Coming Crisis in Health Care
The Tattered Remnants of the Gray Panthers

Being Elder Rich

Since January, President Bush has been trying, unsuccessfully, to convince the country that because the numbers of older people are increasing, we must "save" Social Security by creating private accounts. Sounding a similar note, the media wrings its hands ever more frequently about the burden an aging population will place on the world’s economies.

Simultaneously, anti-aging proponents tout every kind of snakeoil that will, they insist, prolong life, while legitimate scientists are busy mining the bug and rodent populations for longevity clues. A year or two ago, it was fruit flies that they said could make us all Methuselahs. Last week, it was mice who, apparently, have a gene that can extend their lives by 30 percent. Scientists hope to apply what they have discovered to humans.

Does anyone else see a contradiction here: "Oh dear, we’ve got too many old people; let’s see if we can create even more by getting everyone to live an additional 25 or 50 or 100 years."

There is another way of looking at this:

“Far from being ravenous locusts determined to consume an ever-increasing share of resources, our elders represent an unprecedented windfall…

“In terms of political power, they form one of the most powerful political advocacy forces in our society. The amount of life experience they can bring to bear on the important problems that face our society is huge and will only grow as the decades pass…”

- What Are Old People For?, William H. Thomas, M.D.

Instead of spending billions of science dollars on increasing life spans (even if it were successful, it will take many decades to accomplish), we could apply that money to improving health in the old age we’ve already got and spend some effort to bring older people into the mainstream of public life where their experience, judgment and wisdom can be put to effective use in helping to solve the really important problems of the world.


Ronni, your idea will never work, will never even be considered by the politicians and bureaucrats. Because it makes sense! They will always opt for quantity over quality because it is an easier metric and does not involve subjective opinion.

The contradiction you pointed out results from a disjointed, overweight government spinning completely out of control. Too many branches and nodes that don't even know each other exist, funded from different directions, and chasing opposing goals. Unfortunately, the Federal government is rife with this kind of paradox. Long way from the original goal of national defense, eh?

Ronni, Winston makes a good point that change is unlikely assuming that all other things remain constant; but what if things were shaken up a bit? What if seniors were better organized and mobilized?
Whatever happened to the Grey Panthers?

The contradiction should be obvious to anyone, but just one of many where government actions are concerned, e.g. financing public projects by slapping additional taxes on tobacco, while making it politically palatable by increasing funding for anti-smoking campaigns.

It makes perfect sense to me; I've been thinking that for years.

Hey, Always Question, I was wondering the very same thing? Great minds, you know...

What DID happen to the Grey Panther organization?

And of course the other problem is that the current regime - ears plugged, la-la-la-la - isn't open to dissent. Nay, not even dissent - just simple solutions different from its own.

Regarding the power/action of people 50+, I think the demographics of the growing anti-war (rather, anti-Iraqi War) movement has let everyone know that we're still prepared to take the lead and stir things up when we need to get a message across. I believe the same will happen on healthcare/Social Security. We'll find the pressure point sooner or later and force these fools to listen. (Won't we?)

Or, put another way, I ain't goin' quietly.

Well, for certain AARP is not the Grey Panther group. I look at the political situation for an aging population as a near hopeless situation. The only glimmer of hope is our ever-increasing numbers and because of them, our possible political clout.

Our middle school had a wonderful program to bring in seniors to work with the kids. The new principal didn't understand why the volunteer coordinator needed an office, and kicked him out. End of wonderful middle school program....

I'm sick of our society's youth worship. We need to learn to respect and learn from our elders the way Asian societies do.

Of course, considering its the boomer generation who are becoming the elders, it might not be a good time for that - since boomers seem to be doing a fine job of screwing things up at the moment....maybe we should go back to to "don't trust anything over 30" for a while... or perhaps, "don't trust anyone between 30 and 60"....

That's where the Gray Panthers are -- but they are not what they used to be.

It does seem a little screwed up. But being old now ain't what it was when my grandma was alive. That's for sure.

Ronni, I bet this one took on a life of its own that you did not anticipate. Accept it. That is a sign of your genius at work! And that is sincere...not my usual tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.

we are the generation that changed things and now we sit and complain and talk it all to death. Face it we have become the throw away generation. The worse ones to be weeded out are those of us who are #1. Women over the age of 50
#2. Poor and too busy being single parents and raising our kids we had no savings
#3. to late for the 401K's to be affective.

So now what... we write congress and senate reps who have no idea what it's like to try and survive on Social Security and Medicare while we are slowly being suffled off to private insurance companies who, historically could care less, are greedy and just want that extra dollar from a booming industry of aged people in need of medications. Who is the sounding voice of our generation if not us. The young who see us as in the way?
I agree why try and extend our lives when wearen't wanted anyway.
We have to do more than sit back and complain. We have to become visible as we did in the 60's. We have to say WE ARE VALUABLE, MORE SO THAN WARS, OIL. We are the gold in this country that has forgotten the women who raised them.

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