Millennials are superficially perceived as being socially progressive. This perception is reinforced by our general take on issues from marijuana legalization to euthanasia. But these social positions share as many commonalities with right leaning libertarians as with they do with left leaning progressives. Writing off millennials as the latter ignores the unique circumstances in which we have come of age. Our particular experience should make us more comfortable as right leaning libertarians.
As a generation we’ve seen a whirlwind of innovative business models turn their respective industries on their head. Often inventive startups have quickly become the dominant player and left established businesses scrambling to keep up. Though we're accustomed to these rapid changes, governments haven’t been nearly as adaptive. Faced with this new spirit of innovation governments should have taken a critical look at existing laws. Instead they’ve often naively tried to regulate new business models into existing frameworks.
It’s no surprise that cash strapped millennials have been jumping at the chance to save a few bucks taking an Uber, renting a place on Airbnb, or cutting cable in favour of Netflix. In an attempt to protect existing industries governments have proposed a host of clumsy regulations. Vancouver is considering requiring Airbnb rental licenses that will only be given on principal residences. The CRTC seems to be eternally threatening to regulate Netflix. Meanwhile, Calgary only recently lifted the ban on Uber after dreaming up new and exciting ways to tax it.
All of this should lead us to question whether existing regulatory frameworks make sense in the modern world. Why should I have to buy a taxi permit, with no inherent value, for as much as $200,000 just to drive a taxi in Montreal? Beyond carrying the right insurance and having a clean criminal record there's just no need for such heavy government involvement. Cities shouldn’t be hand wringing over how to appropriately deal with Uber. Instead they should be asking why such a tight grip is needed in the broader industry at all.
Through these examples our generation has seen first-hand the benefits of capitalism. The reality has been far different than the self-hating portrayals we've seen in popular culture. Instead of established corporate fat cats holding down new startups we’ve seen the opposite. Our brand of capitalism has been imaginative startups taking on established businesses and winning. They’ve done so by thinking outside the box, applying elbow grease, and offering a better service at a fairer price. What’s more, as politicians have tried to preserve the status quo they’ve unintentionally shown us the short-sighted errs of an interventionist government.
Does anyone really believe that the answer to Uber is for the government to strangle the life out of it like it does the taxi industry? Or that the answer to Airbnb is to tax it like hotels, need licenses, or ban it all together? This archaic thinking isn’t limited to these examples. Ill-considered government interventions like this occur all across our country. These outdated and unnecessary government intrusions are wreaking havoc in hidden ways throughout our economic system. It’s not just our pocket books that are affected either. Collectively these regulations restrict our individual liberty by limiting our choices. As a generation, it is time for us to stop buying it. It’s time we embraced our liberty leanings, stopped apologizing for capitalism and started enjoying it.