• It’s hard fighting zombies

    When Stephen Brill’s piece on prices came out, I can admit I was frustrated. It makes me feel just a little bit better to know that Nobel Prize winners feel that way, too:

    [B]asic information takes amazingly long to make its way into public discussion. Some of us have spent years trying to drive home the point that many Americans haven’t shared in rising life expectancy, making policy recommendations like a rise in the Medicare age a really bad idea; so while I’m glad to see the WaPo running a story saying “Hey, it turns out that lower-income Americans haven’t seen much rise in life expectancy!”, it’s frustrating to see this presented as new and surprising information.

    What all this means is that if you’re going to try to play a constructive role in public economic discourse, you have to be willing to say the same thing over and over again. Also, if you’re going to try to play a constructive role in public economic discourse, you have to be willing to say the same thing over and over again. And if you’re going to try …

    This can be frustrating, and can annoy readers who want every piece to be brand new and counter-intuitive. But someone has to keep rolling the stone up the hill.

    For the record, I sent Austin an email this morning ARGHing that WaPo piece. I’ve posted on life expectancy so many times here, I’ve already got a zombie post up on the topic.

    Maybe we need shirts.

    @aaronecarroll

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    • I was almost led to think that the Nobel laureate you allude to was Gary Becker in his Sunday blog post: http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2013/03/extending-social-security-and-medicare-eligibility-ages-becker-.html

      I think you don’t feel that the difference between 12 years and 19 years of life expectancy following 65 is such a big deal, but it is the right place to start the discussion as Becker does.

      • I think the right place to start would be to acknowledge that life expectancy increases have not been the same across the board – that lower income people have NOT experienced the increases that higher income folk have.

        Something that Becker & Posner don’t bother to mention.

        I also love their assumption that if you raise the Medicare eligibility age, older workers would just be covered by their employer’s health insurance policies. Yeah, great idea, especially for all those older people who lost their jobs in the Great Recession and haven’t been able to find another one.

    • To tell you the truth, I would think that you would celebrate the fact that the stuff you have been blogging about is getting exposure in the MSM – especially when the WaPo piece is in the Business section (“with Bloomberg”) – the folks who read this stuff there may well be more likely to take note of it, and there is more likely to be considerable more of them, than folks who see it here. I realize it would be nice to be acknowledged for all one’s efforts – but if the point is for the info to reach a wider audience, and be persuasive to a broader spectrum of folks, does it really matter?

      And the Right wing has gotten its malformed messages across so effectively by doing precisely that – repeating them over and over and over – that is one major lesson we need to take from them, IMO …

    • Some of us have spent years trying to drive home the point that many Americans haven’t shared in rising life expectancy, making policy recommendations like a rise in the Medicare age a really bad idea;

      Medical care is smaller contributor to longevity than life style. So if the goal is to increase longevity, and it seems true that for blue collar workers that the earlier they retire the younger they die (it is though that this id due to the fact that retirement allows for more time to drink, doesn’t this undermine the story a bit? Perhaps postponing Social Security and Medicare eligibility and making harder to get on disability will cause some to work longer and this will increase their longevity.

      I think that we can agree that money does not increase longevity in everyone but that some people respond to having more money by engaging in behavior that reduces longevity.

      Also although it is surely true that :

      Americans haven’t shared in rising life expectancy

      Like for example those who are hit by trucks at an earlier age but that is not what he is saying. I think that he is saying that those people of low social economic status are not sharing in the increase is life expectancy and that I doubt. Even if it is true is despite an increase social services and access to healthcare.

      • BTW when I was growing up I knew a man who on almost everyday when he did not need to work the next day would drink beer all night and into the next day. If he was off 2 days he would drunk 2 If was off 3 days he would drunk 3 days. days. He would falling over drunk and would sometimes loose the car and his family would have to go look for it. (I for one do not understand how he lived as long as he did). But he would always sober up for work. What would a delay in SS and Medicare do to the life expectancy of such a man?