Baby Boomer’s Surprise: Society, Not the State, Is the Solution

January 9, 2015—The rise of the libertarians and rise of millennials are largely the same phenomenon, and predictably both will be brow-beaten in establishment media circles.

Recently the Chicago Tribune ran an op-ed titled, “Millennials’ surprise: There isn’t an app to solve all problems.” Snarky enough to bait this Millennial to click on it! Iiphone-410311_640-e1420850994483 doubt the Baby Boomer author John McCarron came up with it, but then again the snark continues…

McCarron’s opening line, followed by my reaction:

Poverty? Isn’t there an app for that?

Well, for Baby Boomers the answer apparently was—and still is—yes. That app is the “war” declared by Lyndon Johnson. No matter that the poverty rate has buoyed around 11-15 percent for nearly 50 years.

Is developing an app to fight poverty somehow less compassionate than letting the government take care of it?

McCarron half-apologizes for an $18 trillion debt, but doesn’t reflect deeply enough on his own generation’s political track record. Millennials sense the truth that America produces twice today what it did decades ago, but poverty still exists and for some groups (like the youngest Millennials) is actually getting worse. God forbid we should consider a different premise than our elders’ wisdom.

It’s not anything in particular that Millennials are doing that upsets McCarron. Rather, it’s that they’re not following textbook democratic protocol:

But is this new way of thinking birthing a new kind of politics? I think it is. And the new digital mindset is, at its core, libertarian. Which is to say: very liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and legalized pot, yet very skeptical of government efforts to regulate the economy or levy taxes.

And they’re maneuvering politically, with privatization ideas, to avoid responsibility for our Social Security time bomb.

I get their angst but can’t say I buy their approach. There’s a reason why services like common carriage (planes, trains, cabs, etc.) are closely regulated; a reason why every unemployed Joe Blow with a jalopy ought not be allowed to take Aunt Mabel to the airport.

McCarron again projects his own typical Baby Boomer faults on we Millennials with a potshot about “our Social Security time bomb.” He calls himself a New Dealer, but then dumps his own responsibility on all of us! Sounds like he believes the “we are the government” myth.

The fate of millennials’ political tendencies isn’t compelled by technology. It’s the technology that’s helping express what has always been there for youth unattached to obsolete institutions or tribal thinking. This generation is more diverse than any previous generation in every category. Sure, we generally voted for Obama (if we were old enough). But our approach to government is rather indifferent.

The indifference is not to be confused with apathy.

When it comes to gay marriage or some perceived social injustice, we’re there and playing a role in spreading the word. But so far as pushing for big government, we’ll pass. There are always exceptions (Kony 2012), but the lasting lesson that really sticks is that there is in fact no government solution to society’s woes. Surely the Boomers played their part in helping us learn that lesson, but we don’t need their advice after seeing the Bush-Obama program of perpetual war and welfare.

A recent poll of Millennials conducted by Reason-Rupe shows a healthy, robust favorability to words like “competition” (70%) and “profit” (64%) with more than half hoping to start their own business one day. We see society, not the state, as the solution.

If Boomers like John McCarron have a problem, there’s a nap for that.


Millennials’ surprise: There isn’t an app to solve all problems.”
Nap Photo via Flickr
App Photo via Pixabay