By Michael Kaufman
My mailboxes, traditional and electronic, have been filled to the brim lately with communications from the AARP. I keep hoping they will contain information about how the organization is fighting tooth and nail to preserve Social Security and Medicare as we know it, for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. I look for information that exposes the lies suggesting these great social programs are on the brink of insolvency and must be “privatized” and/or replaced by “voucher” plans that will provide reduced, inadequate coverage. Of course, folks will have the “option” of purchasing additional coverage in the “free marketplace” (as Mitt likes to call it) but those who can’t afford it will be left to fend for themselves.
People will die if this happens but when Alan Grayson tried to point this out when he was in Congress the people who made up the story that “death panels” were included in the Affordable Care Act attacked him for being an extremist. Now they are talking about moving up the “retirement age” to 70 when there is little or no opportunity for seniors to obtain good jobs as it is now. So what does the AARP have to say about all this?
Well, there was the recent issue of the magazine with pictures of Mitt and Anne Romney on the cover and a folksy interview inside. There was the email from AARP Member Offers suggesting that I “race home with $100 cash back bonus from the AARP Visa card from Chase.” Another email announced, “Michael, You Could Win a $5,000 Dream Spa Vacation for Two!” Another blared, “Michael, Last Chance! Win $50,000 for Your Retirement.”
The main headline in the August 17 edition of the AARP Webletter said, “Slideshow: Marilyn Monroe’s Life in Photos.” I saw enough photos of poor Marilyn when she was alive, thanks. She would be about 86 now. I didn’t look at the slideshow but the headline made me want to see “The Misfits” again.
A Jo Ann Jenkins from the AARP Foundation sent an email urging, “Michael, Get our 2013 calendar before it’s gone!” She said I could “reserve” my copy by making a tax-deductible donation to the AARP Foundation. And every other day (or so it seems) an envelope arrives bearing the AARP logo and containing offers for all kinds of insurance policies. All are from big-name insurance companies that pay the AARP royalties for its endorsement and use of the AARP logo.
Lately I’ve also been getting envelopes and emails reminding me to renew my membership in the AARP, something I have routinely done for the past 10 years, but which I am now reconsidering. I wouldn’t mind all the fluff they send if it was accompanied by at least some sense of urgency regarding the current state of affairs.
We are weeks away from a national presidential election that will be decided between candidates from two major political parties. Neither is any bargain when it comes to representing the interests of ordinary people versus corporate donors and lobbyists. But one has declared war on all social programs affecting seniors (along with the war on women’s health rights, public employees, Head Start, immigrants, trade unions, the environment and the voting rights of African Americans….to name a few). Yet the AARP refuses to make an endorsement.
Last week I got a letter from Michael Olender, associate director of the AARP in New York State, announcing an AARP-sponsored forum on Medicare fraud to be held Thursday, September 27, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, 142 Stage Road. Experts from AARP and various agencies “on the frontlines of fighting Medicare fraud” will explain “the basics about Medicare fraud including how it is committed, how to spot it, and what to do if you think you recognize it.” Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but reservations are required by calling 877-926-8300.
I am thinking about attending if only to remind them that if Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Nan Hayworth have their way, there will be no Medicare fraud to fight against….because there will be no Medicare.
Michael can be reached at email@example.com.