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More freebies for older Americans

By Keith D. Cummings
web posted November 24, 2003

The President and the Republicans in Congress are prepared to steal more of your money to give it to retired Americans. The new Medicare bill, as outlined by President Bush, would provide between $300 and $600 for every senior citizen in free drug benefits. Bare in mind, these aren't free drugs, they're free benefits for which these senior citizens have done nothing. Because they are the largest voting block, they are getting free money from working Americans.

"American seniors are calling for these improvements," the President said in his weekly radio address. "Among the seniors I met in Florida was Marge MacDonald. Marge and her husband Mac do not have prescription drug coverage and they are frustrated. Here is what Marge says: 'I'm tired of talk. Sooner or later somebody needs to do something.'" (full link here)

What Marge MacDonald of Florida was saying to the President of the United States was, "My husband and I are old. We're members of the largest single voting block in the country. Who cares if we have failed to provide properly for our own retirement? We shouldn't be responsible for our own healthcare. Take the money out of the pockets of the hard working younger generation. They can afford it, and even if they can't, there are more of us voting."

These men and women have the nerve to invoke Tom Brokaw's book title, The Greatest Generation, when they speak about themselves. A more apt title for them would be "The Greediest Generation." They've had they're hand out for years, and there is no end in sight. The more they are given, the more they demand. Every one of them makes the claim that they were promised these things in their youth; that they have somehow earned it.

The problem is, they were never promised any kind of plan for drugs when they were working. They have neither contributed to the fund that may well break the backs of the younger generation, nor have they saved themselves for this eventuality. We all grow old, but this senior generation of Americans seems to think that going old is, in and of itself, an entitlement. Regressive taxes on the youth be damned, they seem to say, I want my Celebrex and I want my Caribbean cruise.

In Federalist 10, James Madison warned about this very danger when he said, "[t]he apportionment of taxes … is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets." Here our representatives in Congress are doing just that, allowing greedy seniors to mug younger Americans, and the President of the United States is holding the gun.

The very claim by Mrs. MacDonald that "[s]ooner or later somebody is going to have to do something," is the worst kind of sophistry. She has done nothing to earn this benefit, and the United States Constitution has given the government no right to offer it. There was no promise to Mrs. MacDonald that she and her husband would be cared for in their old age. They squandered their youth, and now they plan to squander the youths of their children and grandchildren as well. And yet, in typical fashion, she is passing the buck demanding that someone, not her, do something.

There is little doubt that the growing entitlement programs in the United States can't continue forever. Already, we are seeing the some states in Europe begin to dismantle pieces of their socialist bureaucracy. The cost has grown simply too high. Nevertheless, the selfish clamoring of Mrs. MacDonald and the millions of greedy geezers continues unabated. If their children and grandchildren have to forego new homes, new cars or vacations, what do they care? They have their condo in Boca, their semi-annual trip to Atlantic City and their early bird specials at the Sizzler. The benefits they already reap, from Social Security to Senior Citizen Specials at Kroger aren't enough. The kids can pay, they seem to say; the kids owe it to us.

My sister and her husband will be spending Thanksgiving on the road, driving from their home in New Jersey to Virginia and back. They're picking up her father-in-law, a kind, gentle man who has come to the twilight of his years. He's a widower now, his wife having died this past spring. In fact, he's the last connection my sister has to the previous generation since our parents have also gone quietly into their final rest. He's been in a home for a while now, but she can't bear him to live like that. She's bringing him home, to care for him and give him the dignity he deserves. This is what we owe the generation that raised us.

We've become a nation of people who believe that we can throw money at a problem and make it go away. The trouble is, we're trying to use other people's money to solve our own problem. We've become a selfish, self-centered society. Looking at today's seniors, we can acknowledge where we learned it.

Keith D. Cummings is an author and columnist. His most recent novel, Opening Bell, was recently published. He can be found on the web at his personal web site.

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