May 08, 2005

Safety Net Nation

The latest BusinessWeek cover story tries to puzzle out why Social Security—and social insurance programs in general—are so goddamn popular, with some useful polling data on the demographics of risk aversion:
According to a BusinessWeek analysis of data compiled by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, at the core of Safety Net Nation are white men. You read that right. These are the same white-male swing voters who have been trending strongly Republican in recent Presidential contests. They tend to be socially conservative and patriotic. They have average incomes and are slightly less educated than the citizenry as a whole.

The Safety Netters are not monolithic, however. They include aging men who are suspicious of Big Government and Big Business and who view private accounts as a giveaway to Wall Street and a gamble for their children and grandchildren. There are suburban Security Moms -- convinced by Bush that Uncle Sam should aggressively protect them from terrorists and cultural pollution -- who worry that the President is making retirement dicier. And there are the burned investors of the Baby Boom generation, who want some government safeguards from the serrated edge of globalism -- from corporate downsizing to vaporware pensions and rampant outsourcing...

Among those resisting a Bush move to pare middle-class entitlements are thirtysomethings who feel squeezed between saving for their kids' college education and taking care of retired or soon-to-retire parents. Then there are disillusioned techies who once wanted government to get out of the way and let them get rich by age 30 but who now favor a federal role in shielding them from the excesses of capitalism.
Um, so that's just about everyone then, isn't it?
-- Brad Plumer 8:44 PM || ||