Friday :: Nov 21, 2003

Stayin' Alive

by pessimist

In the 1968 movie "Wild in the Streets" one of the main themes was a desire by younger folk to end control of their lives by those over thirty. It presented a "world of today" in which a majority of the population is under age 25 and is administered by a minority of those thirty-five and over. Through political shenanigans worthy of Karl Rove, the younger demographic group takes power through a managed election and institutes a compulsory retirement at the age of 30. At 35, all citizens are sent to "Retirement Homes" resembling concentration camps. Not all go willingly, so bands of neo-Fascist paramilitary youth commando gangs are sent to round up the reluctant ones. At the very end, the film makes a subtle comment about the dangers of age discrimination when the hero realizes that children regard his generation as the enemy. Their commentary could echo down the corridors of history: "Everybody over 10 ought to be put out of business."

The tyros ruining Washington seem to be seeking to "retire" anyone who can no longer perform labor for the New Working World Order. This quote from Tuesday, November 18, 2003 tells it all:

Die, Grandma, die. The disgraceful behavior of the AARP's leaders acting against the interests of its own membership by endorsing the GOP-designed Medicare bill had such a political stink about it that Karl Rove had to be somewhere in the vicinity. Sure enough, there he is in the final paragraph of the coverage in the Post:
Rep. Eric I. Cantor (Va.), a member of the House GOP leadership, said "we are in full gear on the inside" trying to lock down votes for the bill "and the groups on the outside are going full force." Last week, Cantor convened a meeting with Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and lobbyists in a coalition of 400 insurance, health care, business and other groups that support the legislation.

If "400 insurance, health care, business and other groups" support the legislation behind Karl Rove's closed doors how good can it be for America's seniors? AARP members should demand new leadership immediately.

Don't it always seem to go! You work hard, follow the rules, vote for those who promise to look after you when you get old, and once you get there, the ball is pulled out from under your foot before you can kick it. To quote the sage philosopher Charlie Brown: "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

It's becoming more clear all the time - "If you aren't producing wealth for your betters, then die quick and make room for someone who will. We'll help you along by making it impossible for you to have both food and the drugs you need to stay alive. After all, you are a burden to our community (the top 1%) and we prefer our money to keeping you worthless parasites alive".

The Official Reason for The Bill

According to Why AARP Says "Yes" to the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill By James G. Parkel, AARP President from November 19, 2003:

Every day, we receive letters and calls from our members recounting how the high cost of prescription drugs is hurting their financial and physical health. We believe that the legislation that has emerged after long negotiations will go a long way toward relieving these burdens for millions of older and disabled Americans and their families. Though far from perfect, the bill represents an historic breakthrough and an important milestone in the nation's commitment to strengthen and expand health security for current and future beneficiaries.

Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? Relieving the burden of high drug costs? Then why this reaction?

APHA Opposes Medicare Conference Agreement

"The bill lacks an adequate prescription drug benefit for millions of seniors who urgently need and deserve a comprehensive and affordable prescription drug benefit provided through the traditional Medicare program," said Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the association, the world's largest and oldest organization of public health professionals. "Moreover, the plan fundamentally weakens the Medicare program itself. We firmly believe that seniors should not be asked to accept an inadequate prescription drug benefit. Congress should spend the time to get the job done right."

"At a time when Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with their own health insurance, it is ironic that Congress would attack a popular, universal health program for seniors," said Benjamin.

A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that more than 62 percent of Americans support a universal insurance program over the current health insurance system.

"In fact, this Medicare prescription drug plan forces millions of seniors to accept the private sector health system from which most Americans are trying to get out," he said. "I strongly urge Congress to go back to the drawing board and give seniors the prescription drug coverage they were promised. This should not be an all or nothing proposition. We can and should do better."

Who cares what some damn lib'rul welfare commune thinks, right? The AARP members must LOVE this plan, right?

Members give AARP earful for backing GOP plan

AARP members began filing scornful e-mail on the advocacy group's national Web site almost immediately after its leadership embraced a Republican-backed Medicare plan this week.

From one anonymous note among many, posted at 7:59 a.m. yesterday: "I am really upset that our policy makers in AARP have accepted in our name a prescription drug program that will help destroy Medicare as we know it."

And this at 8:35 a.m.: "This is the biggest sellout of any organization that purports to represent seniors."

At 10:56 a.m.: "I just canceled my membership a little while ago. I'm sure thousands more will be doing the same."

And on and on it went, phone and computer messages by the hundreds Monday night and yesterday, apparently from the ranks of the organization's 35 million members. Nearly all condemned the Washington headquarters and AARP Chief Executive Officer Bill Novelli for endorsing the $400 billion Medicare plan.

This may very well be so, for when I tried to see for myself how the AARP membership felt about this bill, that page was miraculously blank! Coincidence? WE think NOT! But Googling about, I did find a few other comments:

I am a 67-year-old senior and now a former member of AARP.

This bill is the work of con men. No real drug benefit until 2006. Big "doughnut holes." Private market competition that has delivered 43 million uninsured with accelerating premiums, for those who do still have (insurance). No drug-buying clout, with a total sellout to the drug firms who own the Republican Party. They can stick their drug discount card where the sun don't shine.

If we can afford these obscene tax cuts we can afford Medicare. We are the wealthiest nation in the world and we can't do what EVERY OTHER developed nation does for its people?

I am very angry. Can you tell? And I am not alone.


Just as I fell into despair about the prospect of 14 more months of Attila the Bush destroying every American institution (I will not even think of four more years), the arrogance and stupidity of the GOP reached new levels.

I think the news about the plan to dismantle Medicare and the use of AARP lobbyists to pull this off might finally be the story that breaks Bush. Just imagine 35 million seniors on the rampage. Every one of your readers knows senior citizens who will be affected by the latest White House fiasco.

Can you put out the word for everyone to call, email, write, or visit their seniors and urge them to take immediate action?

The AARP message board is already full of comments by outraged former members. These people should be told to call Congress at the free number, 1-800-839-5276 to contact their Representative and Senators. They should also visit the local offices of their Representative.

This coordinated effort will not only save Medicare, but it will expose the cynical attempt by Bush and his corporate handlers to enrich drug companies and HMO at the expense of our senior citizens.


Call in at 202 585 3881 and criticize AARP for endorsing the bad prescription drug benefits bill and gloat that people have quit AARP in droves.

You can also point out that he [John Rother, Republican operative and AARP policy director - ed], a Republican makes AARP suspect.

You can also point out that Mr. Novelli the CEO of AARP wrote a glowing foreward in Newt Gingrich's book on healthcare which in my view expresses a privatization restructuring for Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security and Medicare work. The Republicans have done what they could to not make it work as an excuse to privatize it.

We had social programs privatized before in the 1920's and that's why FDR created Social Security and Johnson created Medicare.


(please put this link in a browser at your public library and work place computer and leave the page showing so others can see the page and sign the petition)

If we outlaw Medicare, then only outlaws will have Medicare.


They've been exposed as total phonies. Yes, they've also come out this week in favor of Social Security "reform." Phonies.
I'll be turning 50 very soon. I won't be joining.


I still haven't forgiven them for their push to repeal the catastrophic illness bill. A lot of people lost their life savings when AARP first became a shill for the wealthy helped screw the working people.


I have just seen the AARP ad stating that AARP is backing the Medicare plan. I proceeded to contact AARP.

When I spoke to a young man about AARP backing the Medicare plan, I asked him if he could tell me how many members had called in backing the plan. He told me that he had taken 72 calls since his shift began. Out of those 72, only 1 person backed the plan. He told me the other 71 were either against the plan or had DROPPED their membership.

I then told him that I felt AARP should stop airing the ads as the AARP organization is its membership and if most of the members are against this plan, then it is a misleading ad. Please call your reps and senators today.


I have seen the angry messages on the AARP message board.
I got over 200 signatures on my petition in one day.
And it looks like by the end of the week we will have over 1,000 signatures representing 1,000 families.
I have faxed every name to Speaker Hastert, Senator Frist, and the 3 boycotted pharmacy chains.

Speaking of Our Esteemed Public Servants, ...

Owe thing I note in the few comments I have found is that the Democrats don't appear in the discussion. So what are they doing that just might get them some attention (and votes!) on this issue?

[T]he AARP's move left many Democrats angry. House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said she was "deeply disappointed that AARP's national leadership has been co-opted by Republicans."

A spokesman for Florida Sen. Bob Graham said the Democrat "almost certainly" will vote against the bill. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, said they hadn't decided how they will vote. But Nelson's press secretary, Dan McLaughlin, added: "You might see him vote for it."

McLaughlin said Nelson had been getting calls from constituents who need a prescription drug benefit and the senator would more likely follow the will of Florida seniors than Kennedy's entreaties.

Sen. John Breaux, D-La., one of two Democrats who took part in the negotiations that produced the compromise, predicted at least 10 Democrats would support it in the Senate, perhaps enough to undercut a possible filibuster.

"I think we will see a bipartisan show of support in both the House and Senate," Breaux said.

If you go here, you can see a list of those Congress persons who have pledged to the AARP to support their drug program legislation. Twelve Senators, six from each party, and 141 Representatives, with D's out numbering R's about 2:1, have pledged to support the package that AARP does.

Another reason showing why I really wish there was a viable third party in America! As Molly Ivins states:

As Lily Tomlin observed, no matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep it up. But the Congress of the United States is doing its best to keep us up to snuff in this department, and we would particularly like to thank all of them, and the Bush White House as well, for keeping us on our misanthropic toes.

Gee, it seemed like such a good idea -- a plan to help senior citizens with their outrageous drug bills. It's bad enough the drug companies are ripping off the rest of us, but seniors on fixed incomes are just brought to their knees by these unconscionable prices. They've been begging for help for years, and for years the pols have been promising to deliver. And now they will.

Oops. Bad news.

According to a report by the co-directors of Boston University's School of Public Health, titled New Medicare RX Benefit Means Big Profits for Drug Companies, we have once more failed to sufficiently overestimate what special interest money can do to legislation written by our elected representatives.

According to the report, "An estimated 61.1 percent of the Medicare dollars that will be spent to buy more prescriptions will remain in the hands of drug makers as added profits."

Isn't that nice? Sixty-one percent of what the plan costs will be additional profit for drug companies. Just what we had in mind. Only our fully bought-and-paid-for politicians could have taken a plan to help seniors and turned it into a plan to help drug companies already making obscene profits. Their estimated increased profits under this bill are $139 billion over eight years.

Of course, that's not all that's wrong with the bill. It has a peculiar doughnut provision that eliminates coverage for total out-of-pocket drug costs between $2,200 and $5,000. The legislation also prohibits Medicare from "interfering" to lower drug prices by negotiating or implementing a price structure, or ceiling. Isn't that special? Several governors are considering buying their drugs in Canada, which could save them hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars. But when the House put such a provision in the bill this summer, the White House promptly threatened to veto the entire bill.

If you think that's a loverly bunch of coconuts, wait'll you see the energy bill! Holy pig, what a staggering piece of pork this is -- what a beauty, what a lulu, what a special-interest bonanza.

It isn't just the Liberals who think this a bad bill. Check out what one writer for the Ayn Rand Institute has to say about this:

The Medicare Frame-Up

Congress effectively created the HMOs in 1973, when it offered massive tax incentives to employers who shunted their workers into managed-care plans. The goal was to "bring the power of the market" to solve the crisis created when doctors and hospitals, squeezed by Medicare price controls, raised prices for non-Medicare patients.

In fact, HMOs brought the worst aspects of socialism: rationed care, tyrannical bureaucracy, price controls, harried and disgruntled physicians, miserable service for frustrated patients -- all of it blamed, not on the government programs that created the health-care crisis, but on the pseudo-private HMOs.

We can expect the same catastrophe to come from the "privatized" Medicare prescription drug plan. Nominally private insurers will answer to penny-pinching government paymasters, who will demand that they cut costs by limiting patients' access to drugs and by imposing price caps on drug companies. This is merely an indirect form of price controls, imposed by private companies acting to please their government employers.

Even some Republicans are against this bill.

Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said he will vote against the bill because it would not tilt the government health insurance program as much toward the private sector as the version the House passed earlier this year. Toomey was the leader of 13 House conservatives who backed the original legislation -- which the House passed by one vote -- but later warned they would change their minds if the final bill were altered too much during negotiations with senators.

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who voted for the Medicare bill last summer, said he is disappointed by the new agreement and "very much undecided" about how to vote. The House-Senate compromise, he said, lacks "real market reforms."

A spokesman for Rep. C.L. Otter (R-Idaho), who switched his vote at the last minute to help pass the original House bill, said the lawmaker now was "leaning no" but was undecided. In part, Otter is concerned the agreement deviates from a House plan to make it easy for Americans of all ages to import U.S.-made pharmaceuticals from Canada and other countries where they sell at lower prices.

Nineteen House Republicans voted against the measure last summer. Rep. Ernest Istook (Okla.) voted "present" and Rep. JoAnn Emerson (Mo.) switched her vote from yea to nay at the last moment.

The Unrest Spreads

The WP reports:

GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (PA.) said outlook for passage was 'uncertain,' adding, 'No one is waving the banner.' And Sen. John E. Sununu (R-NH) said there is "'pretty strong' disappointment among Senate conservatives." Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN.), announced his opposition to the bill on the House floor yesterday, "despite pressure from GOP leaders to keep his stance quiet."

We've seen these tactics before, haven't we? And just who could be behind this?

Gingrich Rallies Support for House Medicare Vote

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to calm the fears of fiscal conservatives on Wednesday and rally Republicans around a Medicare reform bill on which the U.S. House of Representatives could vote as soon as Friday. Some conservatives are wavering or threatening to vote against the massive bill, and Republicans cannot afford to lose many votes in the closely divided House. Some conservatives say those reforms still fall short of their goals, and they are threatening to vote against it.

House Republican leaders expressed confidence that they would get the votes by Friday. But privately some lawmakers were more skeptical. "Are they worried about the votes? There's nothing but worry," said one Republican who plans to vote for it.

I guess the GOP must really want this bill if they are willing to listen to someone they pushed out of office when he didn't meet their behavior standards - he was too civil. "This is the best that we can get," said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), a conservative who is taking a leading role in selling the Medicare bill.

No. We could do better. MUCH better.

Meanwhile, a coalition of conservative groups, including the American Conservative Union (An Open Letter to Congress), the National Taxpayers Union (Taxpayers Union Writes Congress to Oppose Medicare Drug Bill

For More Information

The Priorities Book is not a substitute for AARP's more comprehensive policy reference, "The Policy Book ". For more information about affordable prescription drug coverage, explore Chapter 6 of "The Policy Book".

I tried to access this information. The page was missing. Maybe it's being revised.

As Seen From the Ivy-covered Halls of Acadamia

An extensive literature in anthropology finds that poor pre-industrial societies frequently responded to acute environmental stress by killing the elderly (geronticide) or infants, when they were seen as a burden on the community. Given these constraints, it is obvious that a human population could not be allowed to grow in excess of the carrying capacity of the land if the survival of the group as a whole should not be imperiled. But what environmental stress is justifying these actions against the elderly? The only environment under stress right now is the field of ever-growing profits.

According to the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, the strongest predictor of geronticide is not an ecological factor but rather a principle of social structure. Among the hunter-gatherer bands, elders are expected to contribute to the domestic economy well into the period of physical decline. These elders are forced to be active social participants even when physical debility makes such activity extremely burdensome. Many societies, from the Artic to the tropics, kill expendable persons when they perceive a resource threat to the common good, thereby stabilizing their conditions. For instance, the Amassalik Inuit abandoned their decrepit elderly on an ice floe when the tribe was out fishing. Icelandics, Amazonian Bororos, Siberian Chukchees, Fijians, North American Hopis, Gabon Fang, southern African San, and Australian Tiwi are a few of the many other groups that are thought to have practiced death-hastening activities against the elderly. In Sparta, "defectives" were left out on hillsides to die. In the time of Charles Dickens, there had to be those who believed that people who can't contribute to the generation of wealth should "die and decrease the surplus population."

So what is the current resource threat to the common good? Do we keep the SUVs off the roads? Do we prevent snowmobilers from destroying land it took nature thousands of years to create? NO! They get to do all those things, and more, and seem to be doing so in growing numbers.

Maybe it's the result of too much largess. Maybe they are running out of thrills to seek. Maybe all the toys they have aren't enough and they want more, with the only way to get more being take it away from someone else. Like oil in Iraq, for example.

One commentator at Buzzflash had this to say to these people:

Before younger people say, "Who the hell cares about Social Security and Medicare? -- I'm never going to be able to collect on either program," they might remember this:

The over-55 generation is a huge voting block. More than that, they have always voted in higher percentages than any other living generation.

So, if Bush can succeed in pulling the safety net out from under that generation, he and his gang will have proven to themselves that they CAN DO THE SAME TO EVERY OTHER GENERATION.

NO one will be safe.

He will cut Pell grants to students (even more than he already has).

He will cut funding to public schools (even more than he already has).

He will cut funding to libraries (even more than he already has).

He will cut funding to inner-city programs for disadvantaged children (even more than he already has).

He will cut funding or tax breaks for childcare (even more than he already has).

He will cut taxes for the wealthy, thereby pushing up the tax costs for the middle-income class (even more than he already has).

He will cut federal funding to the states, forcing the states to cut funding to counties and municipalities -- forcing up property taxes (even more than he already has).

Bush is just getting started in his Remaking Of America Into A Country Of the Rich People, By the Rich People and For the Rich People.

Bush hates sick, overweight, ugly, or poor people; in other words he likes only those people who are just like him -- over-privileged and overpaid.

So, if you aren't wealthy, buffed, over-privileged and over-paid, you are not in his "class" and are a candidate for the Bush Family eugenics program.

I'm really hoping that this uproar means that we may yet see a revival of the Grey Panthers in the minds and view of the American people, for it is past time for America's elderly to become activist in their own behalf. Maybe they can lead us into the Promised Retirement Land.

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This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

Source links: (If not already listed)
Geronticide Study
Why AARP Says "Yes" to the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill
Members give AARP earful for backing GOP plan
AARP comment
AARP comment
AARP comment
AARP supports deal on Medicare
With New Medicare Bill, the Hour of Indecision
The Hill: Blunt Plans 'War Room' for Lobbyists
GOP Conservatives Fault Medicare Bill

pessimist :: 8:53 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!