Last week President Bush invited conservative African American leaders
to a White House breakfast where he urged them to revamp social
security because black life expectancy is less in America than white
The President fell prey to common misperceptions about life expectancy
data. In this instance, higher infant mortality and a concurrent
epidemic of black males dying by early adulthood drive down life
expectancy. Indeed, the Census Bureau reports that life expectancy for
African American women (75.6 years) exceeds that for white males (75.1
years) and an African American woman who reaches age 65 can expect an
additional 18 years of life compared to white males’ 16.6 years.
What’s next? A White House white men’s breakfast to pit them against
African American women over pensions? (And how about a breakfast for
illegal immigrant workers who, according to RAND studies, pump
billions into social security and will never draw a penny’s benefit no
matter when they die?)
If the President is to have breakfast with any diversity group and
talk about the shame of minorities’ poor health and early death in the
world’s richest nation, it should be in the context of improving
health care in a country that ranks 35th worldwide in infant mortality
rate (very near Cuba) and 23rd overall in life expectancy.
I do not know if duck was served at the White House breakfast, but
somehow I suspect this whole social security “crisis” may be a canard.
The real economic news last week is the romping Bush deficit aiming at
$433 billion for the year – the biggest annual debt in the history of
the human race. On our current plastic credit terror the USA, indeed
the entire world, will be bankrupt decades before social security may
hit “crisis.” It is not about black versus white, but greenbacks and a
tsunami of red ink that will drown future generations with inherited
debt. Ironically, if larger average family size trends continue, black
and Hispanic future generations will most likely be unduly impacted by
the Bush deficit.