The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Latest Letter

This one went to Meet the Press, regarding a little something that Tim Russert said today. Text follows...


On the January 9th airing of Meet the Press, host Tim Russert said the following:

"When the baby boomers retire, there'll be 80 million. Roosevelt said eligibility 65, which was genius, because if you made it to 65, you were on Social Security for a month or two and that was it. Life expectancy's now 78, 79, 80 years old, so you have twice as many people on the program for 15 years."

Any mathematician or statistician would be able to point out the inherent flaw of this argument. Although the average life expectancy of Americans is currently about 78.7 years, the average life expectancy of a 65 year-old American is not fourteen years.

"A related idea is to attribute the current financial pressures on Social Security to a supposed dramatic increase in life expectancy in recent years. Since average life expectancy at birth is now about 76, this is interpreted as implying that people collect benefits for 14 to 18 years longer than they used to. However, as Table 1 indicates, the average life expectancy at age 65 (i.e., the number of years a person could be expected to receive unreduced Social Security retirement benefits) has only increased a modest 5 years (on average) since 1940. So, for example, men attaining 65 in 1990 can expect to live for 15.3 years compared to 12.7 years for men attaining 65 back in 1940. So the actual increase in time that males can anticipate receiving Social Security is closer to 3 years than to 14."

This information is readily available on the site of the Social Security Administration. Why is not readily available from hosts of news shows that are broadcast nationwide? Or, more importantly, why is not being shared with the Americans who tune into Meet the Press to hear factual reporting from trusted journalists?

The address is Write your own-- preferably avoiding 'astroturfing,' which is the practice of sending form letters to media outlets. That's the GOPs job.