Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of you develop instant glazed eye syndrome when I repeatedly harp on the need to preserve Social Security and to flay those who want to kill it.
Here I go again.
As I keep pointing out, the media – either deliberately in concert with anti-Social Security politicians or out of ignorance and/or laziness – too often publish misinformation, untruths and maybe lies.
This week, Trudy Lieberman, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a publication far more prestigious and well-known than this blog, has taken up this issue:
”For nearly three years CJR has observed that much of the press has reported only one side of this story using ‘facts’ that are misleading or flat-out wrong while ignoring others…” she writes.
“To be sure, Social Security is not in perfect financial health. But the fact is, the program can pay full benefits until 2036, and three-quarters of the benefits after that without new revenues.
“Many experts believe small fixes like lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes—$110,100 for 2012—will make Social Security solvent for decades. But that option is not on Washington’s table, nor has it been discussed much in the press.
“Why not? Because it doesn’t fit into the doom-and-gloom narrative that has proved politically expedient to tell.”
Sing it, Trudy! I am so grateful she is taking this on in a magazine widely read within the journalism community.
The result of the uninformed media narrative (as also happened during former President George W. Bush’s attempt to cram Social Security privatization down the public’s throat six years ago) is that young people do not believe in Social Security at all. Trudy again:
”A twenty-nine-year old web manager for a New York City agency recently told me she was opting out of the program, which the city pension system allows her to do.
“’I don’t think Social Security is a wise investment given the (availability) of a deferred compensation plan,’ she said. ‘It’s a known fact,’ the woman explained, ‘if it stays the way it is right now, it would run out of funds in 2035.’ How did she know that? She listed the media outlets that helped shape her opinion.”
Ms. Lieberman has dug into the background of the (forgive me) War on Social Security much deeper than I have managed to do and discovered this:
”In 1983, Stuart Butler, now director of the Policy Innovation Center at the Heritage Foundation, crafted a manifesto called Achieving a ‘Leninist’ Strategy outlining how the right could systematically attack the country’s most popular social program.
“The document advised ‘one element involves what one might crudely call guerrilla warfare against both the current Social Security system and the coalition that supports it.’
“Butler and his coauthor identified key interest groups—the young, the middle-aged, and those nearing or in retirement—to target.
“The manifesto also described the need for ‘an education campaign to gain the support of key individuals in the media as well as to win over vital constituencies for political reform,’ and it called for exploring and formulating into legislative initiatives ‘methods of neutralizing, buying out, or winning over key segments of the Social Security coalition.’”
Go read the entire story. It is packed with important information we need in our continuing efforts to fight back against these forces. Information like:
• the fact that Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who once championed Social Security, has now gone over to the dark side
• a frightening report in a recent Esquire pitting “fat-cat elders” against the youth of America
• why you should not trust what Lori Montgomery writes about Social Security at the Washington Post.
I cannot recall the last time I could so totally recommend a piece of journalism. Trudy Lieberman’s is a crucially important story for all citizens but especially we elders who will be doing as much as possible to hold back the tide against killing Social Security.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia Hirtz: The Rain