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reviewed by T. Nelson


Plunder and Deceit:
Big Government's Exploitation of Young People and the Future

by Mark R. Levin
Threshold Editions, 2015, 244 pages

I admit I haven't read Mark Levin's previous books, but I heard so much prepublication praise about this one that I ordered it. It's meant to be read by young people—we oldies already know all this stuff. It's not a rant, either, but full of numbers, facts, and quotes from guys kids have never heard of, like Jefferson, Madison, and John Locke.

As such, if you can get 'em to read it, it's great. But it starts out like this on page 21:

“The rising generation must question, confront, and civilly resist the real authoritarianism that endangers its future and the quality of life of those not yet born, whether preached in the classroom, popularized through entertainment, or idealized by demagogic politicians. Their well-being as a free, self-sufficient, and thriving people is at stake.”

Now, we know they must do that, but saying so is like telling teenagers they must clean up their room—it turns leaving a pile of clothes on the floor into an act of rebellion. In the very next paragraph he asks the most important question in the whole book: “Do younger people wish to be free and prosperous?”

Trigger warning His answer is yes. But I'm not so sure. When I talk to them and read their Tweets, I get the impression they don't much care whether they're free or not. They happily upload their personal data to Google and Facebook, knowing it goes straight to the government. They happily fill out those forms in the doctor's waiting room saying they don't have a firearm and then check the box saying it's okay to share this information with anybody who wants it. And, of course, young people, and especially young women, turned out in droves to vote for Obama because he was, in their eyes, one of them.

Not having freedom is normal to them because unlike us old geezers they never really had it. They just think we're out of touch.

But maybe they're smarter than we give them credit for. Young people don't save enough, says Levin. But why is this a problem? Debt is good if there's inflation, and we all know the government loves inflation, which is why we always have it. Young people picked up on that.

Student loans are another example. Student debt is ginormous. But I defy you to show me one kid who doesn't believe the Feds are going to “forgive” all the student debt. If that happens the ones who struggled and worked to pay in cash would just feel like chumps. And they would be chumps.

Here are the issues that Levin says will hurt the Millennials:

Conservatives have been talking about these issues for years, but Millennials haven't gotten the message.

The question is: will Levin's tone resonate with them? When talking to young people, it's often more effective to give concrete, specific examples rather than soaring abstractions. I suspect that by the time Millennials figure out what's meant by ‘a steady transition toward statism’ it may be too late.

Here is a concrete example of a concrete example:

“Little unemployed Julio huddled against the cold in her little cardboard shack. He looked out over the bleak, polluted landscape, hoping the government would send her some money. But his Social Security had been destroyed by greedy capitalists, so no check was coming to her. His free gender change operation was scheduled for her for next week by the kind lady down at the government-run health center, but he or she was too hungry to think. She or he took another bite from his or her dead rat, which had once been her or his beloved pet, and he or she vowed someday to get revenge on those Republicans.”

That's what Millennials are used to reading. Instead Levin gives them this (p. 181):

“The consolidation of power, a mortal threat to the individual and liberty, is now the primary object of government.”

Again, this is true, and well said, but why are the individual and liberty important? I'm not at all sure young people know. Mark R. Levin's hope is that when presented with the brute facts that Social Security isn't coming, the terrorists are here, and youth unemployment is trending up, they'll want to do something about it. He calls for them to start a New Civil Rights movement to get their liberty back. But if the economic and sociological pressures push them the other way, it's asking an awful lot for a kid to buck that.

Mark Levin (and the rest of us) are hoping they'll wake up and realize they're being cheated before it's too late. Maybe the best way to get them to read this book would have been to plaster the cover with Trigger Warnings. Then they'll have to read it.

aug 08, 2015; updated aug 10, 2015