Note: The following article states that new research shows that Americans over 65 are disproportionately wealthy. The word “disproportionately” is used in a pejorative manner in this sentence. The report from Pew Research entitled “The Rising Age Gap in Economic Well-Being: The Old Prosper Relative to the Young” does not use this negatively charged word. If NPR were exercising journalist excellence here, they would not use this negatively charged word.
The Pew Report, and the HuffPost article linked to below, indicate the the lack of opportunity for younger workers over the last three decades are responsible for the disparity. Note that the “wealth” of younger workers fell 68 percent, from $11,532 to $3,662. The elder wealth has gone up 42 percent, but the huge increase in percentage difference is misleading as it is primarily caused by the low youth wealth accumulation. Much of this is likely due to difference in spending habits, accumulation of debt and the bust in the value of homes. It is difficult to believe that this asset number could be this low, it is less that the value of a used car. The older group has an average worth of $174,494, far from what would be considered wealthy. This income and wealth difference is insignificant compared to the gap between the upper 1% and the current middle class.
Note that the Pew Report says “The age-based wealth gap had been 10:1. By 2009, it had ballooned to 47:1.” (another pejorative word). If the elder wealth had been unchanged at $120.457, the ratio would still have “ballooned” to 33:1. The coverage of this report in the mainstream media gives a very slanted and incorrect view of the results of the survey. The report should have been entitled Young workers losing out on opportunity. This is truly a story about the rape of the middle class, not the wealth of the elder citizens.
The following article is one of the most poorly written news articles this editor has come across, but it has some information of use. The author tends to put too much opinion in the article and does it in such subtle ways that the untrained reader might not be aware of the misdirection. This appears to be an opinion piece masquerading as news and the author starts with a point of view. Be wary of conclusions drawn by the writer.
by Marilyn Geewax
Conservative activists in the Tea Party want Congress to cut government budget deficits. At the same time, liberal protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement want lawmakers to reduce wealth inequality.
Both goals could be achieved by doing one thing: (Opinion) reducing Social Security payments to retirees, the wealthiest demographic group in the country. (editors note: this statement is misleading at the best and incorrect at the worst. Demographics are comprised of many different divisions. It would be more correct to say the “the wealthiest demographic is the wealthy.” of course one needs to define wealthy.
While that solution might make mathematical sense, the political arithmetic says it doesn’t add up. Few conservatives — and even fewer liberals — are calling for any reduction in Social Security benefits, set to rise by 3.6 percent in January.
This political unity comes even as: 1) Congress’ bipartisan supercommittee is searching frantically for ways to reduce the government’s annual $1.3 trillion deficit; and 2) new research shows that Americans over 65 are disproportionately wealthy.
“Social Security should not be used as a piggy bank to solve the nation’s deficit,” AARP’s chief executive A. Barry Rand said in a statement on the New Deal-era program that provides monthly checks to retirees and their spouses. Read More
For some excellent graphs and clear words, go to The Distribution of Wealth in America. This article only covers up to 2004. All reports are that the wealth gap between the Top 5% and the remaining classes has increased in the intervening 7 years.