FRANK HILL: ‘If you are young and not a liberal…’

Frank Hill
Frank Hill

Frank Hill

‘If you are young and not a liberal…

…you don’t have a heart’ goes the old adage.

But take a look at the second verse of a quote commonly attributed to Winston Churchill, but which probably originated with other commentators, philosophers and politicians before him:

‘If you are old and not a conservative, you don’t have a brain!’

At what point exactly do young people cease being ‘so liberal’ and start to become ‘more conservative,’ at least on fiscal issues such as government spending and personal taxation?

Apparently, it is when they get jobs that pay them between $40,000 and $60,000, according to a poll from Reason-Rupe.

Wonder why that is?

It is much easier to be idealistic and say we need such-and-such a program when we are younger and in college than to step up to the plate and say:

‘You know what? We need to address this problem from a public policy perspective and I am willing to pay 10 percent more of my income in taxes to pay for it! And so should everyone in my city/state/country!’

When was the last time you ever heard a political candidate say that in public?

The answer? ‘Never.’

It is always ‘We must make the rich pay their ‘fair share!’ (even though they already pay more than their fair share based on income percentiles) or ‘We must make Wall Street pay for it!’

There really is no mystery as to why younger people start to become more conservative in fiscal issues as they grow up and start getting paid for their work and raising families and paying the rent and buying homes and paying the mortgage and buying cars and paying for them and such.

It is because we all want to provide the best lives we can for ourselves and our families. That is the reason people came to America in the first place; to be able to lead lives with as little interference as possible, or none in many cases, from government or religious authorities who controlled life in European nations at the time.

And it gets very hard to do the more the government takes out of your paycheck each and every week, doesn’t it?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt at one of his fireside chats.

One thing for young people to consider is how the federal government is offering to provide such a welfare state with their money. For example, Social Security was passed in 1935 as a government solution to provide temporary financial assistance to millions of senior citizens who were starving and out of work during the Great Depression.

That was 81 years ago. Social Security has remained fundamentally unchanged since then except for the expansions of coverage and increases in the payroll taxes it has taken to finance those expansions.

What is happening with all the money every young person has taken from their weekly, biweekly or monthly paychecks? Is it going into special trust accounts with their name on it where their money is invested so it can earn 6 percent plus per year for the next 40 years of their work careers and they can retire with a healthy cash nest-egg of say $1 million at age 67 (which will be their minimum legal retirement age at least by 2056?

Nope. Every dollar and cent of their OASDI payroll taxes paid today goes out the next month to current retirees or dependents on Social Security. That is the definition of the ‘welfare state’ if there ever was one.

Young workers pay now with the hope and expectation their children will do the same. Except their payroll taxes will be higher.

Shouldn’t we be using our conservative ‘brains’ more now?

Frank Hill is director at the Institute for Public Trust in Raleigh, N.C.