Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Saving's study.

For those of you who haven't read Thomas Stoppard's Jumpers, I highly recommend it. It's about people who end up in careers as if driven by their names. Some actual examples include Dr. Alan Heavens and Bob Walk. Also included in this wonderful list should be Thomas R. Savings, Trustee for the Social Security Administration. Except that if he continues to author studies like this one, his critics may take to calling him Thomas Ain't Savings.

The study shows that folks who contribute 4% of their salary to Personal Retirement Accounts (as payroll taxes) would have benefits equal to what they are guaranteed under the current system. I was going to talk about how this study is probably correct on average, but makes the mistake of treating an uncertain outcome (the stock market) as being worth as much as a certain outcome (guaranteed benefits as per Social Security). I could have gone on to discuss the question of how Congress would manage a portfolio like that in the people's best interest, but frankly, what really interested me was the source of this story -- U. S. Newswire.

It was the second sentence (emphasis added) which made me curious about this news.

"WASHINGTON, July 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Critics of President Bush's proposal to reform Social Security argue that it will result in benefit cuts. But that is because they are focused on a proposal to create personal accounts funded by 2 percent of payroll contributions in conjunction with progressive indexation of benefits. With the 4 percent contribution favored by the White House, however, a Bush-style Social Security system would provide benefits equal to or greater than what the current system promises, according to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). "

I had to wonder about the extent to which this "news" appeared to be "advocacy." So I checked out the section entitled About USN. In this section they proudly promote their credentials:

But they also unabashedly talk about working for the Clinton/Gore campaign, as well as working for George W. Bush. I'm almost tempted to talk about how refreshingly honest this section is, but what holds me back is the name, "U.S. Newswire." There is, at least, the implication that the owners of the website are engaging in what we would think of as professional journalism, but the sentence referenced above suggests otherwise.

To you, my faithful, hypothetical audience, your correspondent can assure that he has taken his Blogger's oath: to never pertend to have actually engaged in journalistic professionalism, regardless of the costs.

As always, thanks for reading,

Geesh, what passes for news these days! Well I guess they are "fair and balanced". More so than Fox News, anyway.

Your hypothetical audience thanks you for your honesty and your oath.

Keep bloggin' on.

the gnome
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