Lies, Damned Lies and Social Security

category_bug_politics.gif 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


At Nieman Watchdog, a site written for journalists by (mostly) journalists, there is also an excellent article explaining how to interpret the upcoming 2012 Social Security Trustees Report. Our defenders are getting to work! Bravo!

Nay, dear Ronni, I DO NOT "develop instant glazed eye syndrome" when you explain the need to preserve Social Security and the unfolding ugly truths, lies, and list of proponents who want to kill it, including their willing allies: suckers, true believers who won't or can't think, and others. Harp on, dear canary in the land mine, canary with big brain, passion for fairness and honesty, and gifts of research, analysis, and clear (often witty!) communication.

It's part of their war on everybody who isn't wealthy and they own the media. That's the thing to remember. Oh the reporters might be more liberal but most media is owned by the right and it's not just Fox. Those who buck them end up out.

They pretty well own Congress and unless Americans get more alert to what is happening, there won't be any undoing it. It's that close.

The social media may be the only place they don't control and they will try if they can. I assume you regularly get the same kind of offers that I do for accepting money to run ads. How long after the ads before control sets in?

Americans better get their heads out of the sand before it's too late-- and I especially mean lefties because righties will NEVER vote for him and some of that (as was suggested by someone else on a different subject) is racism, the kind they hide and don't want to admit but that shows up when the repeat vicious cartoons or find fault with him for not doing ALL they wanted when they know the right wing would not either and do a lot worse.

We need a 60 vote majority of real Democrats in the Senate before we can blame Obama for anything as right now the House is very right leaning while the Senate can block voting on anything without 60 solid votes and he has never had that

Oh, you just keep on harpin', Ronni........I don't mind being reminded to make some noise about elder benefits among other important things. And I so agree with Rain. When all is said & done, it's racism again & again. Lots of folks I run into every day cannot admit that an African-American is smart & accomplished. Dee

Ditto and double ditto on the above comments. And keep on keepin' on, Ronni, we need all the info we can get. There is so much scary inaccurate info being thrown about out there, and so many people believe it all. I truly appreciate all you do.

Will the battle to preserve Social Security ever end? I cannot imagine why those on the right are so determined to kill it. I guess it's more important to them to kill the best program ever devised because it was a Democrat that originated the program. They will never get over the fact that most of their economic programs have always ended in disaster and the Democratic programs have bailed them out.

Eisenhower was the only good Republican president in my lifetime and the Republicans don't like him.

I will go read these other sources ASAP. I am very disappointed to hear about Durbin. He represents me, and I have always been a solid supporter, but I need to know what's happened with him regarding SS. Thank you, Ronni and others here, for information that I might not have come across otherwise.

It's incredible that we must refight the battle for women's rights and for Social Security. Do the rich Republicans want old ladies' bodies littering the streets of our nation? I'll admit that I'm not very productive nowadays, but I worked all my life to get to this point. Now I'm afraid to open my newspaper in the morning for fear that they have done away with my lifeline.

My daughter, age 30, has also misstated that Social Security holds no future benefits for her based on the hearsay that is being promulgated by anti-social security forces. It's all I can do to keep patient and explain the facts to her when I hear such tripe.

I appreciate your continued attention to this subject.

Just seconding the opinion that we need to sing out loudly to preserve and protect SS, and assure our children and grandchildren that it will be there for them as well. As others have said: Keep on harpin'!

Harping? Hardly! No glazed eyes here. You bring important information that would take me forever to find. Thank you.

Off to write to my congressional reps again.

Larry, love you calling it tripe! Perfect.

Marge, I'm adding tripple ditto!

Thanks Ronni!

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