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Monday, November 24, 2003

Bring Back the Gray Panthers!...

From the Gray Panthers website (

"In August of 1970, Maggie Kuhn convened a group of five friends, all of whom were retiring from national religious and social work organizations. This first "Network" of friends gathered to look at the common problems faced by retirees: loss of income, loss of contact with associates and loss of one of our society's most distinguishing social roles, one's job. They also discovered a new kind of freedom in their retirement; the freedom to speak personally and passionately about what they believed in, such as their collective opposition to the Vietnam War".

These five women quickly became some of the most influential voices of the seventies...We need that spirit again...Now is the time! We have a similar war and the same old problems for seniors. On top of that, we have a Prescription Drug Benefit Bill that Ted Kennedy brilliantly described as a "...turkey with two right wings".

If you're a senior, and you're fed up, I would recommend the G.P. site as well as Frank Kaiser's "Suddenly Senior" website...Look at the post, and realize you're not alone in your frustration...The url is:

Seniors, you've been gouged by powerful interests for far too long, and now you're faced with sham legislation that will make matters worse. Grover Nordquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform once famously remarked that his goal was to "shrink government down to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub". Neocons like Bush and Cheney have a philosophical aversion to all entitlement programs...Do you really feel that these are the people who are going to bring about sensible Medicare reform?
If so, you're seriously deluded.

The Minnesota Senior Federation has refused to support the legislation. The Minneapolis StarTribune quotes president Peter Wyckoff:

"Our members are mainly concerned that this bill does nothing to control drug costs, and it does nothing to address the wide disparity between the low reimbursement that Medicare pays to care for people in Minnesota and the much richer benefit other parts of the country receive," he said. "In fact, it really will make the disparities worse, and be a real benefit to the drug companies that already are making exorbitant profits."

To be fair, what other bill is being offered? Where is Mark Dayton's counter to the Republican plan? Where is Ted Kennedy's plan? Where is Tom Daschle's plan? I can come to no other conclusion than that our Democratic representatives have dropped the ball.

Last Friday, I was making dinner and cut my finger down to the bone while trying to gut a squid (those slippery devils are cheap over here in Korea). It was about 7pm, and after attempting direct pressure for a while, I faced the facts and walked down to the neighborhood doctor. Two stitches and twenty minutes later, I walked home. The entire procedure including antibiotics cost me less than twenty dollars. The doctor's income was subsidized by the government. I would hate to think how much the same care would cost me in the United States, where we pay more for medical care than any other country in the world.

It's a crying shame that in the richest, most powerful country on earth, my elderly neighbors and relatives in Minnesota have to bus themselves to the Canadian border to buy their prescription drugs.

I suppose to social darwinist neocons, these people are simply "losers" in the capitalist system, but there is a greater measure to a person and what they've contributed to society than the thickness of a wallet.

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