Social Security COLA and Medicare 2012
Aging as an Extreme Sport

Uncertainty in Old Age

category_bug_journal2.gif Just some stuff that's been floating around in my head.

Among the mantras of our recession that has been annoying me is the insistence from bankers, Wall Street, CEOs, right wing politicians and pundits that the economic climate will not improve until there is certainty in the corporate world.

What they want us to believe is that if the realm of commerce were made more predictable, they would hire millions of workers and everything would be hunky-dory again.

Of course that's not true and it is hardly a secret that their call for certainty is nothing more than a lobby effort aimed at Congress to reduce regulation and taxes on their businesses – preferably to zero.

Christian Dorsey of the Economic Policy Institute stated it clearly on Tuesday:

”They absolutely want government to stay out of their business when profits are soaring, but absolutely plead for taxpayer funded bailouts as soon as the system collapses. It is fundamentally wrong that they want to rig the game so that it's heads they win and tails we all lose.”

Wouldn't it be nice if there were certainty in life? When I was young, I wished I could be certain that everyone would like me; that I would not be alone on Saturday night; that I would not lose my job and that I would find someone to love.

Now that I am old, my personal uncertainties are more serious and frightening. Will my mind turn into Swiss cheese? Will I become physically disabled? Will I be able to adapt if I cannot drive anymore? What if I run out of money before I die?

It is a blessing of old age that I am able to continue daily living with these worries much more easily than the sillier ones of my youth.

After she had suffered a stroke, a double mastectomy and a broken collar bone all within 13 months, the actor Bette Davis famously said, “old age ain't for sissies.” No kidding. No one plans on such things as befell Ms. Davis in quick succession and unless one has great wealth, there isn't much to do to mitigate the disasters life may or may not inflict upon us. Mostly, it's a wait and see game.

Uncertainty has been the way of human life from time immemorial. Pliny, a Roman philosopher who lived at about the time of Christ, seems to have been the first (we know of) who said the only certainty is that nothing is certain.

A 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell, believed that certainty, while desirable, is an intellectual vice. Voltaire declared certainty to be absurd - and of course, he is correct.

Life is filled with uncertainty. Doubt. Indecision. Ambiguity. Insecurity. Precariousness. Suspense. Fear. Risk.

I see no reason corporations should be granted any more immunity to these conditions than you and I.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jackie Harrison: Eyes to Behold


My expression has been, "The floor is always moving."
Sigh. I do better with certainty. Yeah, right.

You're right, uncertainty certainly is scary.

Makes me want to say "Happy Halloween!"

I love your posts. Whether they scare me or make me reflect or cry or laugh. Thank you.

Isn't uncertainty part of being free, as in "free trade"?

It would be very nice if we could all have it both ways like the big corporations want to, but it doesn't work that way for us and shouldn't for corporations.

Banks are now beginning to reap the whirlwind of not using their bailout money to loan to small businesses and homeowners and get the economy going again. The awful cycle is about to repeat itself, I fear.

The only certainty is that everything dies in time.

Banks are the only entity reaping such enormous windfalls in these hardship times for the rest of us.
Of course the odd bit of wayward change clinks into the bowls of their pet politician puppets to keep that machinery greased.
Jaded and cynical?
Hell, yeah.

We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes. ~Anne C. Weisberg,1994

Repairs need to start at the top, and we should all keep that in mind as we head toward 2012. Maybe we CAN make it a year for an about-face and help change the legacy we pass on to our grand-kids.

Ronni--Great posting! The only (small, to be sure) quibble that I would make has to do with, "Of course that's not true...."
I have to be an agnostic on that one. We will never know whether it is true. The only true stasis is death.
So...the businesses are probably lying since they are, in fact in business, and things have never been static.

Yep, certainty sure would be nice, but it's never been the way the world works. The best we can do is try to create small islands of certainty in our own lives. I don't see why banks (and big business in general)should be exempt from the vicissitudes of life. Why should they be able to withhold resources that, when all is said and done, belong to the greater society? After all, it's our money in those banks. Personally I'm seriously considering switching from one of the Big Banks (where I've been a customer for 40 years) to a local credit union. Voting with our feet may be one way to get their attention--if enough of us decide to do it.

I really like certainty and stability but I realize that it just leads to stagnation. Several times during my working life I resigned from my job only because I was becoming too comfortable in it (and maybe a little bored by it). I knew I could have stayed there in what passes for forever in the business world but at what damage to my psyche.

Hell, now that corporations are people, they shouldn't have any more certainty than the rest of us people.

George Bernard Shaw wrote :"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself."
Our world is changing constantly and is never in stasis. Although it is easier to adapt when we are young, it is none the less imperative to do it when we age.

Yes, Elizabeth, make that move to a credit union! I've been a proud member of the Senate Employees Federal Credit Union since 1982. I ended up only working on the Hill for less then a year but the one good thing that came out of it was the credit union.

I've gotten all my banking needs through them at much lower rates (for loans and credit cards) and slightly higher interest rates. Along with no fees for checking or online bill paying. And the eligibility requirements are so that almost anyone can find one to join.

Wondering what would happen if just 5% of the big bank customers would move over to credit unions (along with letting the banks know why you are moving).

I'd say we've got certainty layered with uncertainty. The certainty is that we're each going to get increasingly decrepit, followed by death. The uncertainty is the type and intensity of the decrepitude, and the date and unpleasantness of our death. We all wish for the least amount of incapacity, dependence on others, and impoverishment, as we journey ever-closer to our (hopefully quick and painless) end.

Please wish me luck, as I do you.

Rediculous for corporations to fear risk. Risk is at the heart of capitlism. As Harry Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. The fearful corporations have no business worth saving.

On the other hand, it was taking too many risks and hedging their bets that led them to the mess of 2009. Our government has only made the problem worse since then.

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