Saturday, February 19, 2005

Disingenuous Reporting on Social Security Reform

MSNBC is carrying this item from the Washington Post under the headline "Poorest face most risk on Social Security".

This is so typical of much of the reporting done by the Post. Jim VandeHei writes, "No group of Americans would be affected more by President Bush's Social Security plan than those earning the least. Just ask 46-year-old Brent Allen."

VandeHei then goes on to describe how Mr. Allen has just been laid off from a his job at a Massachussetts paper mill and is facing the prospect of retirement with only Social Security benefits as income. We are told that Mr. Allen is a former investor. "I have had stocks, and have had them for six years, and I have lost money continually".

Well, then for sure there's no money to be made in the market. Thanks, Brent. I'm going to cash in my investments and put all that cash in my mattress. Hey, I won't be making any money, but I won't lose it either.

VandeHei then continues to mislead readers by omitting relevant facts. We are told that "nearly half the U.S. population, ...has no pension or savings to speak of" and that "more than 60 million Americans 25 to 64 years old reported incomes of less than $25,000 in 2002". What is relevant here, and what VandeHei doesn't tell us, is whether or not the half of the population with no pension or savings, or the more than 60 million Americans with incomes less than $25,000 are heads of their households.

If the answer is yes, then clearly this would be a cause for concern. If the answer is no, then we really need to examine the financial health of the heads of households. Clearly in a population this large there are going to be some heads of households who fall into this catergory. It would be informative to know how many do.

Gee, and I'm just spitballing here, could it be that Mr. VandeHei is a Democrat who is against Social Security reform (and anything else President Bush is trying to accomplish)? Could that be why he omitted relevant facts in his piece?

No comments: