Friday, January 28, 2005

Little Black Lies

Krugman (NYTIMES): Little Black Lies
Social Security privatization really is like tax cuts, or
the Iraq war: the administration keeps on coming up with
new rationales, but the plan remains the same. President
Bush's claim that we must privatize Social Security to
avert an imminent crisis has evidently fallen flat. So
now he's playing the race card.

Let's start with the facts. Mr. Bush's argument goes
back at least seven years, to a report issued by the
Heritage Foundation - a report so badly misleading that
the deputy chief actuary (now the chief actuary) of the
Social Security Administration wrote a memo pointing out
"major errors in the methodology." That's actuary-speak for
"damned lies."

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.

So the claim that Social Security is unfair to blacks is
just false. And the fact that privatizers keep making that
claim, after their calculations have repeatedly been shown
to be wrong, is yet another indicator of the fundamental
dishonesty of their sales pitch.

The persistent gap in life expectancy between
African-Americans and whites is one measure of the deep
inequalities that remain in our society - including highly
unequal access to good-quality health care. We ought to
be trying to diminish that gap, especially given the fact
that black infants are two and half times as likely as
white babies to die in their first year.

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