Monday, April 14, 2014

Latest Pew Research Report- Interesting data, misleading rhetoric

The demographic data is nicely displayed, and in a clear, thought provoking way. However, the next to last segment entitled: "Saving the Safety Net" reads like it was written by Maya McGuiness and the Fix the Debt Hacks. It is very uninformed and misleading, disguised in an otherwise useful media piece:

"But the status quo is unsustainable. Some 10,000 Baby Boomers will be going on Social Security and Medicare every single day between now and 2030. By the time everyone in this big pig-in-the-python generation is drawing benefits, we’ll have just two workers per beneficiary – down from three-to-one now, five-to-one in 1960 and more than forty-to-one in 1945, shortly after Social Security first started supporting beneficiaries. 
The math of the 20th century simply won’t work in the 21st. Today's young are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for today's old that they have no realistic chance of receiving when they become old. And they know it – just 6% of Millennials say they expect to receive full benefits from Social Security when they retire. Fully half believe they’ll get nothing."
Its a good thing that I'm bad at math, since the author of this piece didnt bother to do any- apparently rhetorical flourishes will suffice. And hey, who knew  all that 20th century math expired on December 31, 1999?

The only thing wrong with the financing of federal programs is the public's perceptions of them, and poorly researched pieces like this one are part and parcel of this problem. I can however concur with the finding the just 6% of millennials think that we will get full benefits when we retire. The ceaseless and well funded propagandizing on this issue has been successful in making my generation very cynical. This hopelessness runs deep in our perceptions of government and economics, thanks in part to the almost fetishized doom-and gloom scenarios from "serious experts." MMT in contrast, provides sunlight and fresh air to US policy discussions, and in my view is the best antidote to the "learned helplessness" that permeates my generation.