To some, what matters is negative stereotypes

For Your Consideration

Alan CheahApril 3, 2013 

Recently an ad produced by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a collection of 800 mayors, was promoting reasonable and sensible gun control measures. It features a man sitting on the tailgate of his pickup holding a shotgun and calling for expanded back ground checks.

Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt and other conservative media figures attacked the spokesman's credibility as a gun owner because he had the shotgun "sort of pointing back at the kids" and also had "his finger on the trigger." In a two-dimensional world you could argue that it is conceivable that the gun was pointing at the children.

However, in a spatial three-dimensional world where the rest of us live and understand the concept of depth, one could easily see the kids were about two hundred feet behind their father since they were about the size of their father's thumb. Stirewalt also said the man had his finger on the trigger. Again you have to be dimensionally challenged or an ideologue to believe these claims.

I got to thinking. Stirewalt is clearly not a stupid man. In fact, he is sly like a FOX (pun intended). What he said was clearly a bald-faced lie. He knew he would be found out but it didn't matter because he achieved his goal which is to mute the message of the ad. What was that ad about again? All I can think of is how outrageous his lie was and the personal satisfaction of calling him out on it. FOX viewers are pre-occupied with images of a man pointing a gun at kids and having his finger on the trigger. It really doesn't matter if it was true or not. It only matters that you shift people's attention from the message of universal background checks.

Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh blatantly lied that SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) also known as food stamps was a "buy beer ... with a government credit card" program. He, too, clearly knows this isn't true but he says this and other false statements because it reinforces the negative stereotypes of those on food stamps which then easily extend to those needing government assistance -- sly like a FOX. Again, it doesn't matter if it is true or not it only matters that anti-government sentiment and negative stereotypes are reinforced.

This brings me to J.R. Froelich's last column "Entitlement fraud." Mr. Froelich was calling Social Security an entitlement fraud because he believes you contribute significantly more than you receive. He gave the example of contributing $187.50 a month from age 13 to retirement at age 65. With a matching contribution by his employer, that would be $375 a month. He says at age 65, even at 1% interest, he would have amassed over one million dollars. This would allow him to collect $3,200 a month till age 95 as opposed to receiving only $1,200/month under social security. This would infuriate anyone including me. But it shouldn't because it simply isn't true.

Paying $187.50 in Social Security tax implies your salary had to be $36,290. This assumes Mr. Froelich is referring to only the social security portion of FICA which is 6.2%. Since it is unlikely that a 13 year old would be making $36,290 in 1961, I will start his calculations at age 20. Even that is extremely generous since in 1972 as an Electrical Engineer at Raytheon, my starting salary was $11,800. According to the compound interest calculator at moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm, if you contributed $375/month every month for 45 years (20 to 65) at 1% you would have $263,748.13. How Mr. Froelich arrived at over $1 million is bewildering. This means instead of $3200 a month, J.R would actually be collecting $732 a month till age 95. That $,1200 a month Mr. Froelich was belittling looks mighty good now doesn't it.

Having been debunked will Mr. Froelich cease to repeat this fraud claim? I can say without a doubt we will hear it again. Like Stirewalt and Limbaugh, it doesn't matter that there is no Social Security entitlement fraud. What matters is that you reinforce negative sentiment about Social Security. Do you still wonder what's wrong with America?

Mr. Froelich goes on to chide the U.S. post office, Medicare/Medicaid, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, the war on poverty and the Department of Energy suggesting that because there are problems, those institutions have failed. Benjamin Disraeli said it best. "How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct."

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