Since my post from the other day, I have read emails, comments, and blog posts that are essentially proving my point: there has been a lot of vague, anecdotal insistence that Social Security cuts won't hurt anyone. Sorry, but no: 8.9 percent of American seniors-- 3.5 million people-- lived below the poverty line, in 2009's numbers. The poverty line for an individual senior citizen in America, as calculated by the Census Bureau? $10,289. For a year. For a two person householder, it's $12,968. (You think the average professional journalist or pundit spends more than that just on entertainment in a year? I'm guessing yes.)
So those who want to talk about how they "look around and see rich old people" might want to catch a clue and look at the data. And these figures are to say nothing of the vast number of seniors who are technically above the poverty line but barely scrape by. So what, exactly, are you proposing, Serious Blogger? Serious Journo? Have the guts to confront the consequences of your policy preferences.
What's so galling about all this is that it is precisely an inversion of what those calling for harsh cuts but naming no victims say the situation is. They say people who aren't showily demanding deep cuts are being unserious, and that they want progress without pain. But if you refuse to say who you're going to be hurting when you call for these cuts, you are unserious. You are calling for progress without pain. You don't get credit for your toughness if you are shielded from what makes the choices tough in the first place. You don't get to talk about austerity when your own lifestyle is so far from austere. And if you want to be serious, you start by actually looking at ugly reality.
Update: Updated the post to include newer figures.