Here Comes Generation Katniss. What do They Believe?

 

042715katnissWikipedia tells me that “Generation K” refers to “the collective nickname given to a trio of young starting pitchers in the New York Mets organization in 1995.” Of course, “K” is baseball shorthand for a strikeout. But the next time you hear about “Generation K,” it will almost assuredly be pop-culture shorthand for “Generation Katniss,” the catchy demographic title given to girls ages 13 to 20 — devised by British economist Noreena Hertz — assumed to be fans of Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen.

And what are political and policy impulses of Generation K? Hertz, who discussed her research at the Women in the World event last week, outlined some her findings in a recent Financial Times note:

They are concerned about existential threats. Sadly, their anxieties stretch way beyond the typical teenage anxieties. Seventy-five per cent of teenage girls I surveyed are worried about terrorism; 66 per cent worry about climate change; 50 per cent worry about Iran. They also worry inordinately about their own futures. Eighty-six per cent are worried about getting a job; 77 per cent about getting into debt. … Only 4 per cent of Generation K girls trust big corporations to do the right thing (as opposed to 60 per cent of adults). Only one in 10 trusts the government to do the right thing — half the percentage of older millennials. …

Their distrust of traditional institutions bleeds into a more generalised distrust of traditional social mores. As many as 30 percent of teenage girls are either unsure about marriage or don’t want to get married. Even more strikingly, 35 percent are unsure if they want to have children or definitely don’t. This is a seismic difference compared with older millennials. … And this generation is definitely career-minded — 90 percent consider it important to be successful in a high-paying profession. … Time and time again the girls told me how disturbed they were by gender pay gaps, sexist comments, the attitude that “women cannot be engineers”. They shared their frustration that “men are able to do anything but women still can’t”, along with concerns about economic, racial and social inequality. … Eighty percent of them support equal rights for transgender people. Indeed, I was fascinated by the extent to which Generation K celebrates difference. When I asked the girls to describe themselves in one word, “unique” was the one they most commonly chose. Unique — and proud to be so.

So a group born post 9-11 that came of age during the Great Recession and Not-So-Great Recovery has anxiety about economic and national security and distrust of Big Business and Big Government? Hardly seems like a stretch. And how might center-right politicians appeal to Generation K? Here are some wise words from my boss, Arthur Brooks:

If Republicans and conservatives double down on the promotion of economic growth, job creation and traditional values, Americans might turn away from softheaded concerns about “caring.” Right? Wrong. As New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has shown in his research on 132,000 Americans, care for the vulnerable is a universal moral concern in the U.S. In his best-selling 2012 book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,” Mr. Haidt demonstrated that citizens across the political spectrum place a great importance on taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak. By contrast, moral values such as sexual purity and respect for authority—to which conservative politicians often give greater emphasis—resonate deeply with only a minority of the population. Raw money arguments, e.g., about the dire effects of the country’s growing entitlement spending, don’t register morally at all.

Conservatives are fighting a losing battle of moral arithmetic. They hand an argument with virtually 100% public support—care for the vulnerable—to progressives, and focus instead on materialistic concerns and minority moral viewpoints.

Some say the solution for conservatives is either to redouble the attacks on big government per se, or give up and try to build a better welfare state. Neither path is correct. Raging against government debt and tax rates that most Americans don’t pay gets conservatives nowhere, and it will always be an exercise in futility to compete with liberals on government spending and transfers.

Instead, the answer is to make improving the lives of vulnerable people the primary focus of authentically conservative policies. For example, the core problem with out-of-control entitlements is not that they are costly—it is that the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare imperils the social safety net for the neediest citizens. Education innovation and school choice are not needed to fight rapacious unions and bureaucrats—too often the most prominent focus of conservative education concerns—but because poor children and their parents deserve better schools.

Defending a healthy culture of family, community and work does not mean imposing an alien “bourgeois” morality on others. It is to recognize what people need to be happy and successful—and what is most missing today in the lives of too many poor people.

By making the vulnerable a primary focus, conservatives will be better able to confront some common blind spots. Corporate cronyism should be decried as every bit as noxious as statism, because it unfairly rewards the powerful and well-connected at the expense of ordinary citizens. Entrepreneurship should not to be extolled as a path to accumulating wealth but as a celebration of everyday men and women who want to build their own lives, whether they start a business and make a lot of money or not. And conservatives should instinctively welcome the immigrants who want to earn their success in America.

 

There are 22 comments.

  1. Bob Wainwright Member

    Eighty percent of them support equal rights for transgender people.

    What would it mean to not support equal rights for transgendered people? What rights do the other 20 percent believe should be denied to them?

    Time and time again the girls told me how disturbed they were by gender pay gaps, sexist comments, the attitude that women cannot be engineers”.

    Did the respondents come up with these themselves or were they asked to comment on them as if these inequalities were a given fact?

    • #1
    • April 27, 2015, at 11:25 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    BW: I suspect that this is a translation problem. You assume that “equal rights for transgender people” is English. It is not. It is in Newspeak. It means special privileges and protections for transgender people, together with demands that everyone “celebrate” transgenderism, a very serious mental disorder, as a positive good, and both social opprobrium and legal penalization of dissenters.

    • #2
    • April 27, 2015, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • Like
  3. Old Bathos Member

    I think the notion that the GOP must surrender to the language of the other side is wrong. You never win by saying me-too. Also, the assumption that people’s views at age 13 are set in stone is silly.

    Core message for young women is that growth and freedom are the guarantors of choice and opportunity. Young women who look for flexible opportunities to preserve career while starting family life, to stay on an upward trajectory of quality of life need a growing economy not federal hiring mandates. That is also where the resources are created so that public and private options can compete to serve the needs of the poor.

    It all begins with economic dynamism. There is no redistribution or social net without a growing pie. As a Republican, I have no interest in telling you how to live or what resources you are or not entitled to possess. I will not demand you be fired if your religious or moral or politicl views conflict with mine. I want you to understand as I do that if our economy does not grow and politicians and bureacrats control more and more, our honest debates about rights and choices all become moot. Know that your range of lifestyle choices and opportunities depend on the freedoms and economic dynamism that people on the left want to extinguish. Make sure that the people who make claims on your fair-minded tolerance and charitable impulses don’t have an agenda that hurts you and yours. Don’t be Generation Sucker.

    • #3
    • April 27, 2015, at 11:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. KC Mulville Inactive

    That’s a crock.

    Conservatives have been fighting for the one institution that’s built for people to help and sustain and protect and promote each other, and especially the most vulnerable … namely, the family … only to be accused of not caring.

    The family is the only institution where the people care for you as an individual person, not a number in a ballot box or a possible consumer. Who’s more likely to give you individual attention, a parent or a political bureaucrat?

    That hypocrisy betrays what’s really going on. If support for the vulnerable is really the core of the issue, then the family is the best tool to do it. But supporting families also requires a couple of trade-offs that the exploiters won’t admit.

    • It requires a social structure where personal freedom includes sexual discipline.
    • It requires legal bonds that reinforce the social bonds within the family, not a host of laws that undermine any parents’ authority.
    • It requires a culture that doesn’t encourage and worship adolescents to follow whatever perspective the media offers them, and to stop being so malleable in the hands of advertisers and exploiters.
    • It requires a society to have the patience to grow up a little before they make moral judgments. 

    Family isn’t free and it isn’t cheap. Grow up.

    Oh I’m sorry. That isn’t a politically correct message.

    • #4
    • April 27, 2015, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. captainpower Inactive

    re #4 KC Mulville

    I quote the article

    As many as 30 per cent of teenage girls are either unsure about marriage or don’t want to get married. Even more strikingly, 35 per cent are unsure if they want to have children or definitely don’t. This is a seismic difference compared with older millennials.

    Emily, 15, who “definitely doesn’t”, explained that this decision stemmed from a realisation that women can’t have it all, that she’d have to choose between career or children. We clearly still have a way to go for girls to see child rearing as a gender-neutral responsibility. And this generation is definitely career-minded — 90 per cent consider it important to be successful in a high-paying profession.

    • #5
    • April 27, 2015, at 11:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. DocJay Inactive

    Marriage for a male in generation Gale will become increasingly pointless so these women seem to be equipping themselves well to be single. They can believe the sexes are completely equal in every respect all they want. Let’s see how that works out for them.

    • #6
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:02 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    Good post.

    My own Generation K daughter (aged 15) leans conservative with a general attitude toward the world that I would characterize as, “Buck up and stop whining.” Her reaction to political correctness is a healthy eye roll. This pleases me.

    However, I agree that conservative messaging could be vastly improved to appeal to her generation and others. My daughter, and conservatives in general, are not hard-hearted people, and the conservative message should get that across without falling into the “compassionate conservative,” “when-people-are-hurting-the-government-has-to-move” trap.

    • #7
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Tuck Inactive

    It appears that Gen. K suffers from a major impairment of their critical-thinking faculties, based on the poll results as given in the OP…

    For example, 4% trusts corporations to do the right thing, but 10% trusts government to do so? This despite the track records and incentives of the two institutions? And they appear to spend a lot of time worrying about things that are minute personal risks.

    Given our schools, I guess that’s hardly a surprise.

    • #8
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I worry that more of Gen K will want to kiss Katniss than will want to be Katniss.

    • #9
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  10. Miffed White Male Member

    Indeed, I was fascinated by the extent to which Generation K celebrates difference. When I asked the girls to describe themselves in one word, “unique” was the one they most commonly chose. Unique — and proud to be so.

    Yes, they’re all unique – just like everyone else.

    This is the first thing we need to break young people of – thinking they’re all special little snowflakes.

    • #10
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Tuck:It appears that Gen. K suffers from a major impairment of their critical-thinking faculties, based on the poll results as given in the OP…

    For example, 4% trusts corporations to do the right thing, but 10% trusts government to do so? This despite the track records and incentives of the two institutions?

    I was impressed that they only gave the government a 6% edge. Given the biased information they’re probably fed, the fact that they don’t give the government a greater edge than that seems like evidence of critical thinking skills to me.

    Moreover, given their worries about unemployment and debt, it makes sense that they think finding a high-paying job is important: if job insecurity is your given, it makes sense to want to make a killing during the periods when you are employed.

    Really, they could be much dumber than this.

    • #11
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. 1967mustangman Inactive

    DocJay:Marriage for a male in generation Gale will become increasingly pointless so these women seem to be equipping themselves well to be single. They can believe the sexes are completely equal in every respect all they want. Let’s see how that works out for them.

    The fact that you knew a character not mentioned in the story saddens me.

    • #12
    • April 27, 2015, at 12:43 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Brad B. Inactive

    I really dislike generational analysis. I’m always inclined to think it’s all bull. When I was 14, I was reading Marx for the first time and thought Communism just sounded swell. By 18, I was a hardcore Republican. I would not encourage political seers to put much stock in poll results of teens.

    • #13
    • April 27, 2015, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    DocJay:Marriage for a male in generation Gale will become increasingly pointless so these women seem to be equipping themselves well to be single. They can believe the sexes are completely equal in every respect all they want. Let’s see how that works out for them.

    Actually, most women try to marry up. Given that our culture is increasingly hostile to hetro males it only makes sense that womyn want to create a life without them. After all why have a male that is just going to be a dead weight and drag you down as an unemployable wreck that you have to support?

    • #14
    • April 27, 2015, at 1:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Tuck Inactive

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Really, they could be much dumber than this.

    LOL. I believe that’s known as “damning with faint praise”…

    • #15
    • April 27, 2015, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Brandon Shafer Coolidge

    I don’t agree with all of the conclusions in the article, but I will say Conservatives and/or Republicans need to get much better about making arguments and taking those arguments to where people are. Lowering marginal tax rates is a good goal, but it’s necessary to explain to the average Joe how that will impact him and not expect him to connect the dots that you should be connecting for him. Many conservative positions are designed to make a better system, but it is very necessary to complete the argument in how the better system is going to make the lives better of voters.

    • #16
    • April 27, 2015, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    Perhaps the ideal issue to attract African-American voters is school choice. Hammering on that issue would really drive a wedge between the Democratic party and many black voters.

    The worst calumny leveled against conservatives is that they don’t want blacks to succeed, or that they don’t care. This (unfortunately) needs to be continually refuted, and the issue of school choice, where conservatives’ and African-Americans’ interests are aligned, is one way to do that. It is unconscionable what liberal policies have done to generations of black schoolchildren.

    My late mother, a Greatest-Generation conservative, once said, “When I see a black man dressed up and on his way to work, I want to hug him.” I realize that sounds a bit condescending, and in today’s world it might even be considered “racist,” but it came from a genuine desire to see the black community succeed.

    • #17
    • April 27, 2015, at 2:08 PM PDT
    • Like
  18. DocJay Inactive

    1967mustangman:

    DocJay:Marriage for a male in generation Gale will become increasingly pointless so these women seem to be equipping themselves well to be single. They can believe the sexes are completely equal in every respect all they want. Let’s see how that works out for them.

    The fact that you knew a character not mentioned in the story saddens me.

    Kids dude, it’s my kids’ fault.

    • #18
    • April 27, 2015, at 3:11 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. Marion Evans Inactive

    Hertz is not a pollster but a left-wing economist. I wouldn’t believe these numbers until I see the methodology, how the questions were framed, etc. Everyone knows you can get the answer you want by the way you ask a question.

    • #19
    • April 27, 2015, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. David Foster Member

    Linked and also being discussed at ChicagoBoyz

    • #20
    • April 28, 2015, at 6:41 AM PDT
    • Like
  21. Pelayo Member

    I have a daughter who is 17 years old and does not fit the model described by Hertz. If that makes her “unique” then all the better!

    The point from Arthur Brooks that I do agree with has to do with how Republicans “frame” their arguments. Republican strategists and candidates should read The Art of Framing: Managing the Language of Leadership by Fairhurst and Starr and other works on the importance of framing. Republicans constantly allow the Liberal media to frame discussions and the average American is swayed or brainwashed in a subconscious way. Republicans have to learn how to play this game and do it better than Liberals.

    A good recent example of re-framing an argument is Rand Paul’s response to a question about abortion. Rather than answer a question about when life begins, he told the reporter to ask Debbie Wasserman if it is ok to kill a 7-month old in the womb. Kudos to Senator Paul.

    • #21
    • April 28, 2015, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. David Foster Member

    “Framing,” etc…..makings tangible and emotionally-connected is just marketing & sales 101. Obama (or whoever wrote his speech) did this very well when he talked about the wonderfulness of being able to travel on a high-speed train without taking taking your shoes off for the security screening…directly sensory, makes use of unpleasant TSA memories that nearly everyone has.

    Republican calls for school choice and the destruction of the educational Blob need to be similarly tangible and emotion-triggering. Talking in abstractions without the ability to tie them to specifics is not a sign of higher abstract intelligence, it is a sign of lack of emotional intelligence and sales skills.

    • #22
    • April 28, 2015, at 9:05 AM PDT
    • Like