In praise of the younger generation

October 4th, 2009

As reported in “Senate Panel Has Votes to Pass Health Bill, Baucus Says” (Washington Post 10/01/09) and “At U-Md., Obama Calls on Young Adults to Back Health-Care Reform” about Obama speech at the University of Maryland (Washington Post 9/17/09; I tried to go but got there too late), the younger generation will bear much of the cost of healthcare reform, since many of them now go without healthcare, or pay lower costs because their healthcare needs tend to be lower than others. Ironically, they should be the ones opposing healthcare reform, not seniors (see our earlier post about that), but instead they tend to be the most supportive of all age groups, as shown in the chart below from

Similarly, on climate change, younger Americans support action at a much higher rate than other age groups (80% versus about 50% for seniors, as reported by the Washington Post 6/25/09 in Limits on Emissions Have Wide Support). This is instructive, because they are the ones that will have to bear climate change’s long-term impact if we don’t take action, and that will have to bear most of the future cost of combating climate change.

So, why this higher level of support? Is it because the younger generation realizes that in the long-term, healthcare reform and taking action on climate change will benefit them too, are they just willing to altruistically “take one for the team,” or both? Whichever it is, kudos to the younger generation.


Many think you guys don’t care

About what’s happening in the world out there.

You sometimes don’t vote, it’s true

(no age group’s share is lower than you).


But you’re getting better, your defenders retort

Up 2% in the last election, I’m glad to report.

And on Obama’s biggest initiatives

You’re the ones that the most support gives.


On healthcare reform you’ve been the most active

Though your support is counter-intuitive.

You’re the age group that will have to pay a lot of it,

But still surveys say you overwhelmingly love it.


It’s in your long-term interest, it’s true

But it’s the same for seniors (the ones making the most anti-reform hullabaloo).

They’re the ones doing the most anti-reform shrieking

(Maybe you just haven’t learned how to be so self-seeking).


On climate change you’ve been the best

(Much more supportive than all the rest).

Of course, the world is yours to inherit

So it makes sense that you want to repair it.


But maybe it’s just that you’re more intelligent

(You are a relatively educated population segment).

More educated people tend to be liberal.

So there’s hope for the country after all.


Whatever the reason, I’m apologetic

For the times I said you were apathetic.

So thanks for the political reinvigoration,

And kudos for supporting what’s best for the nation.


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