Home > Uncategorized > Capitalism and “generation screwed” – USA data

Capitalism and “generation screwed” – USA data

from David Ruccio


We already knew that Millenials are “generation screwed.” Now we know, thanks to the latest Harvard Public Opinion Project survey, that the majority (51 percent) does not support capitalism—and even fewer (just 19 percent) identify as capitalists.*

It also seems the members of Generation Y don’t see socialism as the preferred alternative (only 33 percent support it)—but at least those who have participated in Democratic primaries have been voting overwhelmingly for the democratic socialist candidate.


*A subsequent survey that included people of all ages found that somewhat older Americans also are skeptical of capitalism. Only among respondents at least 50 years old was the majority in support of capitalism.

  1. jlegge
    April 30, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Given that today’s youth don’t know much history, getting a survey instrument to work could be tricky. The word “capitalism” describes two quite different systems: entrepreneurial capitalism, from Wedgwood and the cotton masters in eighteenth century Britain until about 1980; and since then, financial capitalism. Entrepreneurial capitalism had its problems, but it did create good jobs and rising living standards. It still seems to work, supported by a strong welfare state, in Scandinavia but it is a distant memory in the English speaking countries.

    Given a three way choice, socialism, financialism, or entrepreneurial capitalism, I think today’s youth would want the third.

    • April 30, 2016 at 4:45 am

      I sort of agree. Although you would be surprised I think by just how well educated in history many 19-25 year olds are. You list only two forms of capitalism. Actually even in the history of the US there are several more than just these two. These range from small business and farmer capitalism, to land speculation capitalism, to factory capitalism, and then of course today financial capitalism. Entrepreneurs of one form or another are found in all of these. Some helped a lot of people and improved life in America and even the world. Some hurt a lot of people and stole millions of dollars. But nothing in life is all good or bad.

      • jlegge
        April 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

        I would regard small business and farmer capitalism as variants on entrepreneurial capitalism as is factory capitalism. Land speculation (often corrupt) was a relatively minor activity until it was generalised into financial capitalism.

    • blocke the
      April 30, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Yes we need to learn some history, but not just the students, what about the professors. Financial capitalism did not start after 1980 In Lawrence E Mitchell’s book, The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed Over Industry, 2007, the stock market oriented economy had already taken over in the 1920s. The idea of finance capitalism was much discussed c. 1900. Cerrtainly this form of capitalism was globalized after 1980 and especially after the collapse of communism.

      • jlegge
        May 1, 2016 at 8:48 am

        At least in the 1900-1920 period the productive segment of the US economy was growing; J P Morgan et al may have used industries as poker chips but they were still recognisably industries. Today the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) section of the economy has become almost entirely parasitical. Under financialization listed companies are paying out in buybacks and dividends more cash than they are earning (something that can’t go on indefinitely),

      • blocke the
        May 1, 2016 at 4:03 pm

        I wouldn’t argue about what you say, but read Mitchell’s book. Also, if you compare the top 20 companies listed on the German stock exchange with the top 20 American, you’ll find that there are no financial firms on the German list, that the top company is VW, and that most of the others on the German list are old industrial companies. So the financialization process depends on the economies being studied.

      • jlegge
        May 15, 2016 at 12:40 pm

        I think that Germany is the nearest thing to sustainable capitalism around, and as you say, it is a country that rewards productive activity. History counts.

  2. Grayce
    April 30, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Many people shy away from labels in the sense that it robs them of their unique identity. The ages 18-29 are a time of self-creation, and choosing a spelled-out ideology is not attractive. This poll is ill-conceived. It offers a false dichotomy based on one specific year of election. Instead of it being a puzzle that some people voted for Bernie Sanders in a primary, yet the number do not add up in this poll reflects on the questions asked. Sanders displays some magnetic personal traits, such as an aura of integrity, that are not in the poll. Capitalism per se is also abstract for people who have not yet fallen into a groove. How refreshing that the young might vote for the man, not the party.

  3. Dave Raithel
    • May 1, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Not wanting to offend any economists who might be watching, I’ll contend that “being screwed” is a human condition, not dependent on any particular economic system. Capitalism today is, according to many here “screwing” many people. But socialists and communists and even feudalists screw people. What is common in all the experiences is the act of being screwed. That’s where our focus should be. Anytime a way of life becomes so dysfunctional that is hurts more of the people living within it than it helps then it’s time to change that way of life. When my German great-great-grandfather immigrated to the US in 1860 he worked his was to Texas by working in all sorts of places along the way. Per his memoirs many of these places were what is euphemistically called “company” towns. Per his memoirs people in these towns literally starved or had no shelter depending on the whims of the local company owners. This system was not fully displaced until the 1970s, over 90 years after my grandfather visited them. But it was killed. Too much money in too few hands is the same type of problem. The solution my grandfather preferred was simple and effective, if most times creating push back – shoot the damn owners. Negotiations per what New Jersey is doing might work. But the suggestion that we stop with the tax loop holes and deferrals is a better one I think. And might want to consider increasing substantially the top tax rate as well.

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