Faster history, faster democracy?

A mostly political Weblog.
March 15 2005 6:16 AM

Faster History, Faster Democracy?

Plus--Who cares who runs Disney?

(Continued from Page 2)

They only have to get lucky once: Lindsay Lohan denies she groped Bruce Willis, thwarting the latest Al Qaeda plot to culturally destabilize  the West. ...3:23 A.M.

Look out. CNN's harnessed the star power of the charismatic ... Frank Sesno! 3:10 A.M.

Boomer Geezer Moochers? Nicole Gelinas makes the interesting argument that able-bodied 67-year olds who retire on Social Security--in an era when many people their age keep working-- might come to be see as welfare-like moocheseven though they'd been working and contributing payroll taxes all their lives:

Retirement for healthy seniors could be viewed as a lifestyle choice — one that working seniors, and younger workers, don't see the justification in funding.

Social Security has always been double-"work-tested"--that is 1) people who got it were seen as too old to be expected to work and 2) they'd worked and contributed payroll taxes when they were younger. But maybe Work Test #1 has now eroded--so many seniors are working that people in their late 60's aren't considered too old to work (just as, Gelinas notes, single moms are no longer not expected to work). AARP should worry about this. All those pictures in its magazine of vigorous seniors biking and hiking are coming back to bite them.

Gelinas says raising the program's retirement age "by a year or two won't shore up Social Security's deficits by much." I'm not so sure-- these actuaries say increasing it to 70 solves 60% of the funding problem. More important, Gelinas' own argument makes the case for raising the age whether or not it shores up the program's financial underpinning. Raising the retirement age--more precisely, the age at which you get full benefits--may be necessary to preserve the program's moral and political underpinning, the idea that those who get its benefits really are too old to work. ... [What about those in arduous jobs--coal mining, etc.--who are exhausted by age 65?-ed You could make special provisions for such "hardship" jobs--three years in a coal mine gets you one year off your retirement age, etc.?] ...

P.S.: See Will Saletan's recent article for a more detailed defense of raising the retirement age. ... Saletan's misleading, though, when he says "[w]e've ... means-tested benefits." We've partially taxed Social Security benefits, which you could call a mild back-door means test, but we haven't even begun to explore the potential savings from actually cutting benefits for the affluent. ... 2:10 A.M.

David Brooks and the Important Conversation: David Brooks at the Aspen Institute/Maxim * self-publicizing gasfest, as reported by Jarvis:

"I have never met an elected official who reads a blog... They're not in the conversation." He says he reads blogs. But he says that blogs are at a war among themselves and there is a different conversation -- the one that matters, is the implication -- among elected officials.

Well, sure. A discussion between Bill Kristol and Dick Cheney about whether to invade Syria is a more important "conversation" than a Captain Ed attack on CNN. But the people in the current Republican conversation, like the people in Sidney Blumenthal's Clintonian "conversation," aren't smart enough to think of all the ideas themselves. Ideas break in from the outside (private accounts, flat tax, gay marriage, welfare reform). Those ideas are as likely to come from the blogosphere as from David Brooks' column. ... When it comes to putting these larger ideas into practice, bloggers are already powerful political actors--the Trent Lott case showed that. Neither elite 'conversation' participants, nor most of the established press nor, frankly, the American people were especially exercised about Lott; bloggers were. ... The pending bankruptcy bill may or may not  turn out to be an even more spectacular demonstration of blogger power. ... As for whether elected politicians will read blogs--get serious! These are wary, self-interested people who pay elaborate attention to constituent mailmuch of which is written by obvious kooks and cranks. Bloggers look like the Bloomsbury Group in comparison. Of course elected officials will soon be reading blogs (even if they have an intern surf the web and summarize the entries for them). Powerline already knows some U.S. Senators  Brooks must not have met. ... Backfill: Lynne Cheney says, "I have a lot of blogs I read," and names names convincingly (she knows, for example, that RCP  isn't quite a blog). ...

*: We think we got that right. It's some Felix Dennis thing. ... 12:09 A.M.

TODAY IN SLATE

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