Thomas Friedman Gets Entitlements Wrong
Sorry Kids, Thomas Friedman Is Not Very Good at Economics
Many young people may have been mislead by Thomas Friedman’s column, titled “Sorry Kids: We Ate It All,” which implied that our children might somehow suffer because we are paying so much to seniors for Social Security and Medicare. The reality of course is that if our children and grandchildren do not enjoy much higher standards of living than do current workers and retirees then it will be because the rich have rigged the deck so that they can accrue most of the gains from economic growth.
This is easy to show. For example, if we look at the Social Security trustees report we see that average annual wages are projected to grow at more than a 1.3 percent annual rate between now and 2050. As a result, the average before tax wage will be more than 60 percent higher in 2060 than it is today. If our children and grandchildren get to share equally in these gains then they will be far richer than we are today.
It’s true that we will have a higher ratio of retirees to workers in 2050, just as we have a higher ratio of retirees to workers than we did in 1970. Just as the increase in the ratio of retirees to workers over the last 4 decades did not prevent an increase in average living standards over this period, there is no reason to think it will prevent an increase in average living standards over the next four decades.
I heartily agree with Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The generational theft storyline has been running around for a while and it is both wrong and unconvincing. Let’s take me for instance, I have my form in the mail from the Social Security Administration telling me what to expect. If I wait all the way until I’m 70, I will receive, $1,440 a month. I’m a little curious? When did that become a princely sum? Is this the kind of money that will enable me to go the sand and surf of Hawaii or does it more look like I’m going to have trouble paying for a place to live and basic groceries. I’m leaning toward the latter conclusion. Even in Arkansas, 1,440 dollars a month is not going to pay for a mansion. I might add that I have been paying in on that all of my working life, so it’s not free as far as I am concerned.
Well, what about Medicare? Well, it’s obvious to me although not to Friedman, that medical patents are being abused, that not allowing prescription drugs to either be bargained for by the federal government or purchased overseas is creating dramatically high medical costs and there are a bundles of other good choices we have to reduce out medical costs instead of telling seniors, “It’s just too bad, you got old while Thomas Friedman was considered an expert.”
Where do these people get the gall to tell the great middle class to go without pensions and health care when they have expressed no willingness to fix the nation’s problems? Why do we have a system where capital gains is taxed at less than wages? Why do we have no financial transaction tax to discourage the speculation which has wrought havoc all over this nation and the world?
From around the web.
From the web site, Okieprogressive.
Social Security and Medicare are programs that are needed relevant and necessary!
The economy is slowing repairing itself but we still have those on the right who want to deep-six any social safety net that would protect our seniors, the poor and disadvantaged, the sick, the halt and the lame. These are very people whom even Jesus Christ said should always be protected and aided. People like Tom Coburn don’t agree with Jesus on that, even though Coburn professes to be a follower of that Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth he had publicly stated that Social Security and Medicare are programs that we really don’t need to continue. Tom must have read a different Bible from all the ones I have read.
But, that is the current mantra for a lot of neo-cons and they are influencing a lot of neo-newbies who are coming and have come into the workforce over the past decade. These are people most of whom have never known any toil or strife in their lives because of safety nets like Social Security and Medicare were there for their parents and grandparents. They are the very ones buying to the neo-cons who claim most of the people who are poor don’t try hard enough or don’t or are lazy and shiftless and don’t really want to work. It’s a completely asinine idea, but they are buying hook line and sinker. When you have never known what is to be hungry or out of work I guess it is difficult to understand that, that is something that doesn’t necessarily mean you caused it.
- Tom Friedman’s Worst Column Ever (prospect.org)
- The Government is Open: Now Fight for a Just Economy (talkingunion.wordpress.com)