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War on the Young

Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on April 19, 2024

This week I spoke at TED2024, the iconic program’s 40th anniversary event. I joined RuPaul, Kesha, and two different astrophysicists on the stage in Vancouver. I was given 15 minutes, and took 17, to riffle through 47 slides articulating what I believe is the greatest challenge facing the U.S. It’s not inequality, climate change, or war in the Middle East, but an issue that threads these threats together: America’s war on the young. A war of mutually assured destruction.

A decent proxy for the success of a society is how it treats children. Not how individuals parent, but the success of the structures, incentives, and leadership charged with preventing a tragedy of the commons. In sum, can we answer a simple question: Do we love our children? In 2024 America, the rejoinder is disheartening.

Breach of Contract

We’ve broken the social contract that binds America: Work hard, play by the rules, and you’ll be better off than your parents were. For the first time in our nation’s history, this is no longer true. Today’s 25-year-olds make less than their parents and grandparents did at the same age, yet they carry student debt loads unimaginable to earlier generations. Neither the minimum nor median wage has kept pace with inflation or productivity gains, while housing costs have outpaced them. The statistics on children’s and young adults’ well-being are staggering.

None of this is lost on young people, and the shattering of the social contract has left them feeling rage and shame. Half of Americans older than 55 say they are “extremely proud” to be American; that number drops to 18% among 18- to 34-year-olds. This weakens the immunity system of America, allowing minor cuts to U.S. society to bring on deadly opportunistic infections. Just as when someone in your life blows up at you, it is about the issue at hand … and it isn’t. American youth’s warranted concern on social justice issues, despite remarkable progress on all these issues, turns seamlessly into rage.


We don’t lack the resources to level up young people and present the opportunities afforded my generation. But the cohorts who benefited most from the extraordinary post-war economic boom of the 20th century have pulled the ladder up behind them. In 1989 adults under 40 held 12% of household wealth, while those over 70 held 19%. Today those under 40 command just 7% of household wealth, while those over 70 control 30%.

Higher education is the most effective means of closing the generation gap. But the incumbents have artificially constrained access, sequestering opportunity largely to wealthy households, peppered with a few freakishly remarkable kids from the lower 90% to smear vaseline over the caste(ing) of higher ed. Elite schools tout their financial aid, emphasizing that students with median household incomes pay little or no tuition, but it’s a headfake. Being more generous with a select few low-income students only  wallpapers over exclusivity, when the goal should be to eliminate it. We have simply reshuffled the elites.

Harvard’s undergraduate class size has been static at 1,600 for almost half a century, while its endowment has grown nearly 500% — after inflation. When your asset base is up sixfold but you purposefully do not increase production, you are no longer a public servant but a Chanel bag. Single-digit admissions rates are the ultimate vanity metric, something deans and donors brag about at cocktail parties, when they should be a mark of shame. As I’ve proposed before, we should offer higher ed a grand bargain: Redirect the money earmarked for bailing out the one-third of America that has attended college to increasing freshman seats and reducing costs. The Biden administration’s proposed student loan bailouts shrink the tumor, but don’t address the underlying cancer — declining affordability and accessibility.

Capital vs. Sweat

We have elevated capital over sweat (i.e., labor). The public is numb to this mythology, benefitting the incumbents who’ve created it. Back in 2008, when the market crashed, young(ish) people like me, coming into our prime income-earning years, were able to buy growth stocks at low valuations. The foundation of my economic security was buying Amazon at $7 ($179 today) and Apple at $7 ($167 today) and Netflix at $12 ($611 today). Ever since, however, we’ve inflated asset prices by pumping them full of steroids and stimulus using low corporate tax rates and bailouts that are financed on the backs of young people. “Keep me rich, on your credit card,” said every American over the age of 50 to citizens younger than them. In sum: Real median income from labor is up 40% since 1974, while the S&P 500 is up 4,000%.

We’ve protected the wealth created by ownership at the expense of income earned by labor through the tax code, which favors gains from investments. Gains from stock sales are taxed at lower capital gains rates. Real estate holdings can appreciate tax free, and once sold, the gains can be rolled into another investment. Again, a series of transfers of wealth from earners (youth) to owners (seniors).


And what taxes are collected are increasingly redistributed to the generation who needs them least. In 1985 the federal government spent three times more per capita on seniors than it did on kids. By 2019 that ratio had risen to eight times. We’ve cut senior poverty from 17% in the 1970s to 9% today, which is admirable. But child poverty has risen over that same period, from 16% to 19%.

The “demo” in democratic is failing us, as seniors vote seniors into office who then vote themselves more money. With neither age limits nor term limits, and incumbent reelection rates over 90%, congressional seats have become lifetime appointments. Nancy Pelosi may be the sharpest 83-year-old in Congress, but her time has passed: She has a daughter who was born during the Johnson administration, when less than one-third of homes had a color TV. Does our leadership really relate to the challenges facing a 15-year-old girl being sent messages on extreme dieting by Meta, or the budding addiction crisis of young men on phone-based gambling apps? We need churn to recalibrate and transfer wealth, but it’s been dampened with retardants that cost trillions. D.C. has become a cross between The Walking Dead and The Golden Girls — its denizens see the living (young) as nutrition, vs. the future.


To appease King Minos of Crete, ancient Athens sacrificed seven young men and seven young women to the Minotaur he kept under his palace. Then Theseus slew the Minotaur. Today in America, we’re offering an entire generation to the Minotaurs of Big Tech, and our Theseus, Congress, can only stand by and make speeches. Teen depression and self-harm, bullying, loneliness, and obesity have shot up since social media began haunting them 24/7. Since 2017, Congress has held 40 hearings on children and social media and passed nothing to address the problem. Democrats and Republicans have introduced legislation, including to age-gate social and to reform Section 230 (which immunizes internet platforms from most litigation), but nothing gets done. At the last dramatic reading of what ails us, Senator Dick Durbin admitted to failure: “The tech industry alone is not to blame for the situation we’re in. Those of us in Congress need to look in the mirror.” We need to make tech platforms liable for the harms they cause; we should eliminate Section 230’s liability shield for algorithmically elevated content — freedom of speech isn’t free.

Buck Stops

The U.S. is the 10th-happiest country in the world for people over 60, and the 62nd-happiest for people under 30. Young people are economically disadvantaged, threatened by climate change, and voiceless thanks to our dysfunctional politics. And they’ve been manipulated from childhood by a toxic cocktail of paleolithic instincts, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We have broken the social contract, and younger generations aren’t going to fulfill their end of it. In 1993, 60% of 30- to 34-year-olds had at least one child. Today that number is 27%. Young people aren’t meeting or mating, and the consequences will be dire. Young people’s labor powers the economy, and their taxes pay for the services consumed by old people. Without robust youth employment, Social Security will go bankrupt, debt service will consume the federal budget, and the commonwealth will collapse. We’ve created a future so unappealing, youth is opting out.


The incumbents will throw their arms up like an 8-year-old who refuses to take responsibility. The plea of complexity is an illusion — every problem we have levied on young people can be addressed. We have the hard part figured out: how to grow the economy at a sustained rate to pay for programs that might turn things around. Here are just a few programs and fixes we could try.

I had my first child at 42, and it changed my life. I became more responsible, focused, concerned about the future, and empathetic. In sum, I became a better American. Children make us better. We care for our kids, but do we love children? Somewhere along the way, we lost the script as a society. If we have the resources to address these issues — and we do: Nvidia added a quarter of a trillion to the economy in 5 minutes post-earnings — but continue to look the other way, then we have to ask: Is America worth investing in? And do we really love our children?

Life is so rich,

P.S. On our latest Prof G Markets episode we discuss ByteDance and events betting. Listen here and tune in every Monday.

P.P.S. I’m giving a lecture and sitting for a Q&A on the State of Young People with Section on May 14. Sign up — it’s free.



  1. Martin Phillips says:

    I wish you sourced your facts better. You are relying on the official poverty measure, but that excludes the very transfers you are talking about. The supplemental poverty measure accounts for transfers. Child poverty has declined significantly in the US.

  2. Harper says:

    A huge factor only a white guy would ignore is racism. The professor has benefitted from opportunities his Black counterparts have not participated in because of their race. All you have to do is look at who gets government contracts and non-welfare benefits. Working hard and playing by the rules did not work for Black folks.

  3. Ron Factor says:

    Excellent points, mostly agree, but disagree that the issue is primarily economic. It is social. For the last several decades we have allowed our young people to be taught that their country was founded on injustice and is not worth defending. This is particularly prevalent in ‘elite’ universities. So if we expect to recruit our future leaders from these we are in for a rough ride. We need to bring back the values that made the US (and Canada since that is where I am) great, and these weren’t just economic. These values embraced a firm understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong, social concern for others, respect for our institutions e.g., courts, press, universities, gov’t, and yes economic freedom. We’ve frittered away the first three. We need to kill DEI, fire university profs who are working for the ‘other side’, review curricula e.g. gender studies, and ensure that integrity plays a bigger role in public life. This is a matter of good leadership, which is sadly lacking in both the US and Canada. Hope we get some.

  4. Amy Amsterdam says:

    Of course there are a lot of structural policies that affect how this generation has been raised, but there are a bunch of more subtle societal changes that have created this as well.
    This generation of kids has been less ‘free-range’ than we were, which has made them less able to ‘go out there and make a series of bad choices’ as you were saying on Maher. Also, there are just less places that they can rub up against kids they don’t know out in the wild…Malls are prohibiting teens without supervision, kids aren’t just hanging out in parks or public squares because our cities and towns aren’t as centralized as they were.
    I agree with what you said, I just think it’s a ‘yes, and’ situation.

  5. Elaine Darman Levitt says:

    Having taught high school in both rural and urban school districts, and having children attend suburban schools your leaving out a significant factor that negatively impacts many male students. Marijuana is extremely harmful to the developing brain. For some reason my male students seemed to develop a stronger dependency than my female students. One of the reasons I suspect has to do with how young men bond with their peers. It is tragic how just when the brain should be developing more synapses for formal reasoning that growth is hindered by a THC soaked brain. Many students lose their motivation and don’t have the cognitive foundation to prepare themselves for living a full life. I think the boomers of which I am one,
    embracing the legalization of marijuana has been more harmful than the economic impact they’re having on the younger generation.

  6. Elaine Darman Levitt says:

    Having taught high school in both rural and urban school districts, and having children attend suburban schools your leaving out a significant factor that negatively impacts many male students. Marijuana is extremely harmful to the developing brain. For some reason my male students seem to develop a stronger dependency than my female students. One of the reasons I suspect has to do with how young men bond with their peers. It is tragic how just when the brain should be developing more synapses for formal reasoning that growth is hindered by a THC soaked brain. Many students lose their motivation and don’t have the cognitive foundation to prepare themselves for living a full life. I think the boomers of which I am one,
    embracing the legalization of marijuana has been more harmful than the economic impact they’re having on the younger generation.

  7. Elaine Darman Levitt says:

    I agree with your article, however having taught high school in both rural and urban school districts, and having children attend suburban schools your leaving out a significant factor that negatively impacts many male students. Marijuana is extremely harmful to the developing brain. For some reason my male students seem to develop a stronger dependency than my female students. One of the reasons I suspect has to do with how young men bond with their peers. It is tragic how just when the brain should be developing more synapses for formal reasoning that growth is hindered by a THC soaked brain. Many students lose their motivation and don’t have the cognitive foundation to prepare themselves for living a full life. I think the boomers of which I am one,
    embracing the legalization of marijuana has been more harmful than the economic impact they’re having on the younger generation.

  8. Alone says:

    Could the hatred shown toward incels in online media be some young people trying to set up gates to block other young people from participating in society, a few who got a little bit ahead attacking young men who are slightly behind them because the (barely) winners can’t face competition? Trying to hurt large numbers of young men to block their participation in society has a sickness about it which is disgusting. Seeing that large numbers of young men fall behind when faced with that attitude isn’t surprising, but it is saddening.

    • Alone says:

      The attitudes of young people toward their peers and potential competitors has been brewing for years, but now that it’s out in the open through social media and even journalists and actors can be vitriolic toward young men who are struggling, it’s hurting a generation of men. I’m not sure how anyone can see young men struggling and have respect for the writers who hate men who are alone so badly, or why no one can see the abuse young men who are alone face online as the social ill it is.

      • Alone says:

        I’m a bit older. I’ve faced a lot of that sort of garbage in my life, but it was invisible before social media and the lowering of standards in media. I do wonder sometimes how a media outlet that would only hire men if they’ve had sex in the last 6 months (the definition of incel) check that and enforce it.

        I’m sure young men who are alone go through a slog any time they go online, and sometimes it comes from even favorite movie stars. I hope they can withstand it and keep pursuing their goals and ambitions.

        It seems unthinkable that a teen can be conditioned by the people who rant about incels to feel unable to compete before graduating high school, but I’d think that the economic problems that it eventually creates would be severe enough that anyone responsible in our society would want the actors, journalists, and social media turkeys to STFU.

        I hope any teens who are giving up early will keep going. I can’t say they’ll be the urban rich (even the haters who torment them aren’t doing very well in our expensive cities), but if they keep going, they’ll have something they can be proud of.

  9. Juan Trujillo says:

    I agree with much of this. However, one of the main reasons work does not get a decent share of the pie is the availability of endless cheap labor, both through globalization and open borders.

    When I was young, my parents made the decision not to leave my education to the taxpayers. They had very little, with only my father working as a clerk, yet they paid for a private school.
    I think dumping your children in a public institution all day so you can have your labor exploited tells a lot about how important they are to you. And as ye sow, so shall ye reap.

  10. Tom Berryman says:

    I’m generally a big fan Scott, but anytime you get on the pay-your-fucking-taxes train you lose me. When you sold L2 did you not take advantage of the 1202 small business stock exemption, thereby shielding, what is it, the first $10Million of your gain from federal taxation? Why isn’t eliminating that provision of the code one of your solutions. Maybe because your going to do it again with your current venture?

    Many of your solutions are worthy Scott, but you (and so many of your like-minded pundits) gloss over the essential dilemma: who pays for it all? Go look at the marginal tax rates for someone making $70K annually in countries where they have the large social safety infrastructures that include these solutions and you’ll see how they pay for it. Hint: “tax the rich” or “tax the greedy corporations” isn’t how. It’s folks paying “their fare share” – not the Bernie/Elizabeth definition, but the real math. If you want these programs, please be honest about how they’re funded. That’s a worthy debate to have.

  11. Mike F says:

    Your point on higher education is well-taken. There a huge disfunction in supply and demand of higher education that drives so many problems. What we need is a federal university system, like so many countries in Europe have.

    Consider the problems: soaring education costs and lack of quality low-cost options. Add to those some of what is going on in states like Florida, with state government coopting the education process to “counter” against “woke” education, and a federal education system makes a lot of sense.

    Affordable federal options could put downward pressure on education costs. It would further provide an affordable option to people outside of their home state, addressing the “supply” side of the equation. In my state, students with even a 4.0 GPA are often denied admission to our flagship school.

    We could create five federal universities, one each in the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest, and Central US. They could each have a mandate to take students from their respective region, which should be allocated relatively equivalent populations. I expect the GOP would be averse to such a suggestion, because “federal government” and “woke”, but I would imagine many could be enticed with the economic stimulus and ongoing jobs that such an infrastructure project would bring.

  12. Mark A Payton says:

    You nailed it with “RE-fund the IRS.” One of the only things that dems and republicans agree on is that neither party want many IRS agents capable of looking into their personal business. I think you call it “weaponizing” our legal system.

  13. Jerry Jordan says:

    Karl Marx could not have said it better.

  14. Scott Snyder says:

    We’re almost the same age – Scott. You and me. Two Scotts. I am a child of the American 60s and 70s. Idealism. JFK was still alive, for a few days, after I was born. (Ebony and Ivory, living in harmony. A Native American crying on the side of the highway, because people throw trash out from car windows. After School Specials and Schoolhouse Rock(ers). That’s me – Scott. That’s us. Our foundation, yabba dabba doo – bedrock. The (sugar) cereal that we were fed. (Was it bad for us? Maybe. But I fucking l-o-v-e-d it.) And then it (all) changed, the wind changed. It got a lot colder. “Be All You Can Be.” “Man Up”. We went back to being Cowboys. Cowboy boots, big hats, guns a blazin’. If you don’t make it here, that’s on you – Bro. Pull yourself up. You don’t need no help “Just Do It”. (Yeah – I say no. We all need help. I was blessed to receive a good roll in the birth lottery. And I stand (squareley) upon the shoulders of those that came before me. A little Grace. My Country (tis of thee), sweet land of liberty – you could use a little Grace (again) – – – now. Compassion, empathy – be nice again America. Grace. It really is (could be) amazing. How about this for a tag line, a slogan? – – – Grace Again.)

  15. SD says:

    I enjoyed your piece, and generally agree with most of the assertions in it. But the sentence “In sum, I became a better American. Children make us better.” is FAR too broad a statement. Perhaps *you* became a better person, but lots of people are terrible regardless of becoming parents. Also, not everyone wants to have kids and that doesn’t mean they aren’t able to be “better” – or that they need to be “better” than they already are.

    I think the glorification of parenthood for parenthood’s sake is something that needs to end.

  16. bartb says:

    Lots of great insights! But until we institute term limits, nothing and I mean NOTHING will change!

  17. John says:

    Central banks exist to help governments finance themselves by stealthily transferring wealth away from the average person’s savings.

    It’s the hidden, but real, reason why central banks exist.

  18. John says:

    We are getting poorer precisely because a narrow elite has organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it.

  19. John says:

    Rentier activities that allow elites and landlords to extract income based on the ownership and control of scarce assets by stealing homes from families, stealing the American dream.

    These greedy landlords would steal all the water, air and food and rent it back to you if they had half the chance.

  20. John says:

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless.” – Thomas Jefferson

  21. Kelly says:

    That voiceover is awful. Can you please get Prof Galloway to read his own audio?

  22. Chuck Runyon says:

    Two more adds:
    Under social policies, get special interests/lobbying out of government.
    Under mental health, we need a National movement for movement! Exercise is medicine & the best antidote for mental health & sick care costs. If you want to curb the ever increasing costs of sickcare (20% of GDP), the best solution is better health.

    • Antony T says:

      Simple solution- get a passport and donucome back till the pendulums swing back to the middle. Genz is nit blame free most are spoiled lazy girls living in their parents basement.
      Scott what about- do the kids love us? We know they love their phones and depressed friends. Not so sure about mum or pop.

  23. simplejohn says:

    Nice to see you addressing the core issue after being distracted like most Americans (humans with access to wealth) by marketing and unicorns and such. All the fawning over such has been harmful. Of course, you were just one of the most articulate of the tens of millions who lusted after profits and wealth.
    Scott, you will be offered many temptations to go back.
    You’re at a fork in the road.
    Take it and never look back.
    Much love.

  24. Adi says:

    I can’t but laugh at your point 1 of your economics solution. If you did some basic research, you’d have found that raising minimum wage increases youth enemployment 1:1. This means 1% raise in minimum wage increases youth unemployment 1%. Professor G didn’t do his homework. And no, this is not republican study before you start that non sense. This is science. But I agree with the overall message just not this point, which contradicts and destroys everything you wanted to achieve if implemented

  25. Scott Grout says:

    Superb. Recommend 2017 book, “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America,” the author Bruce Cannon Gibney argues that the Baby Boomer generation exhibited sociopathic traits through policies and behaviors that prioritized immediate gratification and self-interest at the expense of future generations. This includes economic policies that increased national debt, environmental degradation, and social policies that undermined future stability. The sociopathic label in this context is used to describe a collective disregard for the consequences of actions on others, particularly on subsequent generations.

  26. Mark says:

    I can agree with a lot of this- but I want to call out 2 big gaps unworthy of you. 1. The elimination and condemnation of Vocational/Trade Schools is a major factor here- Give That more Air Time, College is not a silver bullet for everyone, and we NEED the Trades! 2. listing Housing cost as 7X for today’s youth ignores lifestyle creep, I didn’t have my own bed, let alone bedroom and bath! the Kardasian expectations of “my kids” generation is as much of the problem as your other points. Teaching and preaching the Value of Deferred gratification, paying one’s dues, “earning it” and the like are also part of the character gap we have created and fed with Big Tech’s “see what I’ve got” algorithms. So I love what you are saying, just think there is room to hold the current gen accountable for their part of the work. The worst thing on this planet is another community college tort lawyer for Morgan and Morgan.

  27. Graham Schelter says:

    Interesting topic. This letter reminded me of a talk I saw by Bill McDonough in Ventura, CA early in my career at Patagonia. Bill covered a lot in his talk, but a central question was – How do we love all the children all the time? As parents I think we have some clues and you have listed some data points about the problems our children face. Bill’s humility and thoughtfulness on this simple question stuck with me. Bill is a designer and architect, some critics see him and his ideas as utopian. You might be interested in his writings on the subject. His talk at Woods Hole sounds similar to his talk at Patagonia HQ years ago –

  28. TJ says:

    How about another bullet in the ECONOMICS column — ‘Provide option to reorganize financially by discharging student loan debt via bankruptcy.’ It’s not an option lightly selected. But sometimes the system needs to show a little mercy as it has to folks like Trump and Walt Disney, and companies like Delta Airlines and GM. Seems our younger generations could be helped by extending the option to start over that has helped big shots and big industry for decades.

    • Jeffrey says:

      Yes- Many/ most students are incapable of understanding the dynamics of borrowing such large sums of money. They should be allowed to file bankruptcy and have the loans erased. The pain of loan losses would create discipline reducing future loans that shouldn’t be made. Let the market sort this out instead of out of touch bureaucrats that have proven incapable.

      Well intentioned student loans have hurt many of those by increasing demand which drove up the cost of education and raised educators pay will over indebting students.

  29. B. Danner says:

    Those folks who are calling Prof G anti-capitalist are simply wrong. Scott has written on multiple occasions that capitalism is clearly, OBVIOUSLY the best economic system yet devised by human beings. What he’s calling for is more regulation and more fixes for the social safety net. Because unfettered capitalism simply creates more billionaires that suck the life blood out of the working class.

    Parts of large cities in the US, cities like San Francisco, LA, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Wash DC have become virtual failed states. What I see is large numbers of (primarily young) people who are simply not interested in the rule of law. Why? Because they recognize an economic, social and political system that isn’t working for them. I’ve written in these comments section that this trajectory is NOT sustainable. Prof G just writes more articulately. And I think he’s saying the same thing. I call it the fraying of the fabric of American society. You better have your bunkers ready.

  30. Benny Profane says:

    “Children make us better.”

    Then why are 40% of families single parent? That’s not “better”.

  31. L.Harris says:

    I hate it when you write on topics I know, worry and care about. There is so much to say but just a few comments here. First, many here advocate voting for better individuals in government. What very few understand is the enormous role that lobbyists play in our present system. In addition, the wealthy corporations that pay for those lobbyists also have a huge team of lawyers that fight every reform that might bring changes in the lives of the sinking middle class and those who live every day in poverty. Last comment is on student debt. You speak of “elite” colleges as if going there gives an undergrad a superior education compared to a small or medium sized public university. Sorry, that’s just not true. All colleges and universities have to stop calling it “financial aid.” It is a loan and that means you will start your adult life in debt. Moreover, the biggest debt amounts fund private college education. If you really want an education, go to a public university or a combined 2 year college and transfer to a 4 year university in your state. Prof G, your mantra is “Life is so rich.” Mine is “Life is so complicated.”

  32. Rob Guzyk says:

    Love reading articles by this man! Would have driven the 100k from the Valley to hear him in Vancouver!!

  33. Shawn says:

    “We’ve created a future so unappealing, youth is opting out.” I’m 30 and have struggled to explain what is happening today, but you were able to summarize it in one sentence. I agree with the other commentors that said you should run for office. Your voice and policy proposals being heard would add a lot more value than teaching the children of the 1% at Stern.

  34. Matthew Graybosch says:

    Whenever I hear somebody talking about (mandatory) national service I have but two words in reply: NON SERVIAM.

    I already work for a living and pay taxes. That is more service than America deserves of any citizen.

  35. Jeff says:

    Regarding online platforms protections- You have it backwards and are making a common misperception about Section 230- It was designed to enable free speech. Without it- online companies would be liable for the comments of its users forcing platforms to limit or more likely eliminate all speech. In other words, eliminating S230 would dramatically reduce free speech.

  36. Jeffrey says:

    Wrong about section 23o too. Elimination would lead to less freedom of speech. I’m surprised you missed that…

    Before Section 230 New York state courts developed the theory that internet platforms had no liability for illegal user content—unless they moderated the content. “Only if a platform made no effort to enforce rules of online behavior would it be excused from liability for its users’ illegal content,” Cox wrote in August.

    “This created a perverse incentive. To avoid open-ended liability, internet platforms would need to adopt what the New York Supreme Court called the ‘anything goes’ model for user-created content.”

    Section 230 ultimately gave internet platforms the freedom to moderate that content. Twenty-five years later, it’s unclear how courts would rule absent Section 230, but it’s conceivable they would take a different approach—finding internet platforms liable regardless of whether they tried to moderate. In that scenario, repealing Section 230 would lead to heavy censorship, the opposite of what many 230 critics seem to want.

    • Jeffrey says:

      “It’s hard to imagine sites like Yelp, Reddit, or Facebook existing in their current form without a law like Section 230. Yelp, for example, is regularly threatened by business owners for allegedly defamatory reviews. Section 230 allows Yelp to basically ignore these threats. Without Section 230, Yelp would need a large staff to conduct legal analysis of potentially defamatory reviews—a cost that could have prevented Yelp from getting off the ground 15 years ago.

      Section 230 puts the US at odds with most other countries. Different countries take different approaches to intermediary liability, but Kosseff writes that most countries hold online services responsible for user content in at least some circumstances. Courts in Europe, for example, have held that a news site can be held responsible if someone posts a defamatory comment.

      Advocates of Section 230 argue that it has contributed to America’s dominance of the Internet economy. American Internet startups that host user content have had an inherent advantage over their overseas rivals because they haven’t had to worry about the legal complications user-generated content creates for companies in other countries.

      …”There’s an entire class of online interactions that didn’t exist and exists only because of the legal protection.””

  37. Jeffrey says:

    Sorry Scott- It’s called CAPITALism for a reason. Not laborism. You sound like your parents. Our kids will be fine. Remember the hippie generation. They too, turned out fine.

    • Jon carson says:

      Sorry but the facts are the facts. It’s a capitalist SYSTEM and systems need to be in equilibrium. Ours isn’t.

      One fact to me stands out- cumulative productivity gains vs. median income. Almost all the gains in labor efficiency flowed to capital. This shows up in S&P 500 vs. median wage. This is called a wealth pump and it has historically been a precursor to revolution.

      If a system is out of equilibrium and unsustainable then it will eventually right itself. The longer this is delayed the more jarring the recalibration.

      Buckle up….

      • Jeff says:

        Productivity gains are almost entirely from technology. Precursor to revolution? Looking through the long lens of history these are the best of times. Unemployment under 4% for an extended period of time and near 50 year lows. Real median incomes near all time highs. The US is also doing better than the rest of the world.

        The best time to be alive- ever.

        “TO ANYONE who reads a newspaper, this can seem a miserable world. Israel is still at war. Another lunatic has gone on a gun rampage in an American school. The tone of political debate can rarely have been as crass and poisonous as it is today.

        Front pages are grim for the same reason that Shakespeare’s plays feature a lot of murders. Tragedy is dramatic. Hardly anyone would read a story headlined “100,000 AEROPLANES DIDN’T CRASH YESTERDAY”. Bad things often happen suddenly and telegenically. A factory closes; an apartment block burns down. Good things tend to happen incrementally, and across a wide area, making them much harder to film. News outlets could have honestly reported that the “NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY” every day for 25 years. But readers might get bored…

        Negative news is one reason why people consistently underestimate the progress humanity is making.” SP

      • Jeffrey says:


        Facts: Wages are outpacing inflation- for the last year. GDP has been growing and outperforming economist forecasts- repeatedly. Real median household wealth is currently at all time highs. Inflation has more than halved from the recent peaks.

        “The world is about 100 times wealthier than 200 years ago and, contrary to popular belief, its wealth is more evenly distributed. The share of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and half a percent of the toll in the second world war. During the 20th century Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job.

        …Progress has often been stunningly rapid. The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago, such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions. Street hawkers in South Sudan have better mobile phones than the brick that Gordon Gekko, a fictional tycoon, flaunted in “Wall Street” in 1987. It is not just that better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives, or that labour-saving devices have given people more free time, or that Amazon and Apple offer a dazzling variety of entertainment to fill it. People are also growing more intelligent, and more humane.” SP

  38. Paul says:

    CORRECTION – Harvard’s endowment has not grown 500% in half a century. Those would be pretty crappy returns (only 5 fold). It was $1bn in 1974 and now it’s around $45-50bn. That’s a 50-fold increase, or 5000%. You’re under by 10 fold!

  39. Thomas Cooke says:

    I don’t have anything remarkable to say after initial reading of this, other than it will haunt me for the next few days. Thanks for ruining my weekend (in a good, thought-provoking way). We need to do better.

  40. Susan Johnston says:

    You also became a better person. That is the magic of human interaction of any nature. It pulls us out of ourselves, opens us to the real meaning of life … relationships, others, everything besides the big ME.

    I have felt for a very long time that our obsession with taking care of number 1 has led to an empty abyss. We arrive at the edge burdened with the enormous weight of things, junk, semi-precious crapola, look down into the void and seem confused. What went wrong?

    We can fix it so easily. Stop buying junk … fast fashion, tchotchkes, souvenirs, etc. Go to the thrift store.

    Most important … quit patting yourself on the back when you give money to any charity. Keep giving but stop polishing your damn halo and vote for people who will raise taxes, pay for school, underwrite low interest loans, subsidize having children, provide healthcare.


  41. Bill says:

    Note how Scotus has been a very bad actor in crushing the future of the young – see their ruling against student loan forgiveness.
    The Republican “hoarding” of Scotus seats has gone on for decades, bringing us this cult of partisan dictators ruling from the bench. Alito’s seat has been Republican since the Eisenhower Admin., Kavanaugh’s since Nixon – thus each for over half a century. Add the treachery of McConnell, and we have a terrible mess!
    Scotus needs major renovations including Term Limits, Biennial hiring & retiring, Court Expansion, & Mandatory Ethics Penalties. That would be a good beginning. There are house & senate bills pending to move it in this direction.
    But they all need to be stronger – going into effect immediately upon their passage. At the moment they’re too namby-pamby, allowing any justice appointed before the passage of these bills to continue to serve until they choose to retire.
    Enough with the nonsense that “during good behavior” equates to “lifetime job”. The constitution is NOT an employment contract!
    Worse, this would be the same as if the Founders were to have written a clause into the Declaration of Independence AND the Constitution that said, “None of this will go into effect until King George III finishes his lifetime term on the Throne of England!!!” That would have been absurd, and so is any notion that we must wait until Scotus justices retire before court renovations are completely implemented.

  42. Joe says:

    How do we break down the walls that were cemented in place by Citizens United and other laws that have enshrined such a bifurcated system??

  43. christine harris says:

    Thank you, Scott, for your consistency and clarity. You are correct about the issues facing our Future, ie our children. As a psychotherapist working with a clientele mostly between the ages of 24-45 I witness the pressures and issues that are creating havoc for them, and hope that I’m teaching them how to navigate and finesse all that we’ve put on their plate.

  44. David says:

    The Oil Companies get Billion$ of Dollars in Tax credits and millions of children in our Country go to bed hungry every night. This is not a fiscal decision it is a political decision.
    Those decisions are made by the politicians we elected. Every time you vote you make a decision. What and who are you voting for?

  45. robert kaufelt says:

    I thought the you’d mention the most destructive thing the young must suffer. I say this as an old boomer father with three teens. And that is school shootings. In our case, here in Greenwich Village, no such events have taken place yet, thank god. But the drills are here, and the awareness that even very young children are subject to murder in their own classrooms.

  46. John says:

    Robert Kennedy Jr is the only candidate talking about these issues. Regardless what you think about his questioning regarding vaccines, he’s the only one who is addressing the root problems of modern day Americans.

  47. Simon says:

    Lucidly devastating. Action is required but action relies on voting.

  48. Chris Volk says:

    As a baby boomer born of a veteran, I took the option of not joining the military. But now I believe that a national service requirement is important. It would do much to unify our country. And certainly those who fought for America in WW II were highly unified. The loss of such a requirement has need America less great.

    Meanwhile an add to your comments on education funding. In Arizona, where we live, a succession of governors lowered the personal tax rate. It was popular, but a victim was higher education, which received less funding. So, politicians were able to crow about lowering taxes, while students had to make up some of the difference through student debt. So, the reduction of taxes was not due to a lower burden. Often the societal burden was just shifted to the less affluent and those starting out in life. But they had no one to lobby for them or to point out the moral failing inherent in this tax policy.

  49. John Hastings says:

    Short term, we’ll have to tax the mega rich (won’t happen) and introduce universal basic income whilst robot therapists council generations of mental trauma.

    I did some research comparing the average UK house price to the average UK wage since the 1950’s.

    House price: £2k
    Wages: £9k
    Gold per ounce: £22

    House price:
    £4k Wages:

    1966- credit cards launched in the UK.

    House price: £11k
    Wages: £14k

    1973- Bretton Woods change. Gold standard becomes fiat currency. Banks can print money with no gold backing.

    House price: £34k
    Wages: £16k
    Bank interest rates Av. 13%

    House price: £70k
    Wages: £19k
    Bank interest rates Av. 7%

    House price: £187k
    Wages £25k
    Bank interest rate av. 4%

    House price: £212k
    Wages £24k
    Bank interest rates av. 0.5%

    House price £303k
    Wages £32k
    Gold per ounce: £1400

    House prices 70 years ago were on average 20% of your annual salary. They are now on average 900% of your annual salary.

    My working class parents rented and I’ll inherit zero. My best friend’s parents bought a property for £70k which is now valued at £3.5m. They used the equity to buy two other properties outright and are now valued around £5m. My friend and his two siblings will inherit over £1million each. Unfortunately they are all depressed. Money didn’t fill the voids.

    Great article Prof.

  50. Chanakya says:

    Conveniantly ignores that we’re simultaneously sending billions overseas to pay for war and fund healthcare for other country’s citizens while our own children cannot afford housing and healthcare.

  51. Asgeirson says:

    Please write an article citing the most harmful trait of our collective society.
    Pure greed.
    Thank you , love your insight.

  52. Sam Ruda says:

    Well that was a well deserved kick in the ass.
    I call it the “reserve Titanic” approach: old people to the life rafts and for the young, “return to your cabins.” The problem is that the consequences play out over time, slowly, but methodically.

    • Ed Schifman says:

      Scott, you belong in a cabinet seat at whichever administration wins in November.

  53. Kirk Klasson says:

    Well said. But your solutions don’t go far enough. Many of our institutions are obsolete but there is no incentive to change them. Education being first among them.

  54. Don Morrison says:

    As the father of three adult children that was a massively depressing read. As a baby boomer, I cannot deny the truth of the piece.

    When social media emerged, too many people became intoxicated with the notion of a megaphone for everyone as if that could cure society’s ills and injustices. All I could think was, people have not evolved far enough to be ready for this. Nothing good can come of it.

  55. Chuck says:

    Thank you Scott for the insight. I wish more people, especially those in fading generations, had these thoughts guide their decision making. I am in my late 20’s, successful in a career as an Engineer from a middle class family and it still feels like a slog to acquire the simple basics of the American “dream.” I would be drowning in student loan debt if it weren’t for a grandparent dying. Is my only hope for owning a home tied to my parents dying? Every day I feel the urge to opt out of society. Backs against the wall, we must continue to fight. Millennials, let’s make our children’s lives better than ours. Retire and volunteer, don’t waste away in congress sitting on gold from 30% returns.

    • L.Harris says:

      Chuck, please look into the FIRE movement (Financial Independence Retire Early). It is often described as a lifestyle because it gets young people to focus on what really matters now and how they might do big, positive things when they retire, not move to a warm place and play golf. My son has been following the FIRE plan and at 44 is on his way to that early retirement.

  56. Geof Held says:

    Scott, time for you to run for office. Not joking. Your simple, pragmatic solutions are digestible and will make a difference.

  57. Barb Severson says:

    Professor G for President!!

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