Even though I really consider myself to be one of the last Gen-Xers rather than a Millennial, I think Ryan's reflection is pretty spot-on. I grew up and largely matured in the 1990s, and it was indeed a great time - and the 2000s were a terrible time, for all the reasons above. I had hoped things would change under Obama - unfortunately, things haven't been changing nearly as fast as I would like, largely thanks to a Republican Congress hell-bent on preventing Obama from doing ANYTHING while in office, but also because Obama has turned out to be far more of a centrist than most of his 2008 supporters would have thought - all right-wing hysterics about "socialism" notwithstanding.Over the years, most of us have retained roughly the same view of whether the government is wasteful and inefficient. The postwar (“Silent”) and Boomer generations hover around 65% and Gen X hovers around 55% — with very little change as members of those generations get older. But Millennials are different. In 2003 they were pretty optimistic about government-run programs, with only about 30% saying they were wasteful. Today, though, nearly 50% think that. In the course of only a decade, they’ve become far, far more cynical about government programs.Why? Is this related to the Iraq War? To the Bush/Rove administration more generally? To the stimulus bill? (The numbers went way up between 2009 and 2011.) Or were they just unnaturally optimistic during their 20s and are now catching up to everyone else? Any guesses?
However, my guess is that Millennials would have greatly different opinions about WHICH PARTS of government are so wasteful - my guess is that anything having to do with military or the state security apparatus would be viewed as obscenely wasteful (which is accurate, I'll note), but that other parts of government (environmental protections, food stamps, research, etc.) would be viewed as far less wasteful.