A student from New York University, Trevor Hill went off script at a recent town hall with Nancy Pelosi and pointed out a few survey results that interested me. He spoke on a poll Harvard took that showed that 51% of Americans aged 18 to 29-year-olds no longer support capitalism. (YouTube) A recent Reason-Rupe survey also showed that 53% of individuals aged 18 to 29-year-olds viewed socialism favorably. (The Federalist)
My question is why has this sudden increase in support occurred? I believe there are many factors that contribute to this phenomenon ranging from political issues to economic effects. Hill was later interviewed by The Young Turks where he further discussed his opinion on capitalism. He focused a lot on the recession and how it had a negative impact on his childhood. His family actually declared bankruptcy in his sophomore year of high school. (Facebook) I think this is a common theme within this generation as many millennials believe that the system has “failed them”. They have grown up in a time period were we have dealt with a lot of instability within the economy and because of that haven’t seen the successes of capitalism first hand.
Another factor I think is that capitalism “failing” is sometimes connected to other factors. For example, when EpiPen prices were skyrocketing many people blamed capitalism as it seemed like there was no competition and because of that Mylan had a monopoly. In reality a lot of the issue was linked more to the FDA than anything else. Mylan’s chief competitor Sanofi had their competing product recalled in November 2015 and had it rejected by the FDA in March 2016. Because of this they took competition out of the market and gave Mylan the opportunity to increase their price astronomically. Since it is vital to have access to an EpiPen Mylan knew they could increase the price and still sell more than enough units to yield a profit. This would show how capitalism can take the hit for other areas within our government that are operating inefficiently.
It is also interesting to see a shift in opinions on socialism as Americans get older. For example, when looking at the same Reason-Rupe survey it can be seen that capitalism becomes more popular in Americans as they approach their 40’s and socialism becomes much less favorable. I believe this would prove one of two theories. The first would be that as young adults we support socialism until we begin working full time and earning our own money at which point for some reason we turn towards a more capitalistic theory. The other theory could be that there is a genuine grassroots movement occurring within our country’s youth. If this is the case, we could be looking at a large shift to the left in American politics as socialism and the ideas and policies associated with it are normally more democratic. I believe a lot of this shift can be connected to Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign. He was successful in essential eradicating the stigma that was associated with socialism in America.