Growing Old In America_A Curmudgeon’s View

06 Aug

Yeah, it’s yet another one of those “back in my day” stories that young people hate to hear but I’m gonna do it anyway.

When I was a kid, if we were smart we learned to seek out old folks because we understood that the things you could learn from what often amounted to their wealth of life experiences could save you a ton of grief down the road.  It’s one thing to learn from your mistakes but it’s a better thing to learn from other people’s.  So we tended to honor our elders and at least have some respect for the fact that whatever we knew at the time was based on their experiences because we weren’t old enough to have any of our own and whatever we had existed because someone in some older generation had thought of it and worked their ass off to bring it about.

Not that way today.  Today, it’s all about the 30 somethings and the 40 somethings who somehow were born knowing everything they needed to know about everything they need to know about and to whom “seniors”… I hate that damned word… are simply burdens that the world would probably be better off without if only there was some way to shuttle them all off to another planet somewhere once the’re past their shelf date.

Ever try to explain how Social Security works to someone who is sure that you are spending his money and that there will be nothing left for him when the time comes?  No?  Then do yourself a favor and don’t even try.  The best you’re going to get from them in response is a glazed look and a “But Rush says…” and hell, we all know that Rush is always right, eh?

They’re simply not going to understand that the Social Security system was designed to be self-supporting and actually IS self-supporting as long as it is operated in the manner it’s designers intended.  What that means is as long as the government isn’t borrowing billions from the Social Security trust fund to make up revenues lost because of the tax cuts in 2001.  A large portion of Social Security’s assets are now in the form of government issued T-bills, worth only as much as the integrity of the government issuing them is worth which these days means probably not much.  When the right wing starts spewing about Social Security being broke by such and such a date, it’s not that it won’t have any assets, it’s that the assets it does have will be government issued IOUs and monopoly money and worth about as much as a Mitt Romney campaign promise.

The US government has been robbing Peter to pay Paul for over twelve years now and  ol’ Pete’s beginning to realize that he can’t meet his own obligations with a bunch of IOU’s in the form of pieces of scrip with nothing of any value backing them. So what’s the official government response?  Well, so far it’s been “We’re going to have to cut Social Security benefits” in order to save the program.  Even PBO has expressed his desire to discuss cuts to SS benefits as part of his “outreach to morons” program.  And every damned year there’s a budget shortfall they talk about MORE cuts, which brings up the most pertinent question of all as far as I’m concerned:  “Why the hell are we trying to “save” a program by eliminating the very things the program was started in order to provide?”

But you try explaining this to a bunch of youngsters who have been thoroughly schooled to believe that greed is a good thing and that they have a right to keep every dime they make, people who have thoroughly schooled to believe that anyone who gets any part of their basic subsistence in the form of a check from the government…  including government EMPLOYEES for crap’s sake… is on a par with the infamous “welfare queens” of the Reagan era and robbing them of their hard-earned nickels and dimes.

Many of them are the same people who haven’t a problem in the world with MY tax dollars being used to finance a new football stadium or a racetrack somewhere as we found out when the city where I live spent several million bucks to overhaul an old baseball diamond for the approximately 1000 or so fans (out of a population of app. 125k) who actually show up to watch home games.  But you let one single mom trying to raise a child on a part-time fast food or retail job or one old person who no longer contributes to anyone’s stock portfolio get a dollar in public assistance and they’re all howling like a dog shittin’ a peach pit.

THIS is what we fail to acknowledge in most of our rantings and raving.  The average American has a streak of selfishness a mile wide that the last 50 years of the 20th century… in which far too many people were able to float to the top without ever having done anything to earn their position there… has made a major component of the American psyche.  It’s what allowed the middle class to basically look the other way when the attacks on the social safety nets started and were aimed at only the least among us.

Even AARP… which should actually be renamed the AARRP for the American Association of RICH Retired persons has been trying to weasel/waffle its way into the anti-Social Security movement so prevalent amongst the right wingers for the past few years.  People with Social Security as their primary or only source of income don’t get much notice from AARP since they don’t take expensive cruises or buy expensive insurance and that’s really about all AARP deals in anymore.  I suspect that it’s because AARP has become just another massive cash cow for a few at the top of its hierarchy and that most of the people working in their front offices aren’t old enough to be members of the organization they work for.

So what I’d like to say to the Generations that have followed mine is this:  If you haven’t been there and done that… then don’t be preaching about the state of the nation today to those that have been.  Try… just this once… to remember that a lot of what you read about and hear about from your peers, I was there for and a part of.  If you can’t remember that, then stay the hell out of my face and just go on back to enjoying all the things that we had to bust our asses for and that you now seem take for granted as something  you’re entitled to while nobody else deserves the same breaks you got.  I don’t need lessons in life from people who have the worst of theirs still to go through.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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