Friday, March 01, 2013

Elder Belle's Blessing: Michael Hiltzig

(Photograph by Patrice Carlton and published at National Geographic.)

This edition of Elder Belle's Blessing, an award given from time to time to those who enhance elders' rights and benefits, goes to Michael Hiltzig whose latest column delineates the sham of those who want to cut Social Security and Medicare because both are unfair to the children of the country.

Here's a phrase you can expect to be hearing a lot in the national debate over fiscal policy, as we move past the "sequester," which is the crisis du jour, and toward the budget cliff/government shutdown deadline looming at the end of March:

"Generational theft."

The core idea the term expresses is that we're spending so much more on our seniors than our children that future generations are being cheated. An important corollary is that the government debt we incur today will come slamming down upon the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. ...

So here's the truth about the "generational theft" theme: It's wrong on the numbers and wrong on the implications.

Let's start with that 7-to-1 spending ratio on seniors versus children. Among the flaws in the calculation is that the vast majority of government dollars spent on children comes from state and local governments, which pay most of the cost of education. On a per capita basis, state and local spending on kids swamps the federal government's spending 8 to 1.

Moreover, there are twice as many children 18 and under as seniors 65 and over (this 2008 figure also comes from the Urban Institute report). Put the numbers together and you discover that spending by governments at all levels in 2008 came to about $1 trillion on seniors and $936 billion on children. In other words, very close to 1 to 1. ...

In other ways, treating Social Security and Medicare spending on the one hand and spending on kids on the other as though they're opposite sides of a zero-sum game is just an act of ideological legerdemain aimed at undermining those programs.
If America wants to spend more on children, it's plenty rich enough to do so without eating away at the income of their grandparents. The money can come from the defense budget, farm supports or dozens of other places, even higher income taxes.

Let's not forget, too, that the people who will really suffer from gutting Social Security won't be today's seniors, who will escape the worst of the cutbacks — they'll be today's young people, for whom Social Security would become much less supportive when they retire.   [Emphasis added]

Oh, it's theft alright, but the thievery is being perpetrated against today's and tomorrow's elders, not by them.  The whole point is to destroy both programs for the benefit of the Wall Street Banksters and mega-insurance companies, and the children and elders be damned.

Go read all of Michael's column.  You'll see why he earned yet another Elder Belle's Blessing.

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Blogger Conni said...

Thank you for this!

7:09 AM  

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