Monday, May 16, 2005

Slackers and Geezers

Although my psychiatrist--for purposes related to my sanity and usefullness to mankind--has advised me not to read any transcripts, or watch any shows, radio or otherwise, in which media critic and conservative scold Michael Medved makes an appearance, I continue to be perplexed by this most recent rant of his where prior to interviewing Hans Riemer from Rock the Vote on the subject of Social Security "reform", had this to say:

MEDVED: Fourty-four minutes past the hour on The Michael Medved Show. My question for our guest Hans Riemer. He is with the "I Heart Social Security" campaign of Rock the Vote. It's sort of an alliance of slackers and geezers to try to make sure that we continue bankrupting the country to pay very high and continually rising Social Security benefits. Given the fact that in really a couple years -- we're talking about seven years, it could be that soon -- we will be paying out more in benefits than we are taking in in payroll taxes, where is -- how are you going to continue paying people these promised benefits without either raising the payroll tax or taking more money out of general revenues?

Now, I realize I'm treading on dangerous ground in trying to decipher anything Michael Medved--reportedly an entertainment/movie critic by training and profession--might have to say about the structure and finances of the Social Security program.

But in just one paragraph he manages to let fly several whoppers. Let's parse this sentence from the wise one: "...make sure we continue bankrupting the country to pay very high and continually rising Social Security benefits". Social Security benefits are bankrupting the country? Well, I admit I hadn't heard any allegations that the country was currently being bankrupted at the present moment, not to mention that Social Security was the guilty party. Maybe he means the country is being bankrupted by the President's tax cuts for the rich and the continuing war in Iraq.

And then "....very high and continually rising Social Security benefits"? Very high? All the other conservatives I've heard mention the level of Social Security benefits claim its a bad deal, the rate of return stinks, etc. Maybe Medved didn't get the memo.

And then there's his claim that (gosh this is getting painful) " really a couple of years--we're talking about seven years--it could be that soon, we will be paying out more in benefits than we are taking in in payroll taxes..." Seven years? I'm surprised Hans Riemer didn't eat Medved there on the spot. Seven years? Um, no. 2017 is the projected date that incoming payroll taxes will start to fall below projected benefit payouts. Seven years? Twelve is more like it. And what will happen then? Well, because Social Security pays benefits as long as the Trust Funds show positive assets, the benefit checks will keep going out, till at least 2050 according to the Congressional Budget Office.

But he's not done demonstrating his thorough lack of knowledge in the field of public policy. " are you going to keep paying...benefits...without...taking money out of general revenues". Another memo Medved hasn't gotten. All the Social Security "reform" bills favored by his pals raid the general fund to the tune of $3 to 7 trillion--more, I might add, than the indefinite Social Security deficit.

Not content do botch the dollar and sense part of the argument, however, Medved gets snippy about those who disagree with them and his president. "...sort of an alliance of slackers and geezers..."

Slackers and geezers. That's what Medved and his conservative friends think of you and me. And your mother who relies on Social Security benefits all the while Medved has to make due on his book royalties and radio host salary (paid, it seems to me, by someone with a most gracious spot in their heart for someone lacking even the most rudimentary knowledge about anything).

Slackers and geezers. Medved should take time off from watching the Passion to get a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

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