The New York Times is possibly the most important news outlet in the world, especially for the American ruling class and specifically the financial sector, which it has been tied to for at least a century. So it should come as no surprise that an article entitled “Payback Time – Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected By Europeans” should appear, and with a message of belt-tightening and fiscal austerity. The Times is on the side of the creditors, and the creditors are using the shock they largely created to rip apart gains made by the working class over the last hundred years.
It doesn’t make me sad or angry to find out the Times writes for creditors – they are the ones that pay its advertising bills. Rather, the dubious logic used by the authors makes me long for better journalists, or at least journalists with some critical reasoning skills. For instance this:
According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.
Statistics like this have long been used in the United States by those who want to slash spending on Social Security. The population is aging, we are told, and in the future there will be fewer workers-to-retirees. Well, yes, but this is a dubious way to predict whether we will be able to afford future benefits based on current extrapolations. What really matters is output and worker productivity. For instance, in the United States, while there are now fewer workers per retiree, our productivity has increased 40% since 1970. In the third quarter of 2009 alone, productivity shot up 9.5%. Of course, much of the growth in the last few decades was due to squeezing workers’ paychecks and the disappearance of jobs.
They do it again here:
With the retirement of the baby boomers, the number of pensioners will rise 47 percent in France between now and 2050, while the number under 60 will remain stagnant. The French call it “du baby boom au papy boom,” and the costs, if unchanged, are unsustainable. The French state pension system today is running a deficit of 11 billion euros, or about $13.8 billion; by 2050, it will be 103 billion euros, or $129.5 billion, about 2.6 percent of projected economic output.
The deficit of $13.8 billion is piddling compared to what France could raise if it so chose. They currently spend $54.5 billion on the military, but of course our intrepid NY Times journalists never question where the money might come from except through fiscal austerity aimed at tightening the belts of the working masses. Again, I focus on current statistics because no social scientist takes economic statistics projected 40 years out very seriously, or at least without extreme caveats.
What this should lead us to is to, of course, question our media, but also to ask why we are being sold a bill of goods about the impossibility of affording these social programs when there is plenty of wealth out there that simply isn’t being discussed. Liberals who bemoan this fact never seem to see that it has nearly always been a consequence of a radical socialist or Marxist movement that allowed for alternatives to be discussed in the public sphere, and that is exactly what is currently lacking in the West.