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  • Young Americans Don't Want More Government

    5/8/2013 8:57:33 AM Posted by Cheri Cerame

     Poll Survey GraphicWhile the mainstream media and our leaders in Washington want you to believe that the economy is getting better, thanks to more spending, higher taxes, and more regulation, six million people have dropped out of the work force since the recession began in 2008. Young Americans, especially, have it bad.

    About 45 percent of 18 to 34-year olds are unemployed according to a recent poll by Demos, a public policy firm. I still know of college classmates who have yet to find meaningful jobs or are severely underemployed almost four years after graduation. However, a recent poll on young people's views of limited government, free markets, and economic liberty suggests some may be waking up to the conclusion that government, over-regulation, and more spending will not turn our futures around.

    In a survey launched by Young America's Foundation and conducted by the polling company, inc., more than 60 percent of college-age students feel that government should not take an active role in their day-to-day-lives, and half of respondents believe that the federal government is mostly hurting economic recovery.

    President Ronald Reagan said, "Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States." And, as the poll suggests, young people share this belief: 66 percent of the students polled had a positive opinion of "entrepreneurship," 44 percent found "free markets" positive, and 42 percent believe the federal government is an opponent rather than a partner in the pursuit of the American Dream.

    It seems every time we turn on the TV or visit our favorite news site, the media is telling us what issues should matter to us, such as gun control and abortion. However, in YAF's study, neither of those issues rank in the top five for the respondents, who cited the economy (21 percent), jobs (16 percent), education (16 percent), and the national debt (14 percent). We went to college or received an advanced degree in hopes of bettering our situation and having a productive and fruitful life. Isn't that the goal of every generation?

    The poll seems to indicate that our leaders in Washington are keeping us from doing that. Six-in-ten young people are displeased with the way that their public officials represent young people. That shouldn't surprise many, judging by the approval rating for Congress. The respondents felt that our leaders have bungled the recovery and are out to score points on each other, rather than solve the problem. 

    Many in Congress use scare tactics to call for more government spending, higher taxes, and more regulations to "even the playing field." That doesn't sit well with my generation. Seventy-six percent of respondents feel that government spending has to decrease if we are to have any hope of improving our economic situation, nearly 40 percent want less regulation, and nearly 60 percent want lower taxes.

    If history teaches us anything, a lower tax rate, less spending, and less regulation is the recipe for success. When President Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act in 1981, 20 million jobs were created, inflation plummeted, and net worth of families earning between $20,000 and $50,000 increased by nearly 30 percent. Right now, our government seems content with the unemployment rate hovering around 8% and a drastically reduced work force. That's unsustainable and unacceptable.

    As Milton Friedman said, "Governments never learn. Only people learn." 

    • Readers' Comments

    • Adam...we can only hope.
      Posted by Kevin Fodor on 05/09/2013
    • This is likely untrue, this age group voted overwhelming for Santa Clause and continuation of big government. Another survey said this age group wanted more things but wanted to work less for them.
      Posted by LESNC on 05/09/2013
    • Those who voted for this administration believe the lies told and have subjected us all to the mess that we are in...political, financial and moral. If you do not want to believe what is true and evident, do us all a favor and do NOT vote ...there is nothing worse in our country than ill-informed citizens...and let us not forget all those who were not eligible to vote and those who voted more than once!
      Posted by Jane A.Quill on 05/09/2013
    • Can I see the complete statistics behind this survey please? How many were polled? What is the breakdown by gender, race, political affiliation? More info please.
      Posted by Patricia on 05/09/2013
    • where is your stats structure and sampling info? Be forthcoming in the accuracy and soundness of this report and, if it passes, I will tell others about it.
      Posted by Christopher on 05/09/2013
    • How many students were surveyed? What colleges did these students attend? Were the students all from conservative universities or did they happen to poll any kids from liberal arts schools in the northeast or California? I call BS.
      Posted by Roy on 05/09/2013
    • I agree with some of the questioning here - what and how was this polling done? I really hope it's true, but without some background, how can we tell.
      Posted by Steve in York on 05/09/2013
    • How can we look at the drill-down information for the various questions? That would tell us much more than the simple chart above. It's important to know all the details behind the questions: how were the questions worded? how does it truly break down by age group, sub group, etc.? All of these factors play into the true results. Answer please!
      Posted by cgray on 05/09/2013
    • I find it very interesting that those who are questioning the methodology used for this poll also question whether the polling was done at "conservative" universities. Typical straw man argument.
      Posted by Michael McCreedy on 05/10/2013
    • The questions in the survey DO NOT necessarily lay the blame on Democrats or Republicans. A Conservative might answer the very same way that a Liberal would while the two would actually lay the blame on Democrats or Republicans respectively. This is basically a push poll by a Conservative Foundation.
      Posted by Doc Sarvis on 05/10/2013
    • So does this mean the Republican Party will stop trying to make personal decisions for people like when they can bare children or who they can marry?
      Posted by @joethepleb on 05/10/2013
    • Love all the 'shoot the messenger' comments here. Likely they come from the same generation that did drugs, loaded their homes (purchased on credit) with useless consumer goods, and had their reality dictated to them by the TV, while the government wrecked every good thing about this nation, on their watch, over the last 50 years. Old people love to complain how the younger generation "is lost", "soft" and "doesn't get it". However this poll and our entire greater reality over the last 50 years says otherwise. Its a hard pill to swallow for self indulgent Baby Boomers and the crowd that snorted the 80's up their noses. But the facts are what they are. Those generations squandered their opportunity to carry the torch of America's greatness. They should be thankful that a new generation has renewed the cause in the wake of their total failure...
      Posted by Dutch on 05/10/2013
    • Where is a copy of the full survey?
      Posted by Francis on 05/10/2013
    • I'd also like to see a copy of the full survey or at least get some information like the sample size and confidence interval. Thanks.
      Posted by Michael on 05/10/2013
    • I'd like to share this article but I need more info on the survey before I can believe that it is valid. The numbers behind these numbers tell more of the story. If only 20 people were polled, then it's nonsense. If 10,000 people were polled across a representative cross-section of voters, then you have my attention.
      Posted by Amy on 05/10/2013
    • I like the idea that the younger generation recognizes the interrelatedness of economy and government intervention however I join several of the above in voicing skepticism. It is important to provide additional data as support for the poll otherwise you are just another in a long line of people trying to sell an opinion as fact. As another stated above the majority of that particular age group voted for left leaning politicians including Obama which would seem to contradict your poll.
      Posted by Cam on 05/10/2013
    • Very interesting. As some have said, the majority that voted, voted "left" in favor of Obama. which would seem to contradict the poll. But, it is now appearing the the "real" majority of that age group DIDN'T vote!! Or have begun to see through what is really happening to the economy! One person also commented that if they polled from California, that the poll would have a different "skew". Well I would imagine so! One of the most liberal states in the US!! I think the poll is pretty accurate as it is, from the national polls I am seeing from Reuters, Rassmussen, AP, and others. Obama's economics is in serios trouble, and the younger folk know it!
      Posted by Laron on 05/11/2013
    • This is a flawed survey on so many different levels. You can not come to the conclusion that "young Americans do not want more government" by asking specific, selective, questions in a biased manner. If I created a survey that asked whether or not the government should play a role in protecting the environment by regulating the pollutants emitted by factories, a majority of students would agree, "yes" (statistics show that environmental protection is a growing concern among Americans, especially the youth). But it would be inaccurate for me to claim that because the majority of the students agree on the government having a role in environmental protection, they generally agree to more government. It appears that this survey was created in the same flawed manner.
      Posted by on 05/21/2013
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