[Marxism] No Wonder Millennials Hate Capitalism

Louis Proyect 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 
for granted.

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 
that failed.

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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