The White House Responds and...
What It's Like to Get Old – on This Day, Anyway

Elder Occupy

category_bug_politics.gif On yesterday's post about a (non)answer from the White House in response to my letter about Social Security, Jan Adams, Letha, Frank Paynter and Linda all noted that this is an example of what the Occupy movement is about and that we elders need to do some occupying.

As serendipity sometimes provides (hat tip to Margie), on the same day at Campaign for America's Future, Leo Gerard wrote about the dozen elders, “men and women in their 60s, 70s and even 80s” who have been occupying a median strip in front of a closed Century Aluminum plant in Ravenswood, West Virginia since mid-December.

”In tents and under tarps, a small group stays overnight, despite hypertension, arthritis and other old age ailments,” writes Gerard...

“These vulnerable people expose themselves to weather extremes although some have no health insurance at all. Century cancelled it. That’s why they’re occupying Century.”

Here is a photo of the some of these occupiers that I copied from their Facebook page.

Occupy Century Aluminum

The Ravenswood plant was shut down in February 2009, putting 650 employees out of work. A comfort, however, was the company's promise through all the years of their toil that they would receive lifelong health coverage would be paid for by the company. Gerard explains what happened next [emphasis is mine]:

”Nine months after the shutdown, [Century Aluminum] announced it would terminate as of June 1, 2010 health benefits for retirees eligible for Medicare. Then on Nov. 1, 2010, Century told its retirees who weren’t yet eligible for Medicare that it would stop paying for their coverage as of Jan. 1, 2011.”

The recently fired CEO of Century Aluminum was paid $4.9 million in 2010 and given $6.2 million to leave the company last November. (The greed of the one percent never ends; he is suing for $20 million more.) But the company is still fighting the retirees over payment for the health coverage they were promised.

In an odd move, Century Aluminum has provided port-o-potties for the elder occupy protesters; I have no idea what to say about that. You can read of other developments in this story here.

Temperatures in Ravenswood were 39F overnight and expected to be 54F today so at least the weather is helping. The West Virginia governor and the state's senators are supporting the elder occupiers but there has been no resolution and I know it must be physically hard – I'm not sure I could be out there next to a highway day in and day out.

Here is the 2 January Facebook announcement about one of the occupier's health:

“A very sad day at Occupy Century yesterday. One of our champions, Sonny Hinzman, was taken to the hospital with indications of a stroke. Please keep him in your prayers.

“Sonny had no co insurance because it was costing him $1700.00 a month to insure just his wife and daughter with COBRA. It was cost prohibitive for him to include himself. This is why we will never give up and endure whatever weather is thrown at us! This is murder without a gun!”

You might want to stop by the Facebook page to offer some encouragement.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Terry Hamburg: Cruisin'


Is it time to occupy cemeteries? At least the gravestones might offer some shelter from the wind....

It's a national disgrace what we have let happen to our country. And you look at the political alternatives for which you 'can' vote and wonder what's the difference sometimes. Until you hear Romney saying poverty is no problem in this country. He's either clueless or the worst charlatan we have ever had run for office. Given we just had GW Bush, that's hard to beat.

Last night Lawrence O'Donnell devoted an entire segment of "The Last Word" to the PBGC.

Here in Florida that would be the Palm Beach Golf Club but in Washington,D.C. it stands for the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.

President Obama appointed Joshua Gotbaum to head up this Corporation whose main purpose is to see that companies that go out of business or declare bankrupcy
don't leave you without the pension you were promised .

Lawrence stressed the importance of voting for a President who cared enough about the middle class workers
to start an agency such as this to protect workers from greedy companies who disregard what you were promised by way of a pension.

Mr Gotbaum at the PBGC is the man to see if your company is declaring bankrupcy and threatening to take your pension with them:(See American Airlines).

A word to the working wise:
Vote Obama in 2012 or this agency will probably be dissolved by the new President right after lunch on Inauguration Day.

I've been getting a small pension (<$250) for about 10 yrs. thanks to PBGC. It's because a small community hospital I worked for closed. I think they've been around for awhile & seem to be a well kept secret from the public. Dee

Yes, I'll stop in Facebook. Thanks.

Romney is about as out of touch with the general population as anyone can be. I have heard his claims that he is not an elitist, that he earned his money, he didn't inherit it, blah, blah, blah. Regardless, he does not appear to have an understanding and appreciation of what it means to not be rich in America. And if he thinks that he need not be concerned about the very poor because of the great safety nets that are in place, he is truly clueless. Maybe what we should occupy is another country, or a remote island. This one seems to be up for grabs.

It distresses me to see that the media hype is swallowed hook, line and sinker by some of the readers of a blog like this. Clueless is correct when it comes to Romney, but he DID NOT say he didn't care about the poor. His record of charity is proof that he cares deeply about those less fortunate than himself. What he said was that his emphasis will be on measures to strengthen the middle class; the backbone of any society.

I'm solidly left of center, have never made more than $40,000 a year (my one best year), raised a son by myself without a college education, paid off my house mortgage before I retired, and will vote for Obama in November, and cross my fingers that he gets a Democratic house, and kicks some ass in his next term.

I was dumbstruck to hear on Moyers & Co. that Bill Clinton was the president to finalize the dismantling of Glass-Steagell, which would have kept the mergers and greed under control, and perhaps spared most of us the loss of a good chunk of our savings, and 30%+ of our home equity.

I could never join an outside Occupy march even if the weather was balmy. My deep admiration for those elders enduring cold and damp day after day is unwavering.

I only hope it does some good. The national press is sadly lacking in coverage of events like this and unless you see it on MSNBC or read about it on the Internet you will never know of their sacrifice. After all the owners of big media are part of the 1%

You go Ronni!!! I think in today's vernacular it is something like, "You rock!"

I'm with Lauren. I didn't think that Romney was disregarding the poor, he's just not even a mediocre speaker. The poor man just comes off all wrong & seems to lack a certain confidence or knowledge or something that really is scary. I often don't agree with Mr. OBama, but at least he seems to believe in what he's about. And yes, Lauren that was Bill Clinton who gave big business more than a bone. Dee

And too, can Crabby Old Lady say something about the Susan B Koman funding cuts to Planned Parenthood. Thanks.

I admire these folks at Ravenswood for taking a stand on something about which they feel strongly.

The issue with Romney is not what he would do as an individual but what he stands for as president, what programs he will continue or start. What he was saying is the poor don't need more than they already have with some tweaking. He's already said he doesn't like entitlements. What is that code talk for?

I don't know if I can buy the explanation that Romney is just not that good a speaker, and that's the reason for how badly his comment about the very poor came off. I saw a clip on the news (not sure which network, may have been) sometime last month. Nearing the end of the clip he said something about the poor. It was either, "and I'm concerned about the poor" or words to that effect. It struck me at that time as very odd, as though it was an afterthough, that had just occurred to him that he hadn't made any comment about the poor, after perhaps being coached to do so. It was a strange comment that seemed to have not one bit of sincerity to it. I have tried to find this online using various search terms, but all I've found are references to his more recent statement that is causing so much controversy. I don't think Romney is a bad man, I just think he's really out of touch and has no understanding about how bad things have become for many people in the U.S. And now that he has been endorsed by Donald Trump? Hmmm...

My mother told me that I should always try to see the good in people and for the first 2/3 of my life I made a real effort to do so but now in my golden years, I'm less inclined to do so, The truth is that unlike Cathy and a few others who commented here, I do think that Romney and Gingrich are not "good men". They are totally lacking in compassion and and consideration for others and are driven by their ambition and greed. Romney did not make 300 million by being a nice guy and his recent display of his killer instinct is simply his real nature showing through the thin veneer of gentility. Obama may not be perfect but please Lord anyone but Newt, Mitt or Rick

Lauren is right that Bain's Main Man never said in so many words that he doesn't care about the poor, but he doesn't have to say it. He has trouble "connecting" because he has no empathy for the problems of people who aren't rich. Not being rich isn't part of his life experience. Someone who has earned multi-millions, lived in luxurious homes and traveled by private jet all his life simply can't "relate" on a personal level to lost jobs, foreclosed-on homes and security lines in airports. Wasn't it the late great Texas Governor Ann Richards who said about Bush the Younger, "He can't help it if he was born with a silver foot in his mouth"? Neither can Mitt--that's all he knows.

Still, he's probably preferable to Newt or either of the Ricks who, if elected, would try to turn the country into a theocracy--at least as far as women are concerned. Shariah law, anyone? I'm willing to accept that Mitt worked hard to acquire his multi-millions, but consider this: don't you think the fact that his daddy was George Romney opened a few doors that would have been firmly closed to you and me?!

Ah yes, but while Clinton may have made mistakes....Bush's "American Dream" plan certainly added to the mess we are in....Least we not forget

"It was a REPUBLICAN President George Bush who proposed, just after 9/11, a scheme to place low-income families into homes they were not qualified for and could not make payments on, insuring that one economic catastrophe would create an even worse one."
Kudos to the Ravenswood retirees for bearing the cold...!! Keep them in our thoughts. It just gets scarier every day..Don't know that I can handle nine more months of campaigning!! Thank you for all your insights, Ronni!

From Occupy Century's facebook page:"Thanks sooooooo much for your help!!!!!! We just won our battle and we are getting our health care back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy! Will let you know more later. Thanks"

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