The millennial generation, typically defined as those of us born from 1981 to 1996, is well-known for, on average, supporting economic policies deemed as progressive, and being in favor of generous social programs, even if that means being made to pay more in taxes.

Seeking to establish themselves amid the tumultuous economic landscape of the early 21st century, millennials have faced – and continue to face – unique economic challenges that are different to those faced by previous generations. 

Naturally, millennials feel hard done by. Especially when considering how much average housing prices across the U.S. have risen in the past couple of decades, how much more expensive college has become in relation to previous generations, and how little the average income has risen by comparison.

Higher or lower taxes: what would actually benefit millennials?

It’s easy to assume we simply need to tax and spend more to solve the world’s problems., but this would be a mistake.

The reason behind the struggles of many millennials is not that the government hasn’t been doing enough. Instead, decades of economic mismanagement, cronyism, and overregulation are the real cause. 

Older generations have paid into social programs that they can expect a reasonable return from, but the way these programs work will simply be obsolete by the time millennials are of a similar age – and most of us know this. The current social security system is a ticking time bomb.

An aging population combined with rising government debt will ensure millennials need to seek alternative financial arrangements to have any sort of quality of life in later years. The idea that millennials will be rewarded for endorsing higher taxes simply is not true. 

Those who can find private solutions for their later years can expect much higher returns than if they were to rely on the government, but high taxes won’t make this easy.

As journalist and policy correspondent Brad Polumbo stated during a recent panel discussion hosted by Students For Liberty: “the government are people spending other people’s money on other people,” meaning there isn’t the same care taken to ensure money is well spent than if it were people spending their own money.

So much of taxpayers’ money is squandered. Instead of going towards the sort of social programs endorsed by many millennials, a significant chunk of this money goes towards things like subsidizing fossil fuels and funding the cumbersome bureaucracy in charge of America’s large and complicated tax code that only benefits lobbyists.

In other words, as entrepreneur and recent candidate for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Martha Bueno stated on the same panel: “taxes don’t go where people think they’re going.” 

The issue with the cost of bureaucracy specifically could be addressed to a large extent by moving towards a flat tax that would save billions of dollars on bureaucracy. This would also stop disincentivizing millennials from entrepreneurship and seeking to increase their income.

Millennials need deregulation and economic growth

Lower taxes would go a long way towards enabling millennials to build financial security, get on the property ladder, and adequately prepare for the future. To this end, deregulation of housing markets and reform of zoning laws would also help make home ownership significantly more affordable for millennials.

Issues like inflation and the cost of living crisis can be mitigated when people are allowed to keep more of their money in their own pockets.

It does not make sense for millennials to gladly give up more and more of their money to be squandered on bureaucracy and inefficient programs they won’t see decent returns from.

Lower taxes are also known to contribute to long-term economic growth, and after enduring so many economic setbacks, this would be the best chance millennials have of being able to secure a brighter future.

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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.