There was a lot to pick through in Chairman Bill Thomas's appearance yesterday on Meet the Press. But let's not let one thing get lost in the mix. Thomas restated his suggestion that we consider instituting a system of racial classification into the Social Security benefit structure.
You can't say this is anti-racial minority exactly since Thomas's logic -- if you can call it that -- seems to suggest that at least blacks would get to retire earlier than whites and possibly hispanics too. It's just moronic -- and that still must count for at least somewhat of a bad thing.
Thomas's idea of penalizing female recipients for their longer lifespans, which certainly caught on like wildfire, would at least be pretty easy to administer since -- setting aside the standards applied in some graduate English and critical studies programs -- the number of Americans whose gender is truly ambiguous is rather small.
But what about race? Does Thomas want the SSA actuaries to dust off the old racial classification systems from the Old South or limpieza de sangre codes from colonial Latin America with their comic and hideous lists of "mulattoes" (one-half) and "quadroons" (one fourth) and even "octoroons" (one-eighth) depending on one's precise mixture of white and black 'blood'?
What about Hispanics and Asians? And will those clean-living Mormons be adequately penalized for living so damn long? Perhaps some folks could lock in early retirement in advance if they signed binding SSA contracts agreeing to smoke and booze it up through their middle-years.
Yes, sure, this is a reductio ad absurdum. But really, it's pretty absurd. And these are the folks who can't brook the concept of affirmative action?