Gary North’s Reality Check
The best way to send a leftist into apoplexy is to show that rich people have some advantage that poor people don’t. “Unfair! Unfair! The government must do something about this!”
Rich people in the United States have longer life expectancies than poor people do. This information has been available for decades. But when the latest study showed that the gap is increasing, The Washington Post got onto this story fast.
RICH COUNTY, POOR COUNTY
The Post looked at two counties in Florida. One had higher income. Its residents live longer.
In St. Johns County, which is a “beachfront” county, incomes are twice as high as incomes in inland Putnam County. So are housing prices. Life expectancy has risen to 83 for women, 78 for men. (Unfair! Unfair! The government must do something. But what? How about executing women when they reach 78? That might cause women to move, so the law would have to be imposed nationally.)
In Putnam, women die at 78. Men die at 71.
The widening gap in life expectancy between these two adjacent Florida counties reflects perhaps the starkest outcome of the nation’s growing economic inequality: Even as the nation’s life expectancy has marched steadily upward, reaching 78.5 years in 2009, a growing body of research shows that those gains are going mostly to those at the upper end of the income ladder.
This is cause and effect in Leftieland: money buys years. Ignored is this possibility: moral lifestyles vary, and healthier life styles produce people who live longer and who make more money. For example, what about the possibility that poor people smoke more than rich people do? The article mentioned this, but only late. What about the possibility that poor people eat more junk food? Sorry, not covered. How about divorce rates? Not covered.
The tightening economic connection to longevity has profound implications for the simmering debate about trimming the nation’s entitlement programs. Citing rising life expectancy, influential voices including the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, the Business Roundtable and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued that it makes sense to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.
Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. The two systems are the bulk of the discrepancy between the present value of the shortfall between expected revenues and expected outflow: $222 trillion. Irrelevant, say Leftists. There ought to be a law against this fiscal discrepancy. The government must immediately take $222 trillion from the rich and invest it wisely. That should be easy enough.
“People who are shorter-lived tend to make less, which means that if you raise the retirement age, low-income populations would be subsidizing the lives of higher-income people,” said Maya Rockeymoore, president and chief executive of Global Policy Solutions, a public policy consultancy. “Whenever I hear a policymaker say people are living longer as a justification for raising the retirement age, I immediately think they don’t understand the research or, worse, they are willfully ignoring what the data say.”
Ms. Rockeymoore did not mention that poor people pay less money into Social Security and Medicare than rich people do. That is the sort of statistic that people like Ms. Rockeymoore do not think is relevant.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)