Friday, September 02, 2005

Equus Mortuus 2

To paraphrase Al Sharpton’s DNC speech, Hyman has apparently decided to slap the dead donkey of Social Security reform until it either carries him to Washington D.C. or putrifies beneath him. (Yeah, I like Sharpton’s version better too!)

Hyman offers two more “phacts” (adding to the two from his previous commentary) about Social Security that are demonstrably false.

Hyman Phact #3:

By law, excess Social Security revenues are to be invested in government bonds,
the so-called Trust Fund. And the money from these bonds - currently more than
$1.5 trillion worth - has already been spent. The Trust Fund is the world's
largest IOU.

Real Fact: The trust fund is only an IOU if you consider all government bonds to be nothing more than IOUs. Whenever anyone buys a government bond (a foreign government, a Wall Street investor, or a grandparent buying a bond for grandchild’s future college education), the money is spent by the government and repaid when the bond is redeemed. That’s the way the system works, and the government has never defaulted on a bond, ever. The idea that the entire $1.5 trillion is suddenly either not going to get paid back or have to be raised in one fell swoop by a gigantic tax hike is simply wrong.

Hyman Phact #4:

The system discriminates against minorities that have shorter life expectancies.
The retirement age to draw full benefits is being increased to 67. The average
black male in America lives to be just over 68 years old. He can pay into Social
Security for his entire working life, then collect for just a year before - poof
- he dies. Hispanics also have a shorter life expectancy than do whites.

Real Fact: It’s probably a safe bet that when Hyman invokes concern about minorities in a commentary, he’s trying to pull a fast one. We’ve seen that Hyman considers all undocumented immigrants terrorists and has repeatedly belittled civil rights leaders and groups. So when he cynically invokes “discrimination” as part of what’s wrong with Social Security, we can’t help but be a bit doubtful.

And we have good reason to be in this case. Hyman notes that African Americans and Hispanics have shorter life expectancies than whites. True enough. Of the tens of millions of those without health insurance in this country, a disproportionate number of them are minorities, and this certainly contributes (along with a higher poverty rate in general) for a higher mortality rate. Note, however, that Hyman doesn’t seem to think that this in itself is a problem. He consistently rages against any version of national health care, something that would help solve the “discrimination” problem at its source by reducing the differences in life expectancy.

But Hyman cares more about playing the race card to score political points for a privatization scheme that would hurt minorities than he does about the minorities themselves. This is why he doesn’t bother with the facts about Social Security and minorities.

William Spriggs, a senior fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, explodes the myth of Social Security’s “discrimination” against minorities in an essay that appears in the journal Dollars and Sense. He points out that Social Security benefits don’t simply go to elderly retired workers. They also go to those who are disabled, as well as the dependents of those workers who die early. These benefits favor minorities (African Americans in particular) disproportionately. Moreover, the death rates cited by Hyman and other Social Security privateers are misleading; the higher death rates are due largely to more minority men dying in middle-age. The life expectancies of minority women are not significantly shorter than those of white women, and the life expectancy of any man once he reaches the age of 65 is roughly the same, regardless of race. This directly contradicts Hyman's claim that the average black man will collect only a year's worth of Social Security before he dies (or goes "poof," as Hyman so sensitively says).

For someone who criticizes others for using “race baiting” in their political rhetoric, Hyman is oddly eager to use this tactic himself in the most cynical and misleading way possible.

And those are the Factual Counterpoints.

Hyman Index: 3.47


At 11:04 PM, Blogger C R Mountjoy - GDF said...

Amen. Brother!


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