A Reason to Be Optimistic

Benjamin Levine
Jan 9, 2012 at 11:36 AM

A Reason/Rupe Poll (yes, that is why I choose the title for this article -- pun intended) last September showed some very encouraging data about our generation (18-29 year-olds).  The highlights:

  • About 86% favor a "spending cap that prevents it from spending more than it takes in during a given year"
  • Roughly 74% favor a "constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget"
  • 38% favor a decrease in spending with no tax increases as the "best way to reduce the national debt," which is the larger than any group supporting tax increases
  • These young people "overwhelmingly support allowing workers to opt out of Social Security and Medicare at 64 percent and 65 percent, respectively"
  • 38% do not believe they will receive any Social Security benefits when they retire and 44% believe the same is true for Medicare benefits, which "may in part explain their openness to reforming the programs"<--break->
  • 62% are open to supporting an independent or third party candidate in 2012
  • 50% believe that the Tea Party is more concerned with cutting spending and limiting government, whereas 37% believe that social issues are what spurred the movement
There were some discouraging statistics, as well:
 
  • 50% believe that there are "more things government should be doing"
  • 54% support a "strong government to handle [our] complex economy"
  • 74% believe that the TSA has made air travel safer and 59% are confident in its ability to "catch a terrorist trying to board an airplane"
  • 71% support increasing taxes on the wealthy ("with the plurality defining wealthy as those earning $100,000-$249,999 a year")
Okay, so we have a long way to go.  I understand, although completely disagree with, the sentiment from young people about raising taxes on the rich and having the government intervene in our economy.  After all, that's what we are taught in school.  However, I really don't understand the trust that young people have in the TSA.  These topics -- taxing the rich and the TSA -- are then relevant and important issues to table about or put together an activism/advocacy drive about.  
 
Do you really trust these guys?Still, we're making inroads.  YAL has plenty of opportunities to educate students and young people on the philosophy of liberty; not surprisingly, young people are open to our ideology.  
 
Plus, if you consider yourself a libertarian, it should be exciting to hear that 26% of young people label themselves as such, which is only second to those who consider themselves liberals.  I think there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic and even more reasons to be active on our campuses.

I talk a lot about the issues of happiness and yet oddly, not an optimist. In spite of the psychological studies that point to optimism as a trait of happiness I don’t support it. The reason that I don’t promote optimism is that it’s just too easy to slide that extra inch and end up in denial. -Dr. Naveed Fazlani

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