Opinion
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing  

State of the youth: Forget about generational theft and pay your taxes, Millennials!

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Corie Whalen Stephens
Spokesperson, Generation Opportunity
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      Corie Whalen Stephens

      Corie Whalen is the Spokesperson for Generation Opportunity, a national organization advocating for Millennials ages 18-29. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition to Reduce Spending. Before joining Generation Opportunity, Corie was the South Central Regional Director for Young Americans For Liberty and the National Secretary of the Republican Liberty Caucus. She is a 2009 graduate of Simmons College, where she double majored in Political Science and History.

Enduring the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union can be an ordeal in and of itself. For those of us inherently skeptical of the president being presented in too king-like a fashion, Barack Obama’s latest exhibition did nothing to moderate our doubts. In fact, we were fed a vision of the president as supreme legislator, in which a compliant Congress enacts his schemes or is cut out of the governing process. In the second year of his final term, as his signature legislation unravels before the nation’s eyes, it appears that Barack Obama cannot abide the divided government the American people intentionally installed. And so we contend with his agenda.

When one listens to Barack Obama, it’s hard to dismiss the unsettling feeling that he believes the government is the economy. That any cut to federal spending chips away at growth potential. That progress is achieved through “investments” made by politicians with assets they stole from us. Surely, without the benign hand of government directing our resources toward commitments it deems laudable, we peasants would drown in a sea of decentralized incompetence. You and I cannot be trusted with the fruits of our own labor, lest the bureaucratic machine miss an opportunity to regulate more of our voluntary interactions with one another.

Naturally, it’s terrifying to think that the leader of the free world could even hint at subscribing to such an authoritarian outlook. It is especially troublesome for those of us under thirty, who will bear the consequences of policies crafted under this vision. We are already inordinately burdened by a government keen to enact new “youth jobs training programs,” but never considers reforming the regulatory regime that strangles would-be Millennial entrepreneurs. Just so, Obama’s address doubled down on the debt-fueled policies that have contributed to the 15.9 percent unemployment rate 18-29 year olds currently face.

The manner in which the President chose to discuss issues like the minimum wage, Obamacare, and income inequality clearly demonstrates his inability to see solutions implemented outside of Washington as viable. His command-and-control approach is tiresome to young people who have heard this rhetoric before, yet feel disempowered due to the lackluster economic results it yields. Ultimately, words don’t create jobs, and results do matter more than intentions.

In promoting a $10.10 minimum wage, Obama gleefully engaged in economically ignorant pandering while disregarding the fact that enacting such a regulation will decimate upwards of a million entry level jobs. Exactly the kinds of jobs Millennials require in order to enter the workforce so we can start to pay off our federally subsidized, inflated student loan debts – and hopefully do things like get married, buy houses, and actually partake in society as contributing individuals. Compounding the problem is the president’s dishonesty claiming Obamacare is actually working despite massive evidence to the contrary. The president is insulting Millennials – who have proven we’re smarter than he thinks by opting out by the millions – when he makes positive statements about a program that further codifies the government fueled inequality that robs American youth of our futures.

Speaking of inequality, that’s another pet word of the president’s. He utilized it many times during the State of the Union, particularly to decry the growing income gap between the rich and poor – which is currently at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Curiously, he seems to think this development has nothing to do with the fact that he and his ilk in Washington redistribute our resources to their favored cronies and erect barriers to market entry that hurt small businesses and entrepreneurs. Despite feigning concern about this problem, the president didn’t address one of the most concerning wealth gaps in the country, which is fueled by generational theft. And it’s thanks in no small part to policies like Obamacare, dogmatic refusal to reform bankrupt entitlement programs, and unrepentant deficit spending. But acknowledging that reality wouldn’t be politically convenient for the president, so it goes unaddressed. Sorry, Millennials.