Thingish Things

Max Frost Returns

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jan• 02•11

In 1968 a God-awful movie called “Wild in the Streets” was released.  It was great. It depicted a psychedelic national movement of young people against the older generations (reminiscent of Jack Weinberg’s “don’t trust anyone over 30”) that culminated in the battle cry pop song: “14 or Fight!,” demanding that the voting age be reduced to 14  — and with the lacing of the congressional water supply with LSD.  The spoof movie (trailer can be seen here) ran for years as the CBS Late Movie, and I probably saw it a half dozen times as a kid with one eye open, before the National Anthem would come on, announcing that the station had gone off-air for the night.

I haven’t thought of “Wild in the Streets” in 30 years, but today’s New York Times story on Europe’s discontented youth, somehow reminds me of it.  Because at no time since my own youth – I was five when that movie came out – has the rift between generations been so pronounced.

Socialist Europe is strangling its young today by artificially protecting its middle aged and elderly.  It has so tightly regulated jobs and the economy that there simply aren’t any for young people coming out of college.  And far more alarming, demographics are catching up to Europeans and the citizenry of Asian nations like Japan.  Late baby boomers virtually stopped replacing themselves with families – the average Italian couple today has 1.2 children – so fewer and fewer young workers have to support more and more older retired workers, many of whom are legally calling it quits, fat with pension benefits, while still in their fifties.

I thought about this trend a lot during the 2008 Presidential election.  I marveled at how many young Americans flocked to Barack Obama with his promise to deliver in America what European governments have delivered to their people.  But Obama was extraordinarily charismatic and he talked a heck of a game as a candidate.  That is intoxicating to young, idealistic voters.

We are beginning to see large cracks in President Obama’s support among young people, though.  Among voters in their 20’s, President Obama enjoyed a 73-percent approval rating in January 2009.  By the summer of 2010, President Obama was losing to a generic Republican candidate for president among 18-34-year olds.

This is not just about President Obama, of course.  It is about an entire generation of Americans, and their political leaders, who sold future generations down the river to benefit themselves.  We are now only beginning to see the effects of our actions.

Young voters are traditionally more liberal than older voters, especially on social issues.  But one would expect, based on how the world is going, for America’s youth to shift sharply right on economic issues, and to begin confronting its elders on decisions they have made on issues like pensions, debt, social security, and Medicare.  One wonders if that will enhance the Republican Party or drive today’s socially liberal Democratic Party to the economic right, as evidenced by newly inaugurated New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In the meantime, as The New York Times reports, there are tens of thousands of super-talented and educated Europeans who can’t find work in their socialist economies.  America should open its doors to them.   At our core, this is still the land of opportunity.

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