LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Only life expectancy at retirement is relevant

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William G. Shipman’s Tuesday Commentary column, “Raising retirement age won’t work,” mentioned that life expectancy has increased from 61 years to 78 since the 1935 start of Social Security. In an otherwise informative piece, these figures are irrelevant to the author’s main point.

Much of this increase in life expectancy can be credited to the virtual elimination of childhood diseases and has no effect on the number of years a person can be expected to collect Social Security. Only the life expectancy at retirement age is meaningful. While this also has increased, the increase was easily predictable in 1935 based on available mortality statistics. The failure to include them as a cost factor was even one of the main Republican objections.

Historically, the deliberate proposal and institution of flawed entitlement programs has been a proven vote-getting mechanism used by Democrats. The flaws are guaranteed to elicit Republican objections, which then can be misrepresented as Republican hardheartedness. As long as this modus operandi wins votes, such devious behavior by the Democratic Party will continue to thrive to the detriment of our well-being.


Springfield, Va.

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