Tag Archives: Face the Nation

Must shrink government. Must shrink government.

via Digby, from a story at ourfuture.org, here’s another example of how a flawed bit of received wisdom (probably originated with  Grover Norquist!) settles into lazy minds to be plucked out as necessary with no further examination required. Schieffer, whom I generally like, has obviously not bothered to inform himself beyond the universal script, but fer Elvis’ sake, Warner is a US Senator. My expectations are apparently too high.

On Face the Nation, Sen. Mark Warner was asked by host Bob Schieffer [what action] his ‘Gang of Six’ would take on Social Security reform . . . Warner gave. . .  the popular refrain that “part of this is just math: 16 workers for every one retiree 50 years ago, three workers for every retiree now.”

. . .  In fact, the high ratio of workers to retirees in 1950 was an anomaly, which resulted from the larger number of workers that were incorporated into the program at the time, such as millions of farm workers and domestic workers. Furthermore, because the program was still relatively new, the first workers to contribute to the program had not yet started to collect benefits. To demonstrate how meaningless the 16:1 number it, consider this: Only five years later [in 1955], the worker-to-beneficiary ratio was halved to 8:1, and by 1975 it was down to what it is today. And just ten years earlier, in 1940, the ratio  had been 149.5 workers for every one retiree!

. . .  The worker-to-retiree ratio has been stable for almost forty years and has not failed to supply adequate levels of benefits.

Betcha didn’t know that.