What to take from this Reason article wherein we find that millenials are deeply cynical about government, believe it to be bloated and inefficient, and would like to see it spend less money while at the same time wanting access to free health care and a guaranteed “living wage?” Probably nothing earth-shatteringly huge, except that as long as someone else is footing the bill, we all want all of the “free” services that we can get.
“Would you like a Ferrari?”
“Would you like a Ferrari even if it means that you’ll have to pay for it, heavily, for the rest of your life.”
“Well, when you ask that way…”
But when you’re convinced that someone else always owes more taxes (a misguided sense of “fairness”), then there is always someone else to pick up the tab. The conversation about green energy is similar.
“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources?”
“Would you like all energy to be generated through clean, renewable sources even if it doubles your current energy bill?”
“Well, when you ask it that way…”
Of course, this ignores all sorts of subsidies and market-distorting realities that mean few of us know the actual cost of most of the staples in our lives (farm subsidies, energy subsidies, unequal tax and regulatory burdens on a variety of industries…) so what we actually pay for our energy, food, medical care, and Ferraris is anything but transparent. While transparency would be nice, what we have is such distortion that our supposedly free market is more like a pool where some bits are a tad murky and others are utterly opaque.
But here’s the thing: when it comes to politics, we usually stop at that first question and answer set. We rarely step back to truly understand the cost of our legislation and our expectations. Why would we imagine folks would make rational choices when they aren’t actually given enough information (or that information is so obscured as to be indecipherable) to choose rationally?