Friday, January 28, 2005

Bush Plays the Race Card on Social Security – How Low Will He Go?

Bush is demonstrating once again that for him the ends, destroying Social Security, justifies the means, lying in general and now playing the race card. In his latest installment on the Bush Administration’s seemingly endless series of lies on the state of Social Security, Paul Krugman highlights the our President’s efforts to exploit tragedy in our nation’s African American community(see Krugman's column in the New York Times):

This week, in a closed meeting with African-Americans, Mr. Bush asserted that Social Security was a bad deal for their race, repeating his earlier claim that "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people." In other words, blacks don't live long enough to collect their fair share of benefits.

Krugman’s main points:

First, Mr. Bush's remarks on African-Americans perpetuate a crude misunderstanding about what life expectancy means. It's true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years - but that doesn't mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years' worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks' low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years - not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.

Second, the formula determining Social Security benefits is progressive: it provides more benefits, as a percentage of earnings, to low-income workers than to high-income workers. Since African-Americans are paid much less, on average, than whites, this works to their advantage.

Finally, Social Security isn't just a retirement program; it's also a disability insurance program. And blacks are much more likely than whites to receive disability benefits.
Put it all together, and the deal African-Americans get from Social Security turns out, according to various calculations, to be either about the same as that for whites or somewhat better. Hispanics, by the way, clearly do better than either.

Add it all up and you find that rather than trying to remedy the high mortality rate of African American males in the US our President exploits it to push a lie about the amount of Social Security benefits African Americans actually receive. How low will our President stoop to push his agenda? Well, if he is willing to support torture to pursue liberty then deceiving African Americans about their stake in Social Security seems like child’s play.

Now at this point I thought that James Dobson and the good people at "Focus on the Family" would step in to help our President understand the impact of his policies on African American families. But then again, Dr. Dobson seem to be all caught up in Sponge Bob's square pants.


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