Millennials and the Democratic Socialism Paradox

Dear fellow Millennials,

Herewith I ask you, why do some of us believe in appealable Democratic Socialism? Is it the Robin Hood complex that burns fervently inside? Is it the twisted mentality of entitlement that has come to plague our generation? Or rather, is it the intellectual neglect of history? A 2015 Reason-Rupe survey showed that 53% of 18 to 29 year olds viewed Socialism favorably, the only age group to do so (1). What makes this system so appealable to Millennials? Today’s brand of Socialism packages itself with the entitlements of free health care and college tuition while pointing to socialized European countries as examples. The following will discuss these three elements.

Universal health care apologists are quick to point to Canada’s system as a glowing example of universal health care and insinuate how this could work similarly in the United States. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States all have less waiting times in emergency care departments in comparison to Canada (2). These wait times don’t just apply to the emergency room either. More than half of the Canadians in the survey said they couldn’t get an appointment with their family physician on or the next day (2). Longer wait times have lead to increased mortality and an increase in reversible condition’s turning into permanent disabilities (3). Wait times may not presently disturb Millennials as a Zocdoc survey found that 9 in 10 Millennials do not schedule regular, preventive doctor visits (4). However, as these Millennials inevitably get older, doctor visits become more and more warranted. It’s plausible that the wait time issues that plague Canada’s health care system go unnoticed with Millennials because they do not necessitate the need to see their own physician right now.

Wait times remain half of the issue however. High health care costs are increasingly attached to universal health care. Millennials have taken akin to watch their money in regards to their health care. In a 2012 Deloitte survey, Millennials topped the survey as the generation that is the most cost-conscious with regards to health care (5). Not only are Millennials cost-conscious, they seek discounts for their health care, more so than other age groups. Eight % of the U.S. general population asks for a discount on medical care, that number leaps up to 19% percent for Millennials age 25 to 34, according to a 2015 report by global auditing and consulting firm PwC (5). If fiscal responsibility is of utmost importance, universal health care is not the answer and would only increase financial burden on Millennials. The Affordable Care Act, a large step towards a universal health care system, is already driving up health care costs. Oregon was the first state to announce that those who buy their own health insurance will have to pay higher premiums in 2017 (6). Tennessee’s largest insurer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, announced that it would raise its premiums by an average of 36% next year (7). Small businesses that Millennial’s work for have also seen an increase in their health care costs. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, rates in the small market group were raised 11% in 2014 (8). As a result, one in five businesses have reported they have cut the number of workers they have on payroll (8).

Let’s move into the world of free college tuition. Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Millennial’s beacon of hope, has outlined an ambiguous plan for debt-free college tuition. Germany is the archetype to many supporters of this system. The United States has a 32% higher enrollment amongst students going on to post-high school education than Germany based on 2012 numbers from the World Bank (9). Germany’s income tax rate is significantly higher than the United States while having a tax wedge percentage that is almost 19% more as well (10). In turn, higher earners in Germany may be led to implement themselves into other societies that allow them to keep a greater percentage of their earnings. Another factor to consider with Germany’s system is the vast number of underemployed graduates. A study shows that nearly 50% of United Kingdom college graduates are in non-graduate jobs (11). This suggests that putting more people through the collegiate system by means of it being free wouldn’t solve underemployment issues, but may rather compound it. It would simply be impossible to “plug and play” Germany’s free collegiate education system to fit the United States without major tax increases and increased underemployment.

Greece, another socialist European country, is in economic shambles in large part because of its socialist leanings (12). According to the Heritage Foundation, Greece ranked 138 in subsequent economic freedom while countries like the United Kingdom and the United States rank 10 and 11 (13).

Norway doesn’t present itself as nearly the shining example either. Norway doesn’t have a minimum wage. The United States meanwhile is in the midst of public debate on whether to raise its minimum wage doubly, in which 14 cities in 2015 have already done so (14). Norway is a country with 4.1% unemployment (15), very little to no immigration historically (16), little to any variation in lifestyle or opinion along with a publicly held oil trust that makes people millionaires (17). The U.S. meanwhile is the prime example of a melting pot with many varying lifestyles, opinions and immigrants (18). The U.S. also has a population that is about nine times the entire population of Norway with a huge number of illegal immigrants that alone make up nearly twice the population of Norway. Norway is a country that has the economic and geographic makeup that makes it an ideal candidate for Socialism to work. The United States is not for aforementioned reasons. So why are Millennials pushing for this brand of Socialism?

Younger Millennials, ages 18 to 24, as a whole have shown to believe that all kids participating should receive a trophy as found in one survey (19). Our fellow Millennial college graduates have trouble recalling how the Constitution is amended (20). Further troubling, a recent Reason-Rupe survey showed that only 16% of Millennials could accurately define what Socialism actually is (21).

Before I descend from my soapbox, I share one final story. I recently witnessed a young lady expressing her angst on a Facebook post about how she had graduated from college and now has a substantial amount of debt. She now has a job that she believes doesn’t compensate her in the manner in which she believes it should. This points to the disillusionment of equality that I see Millennials falling privy to. Going through a four year collegiate degree program doesn’t always necessitate success nor does it oblige financial compensation. Millennials are lead to believe that the exception is the rule. Isolated stories of twenty two year old millionaire entrepreneurs populate the news feed, selling rainbows and candy in a visibly attainable package. These and other minuet cases don’t reflect a plausible reality. Instead of working to attain success, the Millennial feels that similar success is waiting for them once they step off the commencement stage at graduation.

Millennials, it’s time to wake up and start working for the level of success that we want and abandon the misplaced allure of free entitlements that comprise Democratic Socialism.

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