.”[1] Many millennials support his anti-capitalist and socialist views, and they make up the majority of his support as he runs against Hillary Clinton in the democratic primary election currently. This generation hopes to see Bernie Sanders in the White House in 2016 as they publicly campaign for him on all accounts of social media and at public rallies. Clearly, the millennials have forgotten what makes us free as not only Americans but humans. They need to be reminded that capitalism makes each citizen free, and socialism robs each human of this fortunate right.

Now what exactly is appealing to the socialists that yearn for Bernie Sanders? Obviously, the millennials believe that this is what is best for America, and the question is “why?” In “Liberty and Property,” Ludwig Von Mises states that a socialist “has no use for the class interests of the intellectuals who make a living as professional dissenters and innovators.”[3] This statement by Mises is relevant to the beliefs of the youth. They do not care for the people who find success simply because they are not a leader in the capitalist business. Despite the fact that the success of innovators creates business opportunities for all members of societies and increases the role of consumers, many are unsatisfied with the amount of control which business owners seem to hold. They ignore all of the benefits that capitalism has for their well-being, and they would rather have the government hold the control. According to Mises, socialists also believe that something is “‘not worth having,’ if it implies poverty.”[4] Because poverty exists with a capitalist government, the youth does not want that for their country. Each child is raised knowing that poverty is obviously bad and that everyone should try their best to diminish it as a country. Whether it’s world hunger, homelessness, or a lack of education, it is all undesirable for the community. While it is a great goal to strive for a total end of poverty, it is unrealistic and impossible to achieve by reasonable means. However, socialists believe that the government can solve the idea of poverty in America by redistributing the wealth so the rising generation does not see a problem with socialism. Socialism creates the idea that there is no difference between “paying a tax or a fine imposed by a magistrate, or his buying a newspaper or admission to a movie.”[5] They do not believe that capitalism brings them more freedom, but they believe that the government can so they put their full trust in it economically. They believe that it is simply an obligation to get the service of the government by paying a tax. To the average socialist, a tax is not an undesirable payment, but something that gives a positive outcome. While the upcoming generation feels strongly about socialism and Bernie Sanders, they fail to see the benefits of capitalism.

The millennials fail to recognize the problems which have arisen as a result of socialism in previous time periods. First of all, it seems to have had many problems in history. As Mises states, “We cannot pass over the fact that the standard of living was incomparably higher in the free countries of the West than in the communist East. In giving away liberty as the price to be paid for the he acquisition of prosperity, the Russians made a poor bargain. They now have neither the one nor the other.”[6]  Whether it is due to a lack of education or a bit of ignorance, the citizens must use others pasts to know that the system does not bring about desirable results to the citizens in the end. The idea of complete equality is known to sound good on paper. Why would a society not want to have complete control and equality? It sounds like a utopic society. This system will never work out in reality. America does not need to be in the place to test something that other countries have already experimented with or are still using. A country must learn from history even though it is not our own. In capitalism, the “consumer is king.”[7] The owners are at will to the consumer. They are competing to have the lowest prices and the best product for the consumer. These capitalist owners are actually trying to benefit the people that are trying their hardest to diminish them. The government is not worried about the well-being of the common man but instead in controlling him. Mises also defends the government when he writes, “Government is not, as some people like to say, a necessary evil; it is not an evil, but a means, the only means available to make peaceful human coexistence possible. But it is the opposite of Liberty.”[8] The government allows structure for America. The laws of safety and well-being for every American are upheld by the government as it follows the Constitution. It is by no means evil; however, the very existence of the government does indeed not allow freedom. The one chance at freedom Americans have should be taken advantage of yet it is not.

Mises states that capitalism is “ceaseless innovation, daily repeated attempts to improve the provision of the consumers by new, better and cheaper products. Any actual state of production activities is merely transitory”[9] This is a positive message that the youth should reflect upon so they can understand why it is so important. Capitalism is for the people. It accommodates to the common man to make it the most beneficial as possible. The fact that the rising generation disagrees with this form of government is not only astonishing but also a disappointment. People should not be against capitalism, but be proud that our country gives us this freedom. Capitalism is what makes the American Dream sought after by so many others. Despite what most of the millennials currently think, Capitalism is not only just but also promotes freedom for Americans. In the words of Mises, “The social system of private property and limited government is the only system that tends to debarbarize all those who have the innate capacity to acquire personal culture.”[10]

 

[1] Edwards-Levy, Ariel. “Young Democrats Prefer Bernie Sanders, New Poll Finds.”Huffington Post. December 10, 2015. Accessed May 2, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-millennialspoll_us_56699fade4b0f290e5222a60.

[2] Von Mises, Ludwig. “Liberty and Property.” How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch. Accessed May 2, 2016.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] “IBM: Stereotypes Of Millennials Are Wrong – InformationWeek.” InformationWeek. Accessed May 03, 2016. http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/team-building-and-staffing/ibm-stereotypes-of-millennials-are-wrong/d/d-id/1319155.

 

 

 

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