As MediaNews Group Inc., the holding company for the Denver Post and other newspapers, fights for survival through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, alternative competitive media outlets continue to gain traction. While there are certainly many factors that are driving the demise of many newspapers, like plunging print advertising revenue, etc., one of the factors that the Denver Post seems to fail to recognize is that a poor product will not win votes, as counted by the dollars spent for subscriptions, advertising, etc.
When someone wants to find out the pro’s and con’s of an issue, what is the first avenue that comes to mind? The internet. Sadly, the Post is not even a serious consideration for critical thinkers. A perfect example of why this is the case sits on the Opinion Page, 11B, of the May 18 edition of the Post. The Point/Counterpoint asks the question “Should people who work past retirement age be exempted from Social Security taxes?” I wish that I could say that both sides made a rational argument for their position that resulted in constructive dialogue. No such luck. The Post’s inability to find competent fact-based reporting and the construction of logical editorial arguments points to either a dearth of said writing or a lack of ability on the Post’s part to identify said writing. Neither scenario bodes well for the Post.
Wayne Madsen’s class-warfare attack on seniors who work is as stunning in its vitriol as it is in its undocumented, false assertions. Madsen asserts that “a vast majority” of the seniors who work are “comfortably upper-middle class – not only owning their homes, but often a second one on a golf course or near the beach.” He also states that their stock portfolios far surpass the lifetime savings of most Americans and that more than half drive expensive foreign cars.
Anyone who is objective can easily do a modest amount of research and find the facts on the demography of workers over age 60. For example, according to a 2006 study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, over 60% of those working in the 60-65 age group are doing so because they need income to live on. Almost 40% of workers in the 65-70 age group work because they need income to live on. This was in 2006. Things are more challenging today than in 2006. A 2008 survey by MetLife Mature Market Institute found that one in four people over the age of 62 wouldn’t retire as expected due to the economy (that’s in 2008, before things got even worse).
RetirementJobs.com, the number one job site for career seekers over the age of 50, as measured by traffic, saw its visitor count quadruple from August 2008 to February 2009. According to Bob Skladany, vice president and chief career counselor for RetirementJobs.com, “people who are retired and had no expectation of working again appear to be returning to the work force or job search in incredibly large numbers.” Of those surveyed, over 60% said that they were looking for full time work as opposed to 25% prior to the summer of 2008.
Madsen’s ad hominem attack on this fictitious majority group of rich senior workers includes calling them egotistic, “oh-so-comfortable”, “the geriatric ungrateful”, “latter-day Midas”, and “super-rich seniors.”
Madsen’s straw-man argument using Chevy Chase, Maryland, is incredibly off the mark. A simple online look at the demographics of Chevy Chase, Maryland (according to the 2000 U.S. census) reveals the population to be 2,726 people with a median age of 43.1. Madsen’s excoriation of this “posh suburb” as “the crown jewel of conspicuous self-aggrandizement by super-rich seniors” is a flat out false accusation.
Another of Madsen’s straw-man arguments posits that working seniors should be happy to pay an extra 20-25 percent in taxes because they would still remain “far wealthier than their counterparts in any other country on earth.” By this logic, Mr. Madsen should be voluntarily paying an extra 20-25 percent in taxes because he himself would also still be far wealthier than his counterparts in any country on earth. In fact, those who live at the poverty line in the U.S. are also among the group who can count themselves as fortunate to be “far wealthier than their counterparts in any other country on earth.” According to 2003 data from the World Bank and CIA Fact Book, the per capita income in the U.S. was $37,500. The poverty line for the U.S. in 2003 for a family of four was $18,400. The per capita in U.S. dollars of the “middle income” for the entire world is $6,000. Global low income is defined as $2,190.
Finally, Madsen demands that seniors should “give back some of their stockpiled treasures”, participate in “shared sacrifice”, and accept a “blessings-of-liberty surtax” on “their own mini-Fort Knoxes.” Mr. Madsen has zero right to lay claim to the hard won savings and property of others to pass out as he sees fit. This is an outlandish call for a Marxist response to a problem that does not exist. He then has the nerve to tell seniors that this would actually be good for them because, like Scrooge, they might wake up to find the joy in helping the unfortunate among us. Apart from wondering just how much seniors voluntarily give to charity out of their incomes compared to Mr. Madsen, it is insulting to be lectured on virtue in the final paragraph by someone who has spent the entire article hurling false accusations and calling people names.
Most bothersome to me is that the Denver Post continues to print such absolute false, vicious, absurd Op-Ed’s from incredibly out of the mainstream writers and pretend that they are represent a valid argument for the liberal side of the issue. To continually present these absurdly constructed opinions that consist only of ad hominem attacks and straw-man arguments as valid positions does nothing to advance the true dialogue that is needed to address the very real issues that we face today. Does the Post print such drivel as if it represented legitimate policy positions because it lacks the critical thinking to evaluate submitted op-ed articles and pick one that actually makes a good case for its position, or is this simply the best that the Left has to offer?