ELDER MUSIC: 1916
Happy Thanksgiving 2016, Everyone

Medicare Part B Premium Increase and Normalizing *

There is a spiral-bound notebook on my desk where I keep a running list of ideas for future TimeGoesBy posts. Some of them are terrible ideas I never use (well, mostly). Others are mainstays – such things as updates or threats to Medicare and Social Security that our age group needs to know.

Mostly, the book is a reminder so I won't lose thoughts I had in passing while doing something else, and I add maybe three or four a week. Since election day, however, there are four new, tightly-hand-written pages now that there are deeply worrying potential dangers afoot in Washington, D.C. that will affect Americans of all ages.

I am telling you this in explanation for what is a new kind of post here now and then that will cover two or three unrelated items that seem to me to be important right now as opposed to having a decent shelf life or, sometimes, even being evergreen.

So here goes with the first one.

MEDICARE PART B FOR 2017
As you know, there was no increase in the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the past two years. That means that for most Medicare beneficiaries there was, also, no increase in the premium for Part B which covers expenses for doctors, other outpatient care and durable medical equipment.

Now, due to the measly .3 percent COLA to Social Security for 2017 (which does not begin to cover inflation that most elders experience) an increase in the Part B Medicare premium is allowed.

The increase in the average 2017 Social Security payment is about $5. It will be wiped out for 70 percent of recipients because the Part B premium, which is deducted from the Social Security benefit each month, rises by 3.9 percent from $104.90 to about $109.

High earners will have an even larger increase in the Part B premium as will certain other categories of beneficiaries. You can see more detail at this PBS page.

It's not that I will go hungry or anything drastic, but so many other fixed expenses are increasing in the new year, by up to 10 percent in at least one case, that I will be cutting back and I expect many of you will be doing so too. This has happened every year for the decade I've received a Social Security benefit and I keep wondering in what year it will become a serious hardship.

In addition, the Part B deductible for 2017 will increase from $166 to $183. The Social Security Administration will soon be sending their annual benefit update letter so you will see your new numbers then.

NORMALIZING THE * ADMINISTRATION CONTINUES APACE
As I mentioned last week, it took less that 24 hours after the election results were in for pundits and most of the media to call for giving the president-elect “a chance” - as if we didn't already know what kind of man he is.

As Rohit Chandan, writing at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) on Friday about normalization:

”The danger is that by normalizing Trump—a candidate distinguished by an embrace of political violence and open appeals to ethnic nationalism who boasted of getting away with sexual assaults — these commentators will make racist and sexist bullying an acceptable way to run for public office.”

No kidding. His way of speaking has already brutalized public discourse in general. Here is FAIR's accompanying cartoon laying out the media's excuses for normalization:

NeNormalCartoon

Over the past year, Seth Meyers, host of Late Night on NBC-TV, has become my favorite of the late night hosts – I can't stay awake that late but I record his show every night to watch the opening 10 minutes the next day. Meyers is smart, funny and fearless.

Last week, in his “A Closer Look” segment that airs at the top of each show, he pilloried the media and * associates trying to insist * is a normal person. Enjoy.

It is easy, when outrage after outrage is repeated hundreds of times a day in the media, to fall victim to accepting it as normal. Please be vigilant of yourselves and don't let it happen to you.

Comments

I, too, appreciate Seth Meyers' forthright and keen observations. Not having the recording ability, I try to stay up for his opening remarks--puts me going to bed around 12:15---but it is well worth it.

I see it happening all around me, but I can't imagine accepting most of what's going on as "normal." I mentioned here last week that I broke up with my local daily newspaper last Friday, ending our relationship of more than forty years, after reading, Thursday morning, advice by the paper's editorial board to give * a chance. Perhaps it might not have offended me as much if it had been well written and had something of substance, but their words were not only trite and predictable, but offensive, including terms like "mopers" and "sore losers." The worst of it is that this came just a week after the paper's announcement that they were launching a year long campaign to discuss and address racism in our community (it's been a significant problem for more than a century in our city divided by a river which has been a line of segregation and separation of economic and educational opportunity, class, crime, and neighborhood blight for decades).

I don't understand how they can endorse this normalizing of what's often been truly bizarre behavior, nor do I understand how they were not immediately gobsmacked by the irony of publishing their editorial advice at the time they did.

Among my little acts of resistance, I am sharing daily, to the paper's FB page, something of substance regarding the dangers of normalizing what is happening. Thank you for continuing to share the illuminating articles and videos you have, Ronni and others. They all contribute to a voice of reason that is sorely needed at this time.

Giving * a chance is like saying the Fire Department will come so I am not worried when your house is burning down.

By * talk and actions he has already shown who he is and it's very ugly. If his own words don't scare the living stuff out of you, his pick of cabinet creeps certainly should.

By the time you give * a chance it will be too late. The same rationalization was made as Hitler solidified his power.

For god's sake, start fighting now. Robert Reich has an excellent editorial on ways to do that including boycotting all * holdings and that includes no shopping at Neiman Marcus where Ivanka's products are sold (as if most of us could afford to shop there). Write letters to your editor, congress representatives and friends. Hit * in his pocket book and his ego.

If you are healthy enough, take to the streets. Organize a protest march or join one. Whatever you ability to fight with, we must not let * win.

I love Seth, and consider him very brave. Worry that his brand of satire may be stopped someday. Freedom of the media is not guaranteed in America these days. And, just so you know, Gerald, humor has traditionally been used to create awareness in free societies for eons!

Met last night with some organizers from the younger generation who are going to have do the heavy lifting in this moment. We old folks have useful (and not so useful) experience, but they will have to supply much of the energy. They will find their direction. For the moment, all of us grope toward finding effectual paths to the Big NO! Keep groping.

Another convert to Seth Meyers. He's getting better and better. I record him. I'll go on following him until he gets suppressed. :-(

We're in shock. This is the Shock Doctrine in action. We are paralyzed as totalitarianism rolls down on us. I am fighting against low energy and inertia but keep going anyway.
I'm working most at the local level now with several liberal groups and trying to get communication going among people who have not been in contact or have been at odds with each other.
We must act. We must get away from our computers and TVs and into our communities.

* scares me. But, I find some solace in Michael Moore's prediction that * will be gone in a year due to some illegal activity. What also scares me is the tremendous flow of false news stories on social media. There is no control for this and legitimate news outlets have been very weak in their response.

Darlene, I love your "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" spirit.
Which many are expressing.

It is simply, so very simply, that sort of attitude by enough people that could produce winning progress in combatting * and his cabinet cabal.

Otherwise, we have little influence. And I shudder as I recall the cameras that read license plates or take pictures through the front window as they were being installed in my town. Yes, they will be used for law enforcement, but could also be used against our interests and privacy. Is it worth it? I don't think so, but having a citizenry that examines, questions, and is involved is the important part.

I wrote against having them, but most didn't care, preferring not to question the questionable usage by authorities whom they want to "trust." Now I wish I'd done more, if only to attempt to wake people up.

We need to be alert and paying attention, rather than lolled with complacency or by discouragement. I give up on finding personal peace for now. I was wrong. It's time to be bothered and active.

I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but when I try to post something anti-* on FB, it won't let me do it. Also, when I try to read an article that is anti-*, my computer freezes up and has to be restarted or refreshed until I finally give up even trying to read the article.

Have they taken control over the internet already?

Interesting, Class of65. I'm not a big FB fan, but I'll have to try posting a less-than-favorable(!) comment about * on FB. I use it primarily to keep up with fellow cat rescue/rehoming volunteers and for trying to reunite lost cats with their families.

With all due respect to Hattie, not everyone is physically able or the personality type to "get out in our communities". Kudos and 3 cheers to those who are, but the battle can also be waged from our computers and via the written word. I agree with janinsanfran that the "torch has been passed" (or is in the process of being passed) to the Millennials. We can only hope they pick it up!

I just read an article that says that Trump will either do away with both Social Security and Medicare or will replace them with vouchers that will utilize a third-party insurance company, so I guess my husband and I will be homeless before 2017. It's our only source of income. Paul Ryan and * will be so pleased.

Like 'Jan in san fran' I also spent post Thanksgiving dinner talking with several 20 something's. 2 grandkids and the friend of one of them. Portland seems to continue to rebel against *s mock presidency. All 3 of these young adults have been out walking in peaceful protest. It was somewhat strange for me to find my grand daughter out amongst the crowds last week. Apparently it was truly weird for her to spot her 73 year old Nana carrying a sign and peacefully protesting.
Christi asked " what else did you guys do in the old days? Protest wise that is. Marched and sat in. Mostly.
People our age who believe * is a genuine bad guy need to protest. And continue protesting!
I had to get a good pair of boots so I could walk on the highways and thru the streets of Portland. With my cane and my sign I feel almost 25 again. Though I did protest during the first Gulf War too for the most part I thought my years as a radical feminist protester were over. Guess not!!

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