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Parker: Why millennials may be conservatives at heart


Several current trends among millennials do not bode well for Democrats. Indeed, they suggest a greater affinity for (many) Republican policies, notwithstanding a, perhaps, contiguous dislike for the GOP’s leadership.

Dare I say it: These trends may suggest a gradual migration toward traditional values and conservatism.

Hear me out.

My reading of various recent studies, stories and reports about young Americans (18-34) reveals a decline in the following: motherhood, marriage (down from 59% in 1972 to 28% in 2018), sex, birthrates, faith, happiness (especially among young men), and longevity.

In the good-news column, abortion rates are also in decline—and friendship is up. In the “surprising” column, a new GLAAD study shows that non-LGBTQ millennials’ comfort with the LGBTQ community has dipped, while that of their parents’ generation remains steady.

At the same time, student and credit-card debt is staggering; affordable housing and jobs are out of reach for many; wages are low; and the future is dim in light of the growing gerontocracy and the entitlements (Medicare and Social Security) they expect, deserve and, for which, I hasten to add, they have paid.

So, what about this suggests that millennials would be inclined toward conservatism? To understand, one must look at the reasons for those trends.

Let’s start with sex. Not surprisingly, research shows that people are happier when they have sex at least once a week. But married people have sex more often than unmarried people. From this, one could deduce that marriage is good. There’s a reason traditional values are, well, traditional. They’ve stood the test of time and have demonstrated that what is best for people and society, while not always your first choice, is, like rutabaga, good for you.

W. Bradford Wilcox and Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies speculate in The Atlantic that the decline in sex may be partly attributable to the #MeToo movement, which has thankfully eliminated some of the unwanted sex that was occurring in previous decades. I suspect too that some men are hesitant to engage in new sexual relationships for fear that their advances could be misinterpreted as harassment.

The decline of motherhood can be attributed to many factors. For one, women are waiting longer to have children as they pursue careers. Legalized abortion and increased access to birth control also play a role.

Millennials might also be finding it difficult to meet a partner. Traditionally, many such meetings took place in church, temple or other religious institutions. As religious attendance has dwindled, so have some opportunities to meet a potential spouse with similar values, notwithstanding online dating services and other avenues that didn’t exist before. Also, studies reflect that people who regularly attend religious services at least once a month report being happier than those who do not.

Other challenges millennials face include economic and educational obstacles that have worsened during the past generation, as outlined by Stone in a separate piece in The Atlantic titled “The Boomers Ruined Everything.” Despite today’s low unemployment rate, some good jobs are harder to find, in part because of the regulatory and licensing zeal of the past few decades. Many careers that used to require a high school diploma now require a college degree. As burdensome regulations increase the cost of business, jobs decline. In housing, strict zoning restrictions often mean less attainable homes for young people.

Regarding social attitudes, GLAAD found that straight millennials’ comfort with the LBGTQ population has declined for the second consecutive year. As for reasons, GLAAD conducted focus groups and found two common themes: the “newness” of gender politics and discriminatory rhetoric coming from political leaders.

Considering all of the above, and by necessity leaving out a lot, one may infer that millennials as a political subset may be more conservative than they know. Based on these and other studies, it would appear that their lives would be better—i.e. happier—if they attended places of worship, got married, engaged in more sex within a committed relationship and had children.

Toward these ends, they need government that: reduces tax and regulatory burdens that impede growth and employment; seeks to lower educational costs and emphasizes non-college job training; makes housing more affordable; encourages creative financing for higher education and homebuying; promotes better school choice for the disadvantaged; makes marriage financially appealing; and prioritizes family unity.

That sure sounds like a conservative agenda to me.

Your Views: Appreciate attention paid to Black Hawk

I commend The Gazette for reporter Jim Dayton’s June 18 story on Chief Black Hawk and Tuesday's editorial on the same subject. The downtown mural wouldn’t mean much to a lot of people without your supporting articles providing an historical perspective on the plight of Black Hawk and the Sauk people, who tried to surrender on several occasions and were still hunted down and massacred. It is more that fitting that we honor the leader and the Sauk tribe for their bravery and sacrifices. The actual number of Sauk people that were killed at the Battle of Bad Axe was in the hundreds (based on my extensive research many years ago). I thank you so very much for you bringing this horrible history to light. My dad, rest his soul, would be very proud and pleased with you!



Guest Views: The Trump administration takes another baby swing at solving health care costs

The Trump administration continued to nibble away Monday at the problem of high health care costs, unveiling a set of proposals to bring more transparency to the industry’s byzantine pricing practices.

But like just about everything else the administration has done on health care affordability, the proposal would strike at best a glancing blow to rising costs. And paradoxically, it could wind up raising prices for some patients.

It’s hard to argue with the idea that people should know how much their care will cost before they receive it, not after. The White House proposal would address that directly, administration officials said, by requiring insurers and health care providers to tell patients in advance what their out-of-pocket costs would be.

The initiative’s main effort to hold down health care costs, though, would be to require hospitals to clearly and publicly disclose how much people actually pay for services there. In theory, people seeking nonurgent care—a knee replacement, say—could use the information to shop around for the most affordable hospital, promoting the kind of competition that drives down prices in normal markets.

It’s not at all clear how helpful the information will be, however, in part because the proposal doesn’t specify how much detail hospitals would have to release about their prices. The less detailed the hospitals’ price lists are, the less help they give consumers to shop around. But the more detailed they are about the prices negotiated with insurers, the greater the risk that hospitals will discover when they’re charging less than their competitors and raise their prices accordingly.

Beyond that, Americans pay a relatively small percentage of their health care costs out of pocket, even with steadily increasing deductibles. They typically depend on their doctors to tell them exactly what care they need. What’s more, if they’re seriously injured or ill, they may be in no position to look around for care.

And in many communities, there aren’t enough hospitals or physician groups to support real competition. All of these factors shield the health care industry from the sort of consumer pressure and market forces that the Trump administration wants to unleash.

Making a major dent in health care costs would require the administration to take a much bigger swing at the way health care is delivered and paid for in the United States. Why do we spend so much more than the residents of other countries do, even though the care doesn’t yield consistently better outcomes? It’s not because prices are hidden. The president’s proposal may prove helpful, but only on the margins.

Web Views for Friday, June 28

From online story comments

On man camping near Janesville bridge: This man has been camped out in the same area for over a year. Last summer it was more down in Monterey Park by the big tree where you couldn’t easily see him from the street. However, his personal property was not so easily seen. I ride the bike trail often and have never been bothered.

—Lisa Rhea Tincher

  • We drive across that bridge several times a day. We have given him groceries, socks and other items before. I’ve often wondered what his story is. He isn’t bothering anyone, and he isn’t in anyone’s yard. I feel bad for him, no matter his reason for being there.

—Sara Piller Walley

  • For the people that think the city should leave him alone, please step up and move him into your yard at your home, and everything will be fine.

—Jim Smith

  • I just hope he remains the only one! We don’t need camp city over there.

—Amanda Lynn Rau

  • It looks pretty bad over there! He has stuff strung out all over the place! It’s not right—plain and simple!

—Paula Wilson McGuire

On forum to discuss homeless overnight parking proposal: I’m so encouraged that so many people showed up to discuss this important issue. I will be following the proposal with interest.

—Kristen Zorbini Bongard

  • Palmer Park is a place for kids. I don’t want my daughter stepping on used needles, cigarette butts or even witnessing domestic disputes like the last time we visited CAMDEN playground. Pick somewhere else where our kids won’t be in danger.

—Sarah Anderson Oswald

  • For all those with negative comments, I hope you never have a run of bad luck and find yourself homeless.

—Pam Long Cochran

  • The problem is we are a community. We are supposed to help each other. The fact that everyone can see a problem but no one is willing to help is sad.

—Erika Lynn

On completion of downtown Black Hawk mural: It’s beautiful! Love what downtown is becoming. Thanks for all the hard work.

—Eliy Morales

  • Truly amazing piece of art. And he (Jeff Hendriquez) did it so quickly. Wow!

—Patti Pederson Sommerfeldt

  • All this just seems so impossible. It’s beautiful!

—Cathy Adams Blakley

  • The artist did an amazing job on such a large scale.

—Veronica Ann

On Milton School Board President Joe Martin complaining about open records requests: If they would have been honest with the public and not lied so much, none of this would be happening. You people created the problem. Now deal with it and quit complaining.

—Barry von Falkenstein