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

Corie Whalen Stephens Spokesperson, Generation Opportunity
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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.

All in all, it’s quite alarming to hear a man who has been president for nearly six years furiously denounce the results of policies he promotes, while suggesting we imbibe more of the poison he’s for some reason still prescribing. It’s not a coincidence that six of the ten richest counties in the nation are now suburbs of Washington, and that more wealth continues to accumulate there, all while the District’s income inequality grows. Upon contemplating the president’s “solutions,” it’s easy to believe he won’t be satisfied until the top ten richest counties surround the beltway while he acts confounded as to how that possibly could have happened.

Needless to say, young Americans are neither politically connected enough to benefit from Washington’s crony-fueled transfers of wealth, nor politically engaged enough to act as a voting bloc that isn’t taken for granted by politicians who consistently legislate against our interests. The first step toward changing that is to reject the morality of the former scenario. The second is to educate ourselves about the extent of the burden government is unjustly placing on our generation. And the third step is to vote like we actually have something to be gained from policies that unleash our entrepreneurial spirit, rather than meekly submitting to a system that shackles us while the beltway elite flourish.