Socialist Security #1

Andrew Kliman Andrew_Kliman at
Fri Jul 24 14:09:22 PDT 1998

I had written:

>It is good to know that there are standard techniques for
>imputing incomes to those above the floor, but they're not
>used, so there *is* a political issue here --

Max challenges: "Really? Where?"

Take a look at Doug's comparison of CBO and Census figures for 1992, for the top 5%. According to the Census, their share of income was 18.6%; according to the CBO, it was 25.2%, more than *one-third* greater! And then there's the Pechman study vs. the others. And so on. But if "where" means "where" is the politics in this issue, I've already answered that: "there *is* a political issue here -- the usual problem of lying with statistics by using them selectively."

But perhaps we mean something different by political.

As for the rest of Max's post, my response is that we're talking about different things. He's talking about the potential availability of data and analyses thereof, while I'm talking about how the statistics are in fact used.

He does this kind of thing for a living. Undoubtedly he's got intimate knowledge of and access to all kinds of sources, methods handbooks, technical appendixes in which footnote 27 indicates that unrealized capital gains are excluded, studies reporting 7 alternate measures of this and 13 alternative measures of that. Sure, the data are there, the analyses are there, and someone with enough time, and knowledge of the sources, and expertise in deciphering them, can find out the truth.

And then there are the people who get their information, catch as catch can, from the George Wills and Michael Parentis.



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