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Betsy Pearson

Communications Assistant

Betsy Pearson is a communications and staff assistant at the Independent Women's Forum. She is the author of the IWF weekly column, "Millennial Monday." She is a graduate from the University of Iowa, double majoring in Public Policy and Communications. Betsy received her Writing Certificate from the renowned Iowa Writer's Workshop, which has led her to be published with The Libertarian Republic and intern with Atlas Network, writing news updates. She spent her undergraduate career as a student activist with Young Americans for Liberty, fighting for free speech on campus. Betsy has completed the Charles Koch Institute's Internship Program, and the Fellowship Program. She is a part of the State Policy Network, Generation Liberty Fellows Class of 2018. She has just relocated to the East coast and enjoys exploring D.C. with her dog.

Recent Articles:

Progressive Privilege : Shut Down DC for a Block Party, Not the Environment

September 30 2019

Living in Washington D.C. has many perks. Between all the museums, monuments, and amazing food, “the swamp” is a good place to call home. However, one big downside about living in the nation's capital is that it is always the centerpiece for any large demonstration, protest, or march. With the climate strikes happening around the world, I knew it was only a matter of time before something happened in D.C.--and boy, was it something. 

During peak rush hour, the demonstrators successfully #ShutDownDC. But at what cost?

This protest had no rhyme or reason--the protesters were simply there to disturb the peace. Entire city blocks were filled with cars idling (unnecessarily polluting the air) and many individuals were left to face consequences at work for being late. There are many places in D.C. to hold a protest, but I would argue the middle of the street is never a good option in any city.

Millennials and younger generations alike are eating up these latest climate strikes. It seems that the popularity of the topic is almost considered “trendy” on social media and in social circles. If making climate change into more of a pop-cultural moment was their goal, then the climate activists succeeded. But we have to acknowledge the fact that this “trendiness” has come at the expense of civil and scientific debate about our environment. 

Just one hour north of D.C., in Baltimore, MD, conservative activists decided to take a different approach to the climate strikes: taking time to clean up garbage off the streets. The group calls themselves “The Persistence” and they have picked up over 50 tons of trash in liberal cities across America. This seems to be a much better use of time (and better for the environment) than dancing in the streets and letting cars sit in traffic. 

After weeks of demonstrations, climate strikes continue to pop-up around the world. I support the right to safely protest, but once the protest loses touch with the cause, the demonstration is just a waste of time. Let’s hope more people join groups like #ThePersistence and stop making me late for work!

 


Progressive Privilege : Cancel Culture Condemns Charitable Act

September 26 2019

Nothing can describe the tense, chaotic celebration that is an Iowa versus Iowa State game day. Ask any Iowan about the in-state rivalry and they are sure to hold a firm allegiance with one of the Iowa schools. The game was covered by a panel of ESPN GameDay commentators, but their shot was photobombed by Carson King holding a hilarious sign that read: 

“Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished. Venmo: Carson-King-25” 

The 24-year-old Iowa State fan innocently hoped to get a few laughs and maybe a few dollars to help buy his next case of Busch Light. Instead, he received over $1 million dollars after his plea for beer went viral. 

Carson decided to keep just enough for one case of beer and donated the rest to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Despite being an Iowa State Fan, Carson agreed that the UI Children’s Hospital is a symbolic beacon of hope that is worth breaking the in-state rivalry. The Children’s Hospital is located directly next to Kinnick Stadium at the University of Iowa, and was designed to give the children a birds eye view of the game from their hospital rooms. 

During home games at the University of Iowa fans and players alike stop what they’re doing at the end of the first quarter and wave at the children in the hospital. This is another viral sensation stemming from Iowa and has been called the “greatest tradition in college football.” 

Because of his outstanding charity, Busch Light awarded Carson with a years supply of beer in cans with his face on them, with the words “Iowa Legend”. Once Busch Light and Carson joined forces, they launched a campaign aiming to raise $2 million for the Children’s Hospital.

If only the story could end here. 

In an unfortunate (and unnecessary) turn of events, Carson King was #Cancelled. Following what was called a “routine” social media search, The Des Moines Register decided to cancel Carson for tweets from 2012 where he quoted the popular comedy show Tosh.0. In “eye for an eye” fashion, readers proceeded to dig up old tweets from the journalist who condemned Carson King that were just as offensive. It seems no one is walking away from this situation unscathed. 

Has cancel culture gone too far? The sad truth is that our society has been filled with so much cynicism and hate that we can’t even let a person donate money to kids with cancer without finding something way to get offended about. In the fall out from the article #StandWithCarson is trending as people showed their support for the charitable Iowa State fan:

The Des Moines Register released a statement calling this the “toughest decision in journalism” they’ve had to make. People aren’t buying it.

Cancel culture has become the focus of many free speech debates, yet it continues to leave a devastating path of people behind that will carry a negative connotation with their name for years to come. Carson King did not deserve to get cancelled--and I say this as an Iowa Hawkeye fan (the natural born enemy of Iowa State fans). Carson King gave us a refresher at what it means to be “Iowa-nice”; let’s praise his charitable act and #StandWithCarson. 

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennials are Pessimistic about Retirement

September 23 2019

The hashtag #MillennialRetirementPlans exploded last week on Twitter. The responses were hilarious in a black humor sort of way, but also deeply disturbing because of millennial pessimism about their futures:

Some got political, spewing basic liberal talking points (all too often accepted as truth with the millennial generation):

Rachel G asks the real question:

Should millennials have any hope at having a comfortable retirement? As I have already discussed, the majority of millennials have nothing saved for retirement, and have no plans to start saving any time soon. 

Let’s set a few things straight about saving for retirement:

1. You can save for retirement even if you have student loans and are, like, “super broke.” Suze Orman, a personal finance expert and host of Women & Money podcast, suggests that saving for retirement is possible at all income levels. Orman advocates for young people to use a Roth IRA and to start small once you have “at least eight months worth of living expenses saved for emergencies. 

2. It is never too early to start saving for retirement. In fact, starting early makes saving easier since you allot yourself more time to save. CNN Money explains the term “compounding” when dealing with savings investments--and this is especially useful to young people. The difference between starting saving at age 25 versus age 30 equals thousands of dollars in the long run, if done correctly. 

3. Not saving for retirement because you’re young is irresponsible. Retirement savings don’t happen overnight, and putting savings off does not stop time. Procrastinating saving has had many negative consequences for folks when it comes time to retire, including delaying retirement and living below their means after they must retire. 

Realistically, a millennial versus a middle-aged person who has been in the workforce longer and has had more time to save, will have different savings plans. But it is not impossible, and millennials should start now.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (a millennial himself) urges millennials not only to save but to advocate for government reforms that will help them to do so:

Millennials should drop the cynicism and stop complaining about how expensive they deem life to be. Young people are entering the workforce during a booming economy and should be thankful that we are truly #BetterOffNow. 

 


Progressive Privilege : Unlike General Public, Millennials and Candidates Rank Climate Change as Top Concern

September 9 2019

Last week Democratic presidential candidates took the stage on CNN’s Climate Townhall. As we would expect, the environmental alarmists were out in full force. It seemed not many American’s were moved by the theatrical performance on stage. The Hill reports that the Climate Townhall had the smallest number of viewers among cable news broadcasts. 

However, I could guess one specific demographic of audience that tuned in for the full seven hour (!) debate: Millennials. If there’s one thing uninformed millennials like more than watching CNN, its freaking out about climate change.

According to a study done by Yale University, millennials care more about climate change than older generations. Younger generations consistently ranked climate change higher in their priority issues, and say this issue is “very important” in determining their vote. 

Senator Elizabeth Warren knows this, and decided to pander to the youngest (and largest) voting block by moving further to the left on climate change than I personally thought was possible. With her stance on off-shore drilling and carbon mandates, Warren has effectively prioritized climate change over American workers and the economy. However, what drew the most pushback following the townhall was her stance on nuclear energy

“"In my administration, we won't be building new nuclear plants," she said. "We will start weaning ourselves off nuclear and replace it with renewables."

Senator Ted Cruz had quite the response to Elizabeth Warren’s eco-friendly utopia:

Senator Ted Cruz is right, and later on in the townhall, he gained a unique ally: Senator Cory Booker. Presidential hopeful Cory Booker made headlines following the debate as he diverged from his opponents anti-nuclear talking points. 

"If we want to move quickly toward a carbon-free future, nuclear has to be part of the equation," 

“A lot of people are, I think, against nuclear energy because their mind and imaginations [are] on the nuclear power plants of the 1950s and 1960s,” Booker said. “The next generation of nuclear power plants that should be built in this country are profoundly more safe. In fact, they take those spent fuel rods, the old ones, and they reuse them for energy today.”

Listen to this (surprisingly) sound logic on nuclear energy coming from a Democratic candidate here

Democrats are typically wrong on nuclear power, and so are millennials. According to the International Energy Agency, America should double its nuclear energy in order to prevent further environmental deterioration. Additionally, anti-nuclear sentiments have become more popular in the millennial generation. Americans would do well to accept nuclear energy as a safer alternative than they have been led to believe. 

The “renewables” Warren championed on stage produce 17% (combined total of wind, solar, and hydroelectric) of energy the U.S. needs, while nuclear energy produces over 19%. 

Energy generated from nuclear power is the “largest source of non-carbon electricity” in the U.S. today and “Any realistic path to weaning us off of carbon-based sources of energy would have to involve increasing nuclear generation”--which is exactly remedy climate change activists want, but refuse to take. 

Overall, the CNN Climate Townhall was a flop. It seems that only one presidential hopeful decided to dissent on nuclear energy, a promising solution to some of the problems alarmists see in our future.

 


Progressive Privilege : Netflix and Obamas Bring Us a Biased Labor Day Movie

September 2 2019

Created by the labor movement in the late 19th century, Labor Day was started as a celebration of American workers. Today, Labor Day is more about spending time with family and friends while enjoying the last weekend of summer weather before fall begins. 

In a new controversial Netflix documentary, brought to us by the Obama family, labor unions take center stage once again as we follow the story of one factory deciding whether to unionize or not. The documentary focused on blue collar workers’ struggle against a Chinese manufacturer takeover, and the cultural clash that ensued. 

With an extremely pro-union undertone, “American Factory” has made headlines because the “deliberate misinterpretation of [the documentary] was, in fact, amplification of the political design that, no doubt, was always part of Netflix’s game plan when it signed Barack and Michelle Obama.”

Millennials play a vital role in determining the future of labor unions as the largest generation in the workforce currently. What better way to reach millennials than through Netflix?

In “American Factory”, protestors joined forces with the UAW (United Automobile Workers) labor union. UAW has specifically targeted millennials as they try to add more people to their rolls. Citing a Pew Research Center poll, UAW found that 68% of millennials have a favorable view of labor unions.

The California Labor Federation goes so far as to say that millennials and labor unions are a “match made in heaven.” 

Armond White explains in his critical review of “American Factory”, “‘The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative,’ a famous historical figure once explained. And the Obama imprimatur — like those reading lists and favorite streaming-music lists that the press likes to cite as celebrity news — works similarly.” 

Millennials need to become educated on labor unions and second guess the biased reporting in this Netflix documentary. Today’s labor unions are not the same as the ones in the late 19th century that scored us all a day off work. Modern day unions are heavy contributors to Democratic candidates and cases and do not take into consideration the views of their members when making these contributions. Unions operate based on seniority--millennial workers would be sacrificed first if their union decided to strike. Ultimately, millennials will not find their needs met through unions. 

White calls Netflix a “Propaganda Machine” for the Obamas. I agree, it is important that we recognize “American Factory” for what it is: Something fun to watch on Netflix this Labor Day, but biased towards thee big unions.


Progressive Privilege : Marianne Williamson Denies Modern Day Medicine

August 26 2019

August is National Immunization Awareness month. Most  Americans believe in the life-saving benefits of modern day vaccinations, and we have the technology and innovation to thank for these important medical strides. However, there is one increasingly visible public figure who holds troubling beliefs on Western medicine: Marianne Williamson.

No, she is not just a novel entry into the presidential race; she also denies many widely accepted medical practices. In as late as 2012, Marianne Williamson was promoting anti-vaxx ideology on her radio show. While on air, she stated she struggled with the idea of vaccinations for children, and agreed to the notion that vaccines cause autism--which has been proven false many times over. 

CNN reports that Williamson’s radio show urged listeners to “be awake” and “do your due diligence” when deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child. Since declaring her run for president, she has changed her tune and now claims she is "pro-vaccination, pro-medicine, pro-science." Do we believe this flip-flop? 

I say, no. Because since her coming to light moment on vaccinations, she has doubled down on other anti-modern medicine practices. 

Following the second rounds of Democratic debates Marianne Williamson criticized antidepressants, specifically saying they were “numbing the pain” instead of legitimately helping various mental illnesses. 

Rolling Stone reports that “Williamson’s comments on the use of antidepressants to treat mental illness are significant, in that the vast majority of credentialed mental health experts would deem them wrong. SSRIs like Prozac have been on the market for long enough that there is established consensus within the scientific community that they pose relatively low risk for most people.” 

The Twitter mob responded and #INeedMyMedsMarianne trended for days to come. On social media people shared success stories, and cautioned against the stigma that Williamson was furthering. Degrading mental illnesses and medical treatment for them is blatant propaganda for the anti-modern medicine cult Marianne Williamson wants to erect in America. 

Williamson has continued to deny her anti-modern medicine beliefs, yet the reporting has continued. For this, Williamson blames an “ancient strain of misogyny.” Instead of owning up to her very recent anti-medicine, anti-science, and dangerous remarks, the presidential hopeful remains aloof. 

National Immunization Awareness month is the perfect opportunity to correct misperceptions about modern day medicine. In IWF’s Takeaways document, we provide the need to know information on vaccinations. 

If not modern day medicine, then what would Marianne Williamson prefer? Sorry, but essential oils will not do the trick. Williamson is best known for her spiritual advising, and self help books. Maybe president is not quite the right job for her. 


Progressive Privilege : American Millennials Couldn't Walk a Mile in Hong Kong Millennials Shoes

August 19 2019

From two opposite sides of the globe there is a stark contrast between young adults and their view of government. While millennials in America look towards the government to solve their problems, millennials Hong Kong have been protesting to gain autonomy from their government. American millennials take for granted all their protected rights, and freedoms our country allows by pushing for big government.

Many millennials in America take part in “slacktivism” and call it a day--turning to social media to air their political grievances, slapping a hashtag on their thoughts, and hitting send. Letting their political activism live on social media has not proven to be very effective in creating real policy change. Hong Kong millennials have chosen a different approach.

The demonstrations are heading into their tenth week and show little signs of stopping. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s government has vowed they will use China’s military forces if necessary to “maintain public order.” IWF’s Foreign Policy Senior Fellow, Claudia Rosett, who is currently in Hong Kong reports that, “The protesters' demands boil down to profoundly legitimate calls for liberty, justice, and accountable government.” 

As the Hong Kong situation continues to unfold, Rosett asks, “In Hong Kong, we are seeing a society grounded in freedom being engulfed in plain daylight by the world's most powerful tyranny. If that process isn't stopped now, then where and at what cost will it ultimately be stopped?”

Nathan Law is one of the most outspoken protestors and is well known for his activism, as well as being the youngest person elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. At 27 years old, a millennial, he explains his motivation in the Wall Street Journal, “We just do what we think is right. And if we don’t do this, we’ll regret it.”  

Hong Kong is an administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. China's attempt to impose an extradition bill that would leave people vulnerable to being removed and taken to China sparked the protests. 

American millennials seem to be turning away from the kind of democratic freedom to which Hong Kong millennials aspire. In fact, polls have shown time and time again, American do not value democracy as much as previous generations. Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, supposes that, “Maybe the problem is that young Americans--and Westerners--have grown up without a facist or communist enemy to pose an existential threat.”

Nathan Law summarizes exactly what the protestors want in Hong Kong, “We’re dealing with a government that does not listen to its people, so I think that is exactly why we should not stop—because we’ve got such huge momentum, and people are getting clear that only by having a true democracy shall our rights be protected.”


Progressive Privilege : Student Newspaper Freedom of Speech Protected Against University's "Safe Space" Sensitivity

August 5 2019

Last week, the 9th circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a free speech lawsuit against the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). With this new ruling, student newspapers have the freedom to publish satirical articles--though it might offend some people. Protecting free speech, and therefore dismantling “safe spaces”,  benefits college students in more ways than one. 

In 2015, The Koala, a comical student run and university funded newspaper, published an article mocking so-called “safe spaces”. The joke was not funny to the politicized college administrators, and they decided to pull funding for The Koala. In the new decision, Judge Morgan Christen explained, “Absent a compelling justification, the government may not exercise its taxing power to single out the press. The taking power is relevant here because UCSD is a public and taxpayer-funded institution.”

Safe spaces have been popping up on college campuses across the nation for years, and it is encouraging to see a First Amendment win against these destructive ideas. 

In fact, “safe spaces” have been found to increase mental health issues. According to cognitive behavioral therapists, “A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers [or even student newspapers] is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to causes of depression and anxiety.” The censoring of speech is doing more harm than good, and the UCSD case is no exception.

Instead of prioritizing destructive “safe spaces” I argue that universities should focus on strengthening their mental health services. The whole idea behind “safe spaces” is that students are either a) easily offended, or b) have emotional responses to real world “triggers” a.k.a. The Koala article--either way, both situations could be properly dealt with on the individual level without restricting the freedom of the masses. 

The recent UCSD ruling could mark the beginning of the toppling of “safe spaces” across college campuses everywhere.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) hopes this decision will set the example for other free speech cases, as Washington Examiner reports, “State courts across the country, and other federal courts, may rely on this decision’s reasoning if they find it persuasive--and we hope that they do.”

FIRE’s Director of the Individual Rights Defense Program, Adam Steinbaugh, continued, “Today, the Ninth Circuit made clear that UCSD’s attempted end-run around the First Amendment flatly violated student press rights. The Ninth Circuit’s landmark ruling is a powerful reminder to public university administrators nationwide: You can’t silence students just because you don’t like their sense of humor.”

Let’s hope universities start to focus on less destructive methods of conducting civil discussion on campus without censoring the voice of any student. 

 


Progressive Privilege : College Grads Should Skip Big City Costs and Find Economic Success in Small Towns

July 29 2019

With fall around the corner, some new college grads will be preparing for new jobs rather than a new school year. With life and its possibilities before them, where will the next generation decide to settle down? Trends seem to point young, college-educated people to larger cities, without considering rural communities. 

Big cities have unfavorable economic conditions for millennials, and some come to regret their choice of locales. As I have written before, “Maybe it is the high cost-of-living, lack of housing, or the many failed economic policies leaving cities suffering the largest net annual outmigration of post-college millennials.” Rural America is much more affordable for millennials on a budget. 

A recent New York Times oped by Dr. Samuel Abrams, a political scientist, argues millennials should reconsider their anti-rural bias. “The conventional wisdom among young college-educated people seems to be that living in a small country town would be a dead end for them. But these preconceptions are not only incorrect, they are also unduly limiting opportunities of new college graduates.”

Anti-rural bias stems from a cartoonish picture of rural America. Perhaps it is big-city, liberal, snobbery that we’ve seen from celebrities that continues to feed this anti-rural bias. However, these small-towns are more than just “flyover” country, as Dr. Abrams points out.

According to a recent survey conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, rural communities provide satisfying career opportunities for college-educated Americans despite their small-town elements. The survey covered social capital, civic health, and quality of life in the United States.

The survey also found that job prospects in rural towns were comparable to those in urban cities. Dr. Abrams expands, “There remains a need for skilled college graduates in rural areas, whether it’s in the health services, technology or consulting work. Certainly, the data show that educated rural Americans are content with their job opportunities and optimistic about the future.” 

Many rural communities have both the supply of open jobs and demand for skilled workers. In these small towns the American Dream is still attainable. These towns are often safer, have lower cost of living, and have much more available housing. 

Dr. Abrams also adds that “Highly educated rural residents also reported high levels of satisfaction with their communities.” It seems that getting over a bit of anti-rural bias and at least considering a smaller town might be a good idea for recent grads


Progressive Privilege : Selfie Obsessed Generation Puts Their Data At Risk

July 22 2019

Millennials have been called the “selfie-generation” and have made photo apps like Snapchat and Instagram popular due to their fun filters. Earlier this year the Snapchat gender-swaping filter went viral, and then faced backlash for offending transgender and non-binary people. The latest transforming viral filter comes from FaceApp. It features an artificial intelligence photo tool that ages the user decades into the elderly version of themselves. As these selfies start popping up across all social media, some are questioning the security of the FaceApp filter. 

Forbes reports that within a short period of time FaceApp now owns over 150 million images of people’s faces. According to the FaceApp terms of service, once you join the viral trend and use their app for a selfie: “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content.”

A selfie is not a great cybersecurity threat. However, PhoneArena, a website dedicated to all things smartphones, reports that the parent company owning all these selfies is a Russian based tech firm called Wireless Labs. FaceApp requires access to all photos and history on your phone--even the most unproblematic, open-book, person should be a little concerned with a Russian tech firm having that much data from your phone. Sen. Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, even called for an FBI investigation to confirm the safety of the app. 

The Atlantic argues that this privacy scare should not be blamed directly on FaceApp or Wireless Labs, instead they suggest personal responsibility should have dissuaded such pervasive use. “FaceApp is not just FaceApp’s fault. Data collection is the plumbing of the modern web, and FaceApp is but one of millions of pipes. FaceApp’s scale is what’s most dangerous about it. The repercussions go above and beyond even its exploding user base.”

This is not the first nor the last technology struggle we will face within pop culture. As AI becomes more easily accessible through apps, users will increasingly run into security issues in their daily lives. Now that the filter has started trending online, too many people have blindly downloaded the app in order to not miss this must-have selfie opportunity. There is not one single person to blame. The Atlantic continues, “Privacy, when framed as something a single individual consents to, obscures a bleak fact of life: You can’t always opt out of other people’s choices.”

Internet trends come and go by the day, and privacy is usually a second thought when participating in internet culture. We need to slow down and think about what we download to our phones on a whim and contemplate how much data is too much data to give away just to post a fun selfie. 


Progressive Privilege : Netflix Censors Smoking on Stranger Things

July 15 2019

Now that the long-awaited Stranger Things Season Three has been out long enough for viewers to binge watch on Netflix, we need to have a conversation about on-screen censorship. The popular Netflix series attracts millennials and baby boomers alike with its vintage 1980’s themes--incorporated in the clothing, music, and pop culture references made by the charters each episode. However, Netflix execs decided to censor what was a very common practice in that decade: Smoking.

The Truth Initiative, a youth focused anti-tobacco (and increasingly anti-vaping) group decided to rain on our Stranger Things parade by throwing shade in a report finding the series guilty of too much on screen smoke. Their reasoning? “The popularity of streaming combined with the pervasive rise of smoking in episodic content points to an emerging threat to a new generation of young Americans.” 

Netflix immediately released a statement appeasing the concerned viewers: “Going forward, all new projects that we commission with ratings of TV-14 or below for series or PG-13 or below for films, will be smoking and e-cigarette free — except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy.” As part of a new larger initiative, Netflix will soon include smoking information for all their content in ratings “so our members can make informed choices about what they watch.” 

I don’t think images of smoking on screen should be considered as suggestive nowadays because we have come so far in regards to our understanding of the harms of cigarettes and their impact on public health. This is an example of needless censoring, when I can’t imagine anybody being offended in the first place.  

Stranger Things is not a show about smoking, and the on-screen smoking scenes are not meant to promote cigarettes. The scenes show smoking because people smoked back then and thus the scenes accurately depict the period. From hospitals to restaurants, in the 1980’s cigarettes in people’s hands was just as common to iPhones in everyone’s pockets today. 

However, according to the CDC, today smoking rates are down across all races, genders, and ages. This unnecessary moral outrage is simply out of place in 2019. 

Nancy Berk, a clinical psychologist, begs the question in her oped about the Stranger Things smoking scene cuts, “What about personal and parental responsibility?” 

Because smoking cigarettes is not as prevalent nowadays, I believe personal responsibility should be able to overcome casual smoking on screen. The dangers of smoking cigarettes are common knowledge, and this senseless censorship comes off as controlling as helicopter parenting. Additionally, parents need to accept responsibility for their own child without panicking over a show that millions of people watch. 

Censoring is a slippery slope that can lead to special interest groups capitalizing on alarmism to sway businesses to act in their favor. Netflix should reconsider how easily they fall for fake moral outrage.


Progressive Privilege : Price Transparency Can Improve Ambulance Rides and Save You Money

July 8 2019

No one wants to find themselves dialing 911. Unfortunately, life takes unexpected turns and having emergency responders is something to be thankful for. That being said, ambulance rides are notoriously expensive, and not always medically necessary. Because specific internal paperwork, third-party preferences in hospital, and lack of competition, people in emergency situations are often left no choice but to wait for a large impending ambulance bill. 

Over the hot Independence Day weekend, I found myself in this situation. My teenage sister suddenly fell to the ground and suffered a small Vasovagel seizure due to dehydration, low iron levels, and standing up too fast. Because she has never had a history of seizures or fainting, this was quite the scary situation. I decided to call 911 as she was being tended to by the rest of my family. By the time the ambulance arrived--just a few minutes later--she was already fully conscious and sitting up. Luckily my sister is doing just fine, and an episode like this should not happen again.

Was an ambulance ride medically necessary at that point? Or, could we have driven her to the ER ourselves and saved on the bills to come? We could not make an informed choice because no estimated cost was given, and she took the ride to the hospital just to be safe. 

In a USA Today oped, Rick Santoro shared the story of his two mile and $2,691.50 ambulance ride. He described his semi-emergency situation and concluded that his transport was non-medically necessary. Stories like Rick and my sister’s are not uncommon.

On the other hand, lack of price transparency in our healthcare system (specifically ambulances) can have potentially dangerous consequences. 

I did the right thing according to traditional emergency training. In all emergency situations, calling 911 is always one of the first things on the list of things to do. However, because no one knows just how much an ambulance ride is going to cost, I could imagine some bystanders being more cautious (and maybe waiting a few extra minutes) to call for paramedics. But what if the emergency was more urgent than my sister’s episode? This uncertainty can deter people from calling an ambulance if they think they can make it to their preferred hospital via cheaper forms of transportation. 

The problem is two-fold: Firstly, people can be deterred from calling an ambulance because they know it will cost A LOT and they will try to wait and transport themselves; Second, if an ambulance IS called for a non-medically necessary transport there needs to be more transparency about cost. 

I propose that in situations where the ambulance ride isn’t obviously needed, paramedics fully disclose the cost of the transportation to the hospital. Additionally, if an in-network hospital is within safe distance, I think consumers should be able to have that choice too. 

To be perfectly clear, I do believe we should all continue to call 911 in emergency situations, and these conversations about cost should only happen in situations where time is not an issue. Keeping all parties informed on all available choices--ambulance ride or not--will always help the patient. Price transparency in all aspects of the medical field will help patients secure procedures within their budget. However, for emergency services like ambulances, price transparency can alleviate doubt and inform the split second choices we make when calling 911. 

 


Progressive Privilege : Historic Age Gap Between Front Runners in Democratic Primary

July 1 2019

The pageantry and pandering were on full display as the nation watched two rounds of Democratic presidential primary debates. The best visual of the debates came on night two when millennial candidate, and South Bend Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg’s podium was placed directly next to former Vice President, Joe Biden’s. The juxtaposition of the two highlighted the age difference between them--which spans nearly four decades, the largest age gap between candidates in political history. 

Buttigeig leveraged his millennial status during multiple shouting matches on stage, and attempted to speak for the young people of the nation. Yet, Biden always had a long list of actual experience to back up his stances. In the New York Times, Bryce Smith, the Democratic Chairman in Des Moines, explains “The age thing is going to be one of the wedges by the time we get to the caucus next year, it’s that question of experience versus new leadership.”

The day after the debates, Neil Cavuto reported on the topic of presidential age with a panel of millennials on his Fox News segment:

“We need a candidate that’s in our age range, that shows our values, reflects what we care about--not just marijuana--it’s economic issues, environmental issues” Leeza Garber, a millennial attorney explained. 

“Values really matter; age, I am not so sure makes a big deal. In 2016, more millennial voted for Bernie Sanders (who is just about the same age as Joe Biden) than Trump and Hillary combined.” Michael Parrish Dudell, a millennial entrepreneur argued. 

“Pass the torch” was pointedly repeated throughout the night from younger candidates to their elders as a way to encourage fresh faces in the Democratic party. Do they have a point? According to a Pew Research study only three percent of Americans say candidates in their 70s are ideal presidential material. 

Early on in the cycle, I wrote about Buttigeig and his awful “intergenerational justice” idea. As a way to spread the wealth from older generations to younger people, this wealth tax proposal would be a bad idea for all involved. As more candidates have entered the race and released more plans, the idea of bailing out millennials has unfortunately become more popular (e.g. All the candidates planning to wipe out student debt). 

It seems that the Democratic party will prioritize pandering to millennials over sound policy proposals in the months to come. 

 


Progressive Privilege : AOC Tricks Millennials Into Thinking They Haven't Seen American Prosperity

June 24 2019

After her latest Instagram rant, many are questioning Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez’s knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust. In the same broadcast, AOC also stated that millennials have never lived in a prosperous America. Yet again, she proves that her warped view of the past and present influence her anti-capitalist ideology.

“An entire generation, which is now becoming one of the largest electorates in America, came of age and never saw American prosperity,” she complained.

The irony is that when young people swear off capitalism, they are usually doing so by sending a tweet from their shiny new iPhone, in their nice air conditioned apartments, wearing a trendy “Sharing is Caring” Karl Marx T shirt. The United States is not perfect, and capitalism has its flaws, but millennials should be thankful to be living in the most prosperous country in history.

We are experiencing an era of prosperity: Job growth, better income rates, small business successes, access to new technology, and more educated communities are all just a few sure signs of prosperity that AOC seems to miss.

Across all genders, ethnicities, and age groups, almost everyone is doing better financially. We are living with both the lowest unemployment percentage since 1969, and with earnings reports continuing to show gains across all levels. The New York Post reports that we are on track to be living in the longest expansion in US history, “with the nation poised to add at least 2 million jobs for the ninth straight year.”

Small businesses are thriving, which makes communities more prosperous and introduces us to new technology. Entrepreneurs have been able to innovate and improve local conditions. For example, small time internet providers like the new HC Wireless in Johnson City, Texas, have brought better broadband connection to rural areas. With an economy focused on growing businesses, instead of stifling them with regulation, the whole country benefits.

Why are millennials not recognizing these successes? Some may point to the overwhelming amount of student loan debt that is weighing down young peoples’ bank accounts. On the other hand, more people are educated now than in the past. According to a Pew Research Survey, millennials are on track to become the most educated generation to date. With so many of us having access to so much opportunity, right now is a good time to be alive.  

For a congresswoman who popularized the Green New Deal--a proposal that relied heavily on modern day technology and innovation--she sure seems to turn a blind eye to all the successes we enjoy today. Taking for granted the upward trajectory of our nation on all measurable metrics has left many young people, including AOC, ignorantly pushing for an economic system that would halt progress.


Progressive Privilege : Cory Booker Wants Government to Pay Your Rent

June 17 2019

From erasing all student loan debt to promising the cure for cancer, the Democratic Primary race has already produced many laughable and problematic policy proposals. The latest idea to make economics majors shiver is Cory Booker’s plan to combat the affordability crisis in  housing. Essentially a tax credit, the new subsidy would cover the cost of housing above 30 percent of a person's income.

If it sounds too good to be true, it's because it is. The Wall Street Journal raises some important questions, “Want an extra parking spot, more storage, an on-site gym? Sure, if it’s rolled into the lease and then billed to the taxpayer. Some people would probably upgrade neighborhoods. Why live 15 subway stops from work if rent is capped at 30% of income?”

Young people, especially in large liberal cities, are finding it increasingly hard to find affordable housing. However, I encourage my fellow millennials to look past these latest promises and imagine the actual cost of this proposal.

Finding affordable housing options for those struggling in our own communities is a worthwhile effort but the problem is the way Booker suggests we get this done. Putting a cap on the amount tenants can pay will increase the price of housing overall because the government (aka taxpayers) will fund the increasing demand. Government subsidies would create a distorted housing market where consumers could spend well outside of their means without backlash.

One additional concern, rightly pointed out by the WSJ, is that a cap on the percent renters can spend per paycheck reduces the incentive to work. For example, if a luxury apartment is $3,000 a month and a worker is earning low-income level pay, they would get to pay less of that $3,000 rent compared to a worker who got a raise to earns a more modest income. This completely eliminates the idea that you have to work hard to be able to afford something nice.

To be fair, Booker’s proposal does include helpful provisions for tenants to fight discriminatory practices when finding housing or trying to keep their current housing. There is no denying that affordable housing is a problem for many, but billing taxpayers for rent will do the entire community more harm than good.

Housing crises have been cited on both sides of the country, usually in extremely liberal cities like San Francisco and New York City. In both cases the government stepped in to try to control the free market and the taxpayers were left to pay the price. On a national level, federally subsidized housing benefits for everyone would surely produce the same failures.


: Mental Illness and Addiction Plague Millennials at Rates Never Seen Before

June 10 2019

Millennials are more vocal about mental health issues than older generations. As the stigma diminishes surrounding these internal struggles, we can better understand just how common these problems are. According to a study released last week, done by the Stanford University Center on Poverty and Inequality, death rates have risen among millennials. Tragically, researchers point to an increase of opioid overdoses in young adults as well as increased suicide rates.

These grim statistics shed light on what Stanford University calls the millennial "canaries in the coalmine" effect. David Grusky, a sociologist associated with the study, explains that “Millennials are the first generation to experience in a full-throttled way the social and economic problems of our time. We can think of them as canaries in the coalmine who reveal just how toxic those problems are.”

Researchers Mark Dugan and Jackie Li found that between 2008 and 2016 death rates increased more than 20 percent in the millennial generation. The highest spike was 27 percent seen in non-Hispanic whites ages 20 to 34.

The correlation between mental illness and opioid addiction is not news to those who are affected by this crisis. In fact, many categorize opioid addiction as a substance use disorder which goes hand in hand with mental health disorders. According to the advocates at Mental Health First Aid, “more than 40 percent of people who live with addiction also have another mental challenge of some kind.” Co-occurring disorders pose a greater risk for these issues to turn lethal.

Millennials are often an overlooked demographic affected by the opioid epidemic. According to a Harvard public opinion poll, over 12 percent of millennials have been directly affected by the opioid crisis, or know someone who has been. As I have written before, opioids have become a part of pop culture and have left many young adults desensitized to their devastating effects. Additionally, millennials obtain more legal prescriptions for these pills at younger ages. Together, these factors have quietly chipped away at the millennial generation as the Stanford University study found.

IWF has expertly laid out a multi-pronged approach to combat the crisis:

  • President Trump’s Commission on the Opioid Crisis will study the epidemic and make legislative recommendations

  • Individual health care providers should continue to get away from standardized prescriptions for opioids

  • Education and awareness about the addictive nature of these substances should be given at the time of treatment

  • Insurers should cover non-opioid pain treatments

When prescribed correctly and consumed safely, opioids are a useful tool for those in pain. However, it is undeniable that millennials need to include the role addiction plays in the larger conversation about the poor mental health of our generation. In response to the Stanford University study, the Director of the CDC Robert Redfield, put it plainly: “These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often.”

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennials Need Price Transparency in Healthcare Costs

June 3 2019

Millennials are in a tough financial situation. Not only do they have the most student loan debt, but also they are earlier on in their careers and their salaries reflect that. Young adults need to be able to plan ahead for large bills, more so than older generations. With that, I would argue that most millennials are ill-prepared for a sudden medical cost. With price transparency, we would be able to budget our health related expenses into our month-to-month savings.

In a true free market, consumers (patients) would be able to shop around and leverage competition within the market to get the best deal on their service. Stephanie Armour in the Wall Street Journal, explains, “Consumers are often required to pay more out of pocket without the price information they need to comparison shop.” With full disclosure of price, there is no knowledge gap between producers and consumers and this could ultimately lower the price of care.

Price transparency simply means knowing the total cost of medical care before any procedures. President Trump recently teased a “very important health care bill” that will “bring transparency to it all” at a White House event on surprise billing.

Millennials need to be able to avoid surprise medical billing, I can tell you that from experience. The first four months of this year was filled with many appointments, a surgery, and the expensive bills to match. This is my timeline and all the times price transparency would have helped patients like me:

I was suffering with a sinus infection, something an allergy sufferer like me is very familiar with. It was New Years Eve and my primary care doctor was closed so I went to a local emergency care clinic that took my insurance, had my walk-in consultation, and only had to pay a small co-pay. Months later I was billed just under $700 for this routine visit without warning. Had I known how costly this clinic would be, I could have waited a few days to visit my regular doctor and saved hundreds of dollars.

The infection triggered a benign lump on my neck to enlarge over the next few months. (To spare the details, I urge those interested to look up “Branchial Cleft Cyst”.) First, my doctor ordered an ultrasound. As I signed in for my appointment at a hospital I did not choose, I was pulled aside to the financial consultation office and asked to meet my entire deductible before the examination. This was within the first few month of the year so I had to pay the majority  of my deductible on the spot. Over $400 due was that day, again, without warning. If I had known this was their policy, and had been clued in on the deal between my insurance and the hospital, I could have been more prepared for this charge.

The next step was an MRI. I knew this would be expensive, and this time I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I asked the technicians how much the imaging would cost--they had no answer. Months later I found out the hard way when I was billed just under $900, a high enough cost that the employees should have been able to tell me. This bill was larger than my rent payment and without transparency between the doctors and I, I was the one left to foot this bill on my own.

I had to see specialists all over the state (and paying their bills) to figure out what this lump was until my doctors concluded it needed to be removed. The surgery happened just over a month and a half ago and I am now fearful of opening my mailbox. There is no telling what I will be charged and it is making it hard for me to budget, knowing I will be responsible for this unknown amount in the coming weeks.

This experience has taught me a lot about the healthcare system: I learned that I don’t get to make informed decisions to save myself money. I learned I don’t get to choose treatment centers that match my price range. I learned that there will be no warnings for large bills, and that the professionals won’t be able to tell you an exact number. The system is broken.

Young or old, price transparency can bring freedom of choice to the healthcare market. Interested in learning more? Click here.  

 


Progressive Privilege : College Dropout Rates Driving Factor Toward Adopting “Adversity Scores”

May 28 2019

May is graduation month for many college students across the country. Graduates are packing up to leave their college towns and entering the workforce with fresh college degrees and mounds of student loan debt. But, what happens to the students that never make it to the graduation ceremony?

According to a study between The New York Times and the Urban Institute’s Center on Education and Data Policy, we have a college dropout crisis: one in three students never earn their degree. This holds true across the nation with similar student body demographics, but varies between schools--size of the school, facilities available, and location do not determine graduation rates. This suggests it is each unique university ecosystem that propels students to success, or sets them up for failure.

Leaving college without a degree affects millennial college dropouts the most. Without adequate workforce experience and without a diploma these ex-students will have a hard time finding a job, let alone paying any student loan debt they have incurred during their time at school.

To add insult to injury, the lower income students who dropout still incur debt and have harder times paying it off because they don’t have the degree. Catherine Suitor, the Chief Advancement Officer at a network of charter schools in Los Angeles, Alliance, states that “A bachelor’s degree is the single most influential determinant in multigenerational change and ending the cycle of poverty.”

This is part of the reason why so many on the left have started pushing the so-called “adversity” scores. Designed to give students from lower socioeconomic status a boost in college admissions, the new patronizing program could actually harm the same disadvantaged students. IW’s Charlotte Hays took note of Lionel Shriver's argument in that in reality these scores penalize families who overcame adversity—and worked hard towards economic prosperity—before college enrollment.

What can universities do to help financially challenged students graduate? A costly factor in graduation success is housing. The NYT and Urban Institute study shows that the more on-campus housing available, the higher the graduation rates.

Schools should focus their spending on what students need. This is a win-win for both the universities and the students. Dropping out of college is never an easy choice, it is influenced by family, friends, and the cost of it all. If at all possible, I urge students who question their ability to stick it out for a four year degree to look at trade schools instead, which have a much lower dropout rate.

 


Progressive Privilege : Student Loan Debt Making Millennials Socialist

May 20 2019

Over the weekend the Morehouse Class of 2019 received more than just their diploma on graduation day. Robert F. Smith, a billionaire investor, vowed to pay off the entire graduating class's student loan debt. In his touching speech he highlighted the burdens many millennials are facing, "When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained." 

Millennials are facing unique challenges that will be front and center during the 2020 elections. More candidates are campaigning with anti-capitalist ideologies than ever before, and student debt forgiveness has become a platform staple of the Democratic party. Last week, Joesph Sternberg wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the biggest challenge millennials face is proving to baby boomers that the younger generation is in “economic trouble” because their degrees aren’t adding up to jobs.

With a cynical view of higher education and buried in student loan debt, it is no wonder socialism is trending with young people. Free education, debt forgiveness, and all at the expense of someone else? Sounds good! (To anyone who hasn’t learned basic economics.) Millennials will make up nearly a third of next year’s electorate. But, with great power comes great responsibility. Millennials are pushing the Democratic candidates further to the left because, among other things, they want a solution for their mountains of student debt.

Pete Buttigieg, once a no-name mayor, is now trending with millennials because he is campaigning on what he calls “intergenerational justice.” Young, broke, people searching for a quick fix may find themselves drawn towards the too-good-to-be-true socialist economic agenda.  His non-detailed solution is to tax wealthy, older Americans, make public college tax-free, and provide more support for debtors in public service professions.

Progressive politics will lead to a socialist America. If online traffic leads to traffic at the polling place, progressive candidates offering harmful socialist economic agendas will earn the millennial vote. I argue that millennials will be driven to the polls for someone who best answers their collective question: What should we do with all this student loan debt? (which may be a proxy question for “Do you care about opportunity for people like me?”)

President of the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, Joel Acevedo, wrote in Washington Examiner last week that Republicans should capitalize on this issue by coming up with an economically friendly plan to deal with the student debt crisis. He puts forward an alternative starting first with state funding, then focusing on kicking big government out of the lending game.

In the Wall Street Journal, Sternberg concludes that baby boomers had “stolen a decade away from millennials”. However tempting it may be, voting for a politician who just wipes the debt away would not help millennials’ situations at all. I urge my generation to think about the long-term destruction such economic policies can cause, and not blame capitalism.

 


Progressive Privilege : Burger King Will Soon Offer Something More "Real" Than Just "Happy" Meals

May 6 2019

May is Mental Health Awareness month and Burger King has launched their new #FeelYourWay campaign in partnership with Mental Health America. The fast-food giant is taking aim at McDonald’s Happy Meals by offering “Real Meals” in various moods like “Blue” or “Pissed”. With the slogan, “No one is happy all the time. And that’s okay.”, this campaign is designed to validate emotions other than happiness.

According to Mental Health America, more than 44 million Americans are affected by some form of mental health disorder. Unfortunately, a growing portion of these cases are seen in younger generations. Mental Health America reports that Major Depressive Episodes (MDE) in youth has risen from 8.66% to 12.63% on just one year.

Mental health is the topic of the millennial generation. Jenny Marie is a mental health advocate at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and she argues that “Millennials are often referred to as the ‘anxious generation’ They were the first to grow up with the constant overflow of the internet and social media. This can result in low self-esteem and insecurity.”

Generational awareness and acceptance is key to overcoming the stigma around mental illness. As I have written in the past, “There is a stigma around this issue that prevents people from getting the help they need, and there is not legislation that could remedy this.” The rhetoric around mental illness will change with more creative, private sector, options--as well as campaigns like the #FeelYourWay from Burger King.

As a corporation taking on a serious social issue, Burger King is leveraging their brand recognition in order to bring attention to the harmful (and false) idea that “normal” people are happy all the time. Ordering a Happy Meal off the McDonald’s menu while you’re suffering from depression may not seem like a big deal but Burger King wants to validate different emotions by naming their meals as “Real.” The “Real Meals” and the variety of emotions they are available in may be cheesy, but I appreciate a business making an effort to change the conversation.

The video roll out has had mixed reviews. Some believe that Burger King is prioritizing trolling McDonald’s in order to make a profit off of a touchy topic. However, I think that if we take a less cynical view we can appreciate any effort made by a private institution to end the stigma around mental illness. The Washington Post puts it nicely, “Though the campaign may not encourage everyone to seek help, experts say, it could spark conversations around depression, anxiety and other disorders, especially among teens and young adults.”

Watch the video below and decide for yourself which of the Real Meals you’re feeling today:


Progressive Privilege : Should Conservatives Continue to Embrace Criminal Justice Reform?

April 29 2019

Jared Kushner’s “lessons learned” about criminal justice reform shows that some Republicans now see prison reform as a conservative issue. A few days ago in an oped for Time, Kushner laid out fifteen realizations he came to while working with the Trump administration on the First Step Act. As a typically liberal issue, criminal justice reform offers conservatives an opportunity to show that they don't fit liberal critiques as inhumane while also promoting economic prosperity.

Liberal platforms always include criminal justice reform issues. Conservatives have let them claim the issue. This leads to big government solutions and liberals portraying Republicans as uninterested in fighting injustices.

Democratic hopefuls have been hitting the campaign trails with problematic criminal justice reform records of their own. For example, Kamala Harris refused criminal justice reforms as district attorney and attorney general in California. Early on in her campaign for president she faced backlash from her past of upholding wrongful convictions and overlooking misconduct.

President Trump has been an ally of criminal justice reform advocates. Going into the making of the First Step Act, Kushner reveals that Trump was skeptical about working on this “liberal issue.” However, in the end he understood that he campaigned to fight for the forgotten men and women, and there is no better way than through criminal justice reform. As Kushner explains, “[Trumps] efforts helped tamp down opposition from the right and overcome key legislative roadblocks.”

Criminal justice reform is not purely a social issue--it is also an economic one. Taxes, health care, and jobs are all directly impacted by criminal justice in that state. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) argues that “What is needed is a shift away from an attitude of punishment to an attitude of rehabilitation in our criminal justice system” to increase labor force participation.

Fighting for conservative economic legislation will positively help those who need it most, and save  money along the way. FEE calculates that we spend over$80 billion on incarceration every year--what sort of conservative spending plan is that? Tax dollars are funneled toward prison systems to fund incarceration for non-violent drug offenders and those affected by the opioid epidemic.

With proper reforms our justice system will be able to provide more effective (and less wasteful) help in order to reduce recidivism rates. A focus on rehabilitation should ultimately lead to a former inmate finding a job and contributing to the economy again.

More conservative lawmakers are hearing that message loud and clear. Last week Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican from Pennsylvania teamed up with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat from Delaware to introduce the Clean Slate Act. The proposed bill would “automatically seal a person’s record i they had been convicted of possession of drugs, including heroin, as well as any nonviolent offense involving marijuana.” Both Representatives are from states suffering the devastating impact of the opioid crisis.

In his list of lessons, Jared Kushner put bipartisanship at the top of the list. Criminal justice reform should be a bipartisan issue, and I am hopeful for more bills like the Clean Slate Act to pop up as more conservatives get on board with these reforms.


Progressive Privilege : The Green New Deal Is a Losing Strategy for Millennials

April 22 2019

It has been nearly three weeks since AOC’s Green New Deal failed in the Senate, but millennials refuse to let the “Green Dream” die. According to a new survey by John Zogby Strategies young people want the public and private sectors to prioritize acting on climate change over creating jobs. However, with President Trump’s job numbers as they are now, this is a losing strategy for the 2020 elections.

The Green New Deal would have ruined our economy, as IWF’s Patrice Onwuka explains, “The deal would cut over a million jobs, raise energy costs for families, undermine our free market system, remove choice for the goods and services we want, discourage people from working, take us back in time in transportation, and leave us with a bleak future.” Yet, millennials were the biggest supporters of this (failed) legislation because they were willing to overlook these negative consequences.

Millennials need to start prioritizing jobs and the economy, given that they have unprecedented amounts of student loan debt. Turning to the government to fix all their problems through socialist inspired legislation will only further entrench their debts. A strong job market and booming economy is exactly the environment millennials should want, but their politics says otherwise.

As I explained before, republicans don’t hate the environment just because they aren’t buying into the environmental alarmism that popularized the Green New Deal. They have other priorities--like jobs and the economy. Benji Backer, a millennial conservative activist, argues that “The environment should (and can) by the issue that brings americans together during our current political divide. For that to happen, the tone on environmental policy must change.”

For so long the solution to climate change has been held tome on one side of the aisle; however, a conservative perspective on environmental policy re-focuses the conversation on the impact such legislation will have on the economy. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, renewable energy is creating jobs 12 times faster than other sectors of the economy. Free market solutions to climate change will keep burdensome regulation out of the private sector; where innovation can drive action not big government.

For now, AOC’s Twitter mob will continue to push for immediate climate change legislation, as they have bought into the environmental alarmism in traditional millennial fashion. It makes sense to fight with such urgency and passion if you have bought into the fallacy that the world is going to end in 12 years. It is up to economically responsible politicians to educate the youth about the importance of job creation.


Progressive Privilege : Politics as Sport: “Your Team” Should Not Define You

April 15 2019

March Madness may have ended last week, but American’s are still fighting ruthless battles for their teams off the court. In the heat of the next presidential election cycle, Americans are pitted against each other for the sake of party loyalty—often leading to social media fights, and arguments over the dinner table. Political party affiliation has become such a defining characteristic that it has changed the way millennials date. Politics has become an extreme sport, but what are the consequences of such blind party allegiance?

Michael Gerson wrote for The Washington Post last week comparing political party support to sports team spirit. Similar to the story of the Greens versus the Blues, Gerson argues that such tribalism is dangerous as it dehumanizes large portions of a population. He explains the difference, “Citizens can engage in civil discourse and productive compromise. Rabid fans can be appeased only by victory.”

Criticism is due on both sides of the political aisle. Gerson continues, “A politics based on team loyalty ceases to serve political purposes.” Both “teams” are in danger of viewing the upcoming election as a dichotomy, and the results to be won by either the “good guys”, or the “bad guys”.

For conservatives, the 2020 election is poised to be about socialism versus capitalism. Yes, socialism is bad, but let's not turn the 2020 presidential election into another red scare. Capitalists need to educate about the benefits of free markets without using scare tactics when talking about different economic systems. USA Today reported last week that if conservatives cannot make the case for capitalism, they risk losing the millennial vote entirely.

At the same time, liberals are working to redefine their party platform. Young faces in the Democratic party want to rebrand the left as more extreme, but hardly consider how their rhetoric fuels the hysteria on the ground—for example when AOC said people would die if we didn’t pass the Green New Deal. We remember the meltdowns following the 2016 election; the closed streets, people calling off work and out of class, officers put on the lines of aggressive assault. Just a few days ago truck drivers planned to block off a major highway in Chicago in protest of Donald Trump.

For many, the ashes are still smoldering from the bridges burned during the 2016 election. When we think of our family, neighbors, and friends across the aisle as “evil” we not only lose those relationships, but we also lose any hope of bipartisan reform. Othering the opposite political party disincentivizes legislative cooperation, as Gerson explains: “Anyone who wishes to cooperate with elements on the other side on, say, education reform, or health-care reform, or entitlement reform is viewed as giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

Hope for bipartisan reform is lost if we are stuck in partisan gridlock. “If the main standard in politics is the victory or loss of the tribe, then the task of passing laws to make conditions better becomes secondary and suspect.” adds Gerson.

If we are able to shed our teams’ colors for just a moment, we are able to see just how tribal we have become. In my family I often position myself as a translator of sorts between my very conservative father, and my very liberal younger sister. Instead of telling a socialist to go read an economic book, try to understand what life experiences led them to support a more communal system. Similarly, instead of assuming conservatives hate clean air, try to understand what issues they prioritize above environmental issues. If we start to prioritize policy instead of politics, we might just be able to salvage our dinner table conversations yet.


Progressive Privilege : Sanders Puts Union Label on His Campaign

April 1 2019

Millennial favorite, Bernie Sanders, put his money where his mouth is by becoming the first presidential campaign to unionize. His campaign manager Faiz Shakir explains, “Bernie Sanders is the most pro-union candidate in the field, he’ll be the most pro-union president in the White House.” In a crowded democratic primary field, other presidential hopefuls may be tempted to follow suit. However, I would caution his peers to unionize at their own risk.

Critics argue that unions are a bad idea because they raise the cost of doing business—in this case, Bernie’s campaign cost. Unions have harmed entire industries this way. They act as monopolies that create room for employees to be protected from termination, while at the same time protecting seniority over productivity. What type of business model is that?

Labor unions are very popular with millennials. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials have the fastest growing membership of unions. Steven Pitts, a labor professor believes that one reason young people support unions is their age. He explains, “young people don’t remember the 1970s and 1980s, when unions were demonized by big business and politicians.”

Currently 44 Bernie staffers have signed their union cards as official members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, but after negotiation up to 1,000 employees are expected to join as well. The UFCW Local 400 labels this unprecedented move a “victory” and explains their union has a reputation for “effective tenacious and professional representation.”

Every job in a presidential campaign is important. From the volunteers to the campaign manager, staff have to be coordinated across states to spread the seeds of the grassroots support that will turn out to the primaries, and if done right, election day. This hard work is not for everyone, but it is especially not for those who want unionized work.

Most people who work on a campaign with the understanding that funds will be tight—after all, they are usually working with donated money. Bernie used to tout that his average donation was $27 which painted him as a politician funded by average people. Because of the unionization of his campaign, Sanders could now end up spending more money paying more for staffers than he would have without the union. Clearly, Bernie doesn’t have a problem spending other people’s (his donors') money.

In Bernie’s campaign, the top staffers will be able to negotiate their way to good pay, better hours, and employee benefits. This sounds like a sweet deal—but what if you were not at the top of the food chain? The unionized employees’ benefits will disincentivize the lower-level unpaid staff and volunteers, which will could hurt Bernie’s campaign because these are the workers who are crucial to get the ground game moving. He is taking for granted the laborers at the bottom of the pyramid.

Official details about negotiations have not been reported but some have theorized that this is an attempt to prevent a repeat of Bernie’s 2016 campaign allegations of sexual harassment and pay disparity. UFCW Local 400 President, Mark Federici, adds that unionizing means “pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment and equal treatment for every worker.”

Sanders has overlooked the costs of his decision—as a true socialist would. Unionization of a presidential campaign is likely to make the campaign less efficient and other politicians would be wise not to follow Sanders on this.  


Progressive Privilege : Forget Astrological Sign, What’s Your Political Party Affiliation?

March 25 2019

Millennials have changed the dating scene. Between the numerous dating apps matching you with potential partners based on proximity, to creating the casual hook up culture seen rampant on college campuses, their love lives have different priorities from generations before. However according to a new survey, millennials—specifically millennial women—are listing political ideology as more important than a physical compatibility.

OkCupid, a popular dating site, surveyed their 8 million users and specifically found that “interest in dating someone with similar political beliefs has gone up 165% since 2004, while having good sex has decreased as a priority 30%.” The biggest increase stemmed from millennial women starting in 2016 who nearly doubled the prioritization of politics while dating.

This jump in political party related deal-breakers perfectly corresponds with the 2016 election, and this is no coincidence. Left leaning young women seem to be swiping left on Trump supporters or anyone sympathetic to the President’s views. Ironically, I would think that bringing home a fiscally responsible partner would be a plus for most parents—but alas.

Millennials in Washington D.C. feel the polarization the most. While out on the town, Fox News reported that many young people working for the administration feel their job is a disadvantage when trying to meet new people, or potentially find love in the heart of the swamp. But Caroline and Artie, who work on different sides of the aisle decided to not let political party dictate who they love.

Caroline and Artie are not alone. Celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both mainstream millennial icons, are polar opposites on the political spectrum. Kim Kardashian explained, “I let him have his own views and opinions even if they’re different than mine.” A shocking concept—so why is this so uncommon?

Sex therapist, Megan Fleming, thinks that it is the unwillingness to listen to others and challenge your own ideas that keeps millennials from swiping right on matches from the other side. She explains, “If you’re only exposing yourself to people who think like you, you’re living in a silo and missing out on opportunities.”

This is the same issue we are seeing on college campuses that restrict free speech. The market place of ideas is stifled when there is a monopoly supporting one political party. This unwillingness has come off as aggressive and judgmental in conversation and drives the lack of civility we see in political discourse. Singles on both sides of the aisle should keep an open mind before judging a potential match.

Perhaps it is the blooming cherry blossom trees in our nation's capital, but there must be hope for millennials finding love without the crutch of identity politics. Dating inside one political ideology is limiting, and it is a “safe space”. Venturing outside your comfort zone and listening to new opinions is challenging, but well worth it.


Progressive Privilege : What about Bernie, Beto, and Biden and the Millennial Vote?

March 18 2019

With Beto O’Rourke’s campaign launch last week, the size of the Democratic primary field will rival that of the Republicans on 2016. According to two Pew Research Center studies, millennials are both the largest voting bloc in the upcoming elections and they are also the most left-leaning generation in American history.

The media is fawning over Bernie’s popularity, Beto’s charisma, and whether Biden will run at all. However, despite the press attention, there are a few undeniable factors holding them back in the eyes of millennials. They are all categorized under the very privileged “straight-white-male” title and this is disqualifying in the eyes of many on the identity-obsessed left.

Replacing free thought and critical thinking, spread through fake internet outrage and “woke” culture, identity politics has taken over the millennial generation. 

The shift is most apparent when comparing the Bernie Sanders' roll out in 2016 versus the reaction in 2020. Bernie entered the last Democratic primary as an outlier with radical socialist ideas, largely tossed aside by the establishment who preferred Hillary. This time around the entire Democratic party has shifted left to include more extreme positions on topics like the cost of college and environmental policy positions. Bernie is no longer a “unique” candidate based on socialist ideology alone.

Politico reports that, “Most of the straight white male fence-sitters come from the pragmatic corners of the Democratic Party” and are “trying to seize the pragmatic mantle [that] comes with a risk, especially for straight white men.” With the fear of becoming a “mansplainer” or attacking a minority candidate in primary debates, the path forward for Bernie, Beto, and Biden is paved with eggshells.

But Bernie is not alone in the straight-white-male-affliction. Beto O’Rourke has been called out for his male privilege granting him the confidence to run for office after his failed senate attempt. Joe Biden already has critics questioning whether the modern day Democratic party would embrace a white man in his 70s, despite Biden's not even having announced yet.

Identity politics is harmful to democracy in that it strips down candidates to their demographic categories and ignores the quality of their policies. Instead of acting like the Census Bureau, millennials need to use the primaries to compare policies. 


Progressive Privilege : Millennials Overwhelmingly Favor Legalizing Weed While Baby Boomers "Just Say No"

March 11 2019

Support for the legalization of marijuana is split along generational lines. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, only 44% of baby boomers support legalizing the drug compared to 85% of their millennial counterparts.

When asked if “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the U.S.” the majority of Americans say yes—in fact 60% of agree. The largest age group of opposed to legalization efforts are the 65 and older crowd. As the age groups get younger, the support gets stronger. Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, added, “The baby boomers say no to the drug that helped define an era, while the millennials say bring it on.”

Marijuana Moment, a group following many of the marijuana policy updates across the country, noted that despite this new poll the percentage of people in favor of cannabis legalization has dropped three points since last year. With such divided support, this hot button issue will certainly be up for debate in the upcoming years.

The illegal status of marijuana is also effecting other products in the marijuana industry. Before his resignation, FDA Chief, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told Congress that Cannabidiol, or CBD oil can’t be added to consumer products, and will continue to be labeled as not approved for any therapeutic purposes. This move is due to the fact that CBD is only legal in states with medical marijuana laws, and because marijuana is still  listed as a Schedule 1 narcotic on the federal level.

Market trends have shown that CBD is a popular product among millennial shoppers. Though the oil—often in sprays, snacks, or drinks—is a byproduct of the marijuana plant, CBD companies claim to sell products with mood and stress-relieving benefits without any of the high.

CNBC reports that Gottlieb’s parting comments on CBD leave a “billion-dollar question” for businesses looking to profit on CBD and other marijuana products such as hemp. The negotiations on the federal level are moving quickly—which is not very common in Washington D.C. Just last week, Gottlieb announced that the FDA would hold its first public hearings on the topic next month. In his poorly timed exit he has instead abandoned talks of new FDA regulation on CBD before anything has been put on the books.

At the same time, last week the FDA approved a new nasal spray derived from ketamine—or synthetic marijuana—set to be used to treat depression. Mixed signals!

The synthetic marijuana prescription will be listed under the name “Esketamine” and is the first depression treatment the FDA has approved in decades. Though the drug is controversial, to say the least, according to the Depression Alliance, “Ketamine therapy is about so much more than a fun party or a weekend escape. It’s about healing lives that have been fractured by crippling disorders.”

The interesting news is that most of us agree on one thing: the same Quinnpiac poll found that 93% of Americans support prescription marijuana for medical purposes. In such polarizing times, I for one hope we can leverage such support for medical marijuana and research on its medicinal uses.  


Progressive Privilege : President Trump Teases Free Speech Protection on College Campus in Speech at CPAC

March 4 2019

Over the weekend President Trump made headlines previewing a future executive order “requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research dollars.” This announcement was met with cheers from the crowd at CPAC—many attendees are college aged and have experienced the effects of speech codes on their own campus.

Adam Kissel, who has worked with the DOE and the free speech advocacy group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), explains how this executive order could unfold: “The best way to challenge ridiculous or generous ideas is with more, better speech. But the further an executive order runs from black-letter policies and training documents into amorphous campus practices, the more complicated it would be to punish violators.”

Though the executive order is yet to be released, it is clear that there are lots of variables to think about when dealing with enforcement. Kissel is right in his questioning the logistics of such policies.

However, the push for free speech on college campuses has already gained momentum at many institutions. Groups like Young Americans for Liberty in coordination with FIRE have organized college students on campuses across the country in a grassroots effort to fight back against “free speech zones”. It seems that some college administrations feel the Constitution doesn’t apply on the grounds of their public university.

College is a time when young people leave their homes and are exposed to different cultures and ideas. Some people say that their right not to hear things that offend them negates the guarantee of free speech.  

Having spent my own undergraduate years battling administrators over speech codes, I will admit that I am beyond excited to see what happens next.  


Progressive Privilege : What do millennials have in common with small businesses? Neither can afford New York City

March 4 2019

Following Amazon's backtracking on building their second headquarters in the bustling outskirts of New York, City Journal reports that big tech companies have started looking for a new city to turn into the next Silicon Valley. Cutting through Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Anti-Amazon talking points, the problem with big-tech and urban invasion become clear.

The ideal tech town would have a surplus of skilled millennial workers. But these companies are wrong in assuming all the “young motivated labor pools” live in crowded downtown streets. According to a new Brookings study, young people are packing their bags and leaving the biggest cities to settle elsewhere. Instead, young people are moving to mid-sized cities like Charlotte, Phoenix and Nashville.

Amazon and other tech companies should want to branch out from Silicon Valley and create jobs across America. Unfortunately, big cities have unfavorable economic conditions for both millennials and business.

The economic problem with big-tech’s urban invasion is two-fold: Firstly, New York is not a business friendly environment. In fact, according to a Tax Foundation study, New York state has the second-worst business tax climate.

Secondly, despite Amazon's not needing additional subsidies to afford a move to the Big Apple, the two decided to create special incentives, which looked decidedly like old fashioned cronyism to many. Perhaps the subsidies were an attempt to put a Band-Aid on the massive hole left by high business tax—but regardless, small businesses do not get the same special treatment in New York.

Tax payers are left to foot the bill for these deals, and millennials aren’t having it. Tax policy analysts at the Cato Institute argue that “In order to attract business, states could cut or repeal corporate income taxes, which account for only 2% of state and local revenues yet act as a major growth hurdle given how mobile corporate investment is today.”

Maybe it is the high cost-of-living, lack of housing, or the many failed economic policies leaving cities suffering the largest net annual outmigration of post-college millennials. Since millennials owe unprecedented amounts in student loans, some of these high-priced cities are losing the appeal that drew companies like Amazon to New York in the first place.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Younger Generations Need More Creative Mental Health Treatment Options

February 25 2019

New research from the University of Michigan has found that more than seven million children and teenagers have a mental health disorder that is currently going untreated. Navigating early adulthood is hard enough as it is, but doing so with a mental illness can pose additional challenges along the way. Millennials and Gen Z are demanding innovative treatment options.

Across the country, colleges are providing new mental health counseling services to their students. Kent State University, Jefferson Community College, and Ohio State University have all increased the size of their programs while UCLA has started a “resilience peer” system. Resources are aimed at “finding the most effective interventions for the largest number of students as quickly as possible.”

Creative solutions can also be found outside of college campuses. “R U OK?”, an entertainment group which uses poetry, comedy, and music held its first conversation geared towards mental health awareness last week in Charlotte, North Carolina. The performers believe that engaging the audience in this creative way sheds a new light on the often stigmatized subject.

Nicole Fisher, President of Health & Human Rights Strategies, recently pointed to technological innovation in the mental health field. In the age of smartphones, young people are more inclined to reach for their iPhone for help than actual mental health professionals. Dr. Nelson Handal created CliniCom as a way to provide “personalized medicine” in the best way possible for Millennials and Gen Z. The website provides online assessment tools which have proven to reliably determine type and severity of mental illness.

At the end of the day, close to one in five adults are coping with mental illness according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental health issues touch every community—the rich, the poor, every race, age, and gender. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health prevents people from ever seeking treatment.

The gap in diagnoses and seeking treatment is alarming. Unresolved issues can be detrimental to younger generations. Daniel Whitney, Ph. D., adds that “Untreated mental health disorders can have a debilitating impact on children’s healthful growth and throughout their transition to adulthood.”

With it being such a common issue, you would think that there would be many options when seeking help for a mental illness. This is not generally the case. I hope to see more creative, non-traditional options, surface as we continue to understand the scope and severity of this issue.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Studies Find Millennials Are More at Risk for Obesity-Related Cancer

February 11 2019

New analysis from the American Cancer Society (ACS) highlights an increase in twelve types of obesity-related cancers in millennials. Ahmedin Jemal who is the president of the ACS Surveillance and Health Services Research Program adds that this trend could potentially “halt or reverse the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades.”

A few types of cancer the study found to be increasing in millennials that are typically less prevalent in the young, and are associated with obesity, include: colorectal, endometrial, gallbladder, kidney, pancreatic and multiple myeloma.

At the same time, we are seeing the increase in obesity for millennials on a global scale. According to research done in the United Kingdom, seven in ten millennials will be overweight in their lifetime while only five in ten baby boomers got the same results.

This issue becomes all the more problematic when you understand the apparent correlation between obesity and cancer. While scientists cannot definitively say that excess weight causes cancer, the data shows that as children, millennials doubled the rates of childhood obesity and now could be suffering the delayed results.

The age range for millennials is 23-38 years old. Personal and professional lifestyles can be taxing during this age, among other reasons. Traditionally, this is a time in life when you are having your first child or growing an existing family, and increased obesity rates can easily tag along for that journey. Paired with a hectic mid-level to senior job, millennials would have less time to exercise.

Despite this, the news is not all bad, and more studies have shown a decrease in cancer casesand cancer deaths over the past few decades when looking at the population as a whole. If millennials want to stay in line with the healthier trajectory of their communities, it is time to take responsibility for their poor health habits.

Millennials are taking for granted all the resources they have to help them stay healthy. Nutritional and workout guides are readily available for free on any social media platform. Additionally, it is completely false that eating healthy is "too expensive" and impossible in low income areas. You don’t have to buy "organic-grain fed-non GMO-vegan-cruelty free" products at the grocery store to get healthy. With quality knowledge easily accessible like never before, millennials should make good on their new year’s resolutions and shed those extra pounds.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Seeking “Intergenerational Justice” Through a Wealth Tax Won’t Help Millennials

February 4 2019

With new Democratic candidates announcing their run for presidency every day, the anti-capitalist economic agenda is growing harder to ignore. Despite the escalating conflict in Venezuela, millennials seem to think socialist economics belong in North America as well. Presidential hopefuls are listening, and rolling out economic policies, including the controversial “Wealth Tax.”

A wealth tax is essentially an additional tax on every asset that a person owns. The rationale behind this aggressive tax plan is that the government decides that wealthy can afford to pay more into public funds through taxation.

Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan has stirred quite the debate from newsrooms to social media feeds. In it, she explains that her new proposal aims to reduce wealth concentration at the “tippy top”. Rep. Ilhan Omar took the wealth tax one step further by suggesting a shocking 90% tax on the wealthy. Despite these extreme proposals, millennials seem to support this type of taxation.

Democratic presidential hopeful, Pete Buttigieg, a millennial and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is campaigning on what he calls “intergenerational justice.” He argues that millennials are on track to be the “first generation to be worse off economically” than their parents.

Millennials feel they have been shortchanged in our capitalist system. Many point to an unprecedented amount of student loan debt preventing them from getting ahead. This is an undeniable problem, but wealth redistribution is hardly the answer.

Wealth tax plans and other socialist economic policies do not work because they confiscate resources the wealthy have in the name of "equality." In this type of system there would be zero incentive for the wealthy to stay in America and create jobs. Without the businesses they own, or the money they spend we would lose jobs and revenue across the country. A complete capitalist nightmare.

In a recent Pew study about the role of government in society, analysts found that a positive view of socialist policies falls along generational lines. However, the participants listed the “unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy” to be their main concern, and not directly a capitalist system, per se.

Going into 2020 this gives candidates the chance to defend capitalism, and push back against socialist economic agendas like wealth redistribution. I hope to see advocates for reforming our current system (including reforming crony capitalism, and promoting de-regulation and weakening government's strong hold on our checkbooks).

Young, broke, people searching for a quick fix to what The New York Times calls the “generational gap in both income and wealth,” millennials may find themselves drawn towards the too-good-to-be-true socialist economic agenda. But I urge my generation to think about the long term destruction such economic policies can cause, and not blame capitalism.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Early Results of First Step Act

January 28 2019

Just over a month after the First Step Act was passed in Congress and signed into law by President Trump, we are already seeing results. One of the first benefactors was Edward Douglas, a Chicago native, who was released last week after a drug offense sent him to life in prison.

Douglas came to trial in the 1980s when crack and cocaine dealing were prosecuted differently. Despite the fact they are essentially the same drug, dealing crack implied a mandatory minimum. The important distinction is that crack cocaine has always been much cheaper, and more prevalent in lower income, and ethnic areas. Additionally, Douglas’ sentencing was made even stiffer because of his prior offenses which qualified him for the problematic three-strikes laws.

The First Step Act specifically targets increased penalties for crack—which could mean early release for 2,660 inmates, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Additionally, “It eases mandatory-minimum prison sentences for drug offenders and gives well-behaved inmates incentives to earn ‘good time’ credits toward early release.”

After serving 16 years, Douglas is now home with this family. NBC News reports on his second chance after his release. He says, “I was one of the first ones to get it, but other guys are waiting to get it. It’s the fact that people took the time to fight for this. And I’m not going to mess that up.”  

With such early results from the First Step Act, I have begun to wonder: What will be the second step? In my opinion, I hope the “second” step might be providing resources to make the transition out of prison easier, which could possibly reduce recidivism rates.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: GOP Needs to Master Social Media for a More Successful Future

January 21 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter personality might be rivaling that of President Trump. Their  political beliefs are worlds apart, but both know how to convey authenticity and get out their messages on social media.  Late last week AOC was set to share some of her social media secrets  with her Democratic colleagues:

USA Today reports that the briefing will focus on “the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling.”

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie who has coined the hashtag #SassyWithMassie, and Senator Rand Paul, another Kentucky Republican, who goes on a yearly Seinfeld inspired “Festivus” tweeting spree to “air his grievances,” are rare example of adept users of social media in the GOP. Other than President Trump, Republicans just don't get it when it comes to social media.  

Democrats, on the other hand, have long understood the value of social media: it is the most direct way to reach millennials. Recently 2020 hopefuls Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren took to Instagram to live stream casual events in their lives (such as going to the dentist or drinking a beer). Arguably, those may be examples of TMI. However, many have credited former President Barack Obama’s ability to turn out his base to his social media use.

If we remember Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill, the generational lack of understanding was made abundantly apparent. For a laugh, check out the confusion that ensued below as the Facebook CEO tried to explain how a few aspects of his platform works:

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat all offer enormous potential to politicians. Interacting with constituents, news outlets, and colleagues regularly on these platforms could make any politician appear more genuine and likeable. These are all characteristics that motivates people to go to the polls.

Going into 2020, the GOP needs to play catch up on social media. Overtime both parties will grow younger. In order to stand out in a crowded field I would suggest all politicians on the right get a little more savvy about their social media feeds.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Socialists Should Attack Crony Capitalism, Not Free Markets

January 14 2019

The new, 116th Congress, is home to a new generation of young Democrats who are more liberal than ever before. In fact, some of the most vocal new members—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are also members of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). They represent the growing voting bloc of young people denouncing capitalism.

This has been a trend since the 2016 elections, when Bernie Sanders became the most popular man across all college campuses. But why are so many young people turning on capitalism? Perhaps it is because what they often see is not capitalism but crony capitalism, which is a distortion of the real thing.

The Detroit News featured a thought provoking piece this past week attributing the recent rise in democratic socialists to the rampant crony capitalism that has given true capitalism a bad name.

Matthew Mitchell, a senior research fellow and director at the Mercatus Center, explains, “The political elite tilt the economic playing field in favor of the economic elite, privileging them through subsidies, regulatory protections, and targeted tax breaks.” This relationship is beneficial for both parties because the economic elite then “help to ensure that the political elite remain in power.”

Genuine free-market capitalism has no special political protections for the economically powerful. The problem is that this generation of anti-capitalists don't see the value of capitalism because they have seen so much in the way of crony capitalism. They demand that we acknowledge the difference between “democratic socialism” and regular socialism—but don't distinguish between capitalism and its distortion.  

Allegations of cronyism have been made at all levels of government. Recently on the federal level,  the U.S. Government Publishing Office is under investigation for their irregular hiring practices. We can see the effect in different sectors such as the food or energy industries in their regulations that benefit special interest groups.

Cronyism is often overlooked in the upper circles of our government and the American taxpayers are the ones who end up paying the price. If there is any hope for the millennial generation to regain acceptance and appreciation of capitalism, we must work to call out those abusing capitalism.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: There Are Several Pro-Liberty Bills Worth Watching in the New Congress

January 7 2019

Since everyone seems to be distracted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dance moves, I would like to direct attention to the top three pro-liberty proposals that have come out of the first few days back for Congress.

1. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Francis Rooney, a Florida Republican, proposed a constitutional amendment establishing term limits

Term limits may not be a hot topic, but I believe they are important if our government is to ever again function properly. With the overwhelming feeling that nothing beneficial to the citizenry ever gets done in D.C., term limits guarantee fresh faces in Congress. Limited amount of time in office encourages politicians to legislate instead of ramping up support for their next campaign. In their Joint Resolution, Cruz and Rooney propose limiting Senators to two six-year terms and House members to three two-year terms.

2. Republican Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky Introduced a bipartisan "Audit the Fed" bill.

Though the push for the audit of the Federal Reserve has been ongoing for many years, the principle behind this concept still stands. The Federal Reserve’s lack of transparency is especially concerning because of their influence in the U.S. economy. From agreements with foreign governments and central banks, to its ability to affect the money supply, the Federal Reserve is one of the most powerful institutions in the country. In the bill Rep. Massie, along with 38 co-sponsors, simply asks for transparent monetary policy.

3. Georgia Republican Representative Rob Woodall introduced a bill to “Unleash America’s Economy

Rep. Woodall reintroduced the FairTax Plan to simplify the U.S. tax system, alleviate the federal governments financial burden on everyday people, and eliminate big-government control in the American economy. One of the biggest selling points of the FairTax plan is that it allows workers to keep 100% of their income without the government stepping in to take their share. Though President Trump’s tax reform was a huge win for the American people, this bill aims to take the financial freedom one step further.

Many of these bills get criticism for being ‘"pipe-dreams," but in order to ensure our freedom we must continue to talk about these policies. Liberty is not something that just exists, especially in D.C. Politicians must stick to their principles and produce bills with the best interest of the American people in mind. So let's keep an eye on these pro-liberty proposals in Congress.


: A Christmas Story for Your Christmas Day!

December 25 2018

In recent years my family holiday festivities have turned into quite the non-traditional celebration. In fact, we don’t get together with family, and instead opt for a group of family-friends instead. Our group is of mixed religion, so we often serve Jewish and Christmas food along side each other.

We keep our spirits merry and bright with an abundance adult beverages and plenty of jokes to go around. Our guests arrive in sweatpants or skip straight to pajamas and leave with Tupperware full of leftover treats. But my holidays weren’t always like this.

When gathering information for this post, I learned a secret my parents managed to keep from me for nearly 24 years.

My family lives in the south suburbs of Chicago, but I also have relatives in a small town across the Mississippi River in Iowa. Growing up, we visited my Iowa family for holidays, birthdays, and often times, just for fun. I have so many fond memories I made in Iowa that I decided to go to the University of Iowa. The Hawkeye state always felt like a second home to me, so as a child I was always excited to spend Christmas away from Illinois.

Apparently, though, all the Christmas celebrations I had were never actually on Christmas Day.  This was news to me. Santa would come to my family’s home a day early, on Christmas Eve, and we would drive to Iowa on Christmas Day—or what I thought was the day after Christmas for a second celebration. I ended up celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve like that for the majority of my childhood.

This was clearly never an issue, since I never knew until recently. However, one year, when travel plans had been interrupted, the Christmas on Christmas Eve traditions threw off our celebration. My mother was so used to our early celebration schedule, that she forgot to buy food for Christmas dinner before all the stores closed. That year, we had lovely Christmas hotdogs.

We do not have any big traditions. But, it is fitting that now my celebrations have continued to be just as non-traditional as the year that we had hotdogs for dinner.

 

 


Progressive Privilege : Constitutional Power Secretly Stripped from Congress, and Rep. Thomas Massie is Fighting Back

December 21 2018

Popular liberty-loving Congressman, Thomas Massie, has made some congressional enemies heading into the holiday break. In this viral video, you can see Massie in a basically empty chamber, dismantle a vote in the House. He argues that the Constitution requires “quorum” to hold votes—which means half of Representatives must be present. What is going on here?

 
Washington Examiner reports that in an email Massie justified his defiance by saying, “Every year that I’ve been in Congress I’ve watched, with great frustration, the flood of bills that pass in the final week by voice vote and unanimous consent. Forcing roll call votes here draws the wrath of lots of my colleagues who just want to go home and who prefer not to be on the record.”

And the backlash has been harsh. NBC News correspondent, Kasie Hunt, live tweeted from Congress with reports of boos coming from Massie’s fellow Representatives. It seems some members of congress lack the maturity to recognize a principled politician.

Massie’s demand for a proper vote is in response to a long chain of events starting with a random amendment thrown on to the Farm Bill that suspended Congress’ war powers—which is a constitutional power.

When I met Massie in 2017, he told us about all the “secret” votes Congress tries to hide from the American people. He described votes with a handful of people in the room, lasting just a few minutes, and at very odd hours. Whether these politicians do this to avoid media attention on the way they vote, or because they are too lazy to do their jobs, I was astounded that this was common practice on capitol hill.

Over the years, Massie has become quite popular among young political activists with organizations like Young Americans for Liberty. His boldness in the House, and hilarity on Twitter, are what continues to drive his following. Even if he has enemies in Congress, he has plenty of supporters elsewhere.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: SJWs Demand Gender Neutral Santa

December 17 2018

A new survey by GraphicSpring found that a quarter of their participants across the U.S. and U.K. would prefer a gender-neutral modern Santa Claus featuring tattoos, skinny jeans, and a flying car.

These findings continue the attack on Christmas cheer this season: classic Christmas movie, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was labeled problematic and the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was discontinued on many radio stations after #MeToo backlash.

CBS News reports that the most popular responses to the survey are visualized below:

This begs the question; did we assume Santa’s gender? He goes by many names—Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle—but he originated from Dutch children’s stories that made its way to the U.S. in 1773. The gender of this fictional character has never been a problem in the past.  

The important themes surrounding Santa Claus around the holidays focus on personal responsibility, being kind to those around you, and being grateful for your family and friends. Where in these life lessons does the gender of the man in the red suit matter?

No longer is the debate just about whether it is politically correct or not to say ‘Happy Holidays’ versus ‘Merry Christmas’. Today’s social justice warriors demand that Santa meet PC standards.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Carlos Alonso Juarez Can Survive the Amazing Race but not Socialist Venezuela

December 10 2018

Amazing Race star, Carlos Alonso Juarez, faced his toughest obstacle yet: escaping socialism in Venezuela. Over the past few years, political tensions have turned violent as Venezuelans suffer through an economic crisis fueled by an authoritarian government leaving many of them starving and broke. Juarez explained to Fox News how “damaging” it was to see his people suffer.

Despite once being in great shape for the Amazing Race, and being an ex-cop, Juarez could not withstand the sheer lack of resources in his home country. To this day, his symptoms include “vomiting, fevers, fatigue, and nightmares” stemming from the conditions in Venezuela. This South American country is clearly on the brink of total collapse.

Millions have joined Juarez in fleeing the country in hopes of a better future. President Nicolas Maduro is much to blame for continuing socialist economic policies that lead to hunger and poverty. On top of it all, Time reports that the country is facing “brutal political repression, crippled health and education systems, and never-ending economic decline.”

The Maduro dictatorship has inspired many protests in Venezuela and his military response against his own people has made headlines in the past. One freedom fighter went viral after he landed in jail after he peacefully played his violin amongst the war-like protests.. Watch the touching video, and call to action to stop this authoritarian regime, below:

Many in my generation lust after the idea of socialism without fully understanding its consequences. It is easy to take for granted our capitalist society and to forget the benefits of a democracy when we live thousands of miles away from these terrors—but not everyone has that luxury.

Now that Carlos Alonso Juarez is safely living in Ecuador, he adds, “We don’t want handouts or pity. When the dictatorship is brought down, we will return to our country and rebuild it.”


Progressive Privilege : PETA Wants to End “Speciesist” Language in Your Everyday Conversations

December 6 2018

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is now focusing on the horror of common phrases like “kill two birds with one stone,” calling it “Speciesism,” the term for discrimination based on species (dog, cat, etc.) and the “failure to consider interests” of those species. Here is the full list of problematic phrases:

The Anti-Animal Language campaign is bull crap. PETA diminishes the importance of real discriminatory practices like racism and sexism by equating those practices with so called “speciesism”.

These “speciesist” phrases have been around for centuries and are clearly no longer being used to suggest cruelty to animals. Even when they first originated, not all indicated animal abuse. For example, the saying “bring home the bacon” is said to have originated in the year 1104 amongst the royalty in Essex as a side of devotion after marriage.

PETA’s whole premise is that by continuing to use these phrases in daily conversation, we normalize the action described in the phrase. Yet, no one is going to literally ‘beat a dead horse’ when they want to drive home a point—they’ll simply blather on too long. This campaign assumes that people don’t understand figurative language. In other words, PETA thinks you’re dumb. Or PETA is worried about an animal overhearing the phrase and getting offended. Both arguments are crazy…like a fox

PETA’s famous for pulling stunts. In the 90s, the organization liked to parade naked, anorexic women around in public spaces on cold days while making them hold signs saying they’d rather go naked than wear fur. But in the #metoo era, the naked ladies stunt stopped looking so woke so PETA shifted gears, taking on a more social justice meets anthropomorphism style of activism that suggests animals have feelings and ergo, certain speech codes should be put in place to ensure none of our furry friends is offended.

PETA’s been using this strategy a lot lately. In fact, earlier this week, IWF reported on a new PETA ad campaign featuring a billboard that reads “Face It—You Can’t Claim to Be a Feminist and Still Eat Eggs” and a controversial (though totally amusing) PETA letter that said drinking milk is racist.

IWF’s Patrice Onwuka, explains PETA’s failed tactics perfectly: “When they employ such over-the top rhetoric, they become a stumbling block in their own way and it’s hard for anyone to take them seriously.”

PETA’s reliance on these divisive publicity stunts to stay relevant is not working. In fact, the public is starting to see through these tactics and the company is losing support. Just check out the angry comments that followed PETA’s tweet:

“Speciesism”?? Oh for crying out loud. Stop killing so many animals and maybe then you’ll be taken seriously. Until then take a seat you loons.

I’m really offended on behalf of: Test tube babies, Overweight horses, Croissants that don’t have homes, Flowers that have been groped against their will and People who don’t know WTF a scone is! You really screwed the pooch on this one, PETA

It’s a dog eat dog world out there

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Secret's Use of Phony Gender Gap Stats Doesn't Pass the Smell Test

December 3 2018

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) released a misleading study claiming that the gender pay gap is actually much worse than we thought. During their 15-year research period, two IWPR economists suggested that women earned just 51 cents to men’s dollar. Popular deodorant brand, Secret, has decided to capitalize on this MISINFORMATION with their #IdRatherGetPaid campaign.

According to a Glossy article, the campaign is targeted at millennial women. Sara Saunders, Secret associate brand director, points out that female college graduates entering the workforce for the first time are already buying in to the gender pay gap. Saunders says, “It is really important for the brand to understand what is stressing women, and pay is absolutely on their minds.”

In their—admittedly—catchy music video for the #IdRatherGetPaid roll out, they draw attention to the hypocrisy of the modern feminist movement. Millennials tend to think that buying a t-shirt with a political catch phrase on it will actually amount to change. I tend to stop agreeing with this campaign when they start relying on twisted statistics from deceptive studies.

In a fierce response, IWF’s, Inez Stepman, explains the problem with statistics like those from IWPR citing false comparisons between unequal work. For example, a stay-at-home mother’s earnings should not be compared to a man who works full time. Free choice for both men and women to take different career paths is exactly what makes America the land of opportunity. It is a shame that personal preferences are consistently turned into false narratives.

In the National Review, President of IWF, Carrie Lukas, puts it nicely: “Rather than try to convince women that they are doomed to massive gender discrimination, those who care about women’s economic advancement should seek to build an awareness of the very real consequences of the choices women make.”

While Secret is pushing their “Equal work. Equal sweat. Equal pay.”, I think it is time we take a step back from the flashy talking points and look at the real economic issues women face today. Stop sweating the gender pay gap narrative, and start making informed career decisions.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Millennials Spending Big This Holiday Shopping Season

November 26 2018

According to research by the National Retail Federation (NRF), millennials will make or break this holiday shopping season. Matthew Shay, president of NRF, explained, “This holiday season retailers will experience the growing purchasing power of Gen Z and millennials.”

Another NRF spokesperson, Ana Serafin, attributed these spending projections to a “strong labor market, robust economy, and tax cuts” that left millennials “in a good economic state to be able to splurge.” And the surveyed millennials definitely plan on splurging.

Data shows that 38 percent of the young adult generation plans to increase their holiday spending—compared to only 9 percent of older generations. The NRF research was confirmed by a second survey done by Discover’s 2018 Holiday Shopping Survey.

CNBC reported that the average millennials spends $861 on holiday shopping. How do businesses plan on earning millennial patrons? Online shopping.

Black Friday has been a long standing tradition in the American economy, followed by Small Business Saturday. However, deals on Cyber Monday are where millennials will spend the most. Online promotions targeted at young adults are the key to growth—and 57 percent of retailers plan to focus their holiday marketing on millennials.

After being labeled the most in-debt generation, and the generation who couldn’t afford a house, millennials are finally feeling economic freedom just in time for the holidays. Maybe if you’re lucky, a millennial will draw your name for Secret Santa!

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Bipartisan Support for Prison Reform

November 19 2018

Late last week, President Trump announced his support for the First Step Act. The proposal is a bipartisan effort to amend old laws on the books that have led to what many critics consider harsh sentencing policies.

The New York Times reports the legislation would “combine new funding for anti-recidivism programs, the expansion of early-release credits for prisoners and the reduction of certain mandatory minimum sentences.” Reforming mandatory minimums will affect women especially due to the "Girlfriend Problem."

In a heart wrenching story by Rolling Stone, Cynthia Shank shared her story of incarceration following her relationship with a convicted drug dealer. The "Girlfriend Problem" is the trend in our criminal justice system to deliver “severe and punitive sentences” to people who are associated with criminals but may not have shared full knowledge of the crime—often resulting in long sentences to women. Despite her testimony that she was abused and coerced, Cynthia Shank was convicted and received a sentence of 15 years.

The First Step Act would affect women like Cynthia. President Trump put it this way in his announcement in explaining the need for reform: “In many respects, we’re getting very much tougher on the truly bad criminals. But we’re treating people differently for different crimes. Some people got caught up in situations that were very bad.”

Another aspect of the First Step Act includes legislation that would “prohibit the shackling of female inmates while pregnant.” This is humane. I believe there is hope for change following the criminal justice reforms across the states during midterms.

Criminal justice reform is no longer a wedge issue—it finds support across the spectrum from Trump to the Kardashians. I applaud the administration for working to end these one-size-fits-all policies.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Highlighting Criminal Justice Reform in Three States

November 12 2018

So often, midterms results are only about counting congressional seats and governors’ races. But this past midterm cycle also featured many ballot initiatives and referendums in the states that are worth highlighting.

Specifically, these 2018 midterms brought about big wins in the criminal justice reform category. These laws impact millennials in a great way. In fact, a bipartisan initiative to reduce US prison population—Cut50—reports “Of the 2.3 million people in prison or jail nationwide, more than half are under 35.”

Of the many successful criminal justice reform measures, here are three of my favorite:

In Alabama’s Cullman and Morgan Counties, 85% of voters passed legislation discontinuing the longtime practice letting sheriffs keep excess food money for prisons—which ended up leading the sheriffs to feed the prisoners as cheaply as possible. Though not all sheriffs were involved in these schemes, it was a prevalent enough issue that one federal judge sent a former sheriff to jail citing “the practice led to inadequate nutrition for prisoners.” Another sheriff revealed in released tax forms that he profited $672,392 from the jail kitchen fund.

Another traditionally red state, Utah, voted to approve medical marijuana. Proposition 2 includes specific restrictions for patients, physicians, and dispensaries. Deputy Director at the Marijuana Policy Project says the win is a sign of the broad support for these laws across the US, “Even in socially conservative states like Utah, most voters recognize marijuana has significant medical value, and they believe it should be available to patients who could benefit from it.” In addition Michigan and Missouri also had cannabis related victories.

The Voting Restoration Amendment passed in Florida, which gives felons back their right to vote after they serve their time—excluding those convicted of murder and felony sex offenses. Before this victory, convicted felons had to wait five years, apply, then wait for a clemency board to vote on it. The amendment was supported by a diverse group of backers, ranging from Ben & Jerry’s to Koch affiliate, Freedom Partners. Similarly, in North Carolina voters agreed to pass legislation which would automatically restore voting rights to felons—another traditionally red state.

As these states have shown, criminal justice reform can be a bipartisan issue. Lets hope that more states follow the example set in the 2018 midterm cycle and enact legislative change on the local level that impacts peoples lives directly.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Crazy Sock Company is Crazy Successful, Founded by Millennial with Down Syndrome

November 5 2018

Early last week CNBC highlighted the story of John Cronin, a millennial who built a $1.7 sock company right out of high school. John also has Down syndrome.

As I have reported before, millennials are starting more businesses at younger ages than previous generations. Between our booming economy and small business deregulation, this is the perfect environment to start a business. Despite his challenges, John decided to take the leap and start John’s Crazy Socks with his father Mark.

After gaining attention across social media, former President George H. W. Bush has become one of the company’s biggest customers.

Named the Chief Happiness Officer, John explained, “I wanted to go into business with my father.” He decided his mission was to “spread happiness” and the best way to do that was to use his passion for colorful, fun, and unique socks.

Based out of Melville. NY, half of the people that work for John’s Crazy Socks are also special needs. John’s father, Mark, President of the business added, “We don’t have any special programs, we are just giving people meaningful work.” And this method has proven to be extremely successful.

With consumer confidence through the roof, I am thankful for the economic prosperity in America that makes businesses like John’s Crazy Socks possible. Find them online here and watch their video below:

This millennial won’t let Down syndrome stop him from running a million-dollar sock business from CNBC.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Civic Tech Taking Over the Way Millennials Vote

October 29 2018

All eyes have been on millennials leading up to the midterm elections amidst calls for the youngest voting population to “vote out” politicians who don’t fit their liberal views. However, in a recent poll only 28% of millennials say they plan on voting—the majority citing lack of enthusiasm with their choices.

Despite this, many groups have been coming up with creative ways to target millennials to go out and vote. Here are a few of the latest tactics to appeal to millennials:

In order to stir up motivation Samantha Bee launched an app called “This is Not a Game, The Game” which allows participants to win cash by answering questions that supposedly educate about politics. By “Gamifying” the midterm elections, Bee hopes to get young people to the polls.She claims the app is bipartisan, but there is definitely a liberal flavor to all the questions.

Another barrier for millennials is that they are having a hard time getting off their phones and using snail mailfor absentee voting.  This has been partly addressed through a variety of website and apps that can register millennials to vote, give them information about polling places, and even send them their absentee ballots.  

Matt Mahan, the CEO of the voter engagement app Brigade explained that millennials are looking for a voter experience that is “simple, fun and social.” At a voter turnout summit, #WeVoteNext, young activists spent time together building that social aspect of voting. Instead of tearing down relationships between millennials and the older voting bloc, this summit was a celebration of being young, educated, and active.

Civic tech is the next frontier in politics. By understanding the most effective ways to communicate with millennials these tools will update the way democracy looks. Will these creative and innovative ways make a difference next month? Only time will tell!


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Breast Cancer Awareness Month—Some Cautions for Millennials

October 22 2018

It has long been reported that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. But what is not often talked about is that breast cancer does not discriminate based on age. In fact, reports from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) found that 25,000 women under 45 years old develop breast cancer each year.

According to Dr. Citrin, an oncologist at CTCA Midwestern Regional Medical Center, “Just because a woman is young doesn’t mean that if she feels something wrong with her breast, she shouldn’t just either assume or  allow a doctor to reassure her that it’s a benign disease simply because of her age.” He suggests getting a biopsy every time, just to be safe.

Medical professionals at Breast Cancer Now, have predicted that millennials may have more to worry about when it comes to breast cancer compared to other generations. Trends have shown that today’s young people are on track to be the most overweight generation—and obesity has been proven to contribute to higher cancer rates.

Dr. Tom Beattie, the Health Information Officer at Breast Cancer Now, explains, “The more weight a woman gains over her adult life, the higher her risk of breast cancer, so it is important that we support women to maintain a healthy weight throughout their life.”

Both Dr. Citrin and Dr. Beattie suggest eating a health diet and staying physically active to reduce this risk. I urge women of any age to take their health seriously, not just during breast cancer awareness month, but all year round.


Progressive Privilege : Estimated Cost of Knee-Replacement Surgery Five Times Actual Cost

October 16 2018

In any business, there has to be a difference between how much something costs to provide the service and product and how much customers have to pay.  The difference, or what's often referred to as “margin” between those two, is what allows businesses to pay their employees and earn a profit.   In a healthy market, businesses compete with each other for customers by reducing their profit margins or working hard to keep costs down, both of which help keep prices low.

That's what happens in a healthy market.  You can see what happens in an unhealthy, disfunctional market by looking at health care.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on how the Wisconsin-based Gundersen Health System’s took a hard look at their own pricing system, specifically related to the common knee-replacement surgery.  They found that the   hospital had been consistently raising the prices  by 3% each year, resulting in a current listed price of $50,000 for their patients.

They explained that the  listed price was based off of “a combination of educated guesswork and a canny assessment of market opportunity,”  not cost of labor, supplies, or time like any other product. In an audit, Gundersen found the actual cost of knee-replacement surgery to be $10,550, or nearly a fifth of what they were charging patients.

Even worse, according to Debt.org, patients also often faces many “add on” costs in addition to listed hospital cost, which push bills even higher.

Clearly this is not a free market system.  A big part of the problem is that there is a knowledge gap between the patients and the hospitals, because the patients usually don’t know the total cost of the surgery outside of what they pay to insurance.  When a big chunk of the price is paid for by insurance, patients don't have much of an incentive to inquire about price, and hospitals don't have as much of an incentive to keep prices down.

The good news in this story at least is that Gundersen Health System has tried to bring costs down:   One of the biggest cost saving tools was switching to generic supplies which “can be used in most cases with the same results,” and a careful analysis of where time and resources were being wasted, leading to more costs and poorer results for patients.  Fortunately, some of these savings are being passed on to patients.

Yet this example provides a window into why American health care is so  expensive in the first place.  The lack of price transparency, lack of true competition, and third party payment system all lead to costs—and prices—that are much higher than they have to be.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Kanye West Discussed the Issue of a Generation—Mental Health

October 15 2018

Kanye West brought up more than black unemployment rates during his meeting with President Trump. IWF’s Patrice Onwuka highlighted three separate areas Kanye championedin the visit as well—including manufacturing jobs, education reform, and the Second Amendment. One additional area Kanye spoke on is mental health programs in school.

Kanye himself has dealt with his own mental health being stigmatized by the media and presented a great argument to Trump advocating for a “mental health deal” that would correspond with a larger economic deal.

Mental health awareness is becoming the hot topic of the millennial generation. I believe addressing this issue would end a lot of violence in our schools and lessen the burden on our prison system.

But the stigma around mental illness prevents people from seeking help when they need it, and the lack of education has formed a knowledge gap when it comes time for others to take action.

Kanye pointed out, “We got rid of the mental health institutes in the 80’s and 90’s and prison rates shot up.” He is referring to the correlation between the explosion in U.S. prison populations and the psychiatric deinstitutionalization that started in the late 1970s.

report by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that, “Ten times more mentally ill people are now in jails and prisons than in state psychiatric hospitals.” How can we prevent mentally ill people from entering the system in the first place, and urge them toward facilities that provide the treatment they need?

The meeting between Trump and Kanye drew attention to the source of the issue: lack of education about mental at a young age. Millennials are the most aware generation on mental health and it is important that we continue the conversation to actualize change.

One way to end the stigma around mental illness is implementing educational programs in schools that teach children age-appropriate warning signs, healthy coping mechanisms, and how to interact with those who have a mental illness.

Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness advocate for Mental Health Awareness weeks in schools. Children are the future. If children grow up in an environment that is better suited for dealing with mental health issues when they arise, our entire country will have a better future.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Viral PSA Video Pits Baby Boomers vs. Millennials

October 8 2018

NowThis, a trendy news outlet similar to BuzzFeed that is popular with millennials, tweeted a PSA video which has quickly become the rallying cry for young voters for the midterm elections.

Its aim is to persuade young people to vote. It uses reverse psychology to do so. But it does so by portraying older, baby boom voters, who do vote reliably, as motivated purely by selfishness. In the video, older voters say things like, "Tax cuts for the rich? Hell yes, I'm rich as [bleep]."

The most distasteful part of this video is when a woman mocks the activism following the Parkland shooting. One "boomer" says, “Sure, school shootings are sad,” as another chimes in, “But I haven’t been in a school for 50 years.”

The video vilifies older voters, caricatures serious political issues, and plays to the notion that only younger voters are affected by these tragedies such as school shootings, as if victims did not have any baby boomers in their family.  

This video is a hyper-partisan effort at pitting generations against each other. This PSA took a dark turn when it relied too heavily on identity politics and demonizing people who hold conservative political views.  


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Divorce Rates Plummet Thanks to Millennials

October 1 2018

According to new analysis of U.S. Census data, millennials have driven down the divorce rate nearly 20 percent. The new research shows that compared to Generation X, Millennials are waiting longer to get married, and are “pickier” about their lifelong partner.

Sociologist Philio Cohen “attributes the overall drop ‘entirely’ to younger women, as it seems they are more likely to delay their vows.”

There are a few factors affecting millennials marriage trends. Millennials are becoming the most educatedgeneration. It is becoming more common for young people to spend at least a few years at a university after high school. As a result, millennials are more likely to put off marriage until after they get a degree.

The correlation between college education and more stable finances is well understood. A marriage between two educated people has proven to be a good choice. Further analysis of the U.S. Census data shows “Younger people are making the commitment at times in their lives when their education is completed, careers are underway and finances are more stable.”

Additionally, the generation that raised millennials left a lasting impact in their thinking about marriage. The most recent data shows that up to 25 percent of millennials were raised by unmarried parents. Growing up with divorced parents shaped the way many young adults view relationships, marriage, and divorce.

Cohen explains that marriage is described as “rare” for millennials. He argues that millennials are in more successful marriages because they “don’t feel pressured to marry before they have sex.”

Millennials have made apps like Tinder and Bumble—typically used for “hooking up”—very popular. Hook up culture is usually seen as a downfall of this generation; however, it seems that one positive outcome from casual relationships is that people are putting off serious marital type relationships until they are ready.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Absentee Ballots Can Pose Problems for Millennial Voting

September 24 2018

As we approach the midterm elections, new reporting from Fairfax County Virginia explains that many college students will not be voting absentee. Why? Sending in an absentee ballot requires knowledge of a foreign concept to millennials: snail mail.

In a focus group of college students, researchers found that all participants “Agreed that they knew lots of people who did not send in their ballots because it was too much of a hassle of they didn’t know where to get a stamp.”

Average college students probably cannot remember a time before email. The internet has adversely affected postal services across the board. “Americans are sending less mail than they used to, with overall volume falling 43 percent since 2001. That decline is especially pronounced among Millennials.”

Financially, this adds up to estimated $2.7 billion in losses for postal services in 2017. In response, USPS released a plan to win over millennials—but will it come in time to impact the millennial vote?

Democrats are counting on the millennial vote to bring the ‘blue wave’ in the coming months. However, being that November is right in the middle of the semester—I would imagine that many college students will not be at home to vote.

In my college town, there was always a push to re-register to vote so you would be able to go in person. This would avoid the absentee ballot problem, but it relies on millennial engagement and follow through. Historically, young people have not shown up to the polls during midterm elections.

We are still far away from absentee voting online despite some groups' continued push for this innovation. Helpful sites like vote.org promise to make absentee voting as streamline as possible. Just one last thing—where do you buy stamps?


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Twitter Attacks Local News Station Over Headline

September 17 2018

Twitter erupted after a local Dallas news station reported new findings in Botham Jean’s case tagged with the headline: “Search warrant: Marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment after deadly shooting.”

Botham Jean was shot in his own apartment by a police officer who says she mistakenly entered Jean’s apartment. Many argue that investigators went searching for evidence against Botham Jean after the fact, in order to create “criminal justification for the victim.”

Since the uproar the headline has been changed to match the feeling of those following this case to read: “Lawyers ‘disgusted’ by release of search warrant showing marijuana found in Botham Jean’s apartment.”

Despite this, screenshots of the original headline live on and continue to spark heated debates about the condemnation of Botham Jean’s character, police brutality, and the media’s responsibility in accurate reporting.

Through the power of social media platforms like Twitter, young people are able to hold media accountable for their headlines. Millennials have been given a bad rap for participating in hashtag wars and trendy political arguments on social media—but it seems this watchdog effect has had a positive impact in this case.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Kim Kardashian Visits White House (Again) Focusing on Three Strikes Laws

September 10 2018

Following up on her earlier meeting with President Trump, Kim Kardashian went to the White House again to discuss criminal justice reform. She has taken an interest in prison reform and sentencing after successfully persuading the President to commute the life sentence of nonviolent drug offender, Alice Marie Johnson.

During this recent visit Kim Kardashian met with Senior White House Advisors including Ivanka Trump. After her listening session, Kim tweeted:

“It started with Ms. Alice, but looking at her and seeing the faces and learning the stories of the men and women I’ve met inside prisons I knew I couldn’t stop at just one. It's time for REAL systematic change”

In the Wrongful Conviction Podcast, a show dedicated to bringing attention to what it describes as “unequal justice and actual innocence”, Kim revealed that she is now working to free Chris Young. Young was sentenced to life in prison after he fell under the “three strikes” law in Tennessee.

These laws are in multiple states and are used as a one-size-fits-all sentence. The problem with the three strikes law is that it includes nonviolent crimes which can lead to disproportionate punishment. Even in Chris Young’s case, the ruling judge said “If there was anyway I could have not given him life in prison I would have done it. What they did was wrong, they deserve some time in prison, but not life.”

Kim Kardashian is using her fame and fortune to bring attention to these third-strike laws. Chris Young’s case provides an opportunity for us to focus more on criminal justice reform.

 


Progressive Privilege : 10,000 Women Initiative Promotes Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide

September 6 2018

Enrollment is open for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women online course for female small business owners. This is a worldwide effort to educate women in business to provide a foundation for future success. Business growth stemming from this program not only benefits these 10,000+ women, but also translates to stronger communities.

The program is described as a “global initiative that fosters economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business management education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital.”

In addition to this program, Kathy Matsui the Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs Japan has coined the term “Womenomics”.  Her plan stresses important workplace issues like deregulating daycare/nursing care sectors.

It is undeniable that women bring important talents to the business world, but there is a right way to nurture female entrepreneurs, and a wrong way. Compare the Goldman Sachs program to the proposed California mandate for female board members in publicly-traded companies—the mandate would hand out jobs to women because of their gender, while 10,000 Women provides tools for women to build their own success.

Although Goldman Sachs has come in for its fair share of criticism, from politicians and the public, this looks like something that can be commended.


Progressive Privilege : Paris Government Attempts to be Eco-Friendly with Outdoor Urinals

September 4 2018

So-called eco-friendly outdoor urinals have been installed in Paris, dampening the City of Lights. Mayor Ariel Weil explained their installation, saying, “If we don’t do anything, then men are just going to pee in the streets.” 

Have the Parisian men evolved to have smaller bladders?

Gwendoline Coipeult, a member of a French feminist group Femmes Solidaires, has gone as far as to call these installations “sexist”. She argues that “They have been installed on a sexist proposition: men cannot control themselves and so all of society has to adapt. The public space must be transformed to cause them minimum discomfort.” 

Not only are these public toilets ‘babying’ an entire gender, they are also being propagated as an eco-friendly necessity for major cities. They have been installed in other European cities like Amsterdam and London—but there has been little evidence of any environmental impact. 

This immodest display of government involvement has ruined an otherwise beautiful and historic city.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Young Voter’s Aren’t Happy with Their Choices in Midterm Elections

September 3 2018

According to a new NBC News survey, millennials are disappointed with political parties going into the November midterms. Young voters are not enthusiastic about their choices and that means they might not show up on election day.

In fact, only 28% of millennials say they will definitely vote in the midterm elections according to a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic. These findings could predict trouble for all the so-called Resistance groups calling on millennials to #VoteThemOut –“them” meaning Republican politicians.

The NBC survey found young voters value candidates “who can bring about change.” At the same time, millennials have made it fairly obvious that they prefer socialism despite not being able to define it.

I think millennials aren’t enthused about their options in the midterms because socialist politicians are failing. It is hard for young people to stand behind candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she continues to have embarrassing interviews. For example, earlier this summer she couldn’t explain how to pay for her socialist agenda.

I believe this is an issue with engagement. NBC also found that only “16% of millennials say they have a great deal of interest in politics and elections” Millennials are so quick to spout their political opinions on Twitter, but seem to lack the interest to follow through on election day. 

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: In Defense of Ivanka Trump

August 27 2018

recent poll by Refinery 29 found that only 18% of millennial women view Ivanka Trump favorably. In her double role as first daughter and as senior advisor to the president of the United States, Ivanka is poised to make a meaningful impact on the course of Trump’s presidency. I believe millennial women are missing out on a great role model.

Ivanka Trump has been outspoken on many issues including paid family leave and women in business. Additionally, she is an author, fashion icon, and has claimed her fame while staying out of the limelight. What a better role model for millennials entering the workforce?

Instead of falling for partisan rhetoric, millennials should stop ignoring a strong female leader who endlessly promotes equality in the business.

Unsurprisingly the split in the opinion poll occurred along party lines—Republican millennials held favorable views of Ivanka while 73% of Democrat millennials said they disliked the first daughter. These results confirm an earlier CBS poll. The blue bias in the millennial generation is a driving factor in these results.

One participant in the CBS News and Refinery 29 poll said that, “She has strong opinions about many issues, particularly issues regarding women, and she makes those opinions known to President Trump.” She is truly the professional woman’s role model.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Many Millennials are Caring for Aging Family Members, Despite Financial Challenges

August 20 2018

According to The Wall Street Journal, millennials are not only spending money on crushing student loan debt—many are now spending large portions of their income caring for aging family members.

Genworth Financial averaged the cost of elder care anywhere from $18,000 for supplemental care to $91,000 for full time care—at the same time, one third of millennials earn less than $30,000 a year.

Despite many of them working entry-level to mid-level jobs, “an estimated 6.2 million millennials provide care for a parent, parent in-law or grandparent,” according to a 2018 AARP Public Policy Report. Scott Williams, from Embracing Carers, adds that “Most are working full time and devoting on average, 21 hours a week to caregiving.”

I believe spending this much time caring for their aging family members has influenced what careers millennials are interested in professionally. Over one third of some medical related careers belong to millennials—occupations like physician assistants, pharmacists, and physical therapists are most popular amongst the younger generation.

Millennials have been called narcissists and are constantly chastised for “ruining” everything. With these latest findings, I think it is time to put these harsh critiques aside and recognize this generation for their stronger merits: empathy, family orientation, and sacrifice for those they love.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Another Poll Finds Millennials Prefer Socialism But Can’t Define It

August 13 2018

A recent poll found that 58 percent of millennials would prefer a socialist, communist or fascist nation rather than a capitalist society. Of these socioeconomic orders, the most popular was socialism—which received 44 percent. It's no wonder that socialist stars like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are popular with young people.

The Communism Memorial Foundation stated that these results “highlight widespread historical illiteracy in American society regarding socialism and the systematic failure of our education system to teach students about the genocide, destruction, and misery caused by communism.”  I would add that the “systematic failure” is not all historical—it is still happening today.

Just a few days ago in Venezuela, there was an assassination attempt on the life of President Maduro (unless it was, as some believe, staged by the government to justify a crackdown). If it was a genuine effort to kil Maduro, the reason was the country's economic collapse, brought on by socialist policies. Forbes sites power blackouts, lack of running water and a decaying public transportation system in this ‘socialist paradise.’

The Communism Memorial Foundation suggests that millennials are “infatuated with socialism” because they feel “burdened by the economy.” However, turning to socialism as the answer completely ignores the economic woes that inevitably follow socialism, as most recently shown in Venezuela.

Millennials don’t know what socialism is outside of the a down version that has spread in America today. The Communism Memorial Foundation poll also found that “only 33 percent of millennials were able to identify the correct definition of socialism.” At the same time only 51 percent could define capitalism.

Young people are voting for systems they don’t even understand. They ignore the obvious benefits of capitalism, and take for granted our American democracy.


Progressive Privilege : Vegans Claim 4-H is Child Abuse

August 9 2018

A viral pro-vegan video surfaced on Facebook last week claiming that signing your children up for 4-H is child abuse. Vegan News—the source of the video—is a popular vegan website that claims they are fighting “the largest holocaust in history” against the meat eating population.

Brandon Kirkwood, the founder of Vegan News, is the creator of the video. In it, Kirkwood calls 4-H a “terrorist organization” and goes on to explain all the terrible things your child would be subjected to if they join the organization.

Kirkwood’s main argument is that learning to raise a farm animal and then selling them constitutes child abuse. Adding, “4-H brainwashes children into losing their compassion for animals,” and says these children would probably not be vegan after their session ends.

In reality, 4-H is a great organization that teaches children responsibility and prepares them for future careers in health, science and agriculture. Through camps and public programming, 4-H is able to reach around six million children in urban, suburban, and rural communities. The specific program Kirkwood is attacking is only one of many options available to children that is designed to teach the participants real world skills.

By shaming these children—who have just joined 4-H to educate themselves and do something productive with their time outside of school—Kirkwood is also shaming adults that do this for a living in real agricultural jobs. Trying to discredit hundreds of thousands of hard working people who work in the agriculture sector because you don’t make the same diet choices is bizarre to say the least.

Child abuse is a serious claim that should not be thrown around haphazardly. Though vegan activists have been known for extremist ideology and protests, I think Brandon Kirkwood is completely devoid from reality at this point. 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Fewer Young People Arrested for DUI Thanks to Ride-Sharing

August 6 2018

Ride –sharing has changed the way millennials live. With apps like Uber and Lyft, young people find themselves behind the wheel less and less. A side effect of this is that less people are drunk driving.

Miami Herald reported last week that in South Florida—a place known for the club scene—DUI arrests have decreased thanks to millennials using Uber and Lyft. Miami police Lt. Joaquin Freire stated, “Ride-sharing has definitely impacted things. Everybody now with their Smartphones, there’s always an Uber around. Uber and Lyft have definitely made an impact.”

This is great news, and it appears that this phenomenon is much larger than just the Miami area. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, “Young adults have seen also seen the greatest reductions in drunken driving prevalence over the past 13 years.”

Uber and Lyft are essential for cities that don’t have much of a public transportation system—and even in a place like D.C., the metro closes earlier than the bars. These apps provide an easy and safe way home, regardless of the time of night. Millennials should be grateful that they have this option easily available for their nights on the town.

Technology and innovation have once more made our communities safer.


Progressive Privilege : Young Consumers Fall for the Fallacy of “Natural” Beauty Products

August 3 2018

According to a Harris Poll survey, “73% of millennial women seek out cleaner, all-natural products.” Green buying habits are quickly shaping sales, which will likely result making beauty and skin-care products more expensive. It might even make make your usual products harder to find.

Would millennials still support this market shift if they knew they’d have to deal with scarcity and higher prices?

In some cases, younger consumers are reacting to the tactics employed by the green movement, which uses fear to push consumers into buying products with “natural” ingredients. Yet, “natural” is not defined by the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the production and marketing of cosmetic products. Therefore, “natural” can really mean anything, or more precisely, it can mean nothing at all.

Millennial Magazine reported that when choosing beauty products, young consumers “… are much more likely to choose a brand that offers sustainability. Thus, millennials look for ingredients that are not harmful to their health and do not pollute the environment.” This might explain why young consumers are drawn towards beauty products that are offered in reusable containers. However, as environmental scientist Dr. Mahdi Mason explains, sometimes it might be better to still use single-use items because eco-friendly products often use more resources to manufacture.

Young consumers might also be concerned about what activists call “harmful chemicals” in the products, yet they should know that these “harmful chemicals” often protect them from what can really harm their skin and eyes: bacteria. For instance, anti-chemical, green activists often sound the alarm about a chemical called parabens. But what they don’t mention is that parabens are used in cosmetics and face creams as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Which raises another question beyond price and scarcity: Do millennials want to cover their skin with a product contaminated with bacteria? Probably not!


Progressive Privilege : Young Adults Have a Hard Time at the Grocery Store

July 31 2018

Being an adult means shopping for food and cooking for yourself on a regular basis. However, some millennials seem to find this task too complicated and feel grocery stores don’t adequately serve this younger demographic.

According to a USDA’s Economic Research Service report, when looking at millennials’ shopping carts they found “an increasing appetite for fruits and vegetables and less animal proteins.” Some millennials seem to lack the common sense to get off of twitter and grocery shop for produce that can be purchased one at a time. You can buy one apple, one orange, one onion, one carrot, and one head of broccoli. How did she miss this?

There’s another way Maggie could find smaller portion sizes—she could venture into the canned food and freezer aisles. In some cases, frozen food is healthier than fresh. There has been a lot of fear mongering about processed foods that has brainwashed people into thinking organic is better—despite evidence otherwise.

Yet, these cost saving ideas don’t appeal to my generation—a generation of that easily falls for the latest food trend. According to the Washington Post, millennials define healthy food as, “natural, organic, locally sourced or sustainable” adding, “millennials are more interested in how the food was grown, and how that affects their carbon footprint.”

Young adults don’t need specialized grocery stores. They need to recognize that grocery shopping is a necessary part of growing up and it is best to make smart buying habits early on.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: A Generation of Entrepreneurs Will Keep America Great

July 30 2018

Like a true millennial, I spend some of my free time browsing through Netflix. I found the documentary “Generation Startup” and could not resist learning about people my age becoming entrepreneurs. I followed the stories of five millennials who worked for startups in Detroit and learned how to operate a business hands on.

Entrepreneurship is essential for economic growth—it is the catalyst that provides a community upward mobility. In the documentary, Pamela Lewis from the New Economy Initiative added that, “Entrepreneurship is the quickest way to job creation.”

According to a Global Entrepreneur Report, “Millennials are starting businesses at younger ages than their counterparts in previous generations.” I believe millennials are entering the workforce with the stars aligned: they are young, our economy is thriving, and small business deregulation is one the top initiatives on Trump’s to-do list.  

Despite this, starting your own business is never easy. The risk prevents many from taking that leap of faith. With trust in the free markets, creative destruction should leave behind a community of small businesses that benefit the consumers and the economy.

Dave Meltzer is a professional speaker who covers entrepreneurs and argues that starting small businesses is the true way to ‘Make America Great Again.’ He describes entrepreneurs as, “The people that have the situational knowledge or are in the position they want to be in. In order to succeed, we must create good and effective habits. This is the combination of not only desire but skills and knowledge.”

I would recommend watching Generation Startup. Some of the participants succeeded, some did not—but they all had the entrepreneurial spirit America was founded on. Millennials can help bring our economy to the next level by bringing back the risk of entrepreneurship.


Progressive Privilege : D.C. Social Scene Not Welcoming to Conservative Millennials

July 26 2018

Washington D.C., is known for its historical memorials, diverse culture, and great Potomac views. At the same time, the political division Americans are feeling throughout the country are magnified here. This has lead to a hostile social environment for some young conservatives.

In the age of dating apps like Tinder, many millennials in D.C. base their dating preferences on political leanings. Fox News reported that if you work for the current administration, you are often “raked over hot coals by prospective dates online or simply denied when someone finds out they work—or even voted—for President Trump.”

Pew Research survey found that 86% of people felt conflicts across the aisle are “strong or very strong” and that “Democrats are more likely than Republicans to perceive the presence of strong conflict.” These findings could explain the resentment millennials in the Trump administration feel when exploring the dating scene in D.C.

This political heat is ruining a town that was once called the “best place to live for millennials.” WalletHub based their analysis on five key factors: affordability, education and health, quality of life, economic health, and engagement. With such a perfect environment, it is the open hostility coming the left that makes this city less enjoyable.

I think it is unfortunate that some young people aren’t allowed to be excited about their jobs because of political party drama. When starting a friendly conversation, young conservatives have reported being verbally attacked with no real provocation, other than sharing what they do for a living.

My biggest tip: In this city everyone works endless hours at their jobs and spends plenty of time talking politics during the day—try talking about other passions you have instead of trying to debate politics and ruin the mood! Get to know people first before judging them based on political differences.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: When should a millennial start saving for retirement?

July 23 2018

Despite millennials making up the largest portion of the workforce, it seems that most of them are not saving for retirement. According to a report by the National Institute on Retirement Security, “roughly two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved so far.”

Currently, the average retirement age is 62 years old—which is a whole decade younger than the expected millennial average retirement age, 72 years old. I believe an increase of student loan debt could explain this trend.

Compared to older generations, millennials are living in a different financial environment that makes it harder to start saving. Financial website The College Investor found that the Class of 2016 millennials enter the workforce with an average of $37,172 in student loan debt—compared to just $14,700 average student loan debt for Generation X. 

However, the weight of student loan debt has not only kept millennials from saving for retirement, but also big-ticket purchases like cars or houses—which could slow the economy. The New York Fed President said that “continued increase in college costs and debt burdens could inhibit higher education’s ability to serve as an important engine of upward mobility.”

With simple budgeting tricks, there seems to still be hope for millennials’ retirement funds. CNBC reports, “Even if you’re like most millennials and have student loan debt, that doesn’t automatically preclude you from retiring early."

Starting simple like tracking your spending and opting for cheaper housing will go a long way. At such a young age, saving for retirement may not seem like a priority. At the same time, we all want to be able to afford a relaxing retirement. The earlier millennials start saving, the better!

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Push for artificial intelligence to be gender neutral

July 16 2018

Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri help you schedule appointments, bring you the news, and search the web for you. They are also the newest target for the hyper-politically-correct community.

NPR reported that the default female voices on popular virtual assistants stem from sexist ideologies and that we should all switch our devices to be more gender neutral. In response, the Equal AI Initiative (EqualAI) has been working to create a gender neutral voice, and their concern is two pronged:

  1. EqualAI is concerned about the impact a female voice will have on the development of children. The group argues that, “If you talk derogatory to an Alexa, children pick this up. They go back to school and they think this is maybe the way you talk to women.” There is an apparent fear that children being raised around this technology will learn to speak to women differently.

This is absurd because speaking to a human and a tiny smart device are not at all the same experience. By integrating artificially intelligent technology with family life, it is still the parent’s responsibility to teach their children manners and respect.

  1. Justine Cassell, a member of EqualAI, suggests that the female voice “may be wishing to evoke that stereotype of the always helpful always present valet.”

EqualAI is not alone in this thinking. Feminist researcher, Miriam Sweeney, suggests that the female voice was chosen due to the fact that the device is an ‘assistant’ and she argues this job represents a woman’s role.

In their struggle to be gender neutral, it seems that EqualAI ignores the fact that virtual assistants were created to make the user’s life easier. They seem to fear hurting Alexa, Cortana, and Siri’s feelings by stereotyping them into a subservient role.

I believe politically-correct culture has hijacked this new technology and tainted it with fear of putting a gender to these smart devices. By denying the inherent power structure of human and smart device, they want to grant equality to virtual assistants. To that, I say: “Alexa, play song ‘Get Over It’ by OK Go.”


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Get ready to see more millennials in Congress

July 9 2018

Millennials are rearing their head in politics once again—but this time they’re here to stay. By now we have all heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York’s 14th Congressional district over Rep. Joe Crowley. At only 28 years old, she is expected to be the youngest Representative in Congress.

The 115th Congress is one of the oldest in history. As Quorum explains, “Today the average American is 20 years younger than their representative in Congress…The average age of a Representative is 57 and the average age of a Senator is 61.”

Moreover, the public ought to recognize that millennials are growing older too. In fact, the oldest millennials are turning 37 this year. Many are already taking leading roles in business and politics.

The media often uses the term ‘millennial’ as short-hand for any young person, and often with a negative connotation. Unsuprisingly, millennials themselves don’t like to be called millennials. According to a study by the federal department of Employment and Social Development, “There is a stigma attached to that word (millennial).”

It’s time for that to change and for millennials to recognize that they are ready to step up and enter leadership positions. In that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has the right idea. Though I disagree with her politics, I think more millennials should run for office. Instead of straying away from the term “millennial” we should work to re-brand it in a positive light.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Political disagreements do not need to lead to harassment

July 2 2018

Our country is in a very heated political moment that only seems to get hotter. Over the past few weeks we have been bombarded with news of continued harassment of Trump administration members. First it was Kristjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller, then it was Sarah Sanders, and most recently it was Elaine Chao defending her husband Mitch McConnell. Fueling this movement is Maxine Waters, calling for more confrontation:

“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!”

In a recent Politico article, we were told the stories of  millennials working for the Trump administration and the struggles they faced while living in D.C. The ‘swamp’ for a young Trump supporter is depicted as a hostile environment, citing “horror stories about being heckled on the street.” Though, I think this issue is much larger than the Washington, D.C. area.

Shaming Trump supporters has become common. Everyone from your neighbor to your hair dresser seems to be publically announcing their political views; and with all this political malice in the air—what are you supposed to do if you disagree with each other?

We should be engaging civilly with people with whom we disagree. However, we all too often approach political opposites with the sense that we disagree with everything they stand for with the very core of our beings. Briahna Joy Gray explains, “They are not mere disagreements, but deep moral schisms.”

This dehumanization across party lines has led to the state of our political affairs. Gray adds about the pressure felt to attack across the aisle, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not taking seriously enough the harm done.”

But shaming does not work. According to a sociological study, “Unlike guilt, which is tied to specific acts of wrongdoing, shame provokes a holistic negative self-evaluation that impedes one’s ability to internalize and learn from bad behavior.” By shaming, harassing, and protesting people you disagree with you are never going to win them over to your side.

Instead, we should talk about why people voted the way they did in a civilized manner. We need to discuss policy, intentions, and our experiences that led to our political views. Do not demonize and assume the worst of someone because you don’t understand them.

In these highly polarized times, use this as an opportunity to get to know differing opinions and do research on your own. Share this article and start a civil debate!


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Stronger Job Market Helps Millennials Move Out of the Basement

June 25 2018

Millennials seem to be moving out of Mom and Dad’s house—and it is about time! A stronger job market and wage gains have helped urge these young people out of their parents’ homes. Despite this, many millennials don’t understand how to manage their money. Before your child leave the nest, what financial topics should you discuss?

Many in my generation are entering adulthood “facing [different] financial challenges that their parents did not as young adults.” Millennials owe the most in student debt, totaling to over $1.5 trillion as a generation. Additionally, they earn 20% less than baby boomers when they were the same age.

Student loans can seem impossible to tackle, but understanding your student loan situation early can help you keep your debt at bay. Using an income driven repayment plan is a good option for millennials who are just starting out in lower earning jobs. Also, many student loan vendors have in-house financial advisors that you can have one on one conversations with to explain anything that is still confusing.

Being realistic with what you can afford is hard advice, but it is worth listening to. According to the Financial Well Being Index, millennials have been known to spend up to “24% of their budgets on restaurant food.” Simple things like eating at home and skipping a few nights out on the town, can make all the difference.

In my experience, making a detailed list that includes all your expenses, your income, and tracking additional spending can help you visualize what you’re working with. Budgeting this way can help you eliminate wasteful spending and set a savings calendar to reach your goals. Saving is very important at any age and any income. Financial experts advise to aim to save around 15% of your income, to put you on the right path.

Unfortunately, most of these topics aren’t covered in school—this outline is just the bare minimum of financial knowledge a young person needs to know to get ahead. In order to move out of your parent’s home and move in to a new adult life style, millennials have to understand personal financing as adults.

Check out our conversation on this topic and share this with a millennial in your life!


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: The Opioid Crisis Affects Millennials, Too

June 18 2018

Just as previous generations were in part characterized by the AIDS epidemic, the millennial generation is on its way to being defined by the opioid crisis. According to a Harvard Public Opinion poll, 12.1% of millennials have been directly affected by the opioid crisis, or know someone who has been.  

IWF has pointed to the many causes of opioid addiction—health providers being pressured to be more aggressive in treating pain, government policies incentivizing prescribing pain medications, and insurance plans covering opioids but not other pain-management treatments. However, opioids can be beneficial to those with chronic pain and should not be taken away from people who handle them responsibly. But why are millennials, specifically, at risk?

For my generation, opioids is also a part of our social fabric.  We hear famous artists rap about ‘popping pills’, normalizing the abuse of prescription drugs. Last year, a rapper by the name of Lil Peep overdosed on prescription drugs—but this hasn’t seemed to stop other top artists like Post Malone from writing about taking pills on a night out. 

Millennials also come in to direct—and often legal—contact with these drugs at an earlier age.  Opioid based pain relief is often prescribed following wisdom teeth surgery, which means what can begin as a legitimate use of pain killers can escalate into abuse and additction.   has been found to have a profound impact on opioid addiction in millennials.  In an interview, oral surgeon Dr. Harold Tu, explained “We set people on the course of misuse and addiction”

Given this context, it is easy to see how an opioid addiction can start at a young age. In a new campaign, Truth.org shares the story of three millennials who were first introduced to opioids in their teen years. All the stories on Truth.org involved a legitimate prescription from a doctor. This is an important message for young people to hear:   there are still safety concerns with medication even if it's given to you by a professional.

One story is about Amy, who was given a prescription for Vicodin after a sports injury at the age of fourteen. Opioids like Vicodin are so commonly prescribed, that according to the CDC, in twelve states “there were more opioid prescriptions written than there were residents.” After a four year struggle with addiction, she refused to succumb to opioids and has been sober since 2012. Watch her story below.

The opioid crisis will have an impact on Millennials as a generation, but it's up to all of us to make sure that we stop glorifying opioids as party favors, and take addiction seriously.  


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Let’s Talk About Mental Health

June 11 2018

Last week reminded us that mental illnesses do not discriminate based on wealth and fame. Kate Spade, the popular fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the world traveling TV chef, both took their lives despite their successes. According to an official CDC report, “Suicide rates went up more than 30% in half of states since 1999.” How did we get here?

IWF’s Carrie Lukas offers insight into the way society has changed, becoming a more hostile, and tribal environment. “What we lack today is a culture of kindness. We’ve lost the ethic of encouraging people to respect others, even those with whom they disagree.” In sum, people aren't nice to each other anymore.

This culture of un-kindness is exacerbated by our increased social media use. From platforms like Facebook, to Twitter, social media has become the place to air all political grievances. It seems so common that people get so caught up in demonizing each other, they forget there is a real human on the other side of that username.

Authors like Brene Brown, discuss how “Our increasingly polarized culture and public debates; the increased isolation and loneliness that too many people today feel” have lead to a societal decay. But, what can we do about it?

I think it is fairly obvious that we cannot legislate people into being nice to each other. Policy proposals are few and far between, suggesting “Current mental health policy tends to support the status quo system regardless of the effectiveness of services, wasting precious resources that could be redirected to help those who are not receiving needed care.”

Despite this, no matter how much money we seem to throw at the issue “It is not compassionate to fund failure. Principled mental health reform calls for raising expectations, measuring progress, rooting out failures, and insisting that America can do better for these, its most valuable citizens.”

I believe we need to focus on creating change on the individual level—recognize disagreements as opportunities to learn and educate, be more compassionate to those with whom you disagree, and pay extra attention to how you talk about mental health. There is a stigma around this issue that prevents people from getting the help they need, and there is not legislation that could remedy this.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, White House Edition

June 4 2018

“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is the guilty pleasure reality show of a generation, and in recent news, the celebrity family has been getting political. Last week, Kim Kardashian West met with President Trump to discuss criminal justice reform. The fashion mogul started taking an interest in prison reform and sentencing when she first heard of Alice Marie Johnson’s story.

Alice Marie Johnson was sentenced to life in jail in 1996 after she was involved in a multimillion dollar cocaine ring. Twenty years into her sentence she began speaking out about how she was forced into the drug trade and how much she regrets her life choices. Kim Kardashian called Alice’s sentencing “unfair” because she is serving a life sentence for a non-violent crime.

In a tweet following the meeting Kim stated:

@KimKardashian: We are optimistic about Ms. Johnson’s future and hopeful that she—and so many like her—will get a second chance at life.

Criminal Justice reform should have bipartisan support. The FIRST STEP Act, passed in the House last month favors rehabilitation, and works with low-risk offenders to “prepare them to reenter society.” By focusing on lowering recidivism rates and making the sentencing process fairer, this Act would help non-violent offenders like Alice.

In an interview, Kim opened up spoke about the way her meeting with Trump went, “I think that he really spent the time to listen our case that we were making for Alice.”

Recently, Kim Kardashian’s husband, Kanye West, made headlines with his support for Trump, so the Kardashian-West family is no stranger to this administration. It is always nice to see celebrities use their power to help create real political change instead of using their influence to bash the president. I am hopeful for the policy change that will come about because of this unlikely meeting.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Can you sue the President for blocking you on Twitter?

May 28 2018

Today’s news cycle is dominated by President Trump’s tweets. His unconventional social media use has been one of the most defining characteristics of his presidency. Twitter is also very important to the millennial generation. All the popular—and controversial—hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #NeverAgain, have started on Twitter. Twitter is a modern day hotbed for political debate. But what happens if the President of the United States blocks you on Twitter?

Twitter has been buzzing with news that users who have been blocked by Trump have a legitimate law suit against the President. Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found that because Trump Holds a public office, his Twitter feed is a “public forum”. Therefore, “when Mr. Trump or an aide blocked [the plaintiffs] from viewing and replying to his posts, he violated the First Amendment.”

The #Resistance movement, celebrities, and regular citizen-adversaries have harassed Trump since before his inauguration, causing the list of blocked users on the @POTUS account and @realDonaldTrump account to grow substantially. Though I do think it is problematic for the President to take active measures to silence people that disagree with him—is blocking someone on Twitter unconstitutional? I think that is a little dramatic.

What is more concerning is that in her ruling, Judge Buchwald said that there should be some amount of “governmental control over certain aspects of @realDonaldTrump account.”

The @POTUS account is an account that is handed down from president to president, and I could understand why blocking people there might be problematic. But the @realDonaldTrump account was Trump’s before he was in public office, and arguably could be labeled his personal account.

I believe this ruling represents the start of a slippery slope. Government should not concern itself with our newsfeeds.

 


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Graduation Photos Set Social Media on Fire

May 21 2018

As the saying goes--a picture is worth a thousand words. But what if those words were all cruel words? Graduation time on college campuses comes with many traditions for students and their families. Graduates dress up, some decorate their graduation caps, and some even take special graduation photos. That is where Kaitlin Bennett decided to break with tradition.

In her celebratory photo, Kaitlin sported a white dress, heels, an AR-10 strapped around her back and her cap read “Come and take it.” She did this as a protest against Kent State University’s policies against carrying a firearm on campus; as an official graduate, Kaitlin can now carry on campus.

In a follow up post, Kaitlin explains that “As a woman, I refuse to be a victim and the Second Amendment ensures that I don’t have to be.”

Social media exploded. If you scroll through her profiles you can see hundreds of hateful comments, from insults on her looks to death threats Kaitlin is now under attack. But what did she do wrong?

Kaitlin spent her undergraduate years at Kent State leading other freedom groups on campus, so her latest stunt was completely in character. It is the intolerant left that refuses to listen to women’s right to self defense.

IWF firmly believes that the Second Amendment improves women’s lives. We argue, “Women who defend the Second Ameendment know that a firearm is a power equalizer—making it possible for a woman of any size to defend herself against or escape from a physically more powerful attacker.”

Kaitlin has responded to many media inquiries in her fight for #CampusCarryNow. In an appearance on Fox News, she doubles down on her decision. “My problem is that [Kent State’s policies] are insinuating that they care more about the lives of the guests on campus than the lives of the students that spend four or more years on campus.”

In pointing out the hypocrisy in her alma mater’s policies, Kaitlin is fighting for women’s safety everywhere.

 

In context of the recent school schooting: IWF does not support gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims in Texas, and all other places affected by gun violence.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: How to survive after graduation

May 14 2018

Graduation season is upon us! Congratulations, but it is time to get back to reality. Earning a degree is something to celebrate, but now that four in ten millennials have a degree, even in an improved economy, the job market is more competitive than ever before. Here are some of the cold, hard, truths about adulthood that won’t wait until after your graduation party ends:

Your Degree Didn’t Prepare You for Day-to-Day Activity in the Job of Your Choice

Yes, you may understand the big picture of how things work, but there is always industry knowledge that your professors didn’t teach you about. It is important to remember that just because you are outside of the classroom, doesn’t mean the learning stops.

IWF has recently published a policy focus on the need for a Market in Higher Education. We argue that “many high-paying jobs, including many that do require college degrees, go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates.”

Although most graduates would probably prefer to get a full time job, because there is this knowledge gap between the working professional and the recent graduate, taking an internship after graduation could set you up for success, if you are able to do this. Other ways to bridge this gap could be informational interviews and supplemental courses.

Your Degree May Only Get You an Entry Level Position

This is where a lot of debate comes in as to whether or not a college degree is worth the money and time it takes to obtain one. If you are most likely going to be starting out doing entry-level work, is a high-level education worth it?

For some, it is hard to realize that a four-year degree doesn’t mean much in their job field. Because degrees are becoming more common, you will need other things to separate yourself from the other applicants. What is most valuable is actual job experience—this could be internships, volunteering, apprenticeships, or an independent study. 

Maybe in your field you’re only qualified for an unpaid internship, but you have to realize that is how many senior employees started as well. IWF’s Julie Gunlock put it simply, “College students need to understand that they might not be the Vice President of Marketing their first job… You might have to take your standards down a little bit.”

It is Time to Create a Budget, and Stick to It

Recent graduates will soon come to realize that life is much more expensive outside of a college campus—no more student discounts! With the reality of taking entry-level work, you will also most likely earn entry-level pay. Serious budgeting at this time in your life can get you on the right track, and also keep you from moving back in with your parents.

In recent reports, student loan debt has reached $1.5 trillion. Preparing for your student loan payments to start should be one of the top priorities on every graduate’s list. If finding a job is taking too long, it may not be a bad idea to take a service job waitressing job just to start saving money. And although many internships are paid, unpaid internship could require a part time paying job at night. This is the real world, and it it may require taking jobs you might not like to pay the bills.

It is hard to believe that just a year ago I was entering the job market with my new college degree. For me, the hardest part was continuing to go on interview after interview and dealing with rejection. But as you can see I ended up with a good job--persistence is key. Recent graduates, these next few moves will determine your success—no pressure!


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Young Voters Turning Away from Democratic Party

May 7 2018

A new Reuter’s poll shows that millennials aren’t voting for Democrats like they used to.

“The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.”

The economy has become an increasingly important issue for millennial voters. Millennials are veering away from the progressive-and-unsuccessful-economic policies of the Democratic party, and realizing that a capitalist, pro-business, Republican approach is better for the economy. Millennials are starting businesses more than ever before and becoming active participants in the economy.

Additionally, millennials are the largest generation entering the work force, making them obvious beneficiaries of Trump’s tax cuts. The tax cut meant more money in their pockets, which can have a huge impact on someone’s life when they’re just starting to pay student loans, and become financially independent.

Terry Hood is an African American millennial, who voted for Hillary Clinton. “It sounds strange to me to say this about the Republicans, but they’re helping with even the small things.” Hood said in a phone interview with Reuters. “They’re taking less taxes out of my paycheck. I notice that.”

Millennials are not obligated to vote for the Democratic party, and their wavering loyalty could prove to be problematic for the upcoming midterm elections. The #Resistance movement, the Women’s March, and now the #NeverAgain movement have all promised to vote out Republicans who don’t align with their agenda—relying heavily on a large millennial turn out.

Eddie Edwards is a Republican currently running for Congressional office, who has specifically targeted the millennial vote. “This is a generation that has much more access to information than others,” he said. “Unless you’re addressing those issues that are important to them, it’s hard to get them involved.”

Only time can tell where the millennial vote will go moving forward.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: How is Identity Politics Harmful to Millennials?

April 30 2018

By now, I’m sure we have all heard about how Kanye West “broke the internet” with his tweets in support of President Trump. This started a twitter storm that caught the attention of many other celebrities including a fellow rapper, Chance The Rapper. Though Kanye and Chance both have successful careers in the music industry, they also have other similarities. They are both from Chicago, and they both have publicly denied identity politics.

Chance The Rapper said it simply.

@chancetherapper: Black people don’t have to be democrats.

Following this tweet, the hashtag #donthavetobe started popping up across the social media platform. This is a true testament to the pressures people feel to be Democrats because of their age, gender, or where they’re from.

During the lead up to the 2016 election, I was still on a college campus in Iowa. It was clear to me that the majority of my peers—and even professors—were all Bernie Sanders fans. My political views were assumed just because of my age and the fact I was in college. However, statistically, it would have been a safe bet to assume I supported Bernie’s ‘Democratic Socialist’ policies. In Iowa, he had 84% of the millennial vote. In a study, it was found that over 53% of millennials were in favor of socialism.

To be clear: Millennials don’t have to be socialists, just because of our age. Identity politics dehumanizes people and ignores their own free thought. No one has to vote for a particular political party.

Since the original backlash, Chance has since added, “My statement about black folk not having to be democrats (though true) was a deflection from the real conversation and stemmed from a personal issue with the fact that Chicago has had generations of democratic officials with no investment or regard for black schools, neighborhood or black lives.”

There were a lot of assumptions in the 2016 election; from the projected winner, to where Hillary Clinton decided to campaign and where she assumed she would win. We should not assume anyone’s voting history, and I am glad this conversation has started. I think society assumed Kanye voted for the Democratic party, and now they are shocked and confused. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Three Things Millennials Can Learn from Barbara Bush’s Legacy

April 23 2018

Barbara Pierce Bush died last week at the age of 92. Though she may have lived in the White House before many millennials were politically aware, I think there are many lessons we can learn from her legacy.

1. She was privileged, but she was still down to earth.

Millennials have become increasingly discouraged with how out-of-touch politicians seem to be. I believe it is this phenomenon that drove many young people to support Bernie Sanders, who had plenty talking points about the dissonance between Washington’s elites and the rest of America. However, when news broke that Sanders actually owns three houses, millennials started to feel discouraged.

Barbara Bush was not hiding behind a fake veil of sympathy for those less fortunate than her; in fact, she was known for wearing fake pearls. Though she was well-off, she had charismatic quirks about her separated her from the rest of the pretentious D.C. crowd. Barbara Bush was unapologetically herself.

2. She cared about the less fortunate.

Barbara Bush cared deeply about disadvantaged Americans. In her time, she was persistent in her advocacy for literacy. She believed that education would be the key to solve many national problems. She founded The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, citing the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education as the number one indicator of literary success. She once explained, “The parent is the child’s first teacher.”

Additionally, during the AIDS epidemic of the early 90s, Barbara Bush humanized a very misunderstood group of people. She went to a home for HIV-infected infants and hugged the children there. In that moment, and in the rest of her life, she exuded compassion, love, and acceptance. It has been reported that her Secret Service code name was “Tranquility”, which exemplified her gentle and caring demeanor.

Millennials should appreciate a political figure who acts out of love and not out of political posturing—I think this is a characteristic we have grown up lacking in our politicians.

3. She prioritized family first.

Barbara Bush won the hearts of the American people across two presidents’ careers. Being the wife of the 41st President, and the mother of the 43rd President, she became known as “America’s grandmother.”  Her influence over her husband and son during their time in office was greatly appreciated, leading some voters to wear pins saying “Re-elect Barbara’s husband” on election day in 1992. George W. Bush traced his outspokenness to his mother as well.

She was a devoted family member in the Bush family and stood by her husband and son in good times and bad. Barbara Bush was respected in the White House and made her opinions known to her family, who deemed her “the enforcer.” As a respected matriarchal figure for their family and the country, her influence was undeniable.

In today’s current political sphere, millennials are lacking such a character. We have not had someone to look up to as the great unifying figure our country needs.

Barbara Bush is an inspiration for all people across all spectrums of life, and she will continue to be coveted as a national treasure for years to come.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Facebook Censorship of Conservatives Prevents a Balanced Newsfeed

April 16 2018

Late last week Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, testified before Congress on recent privacy and consumer protection issues. Facebook has been the social media cornerstone of the millennial generation. However, after it was found that Facebook censored Diamond & Silk for promoting “unsafe” content, we might question what else is being censored on our Facebook feeds.

In response to Zuckerberg’s testimony, Diamond & Silk argued that Facebook’s actions were “Deliberate bias censorship and discrimination. These tactics are unacceptable and we want answers!”

Diamond & Silk were censored because Facebook had made an “enforcement error” in labeling two African American, conservative, Trump supporters as dangerous to viewers. Though Zuckerberg never fully answered why they were targeted, it is clear that the Facebook algorithm is biased.

“Conservatives and blacks both expect social media platforms like Facebook to be a place where they can share their ideas. These groups could be allies in seeking greater objectivity from social media websites by taking a principled position on freedom of speech,” explains IWF’s Patrice Onwuka

The content you see on your Facebook feed has been vetted by the all-knowing Facebook algorithm. As a result, your Facebook feed is censored before you even see it. This is a dangerous phenomenon in itself, because this creates an echo-chamber effect on your social media where the free market of ideas is stifled, leaving the consumers unchallenged and unable to educate others.

It is no secret that millennials are addicted to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But when we turn to these apps, we expect an uncensored newsfeed. A balanced news feed would have posts from opposing sides of an argument, and this is an unattainable feat while conservative voices are getting censored.

Just as we take ‘fake news’ websites with a grain of salt, it is time to do the same with your Facebook feed. We must wonder, what are we seeing, and what are we not seeing?


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Does the wage gap apply to millennial women?

April 9 2018

Tomorrow is Equal Pay Day and we can expect to see people blame the wage gap on discrimination. Equal pay Day signifies when women have finally earned enough to make up for last year’s wage gap. The wage gap exists—no denying this fact. Women earn just 82% what men earned, in 2016, at full-time jobs. But what is the truth behind the causesof differences between men’s and women’s earnings?

Traditional feminists want to blame the wage gap on discrimination against women in the workplace; but, pointing fingers and calling people ‘sexist’ ignores the truth. This type of victimhood mentality is also harmful because “it discourages young women (and men) from considering how their decisions will impact their long-term earnings and potential.”

In reality, there are five reasons that the pay gap exists:

- Women tend to take on different family roles

- Women often work in lower-paying professions

- Women work fewer hours than men

- Women choose different college majors from men

- Men are more likely to work dangerous jobs.

Despite these facts, research has shown that millennial women are forging their own path. According the U.S. Census Bureau, “as more young women obtained college degrees, delayed having children, and joined the workforce, they edged out millennial men for better-paying jobs.”

The study also found, “During the past three to four decades, the median income of young women who were working increased from $23,000 to $29,000 today, while the median income for men in the same age group plateaued  or began to slip.” The wage gap is smaller than traditional feminists claim and it seems to be shrinking even more with the millennial generation.  

Millennial women are entering a job market that has changed since their mothers and grandmothers started their careers. A major difference is in the education level of young women entering the job market. In fact, “more than a third of young women today have a college degree or higher compared to less than a quarter of young women in 1975.”

I believe it will be the non-traditional style of the millennial woman that plays a large part in closing the wage gap, not a more politically correct office setting.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Repealing the 2nd Amendment Is NOT the Answer, Read Savannah’s Story

April 2 2018

In the last week of March, former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens, decided to shock the news cycle and take the March for Our Lives message one step further—by suggesting we  repeal the Second Amendment. Are we forgetting one very important aspect of this debate?

April is sexual assault awareness month. Sexual assault survivor, Savannah Lindquist, believes that her right to self defense would have made all the difference on her college campus.

In an article for the Washington Examiner, Savannah describes the night when she became “another statistic.” Despite her lawful conceal carry permit and numerous gun safety classes, her campus was a gun-free zone and she was not allowed to have her weapon on campus.

Savannah explained, “My sexual assault made something very clear: My right to self-defense should not be up for debate.”

Following the March for Our Lives, Savannah was interviewed by CNN on her experience and how she felt about the growing cry for stricter gun control. “We are missing so much [in this debate]. The biggest aspect is the importance of self defense” Savannah argued.

Savannah is right—the right to self-defense could make all the difference for women. Women should be able to protect themselves, but due to these “gun free zones,” they aren’t given the option. In our Policy Focus, we explain how protecting the Second Amendment is especially important for women because a firearm is a power equalizer.

Savannah adds, “We must empower women and give them a choice: the choice to take their security into their own hands by legally carrying a concealed firearm on their public university campus.”

Unfortunately, it seems the loudest voices in the media are in favor of repealing the Second Amendment. I think we need to take a step back and consider who the Second Amendment is protecting, and what this protection is preventing in the first place.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Triggered, Uncomfortable, and Confused--Millennials should be Thankful for Free Speech

March 26 2018

Last week the White House hosted the ‘Generation Next’ forum, designed to start a conversation with the millennial generation about the issues currently facing young people in America. The forum was split into three parts featuring Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump, and Kellyanne Conway, respectively. The last segment of the forum focused on the free speech crisis on college campuses.

The panelists were flooded with questions from students and lawyers actively fighting for the First Amendment. Sarah Isgur Flores, of the Department of Justice, explained a case at UC Berkeley where a student group wanted to host an immigration debate—but only the liberal side of the debate would be allowed to speak on campus.

The conservative position was deemed too controversial and would need to be held off campus, “Basically, where no one could hear it,” Sarah explained. This was one of many examples of conservative ideas being forces out of campus, despite First Amendment rights.

“It was the ‘hecklers-veto’. If they deem someone else could find your speech offensive, they control whether you get to speak,” Sarah went on.

When asked what this administration is doing to help protect the First Amendment, Sarah added, “I think this president leads by example in this issue, more than anyone else ever has. [He] is going to challenge your world view, [he] is going to say what [he] thinks, and argue back if you don’t like it.”

Whether you agree with President Trump’s policies or not, free speech should not be a partisan issue. It is a breath of fresh air to hear an administration concerned with protecting our freedoms.

The First Amendment exemplifies the original idea of what America was meant to be: a safe-house to express your own thoughts, speech and religion. Our freedoms are what separate America from a lot of the rest of the world. It seems that my generation is taking that for granted.

Millennials would rather be surrounded by a million voices of the same opinion than feel uncomfortable when confronted with realities they don’t agree with. This generation enjoys all the latest technology but would sign away the First Amendment because they don’t understand that innovation comes from challenging the status quo.

Polls have shown that many students support limiting free speech. At public, and sometimes even private schools, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education can offer some help to the silenced voices. However, the court systems take a long time to sort these issues out. It has to be more than administrative paperwork; it is about changing the idea that people can say what they think freely.


Progressive Privilege : Millennial Monday: Does Katy Perry think her celebrity status exempts her from MeToo rules?

March 19 2018

Millennials grew up listening to Katy Perry. During the 2016 election, she was an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton—her hit single, “Roar”, was the campaign theme song. In the past year, Perry joined the #MeToo movement promoting her to ultimate “feminist icon” status.

As a vocal member of the MeToo movement, Perry did something hypocritical and inappropriate that she would undoubtedly criticize somebody else for doing--and she did it on national television. During last week’s episode of American Idol, the judges joked with 19-year-old Benjamin Glaze before his audition, asking “Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” (a reference to Perry’s first hit single “I Kissed a Girl”). Turns out, Benjamin is a hopeless romantic and he was saving his first kiss for his first relationship.

Perry thought it was up to her to change that. She stood from her chair and demanded Benjamin approach the judges table for a kiss. Benjamin went for a kiss on the cheek, but Perry tricked him and planted a kiss right on his lips.

This kiss was nonconsensual. Does she think that because she is a woman or a celebrity she can make somebody uncomfortable and embarrassed by giving an unwanted kiss on national TV?  

Since #MeToo has taken over, many innocent men have been vilified for simply being men, while some women have felt ‘triggered’ in everyday conversation.   Why is Katy Perry not facing any condemnation for taking advantage of her position with this young man?

The MeToo movement has encouraged important conversations about how people should treat each other.  Part of that conversation has to be about degrees of what is acceptable humor and what is out of bounds.  Katy Perry was no Harvey Weinstein in this episode, but she still sent  a poor message that her status and gender allowed her to get away with something that others couldn't.  And surely one lesson from the MeToo movement ought to be that people—even the rich, famous, and powerful—cannot take advantage of others.  And that should hold for women as well as men. 

 Millennials are adapt at recognizing hypocrisy.  They should not only  leave Perry's worn out pop hits in the past and start listening to some better music—they should also look for some better role models.


Progressive Privilege : Debating the Trump Tax Plan

October 25 2017

In the early morning hours, Real Clear Politics hosted an event discussing Trump’s tax plan.

First we heard from Rep. Kevin Brady, the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, who is a huge proponent of the proposal. When asked about his direct input with President Trump, he added that “[Trump] calls me regularly on tax reform.” His key message is that “We want Americans to save more, and save earlier.” Repeatedly, Brady called the plan a pro-growth policy—promising we will see “growth gains at every level.”

This is important to all Americans in that the burdensome current tax policy has slowed our economy. Brady warned “the debt will double if we don’t have tax reform”. With so much at stake, he offered a final prediction: that the administration plans to get all this done before the end of 2017.

Next on stage was Rep. Suzan DelBene, the Vice Chair of the New Democrat Coalition and a member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. She had a different attitude towards the tax plan. Though she admits that “tax reform is a thing both sides agree needs to happen”, she went on to call the current strategy the “antithesis of bipartisan”.

“The Republican plan right now puts us in a terrible position,” DelBene has not been shy about the way she feels about the current tax plan, and she did not hide her opinion on stage either. Instead, she blamed the leadership of the current administration, adding “unfortunately, right now it seems to be more about the political motive [than working on real tax reform].”

Following the Representatives was a panel discussion about the tax plan. We heard from Janice Mays, the Managing Director at PwC WNTS Tax Policy Services, who spoke from her experience in the House Ways and Means Committee. She explained, “All of these pieces have been a prologue…the real stuff happens when they sit down and debate the hard issues”, which makes her skeptical of the current timeline.

Jeffrey Birnbaum, the President of BGR Public Relations, also shared this skepticism. He drew attention to the language of the debate, arguing “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a simple tax cut [instead of full blown tax reform].” This would still be a good policy for American families since, under the current proposal, many will receive a tax cut on their income tax and even low income households will have no income taxes.

Later on in the panel discussion, Maya MacGuineas explained the merits and challenges of a revenue neutral plan—something that has been debated in the Trump administration when crafting the new tax plan. MacGuineas cautioned, “tax reform has so many benefits, but adding to the debt is not pro-growth.”

Finishing out the event we heard from Stephen Moore, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation. He, like many of the other speakers, was skeptical about the timeline of the plan, adding “The republican party will get absolutely destroyed if they don’t get this done in 2017.”

As October comes to a close, we have only a matter of weeks between us and what could be the “biggest pro-growth cut since Reagan”.


Progressive Privilege : Why Modern Feminism and Third Wave Movement Do Not Speak for Most Women

October 13 2017

Last night on the International Day of the Girl, the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) chapter at George Washington University hosted a panel discussion on why Modern Feminism and the Third Wave Feminist movement do not speak for all women. Panelists included Karin Agness Lips, the founder of NeW and Senior Fellow at IWF, Emily Jashinsky, graduate of George Washington University and current commentary writer for the Washington Examiner, and IWF’s very own Julie Gunlock, the Director of the Culture of Alarmism Project.

The toxicity of the Third Wave Feminist movement is easily seen on college campuses, making organizations like NeW and events like last night all the more important. Often times a conservative voice is lacking in the curriculum, let alone a female conservative voice. However, Gunlock and Lips agree that relations between the feminist movement and the majority of women who don’t consider themselves feminists didn’t used to be so vicious.

And the attacks are just that, vicious. Many conservative women face harsh criticism online, and in the classroom if they speak up about their political beliefs. While Jashinsky stressed the importance of reading the defining literature on both sides of the argument, Lips suggests that when dealing with the name calling that often comes with taking a stand against the traditional leftist feminist voice, to “talk about what the real secondary consequences are for their policies.” By turning the conversation into an intellectual debate, all of the panelists agreed that conservative women would have the upper hand.

Where are all of these radical feminist ideologies coming from? And what makes them seem so prevalent in the feminist movement? Gunlock and her work at IWF focuses on conservative women in pop culture, and how they are never portrayed in a flattering light and almost always fall into the tropes that the Third Wave Feminists use against us. Gunlock argued that it is because “popular culture is not conservative”, further calling it “overwhelmingly liberal”.

Because the left “can’t comprehend being pro-women and also a conservative”, Lips continues to push NeW on campuses across the country in order to give women without a voice, a platform to speak openly about their beliefs.


Progressive Privilege : Top Five Reasons Margaret Thatcher is Still an Inspiration to Women Today

October 13 2017

On what would have been Margaret Thatcher’s 92nd birthday, there are many reasons why we continue to celebrate the life of such an influential female leader. Here are the top five reasons why Margaret Thatcher is still an inspiration for women today:

1. She didn’t use her sex to influence her career.

In one of her most famous quotes, Thatcher comments on being a female in politics: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher did not become the political icon she is today because she ‘played the gender card’ every chance she could. In fact, by focusing on her policies she was able to become a successful Prime Minister of Britain--who also happened to be the first female in that role. In today’s political world, Hillary Clinton blamed her loss on “rampant misogyny”. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg recently agreed. Unlike Clinton, Thatcher did not use her sex as a political talking point.

2. She was principled.

Thatcher believed in a strong Britain and a free economy. She actively dismantled socialism during her rule and left the country with a more privatized market economy. “It was one of the central means of reversing the corrosive and corrupting effects of socialism,” she explained in her memoirs. Thatcher is known to have been influenced by many of the greatest economic philosophers, such as Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith, and Milton Friedman. Her economic policies have made a lasting impact around the world, inspiring a new school of economic thought: Thatcherism.

3. She challenged the status quo.

She didn’t care about being popular, instead she was a smart politician. She cared more about the success of her country than how well she was liked and for this, she was highly controversial. In another well known quote, she doesn’t hide her feelings on the matter: “If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” Thatcher was not about the political games that we see many of our politicians play today. Partisanship has spread like a disease through Washington, D.C., and it seems that what side of the aisle you stand on has become more important than what the voters want. Thatcher knew what it took to get her economy back on track, despite her policies being far from the status quo, earning her name, the “Iron Lady.”

4. She had to work for her success. 

Growing up as the daughter of a grocery store owner, she learned the value of hard work from a young age. Before entering politics, Thatcher also worked as a research chemist and barrister. She then became a Member of Parliament, was appointed to serve as Secretary of Education and Science, and then was elected to be Leader of the Opposition Party before ultimately becoming Prime Minister. Unlike many of today’s political elites, she understood what it was like to have to work hard to succeed. During her professional journey, she was also continuing her job as a mother and as a wife. She has been quoted as saying, “Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.” Thatcher proved that women can have a successful career and families, something that is admirable to say the least.

5. She was a modern feminist.

In 2013, IWF named Margaret Thatcher a modern feminist, and by all definitions she continues to fit the name. Although she may not have called herself a feminist (after all she did say, “I owe nothing to women’s lib”), she certainly advanced women by proving that there’s nothing we can’t do. In that way, she is a modern feminist. Sadly, left-leaning feminism today is not commonly associated with support for Thatcher’s ideas, like free markets and personal responsibility, but Margaret Thatcher is proof that there is not one cookie-cutter ideology that all feminists believe. She should inspire the pro-women movement to be more inclusive of right-leaning women, and to embrace the diversity of ideas. We salute her for the trail she blazed! Happy Birthday, Margaret Thatcher!


Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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