Monday, March 14, 2005

Plus, Washington pundits tend to be rich.

Picking up on Josh Marshall's recent musings about the essential conservatism of the D.C. commentariat ("the yearned-for plaudits of an increasingly right-leaning dinner-party centrism"), Matt Yglesias takes apart a recent column by Sebastian Mallaby -- who is generally decent, especially on subjects he knows (e.g., the World Bank) -- on Social Security, and asks why Washington pundits are so hostile to Social Security:
Mallaby insists, contrary to all the evidence, that Democrats will pay a price for opposing the president's grossly unpopular plan and that this price could be lowered by proposing tax hikes and benefit cuts. This is almost too silly to be worth responding to. It does, however, raise the time-honored question of why the Washington press corps hates Social Security so much. Why, in particular, they hate it so very much that they dogmatically believe the American people to hate it, too, even when they evidently don't. It has something to do, I suppose, with the fact that journalism is a profession that's almost uniquely sheltered from the risks Social Security is supposed to guard against. You can keep working as a pundit at a very old age. Even severe physical disabilities of the sort that Social Security offers protection from need be no major impediment. If I lost my left leg tomorrow, that would suck in a whole bunch of ways. But I could keep on working much more easily than could most people. And I could keep on doing it at the age of 67 or 77 or even 87 should I be so lucky as to live that long.
Jonathan Chait also takes Mallaby's column apart on substance ("I’m sorry this site is devoting so much space to beating up on a normally astute writer. But his view is so influential, at least among elite circles, that it’s worth dissecting."), as does Marshall (who is about to disappear for a week to get married).

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