[Marxism] No Wonder Millennials Hate Capitalism
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 5 15:44:15 MST 2017
NY Times Op-Ed, Dec. 4 2017
No Wonder Millennials Hate Capitalism
by Michelle Goldberg
On a Friday night last month, I moderated a debate in Manhattan about
whether we should scrap capitalism. It was organized by the socialist
magazine Jacobin; defending capitalism were editors from the libertarian
publication Reason. Tickets for all available 450 seats sold out in a
day. So Jacobin moved it to a venue that holds around twice as many. The
extra tickets sold out in eight hours.
When I arrived, people were lined up for blocks; walking to the door, I
felt like I was on the guest list at an underground nightclub. Most
attendees appeared to be in their 20s and 30s, part of a generation that
is uniquely suspicious of capitalism, a system most of their elders take
The anti-Communist Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was alarmed
to find in a recent survey that 44 percent of millennials would prefer
to live in a socialist country, compared with 42 percent who want to
live under capitalism. For older Americans, the collapse of Communism
made it seem as though there was no possible alternative to capitalism.
But given the increasingly oligarchic nature of our economy, it’s not
surprising that for many young people, capitalism looks like the god
Nowhere is that clearer than in the wretched tax bill passed by the
Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning, which would make the rich
richer and the poor poorer. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy
Center, the bill directs the largest tax cuts as a share of income to
the top 5 percent of taxpayers. By 2027, taxes on the lowest earners
would go up.
Millennials, a generation maligned as entitled whiners, would be
particularly hard hit. As Ronald Brownstein argued in The Atlantic, the
rich people who would benefit from the measures passed by the House and
the Senate tend to be older (and whiter) than the population at large.
Younger people would foot the bill, either through higher taxes,
diminished public services or both. They stand to inherit an even more
stratified society than the one they were born into.
Here’s one example. The Senate bill offers a tax break for parents whose
children attend private school. But it cuts deductions for state and
local taxes, which could make it harder to fund the public schools where
the vast majority of millennials will send their kids.
There is no coherent economic rationale for what Republicans are doing.
Academic economists are basically unanimous that the Republican tax plan
would increase America’s deficit, which Republicans used to pretend to
care about. With unemployment low, many experts say the economy doesn’t
need a stimulus. The tax cuts are likely to increase the trade deficit,
which President Trump purportedly wants to reduce. Republicans often say
they want to simplify the tax code, but as the accountant Tony Nitti
argues in Forbes, the tax bill would make much of it more complex.
How to explain this smash-and-grab legislative looting, which violates
all principles of economic prudence? Part of it is simple greed, but
there’s also an ideology at work, one that sees the rich as more
productive and deserving than others. Louise Linton, the wife of
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, spelled it out on her Instagram feed
in August, responding to an Oregon mother who had the audacity to
criticize Linton’s use of a government plane: “Lololol. Have you given
more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual
earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?”
Lest you think that’s just the sputtering of a modern Marie-Antoinette
with poor grammar, consider what Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of
Iowa, told The Des Moines Register about the need to repeal the estate
tax, which falls only on heirs of multimillionaires and billionaires. “I
think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are
investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny
they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” he said. By this
logic, Linton, or Trump’s children, are more socially useful than anyone
irresponsible enough to live paycheck to paycheck.
Not to be outdone, the next day, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of
Utah, argued that Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the Children’s
Health Insurance Program, which he helped create and still claims to
support, because “we don’t have money anymore.” He went on to rant
against the poor: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and
billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help
themselves — won’t lift a finger — and expect the federal government to
do everything.” It was unclear whether he was talking about the nearly
nine million children covered through CHIP or their parents.
After the fall of Communism, capitalism came to seem like the modern
world’s natural state, like the absence of ideology rather than an
ideology itself. The Trump era is radicalizing because it makes the
rotten morality behind our inequalities so manifest. It’s not just the
occult magic of the market that’s enriching Ivanka Trump’s children
while health insurance premiums soar and public school budgets wither.
It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that
believes in its own superiority. You don’t have to want to abolish
capitalism to understand why the pr
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