Dawn J. Bennett, founder and CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services, recently interviewed Chris Koopman on her radio show Financial Myth Busting with Dawn J. Bennett. Koopman is a Senior Research Fellow with Project for the Study of American Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he specializes in regulation competition and innovation. He is also a contributor at the Hill and was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 for law and policy.
In his interview with Dawn J. Bennett, Koopman discusses millennials and their view of politics. According to Koopman, what’s really important about millennials as a political force is the generation now matches baby boomers as the largest demographic in the electorate. Therefore, how millennials think, feel and vote really matters and should be taken seriously.
“I think that’s why in this past election there were a lot of questions about how do millennials feel about the future of capitalism and how do they feel about the future of free market,” said Koopman. “And more often than not, millennials are being pegged as embracing socialism but I think it’s more about distrust and just growing frustration with the current system more so than capitalism per se.”
Koopman said that as a generation, millennials are told they live in a capitalist system. While that’s mostly true, many fundamental pieces of the system don’t represent a free market system.
“Millennials are getting the raw end of that deal,” he said. “They don’t like it and therefore when people ask them how they feel about capitalism they respond that they don’t like it.”
Earlier in the year, a survey was released in which one-third of millennials identified supporting socialism, while less than half said they supported capitalism.
“I think this sort of reinforced this idea millennials don’t understand the world that we live in and we’re sort of chasing dreams as opposed to living in any sort of reality about our current situation,” said Koopman. “But I think that kind of misses the mark when you put it into the context that millennials live in.”
He continued, “You know, we look at the current system, and what have we known? Nothing but Wall Street bailouts, corporate greed, political scandals, tax codes riddled with loopholes for the wealthy and well-connected. And for the bulk of millennials this is all we’ve ever known. So when people ask us how we feel about it of course we’re going to come out with a resounding negative response.”
Koopman has written that surveys show millennials are heavily in favor of the term “free market,” over “government-managed economy.” He believes these findings show that millennials are much more free market than they’re given credit for. To put it into context, he referenced occupational licensing. The millennial generation, more than any other prior generation, had to beg for permission to practice their chosen profession. One in three of millennials has to get an occupational license, compared to five percent just one or two generations ago. This is the type of thing that has become embedded in the system and attributed to capitalism, he explained.
“So it’s not that we’re misinformed. It’s not that we’re lazy or unable to think for ourselves. It’s that we’re frustrated,” Koopman said. “You compare us to other generations at this same age and we’re poorer, we’re more in debt and more out of work.”
He continued, “And I think you go back to the 2016 election… and look at some of the numbers that are coming up and see that 10 percent of millennials that voted, voted third party. You have this desire in an entire generation to find a different approach, a different way, because they’re just flat-out tired and frustrated with the current system as it stands.”