While waiting in a physician’s office, I heard a conversation between an elderly man and the receptionist about what Medicare covered.  It was obvious the man had difficulty understanding, and from his demeanor, I suspect he had difficulty understanding day-to-day matters, too.  The prevalence of dementia doubles every five years over 65.  An 85 year-old has an even money chance of dementia.  No, 90 is not the new 50; don’t plan on it.

That sad fact was emphasized by my later hearing a story from an acquaintance who helps an elderly woman with shopping.  She called the woman asking what she wanted.

“I won’t have money for food this week.  They are going to take away my Social Security.”

Of course, this has not yet happened, although many bullies, loud and unwilling to negotiate, want to kill the program.  Imagine being 85, a widow (a plurality of 85 year-olds are widowed women), no longer think clearly, have a failing body, and start hearing about Social Security being taken away.

We must couple spending for Irene’s damage with cuts–incredibly, both NOAA and the National Hurricane Center are on the chopping block.  I find that incredibly stupid and shortsighted.  Maybe we end Social Security and Medicare, too.  Suppose, given 32 C temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, since the oceans are getting warmer, that a Cat 4 Hurricane enters, headed  northwesterly.  We can take Mr. Perry’s approach with Hurricane Rita in 2005, and pray that it stops and turns around, OR, we can be sensible and have scientific forecasts, which while imperfect, will save thousands of lives.  I am assuming, since Mr. Perry once considered secession, that he will not take federal money for the $30 billion that it would cost to rebuild Houston. Texans can pass the hat. We certainly won’t cut socialized defense or $2 trillion for wars that we could not afford and lied our way into.  No worries, however.  The climate is fine, since Congress passed a resolution saying there was no manmade problem. Maybe Congress will forbid hurricanes, too.  In the new America I see, you take care of yourself.  If you don’t have money, you don’t get medical care.  Vaccines are bad, public education is bad, and the private sector does everything right, from half finished jobs in Iraq that have wasted more than $60 billion to having the airlines regulate security through 10 September 2001, that indirectly cost more than a trillion in the past decade.  How many times do I have to say self-regulation does not work before I am believed?

My screening colonoscopy cost me $4000.  I have insurance.  Those over 50 without insurance will roll the dice.  When the current President finally put the money spent on the wars in the budget, I could hear the howling in Washington from Campbell and Skyline.  Mr. Bush did it, and not I did not hear one person outside my house who complained.

Many people barely make it.  In the new America, they will go bankrupt, medical costs the single biggest cause.  I wonder how much colon surgery for advanced cancer costs.  Oh well, that won’t be my problem, so why should I care?

But I do care.  Liberals care about those who aren’t as fortunate as they.  The current radicals were remarkably quiet when Mr. Cheney said “deficits don’t matter”  in 2005.   If Mr. Obama said that, he would be impeached.  If he kept emergency authorizations off budget, he would be impeached.  If he asked for a trillion to restore our infrastructure, providing jobs, I would need earplugs.  If he asked to raise the top marginal tax rate back to 39%, where we last ran a surplus (under Mr. Clinton), repealed the Bush tax cuts and put a 0.125% tax on stock transactions ($1.25 for every $1000, raising $600 billion by 2020 just on the NYSE alone), a progressive tax, we might get the deficit under control.  He could also put an 80% marginal tax rate on bonuses given to financiers, who have been shown by excellent research not to add value for what they are paid.

There is waste in medicine, too. But my neurosurgeon saved me from neck surgery, my dermatologist saved my face from disfigurement, my gastroenterologist saved me from colon cancer, and a Durango orthopedist’s quick actions on my right hip allow me to backpack today.  We should do better in medicine, but we add value.  I think the teachers who inspired me deserve better, too, and I fail to understand why if the free market is so good, teachers and others, who add clear value, are consistently undervalued.  Lack of oversight and self-regulation severely damaged the world’s economy.  Those who did it made billions.

The elderly lose their bodies, their minds or both.  The young need care, too. What do we do?  Do we remove their benefits and make them fend for themselves?  Do we decrease the surplus population?  Is this America? Where is the outcry demanding we will NOT allow our poor, elderly, disabled and those who did not get a break in life to live a better life?  This is one of the most religious countries in the world.  Where is organized religion?  Where are the voters to elect people who believe America tries to help those less fortunate?

I hear two sides of a story, as if both sides have equal validity.  They do not.  One side lied on Iraq, climate disruption, and vaccine safety, and dared say end of life discussion was “death panels”.  I will never forgive them that, any more than the physician who argued against evolution by saying “it debased man to the level of the animals,”  which is about as unscientific as it gets.  You are wrong, your data are flawed, you bully, and you pervert science.  Sadly, more believe you than I.

I’ve offered my solutions.  I’m ready for the usual attacks, the flawed reasoning, the rhetorical questions and lack of solid solutions from those in the majority. Maybe I need to live in Canada.  America has lost her way, and those of us who have been saying it for a decade are ignored.

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