Monday, November 29, 2010

Senior Moment

Diversity is what makes our country great.
And diversity is what keeps it great.
But what does diversity actually mean?
When someone uses that word it conjures up images of immigrants from Italy, Ireland, or any number of other countries entering and leaving Ellis Island in search of a new life.  It brings to mind the tenements of the lower east side and push carts laden with all kinds of wares bouncing over uneven cobblestone streets.
But a diverse population is not only about ethnic background.  It also points to different levels of incomes or groups of communities or even sexual preferences.
In order for our nation to function well we must realize that we are all a part of the fabric that is America.
And thankfully we are all different!
Vive la difference!
It is a common theme in literature and entertainment to wish that others were more like us but wouldn’t that be a boring world, not to mention confusing and downright annoying.
And the differences between us makes it hard to generalize and harder yet to profile.  Not every man named Mohammed is a terrorist.  Just ask Cassius Clay although he did terrorize many in the ring!
But I will not use this post to rehash the ongoing argument about or against profiling.  This piece was made necessary by a particularly upsetting and short sighted editorial in my local newspaper Newsday.
On November 29, 2010 an “Opinion” piece by Daniel Akst singled out a growing group of people in America as getting an unfair break by way of universal unilateral perks.
He paints this diverse group with a broad brush and includes anyone and everyone that fits the criteria of membership.  He states that these people are taking advantage of an unintentional loophole, one they should ignore.
The awful group of dastardly evil doers of whom he speaks is the elders of society and the undeserving unfair perk is the dreaded ‘Senior Discount!”
Seriously?
I was once given an unasked for senior discount for a cup of coffee by a brainless teenager at a rest stop on the Thruway in upstate New York.  I was 49 years old at the time and although I was upset at the idea that she thought I looked older than I was I must nevertheless admit that I took the dime.
But Mr. Akst uses one particular 80 year old senior as proof that the widely offered discount is unfair, Mr. Warren Buffet.
Again Seriously?
Now clearly Mr. Buffet is far from being in need of a discount, let alone a handout but does this member of the staff of editorial writers on Newsday expect to have any credible followers after such an impertinent choice for his argument?
I would like Mr. Akst to choose instead Freddie, the local homeless person living under the Manhattan Bridge overpass or Lulu who resides in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge in Queens and not feeling all that groovy at the moment for his argument against discounts.
Okay, the principals in my examples do not exist, or at least if they do I am not aware of them so please don’t help Freddie or Lulu sue me.
His argument holds about as much water as does a submarine with a screen door.
I will naturally admit that there are many seniors out there who do not need nor deserve a discount.  One such undeserving low life laid me off a couple of years ago so that he could hold onto even more of his wealth but that does not mean that every senior is as evil or well to do.
But there are far more seniors in America who cannot afford a breakfast buffet than there are 'Buffets!'
The argument continues, according to Mr. Akst that seniors have been alive longer and therefore have been able to save more money than their younger worker counterparts.  This extra time putting away cash for their golden years gives seniors an edge when it comes to spending power and they therefore do not need the discounts.  He infers that the senior discounts instead be given to the younger set.
He naturally ignores the many years worth of taxes most seniors have paid to fund all the programs that they will most likely never take advantage of for various reasons.  He also neglects to mention the assault on Social Security and Medicare that one assumes is being made by his brethren in the Republican camp.
If 'need' be the criteria then why are we even debating whether or not to allow the Bush tax cuts for billionaires to expire???  Surely these people can afford full fare for an LIRR ticket! (Sorry Mr. Buffet.)
Why not take away all the so called perks these late in life people are given such as walkers or hearing aids?  Why should society have to put up with an aging bunch of Alzheimer candidates anyway?
This editorial writer for Newsday continues his assault on all things human when he blithely points out that many young people who look forward to getting into the senior citizen discount sect will probably die before reaching the appropriate age.  Perhaps Mr. Akst is bucking for the lead role in next year’s holiday performance of “Scrooge.”  I for one will not buy a ticket unless of course it comes with a half-off senior discount coupon.
There are a few more inane quasi facts thrown out by this obviously deluded individual in defense of his indefensible position but at the end of the day he is just plain wrong!
There are many problems in America and many ideas on how to face or fix them.  We do not need someone who seemingly wishes merely to make a name for himself to stir up some controversy or to gin up false ones.
As a new entry into the senior sect who has been unable to secure a new position since that lay off of which I spoke earlier I welcome my well deserved tiny occasional discounts.  They will not allow me to ride off into the sunset of retirement in a limo driven vehicle but at least I may be able to enjoy a slightly lower price for a meal at a local establishment.  Of course I may have to plan to eat dinner before 5 o’clock.
And as for Warren Buffet I happen to like the man.  He is quite down to earth and realizes that he pays far too little in taxes but since our government sets the rules by which he lives he follows them.  Following the rules has not seemed to hurt him much so far.
So if Mr. Akst still feels that senior discounts are being used and abused by those who do not need or deserve them I submit that he should do his patriotic duty by refusing them.
For the time being, however I shall not.

4 comments:

Cousin Bruce said...

Sorry - I left out the link to the original story from Newsday but did add it afterward. You may now link to the offending words of an uninformed but paid writer for a local paper. Why he has a job while so many others do not escapes me unless he has incriminating photos of the editors!

Cousin Bruce said...

And one more thought, the title of the 'opinion' piece is, "Why are we subsidizing this affluent group?"
Is Mr. Akst a jerk, a moron or a shill?
Which affluent group would he be referring to, the wealthiest 2% of America who his lovers in the Republican Party are trying to push an extended or permanent tax gift to?
Perhaps Mr. Akst means the multi-national corporations who are still laying off Americans and replacing them with foreign 'pennies on the dollar' workers?
Or maybe he means the group of health insurance companies hell bent on watching Americans go broke trying to stay alive while handing over every freaking penny they ever earned to the fat cats in the penthouses in order to see the doctor of their choice?
No, he must be talking about the banks and their board members and CEOs who took, or rather stole our money and then accepted the billion dollar bailout only to distribute that money among themselves as bonuses for jobs well done!!!
This man is truly a jackass!

Cousin Bruce said...

And I am not alone in my thoughts - http://www.newsday.com/opinion/letters/letters-in-defense-of-discounts-for-seniors-1.2503028

Cousin Bruce said...

And now for an interesting comment that turns out to be apropos in a way from my friends in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

LF writes:
enjoyed your post of 11/29 on the seniors.

MB (someone we know) had 3 hernias taken care of a week ago. Says he is doing well, but needs pain medication. oy!

(Ah the joys of getting old!)