Revolting Youth in Revolt

Conservatives who are enjoying a chuckle over the protesters occupying Wall Street (and an increasing number of public spaces across the country) would do well to hold their mockery and reflect on a few sobering facts:

  1. The post-industrial economy demands highly-specialized skills in order to fill ever-fewer highly specialized jobs.
  2. An entire generation has been raised by YouTube and Twitter to believe that their every thought and want is worthwhile, that they are born stars inherently deserving of wealth and success.
  3. Structural deficiencies “baked into the cake” of our socioeconomic fabric — the entitlement state, a vast and expensive federal bureaucracy, punitive tax and regulatory policies — have made it harder and harder for businesses to grow and create jobs, and thus harder and harder for the economy to grow.

These propositions add up to a frightening conclusion: An expanding, enervated, and highly-entitled young workforce is competing for fewer and more demanding jobs. Prospects are shrinking even as expectations have never been higher. That is a recipe for violence. Always has been. Always will be.

Some conservatives mock the protesters because the masses holding forth on Wall Street are ignorant and restless. And indeed they are. But they are dangerous precisely because they are ignorant and restless, precisely because they have so little to lose. The protesters know their future will be one of debt, not prosperity, one of stagnation, not mobility.

The irony is that they will not understand that it is the very politicians and policies they have supported which have handed them this grim fate.