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Hayley Campbell Hayley graduated from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service in 2012 with a degree in Culture and Politics and a certificate in Religion, Ethics, and World Affairs. At the Berkley Center, she...
Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.

To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.


Millennials on Social Media and Politics

November 15, 2012

Millennials on Social Issues and Diversity

November 12, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Why the Presidential Election Matters to Millennials

November 7, 2012

Millennials on Religion and Interfaith Work

November 7, 2012

Ryan Price (Drake) on E Pluribus Duo

November 6, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on Unpredictable Millennials

November 5, 2012

Millennials on Affirmative Action Policy

November 3, 2012

Seth Warner (Vassar) on What Happens as the "God Gap" Widens

November 2, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on How Social Media Is Like Wii Bowling

October 31, 2012

Zachary Yentzer (Arizona State) on the Next Greatest Generation

October 29, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on Post-Racial America? Race, Millennials, and the 2012 Election

October 25, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on a Future of Hashtags #whatitmeansforus

October 23, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on How the People Can Heal a “Divided,” Partisan Nation

October 4, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Religion and American Democracy

October 4, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on How It’s All About Relatability: Voter Turnout

October 3, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on Mistaking Politics for a Hollywood Blockbuster

October 2, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on the Internet Solution

October 1, 2012

>> more


Millennials Disagree Over Solutions to Economic Inequality


April 8, 2012

Millennials are deeply concerned with the current equality gap in the United States. Many cite the popular fact that the US has the highest GDP in the world, but also the highest income inequality. Their passionate concern for income inequality comes because Millennials see the issue as so deeply connected to direct access to social benefits. They focus on the ever-evident fact that money is power, both in US politics and daily life. Students bemoan an education system where your zip code determines the quality of your schooling. They are outraged at the discrepancies in the US health care system. While recognizing the realities of a capitalist system, many students express a strong distaste for what appears to be rapidly expanding, institutionalized, and inevitable economic inequality. Where they differ is in how best to combat this growing problem.
For example, one student from the University of Chicago writes that no one type of economic system is the problem. Socialism and capitalism come each with their flaws. If our goal is equality in any system, the key is ensuring social mobility. Creating a society where social mobility is a priority means investing in education for all and ensuring that opportunities exist regardless of the home you were born into.

Another student highlights the systematic nature of economic inequality as a symptom of a deeper corruption. He suggests the solution requires significant sacrifice. In order to attack the problem at its root, Americans must be willing to give up pieces of their democracy in order to facilitate large-scale national coordination. American individualism gets in the way of progress.

As if to counter his point directly, another student argues that “the disparity between economic groups is the result of people’s rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness that creates the gap in income." Accordingly, governments can do little close the gap of inequality without deeply infringing on the liberties central to American democracy. Unlike his peer, he is unwilling to see liberty lessened to facilitate changes in a system where the result of the pursuit of individual happiness is a necessary inequality.

A fourth student asserts that economic inequality stems from political apathy. Americans are no longer participants in their own democracy, and as a result the powerful are free to pursue their own interests instead of what is best for the American people. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. She argues that political inefficacy has become a symptom of economic inequality, where the poor have either been shut of the political process directly because their lack of resources or indirectly by prevailing culture. The solution then is to reengage the marginalized politically to ensure equal representation.

Another student also blames our political system, “once touted as a model for the rest of mankind, has fallen into dysfunction due to a crisis of negative leadership.” The polarization of American politics has made traditional institutions inept for combating systematic problems such as economic inequality.

The proposed solutions presented here represent a sliver of the Millennial voice, yet it is clear in their diversity the problem is not getting young people to recognize the importance of economic inequality in today’s society. It is the challenge of the Millennial generation to agree on the causes of and attack effectively this growing social ill. For all the disagreement evident in writings of young people there is all a thread of hope. One student writes, “I believe that a depolarized political system, an increased discourse about poverty and wealth, and a rejuvenation of spirit in young people could bring about lasting social change.”