EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 10, 2013

Editorial roundup: ON


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — A roundup of editorial opinion from other New England newspapers:

The federal government’s secret grab for the private phone records of millions of U.S. citizens exposes a further erosion of our constitutional rights in the name of fighting terrorism.

The federal government has exercised ever-expanding authority to bypass the normal court process to carry out surveillance, even of its own citizens, since the 9/11 attacks.

Much of these powers are shielded from normal public accountability in the name of national security.

The order to turn over millions of phone records taken with recent revelations about targeted investigations of Associated Press and Fox News journalists raises the disturbing specter of a citizenry under constant and secret government scrutiny.

There’s little chance that Americans will receive a satisfactory explanation when the government is unwilling to admit the records grab took place at all. No one has a chance to challenge this government action because the process is secret.

Government transparency and due process are the most powerful tools we have to preserve our civil liberties, including those enshrined in the Constitution.

Neither are at play when government has the power to spy on its own citizens without any apparent limits.

— The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press

---

A Medicare trustees’ report earlier this month all but guarantees the current Congress will do nothing about the program’s pending insolvency. Issued at the same time, another trustee’s report spells the same fate for setting right the beleaguered Social Security System.

A quick read of the Medicare headlines brags the program will last longer than expected — 2026 instead of 2024.

“Medicare Trustee’s Report Eases Concerns on funding,” declares The Wall Street Journal, only to provide the bad news four long paragraphs into the story.

To quote the Journal: Despite its more optimistic forecasts for the next few years, the report said Medicare’s long-term growth remains on an unsustainable path. The program’s hospital fund had costs that exceeded its income last year.

On the Social Security side of the ledger nothing changed. The program still runs out of reserves in 2033, same as reported last year. After the reserves are depleted, reports the Christian Science Monitor, continuing payroll tax receipts would be sufficient to pay three quarters of promised benefits in coming years.

In effect, both reports have put, or keep, the problem well beyond a short-sighted Congress being able to see a Mack truck roaring toward at it in broad daylight.

As it now stands, we believe Medicare and Social Security will not be there for the long haul unless voters demand more of Congress.

— Foster’s Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.

---

Women are now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of households, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center.

That sounded like good news — women are succeeding in the workplace and closing the pay gap with men. But, when you look below the surface, the numbers are both nuanced and unsettling.

First, women are heading up more households these days, but more often due to unfortunate circumstances than choice. With more babies being born out of wedlock and more marriages ending in divorce, women are often left raising children in poverty.

While there are many heroic single mothers, on average, children in single-parent homes score lower on achievement tests, exhibit more academic and emotional problems and are more likely to become involved in drug use and crime.

The other half of the survey result is also true: more women are now earning more money than the men in their family, and that would be great if they had simply surpassed their partners’ earning power.

But far more lower- and middle-income women have stagnant incomes while their mates are quickly losing earning capacity.

This is the message of a study recently released by David Autor and Melanie Wasserman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Their research explores a widening gap in the U.S. between men and women in education, labor-force participation and wages.

Women are generally having more success than men adjusting to our rapidly developing service and knowledge economy.

Women are now 17 percent more likely to have attended some college and 23 percent more likely to have completed a four-year degree than men.

Meanwhile, incomes have declined by 25 percent in real terms for the least-educated and youngest males.

The MIT authors offer no solutions, other than to say the problem should be a “central topic for social science research and public policy.”

— The Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine