From the NYT this morning about under 30s in Montana:
Billie Loewen and Heather Jurva, editors at the student newspaper, speak of a Depression-era mentality that is pushing their generation to back Democrats. Saddled with student debt, they worry about health care and are terrified that they will not find good jobs. “You might be just one accident away from losing everything,” said Ms. Jurva, who has worked 40 hours a week waiting on tables to put herself through school.
It is no secret that young voters tilt left on social issues like immigration and gay rights. But these students, and dozens of other young people interviewed here last week, give voice to a trend that is surprising pollsters and jangling the nerves of Republicans. On a central philosophical question of the day — the size and scope of the federal government — a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force.
One of the ideological stereotypes that is out of touch with reality is the GOP trope about small government. As Ruy Tuxeira, who is quoted at the end of the article says, "it’s going to come down to not whether the government should address certain problems, but how.” It starts with confronting the realities of climate change. Markets are not going to solve that problem; governments are. And the government has to be big enough to confront the big fossil fuel corporations and impose broad rules concerning energy consumption for the rest of us. It might take a cataclysm or two before we find the political will to do anything, but it will have to be big government that coordinates things.
Another out-of-touch idelogical stereotype: the one that insists that the unemployed are lazy and don't want to work. Here's the reality. Everybody is going to be an "independent contractor" in the near future. The volatility and increased competitiveness of the markets in a more tightly integrating global economy will force more companies to shed the concept of permanent employees with unaffordable benefits packages. The largely unregulated global economy will be afflicted with more frequent meltdowns and with more intense boom-and-bust cylces. There will be winners, but there will be more losers, and how are people going to support themselves and their families when they are on the losing end of a crash? Where is their health insurance going to come from or the premiums to pay for them even on the Obamacare exchanges?
Anybody who has any sense of this economic future knows that government has to play a role in greasing the friction that will be created by these inevitable disruptions. States will not be able to shoulder the burden because of workforce mobility. If one state has more generous support for its workers, everybody leaves the states that don't and puts an unfair burden on the states trying to deal with the situation in a sane way. It's like trying to get effective gun control: what any one state does to decrease the insanity is ineffective unless it's coordinated with other states, and that requires the feds to provide that coordination.
And anybody who has any sense of the economic future knows that inevitably there will have to be some kind of global coordination, which can only be effected by the development of some sane form of global sovreignty. I've argued that has to be governed by the principle of subsidiarity. The higher levels should have powers limited only to what is minimally necessary to fulfill functions that the lower levels cannot. I'm not saying that's going to be easy or that there won't be abuses or seemingly irresolvable conflicts between the local and the central. But bigness is our future, and our thinking should focus not on whether we should have it, but on how we want it to work.