You may have noticed an interesting frame the plutocrats and their spokespeople are using in the debate over reducing social security and medicare benefits – pitting the young against the old.  The campaign is relentless, smearing the elderly as parasitic and stealing from the young.

For example take National Review Editor Jonah Goldberg’s recent USA Today Column:

Perhaps it’s time for both sides to consider an underappreciated fact of American life: The system we are trying to perpetuate was created for the explicit benefit of the so-called greatest generation, the most coddled and cared for cohort in American history.

One can only imagine what smears are coming from the Right as the children of the 1960s retire.

But is the demonization of seniors as “coddled” leaches fair? Is this really about old vs. young?

Dean Baker offers an alternative view.

The Wall Street crew has been in high gear trying to convince the public that our children’s well-being is going to be threatened by their parents’ and grandparents’ Social Security. This story would be laughable except that it is endlessly repeated by people in positions of power and responsibility…

Most workers have seen little benefit from growth because the gains have gone to those at the top.

This is why the yapping about the burden of Social Security and Medicare is so pernicious. If workers share in the gains of economic growth then there is no way that the cost of these programs will impose a serious burden on their living standards. In fact, workers’ living standards rose rapidly in the past in spite of large increases in the payroll taxes used to support these programs.

It will matter far more to our children and grandchildren whether they share in the gains of economic growth than if they have to pay higher tax rates for Social Security and Medicare. The rich, with the full complicity of the media, are doing their best to keep national policy focused on the cost of Social Security and Medicare. But the arithmetic says that the upward redistribution to the wealthy is the far more important issue for future living standards.

In other words, it’s the inequality stupid.

And that would explain the continued focus on young vs. old, black vs. white, and all the other merry conflicts the corporate media continues to insert into these debates. Anything but talk about the rich who, after all, own the news publications.