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Elderly man with cane
Older Americans, a threatened species.
Raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare is one of the very favorite "solutions" of the deficit peacock crowd for punishing the American people for getting older. They justify this idea, always, with the demographically challenged assertion that Americans are living longer, so it just has to be done. That's most lately the assertion in op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, which tells us that the benefits of longevity "aren't just enjoyed by 'privileged' Americans."

Wrong, as Kevin Drum illustrustrates in a simple graph with data taken from this study in Health Affairs.

Men are represented by the lighter colors and women the darker. The more education, the greater the earning potential, the longer the lifespan. That's the empirical data based on the Multiple Cause of Death data files from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). And the rate of growth in the gap in education and lifespan is so fast and so wide, it's astonishing.

The Very Serious People in Washington, all with their 16+ years of education and comfortable existences, continue to pretend that there isn't income inequality, that there isn't opportunity inequality. Because everyone they know is old and healthy and plans to work until they die, that must be true of all of America. They are completely blind to the fact that there's a big segment of the population that is in fact dying earlier than they did just two decades ago.

That's reality.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 08:02 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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