The News Tribune editorial board sadly weaponized a misleading study on the wealth gap between younger and older generations (editorial, 11-15) and targeted it at the incredibly successful social insurance programs Medicare and Social Security.
To state simply that the wealth gap has gone from 10-to-1 in 1984 to 47-to-1 now without giving any context is an act of journalistic malfeasance. It is an act of feigned surprise to be shocked that young people who are now entering a jobless job market or have had their newly bought home become underwater would have less comparative wealth.
The study has other flaws, including not including pension programs – common 30 years ago – as part of one’s wealth, while including 401(k) savings – now prevalent – as wealth, which artificially inflates this wealth gap over time.
Even the editorial board points out that this gap has doubled in the last five years and, thus, its prescription is to cut Social Security and Medicare. That would make sense if benefits for those programs had doubled in that time, but of course they haven’t; they have barely kept up with inflation.
The truth of the matter is the elderly are barely treading water. The average Social Security payment to women is $12,155 per year – hardly extravagant. Also, the elderly spend 19 percent of their income on out-of-pocket medical expenses.
To cut their meager income, while simultaneously increasing their medical expenses, is plain inhuman and the editorial board should be ashamed for advocating it.