Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Benefits of Being over 60

Trust me, I've done more than my share of complaining about aging.  Those complaints include increased aches and pains, loss of stamina and strength, and even a dulling of memory.  However, in the past few years I've come to rejoice in the fact that I've lived most of my life and won't have to face a bleak future.  The times, they truly are a'changing and not for the better.  I no longer envy the young, in any way possible.

My generation, in my estimation, lived through the best of times of American history.  We also, for the most part, benefited from a high point in education on all levels.  From kindergarten through graduate school, our educational system reached its zenith.  As baby boomers we had benefits both from having parents who lived through WWII and the Great Depression and living through major progressive changes ourselves.  Our parents witnessed and/or experienced the advent of Social Security and FDR's implementation of massive expansion and improvements in our infrastructure, from roads, to bridges and dams.  That isn't saying everything was good.  The development of the atomic bomb, the bombing of Hiroshima, the Holocaust showcased the worst of humanity.

In the 1950s President Eisenhower oversaw the building of interstate highways, connecting our nation as never before.  In the 1960s we saw the first steps toward equality for all humans, recognizing people of color and women as fully human, although that fight still continues today.  The passing of the Civil Rights Act and the advent of the Second Wave of feminism helped to provide previously unavailable opportunities to a large segment of our population.  President Johnson got Medicare passed, so that the elderly wouldn't have to go without affordable and accessible health care.  Add to all this the fact that we had the best music ever - Elvis Presley, Motown, Crosby/Stills/Nash & Young, the Beatles, Carole King, James Taylor, just to name a few of my personal favorites.  As time progressed, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and LGBT persons were coming out of the closet and beginning to be "granted" their rights as humans as well. 

What does the future hold that concerns and worries me so much?  I'll try to make the list concise:

During a time when we, as Americans, have access to a larger amount of information via the Internet, most of us remain complacent and uninformed of the dangers which are happening, whether in our own backyards or worldwide.   It seems to me that only a small percentage of Americans are actually paying attention.  Too many are simply struggling to get by, day to day.  Others just don't care, continuing to believe that things will get better and there isn't anything to worry about.  And still others resort to paranoia about fantasy bogey-men (like the UN Agenda 21).

A couple of articles that I read this morning prompted me to put up this post.  First is this from Alternet - Alaska Militia Leader sentenced to prison   I highly recommend checking out the website for the Southern Poverty Law Center to find out more about militias and hate groups, and their astronomical rise in the past four years - Hate and Extremism

And one final link has to do with President Obama's nomination of Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary.  Although I had wished he would appoint Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, I never expected that to happen.  Soon to be former Treasury Secretary had helped get her booted from the early White House team.  I would have been just as happy had either Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz or David Cay Johnston been the nominee.  I never expected that to happen either.  I hadn't been concerned about Lew, despite his wacky & arrogant signature after hearing Obama's glowing introduction to the nomination.  Additionally, NPR made a point to say that Lew had photos of the FDR programs gracing his office walls, implying that Lew was supportive of these programs.  This interview on Alternet changed my mind and put a knot in my stomach.  Below is a quote about Jack Lew from Professor William Black:
So—and he has the history, in one sense, correct. He says the problem arose before deregulation. That’s true that derivatives were already a problem before deregulation. And so, Brooksley Born proposes to deal with the problem by having a regulation to deal with credit default swaps. And then the Clinton administration, in league with Greenspan, in league with Phil Gramm, and with one of the important architects of all of this being Jack Lew, squashes Brooksley Born to destroy the proposed regulation and to pass something, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act—talk about a dishonest phrase—that not only said, "You, Brooksley Born, cannot go forward with this particular regulation," the statute actually said, "We hereby withdraw all regulatory powers to protect the nation, period. From the federal government, from the state and local governments, we exempt you from the gambling laws. We exempt you from the boiler room laws to prevent fraudulent operations." It’s one of the most extraordinary abusive things in the world, heavily involved with AIG’s ability to produce not just the disaster atAIG, but the disaster of credit—of the CDOs that blew up a larger portion of the world. And those CDOs would not have been possible without these credit default swaps.
Again, I had held out hope that Obama would get Congress to re-instate Glass-Steagall.  That ain't gonna happen with Jack Lew at the helm of Treasury.

For more about Glass-Steagall, check out these links:

Interestingly, Sandy Weil, formerly of Citigroup and advocate for the repeal of this law, has reversed his position and sees the error of his ways now that it's too late: Sandy Weil + Glass-Steagall


  1. Yikes! That stuff about Lew is frightening indeed!

    CatMan likes to say that life in the US peaked in about 1972. He attributes much of the problem to population growth - I find it sort of interesting that the US reached peak oil at about that same time.

    As you know, I'm a bit cynical and fatalistic about this sort of thing, but I do think that climate change is coming sooner, and will be much worse than anyone anticipates. Perhaps people will find a way to adapt, I sorta doubt it.

    In terms of the country going to pot stuff... I waver back and forth. Part of me totally agrees, and it makes me absolutely crazy that people have become so invested in our societal distractions (reality TV, social networks etc) that they pay little or no attention to what their government is doing. At the same time I think much progress has been made - it still blows me away that we actually elected a black man to the presidency and that pot is now legal here in Colorado.

    Of course, one could argue that progress has been made in superficial ways while the real power keeps being condensed in fewer and fewer hands.

    It all makes me very sad, but on some level I think it's all just karma.

  2. I wish it would be karma, then those that deserve getting zapped would. It's the collateral damage - that lightning bolt bounces off innocent bystanders, like women, children & the plants, animals, air & water on the planet. I can't believe there is justice, whether it's heaven/hell or karma. There might be individual happy endings, but the good guys rarely win for long. Just take a look at history. Or take a look at today - our own Gilded Age when the rich get richer and the 99% are headed toward abject poverty. Check out Moyers & Company's latest episode with Paul Krugman. Bill Moyers interviews the head of Goldman Sachs & discusses the "perks" for the Fat Cats in the fiscal cliff deal. The "little people" continue to get screwed. The head of Goldman Sachs is biggest f'ng schmuck on the planet.

    Even though I voted for Obama both times (the options sucked both times), he's more of a BINO (black in name only). He has continued the worst of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld policies. Some, like the drones and the Patriot Act, are even worse.

    While on one hand I'm glad that sensible mj policy is being passed around the country, I also wonder if there is some nefarious purpose behind it. Let's have the public zone out further and they will care even less that we are robbing them of their birthright and further restricting their freedom. I'm no libertarian or sovereign asshat, but there's some serious bullshit getting passed in state & federal governments & people are just looking the other way.

    Just finished watching The Social Network. Mark Zuckerberg is a schmuck. I love Aaron Sorkin (screenwriter), but the movie pissed me off.

    I hate always doing this, but Soylent Green is becoming more and more of a documentary than a work of science fiction. I was terribly disturbed when I saw that film in the theater (seems like a 150 years ago now), however a future like that seemed nearly impossible at the time. Today - not so much.

    1. Ha! Well I have to agree with you. The unfortunate thing about Karma is that it doesn't actually work like we westerners think it ought to. It's not really about rewarding the good and punishing the bad... it's just a very intricate system of cause and effect - at least that's my understanding of it.

      I saw a documentary once about chimpanzees and human evolution. I don't remember most of it, but the one part that stuck in my head was the hypothesis that one of the things that set humans apart from other primates was that we did a better job of keeping our bullies in line. It would seem that we are slacking off terribly in that department!

  3. Well, if we'd descended from bonobos then us women would still be in charge & we'd just screw the guys who were out of line & they would get back in line. I've always hypothesized that what Pandora let "out of the box" was how babies are made. If men had no idea they contributed to conception then we'd still be living in a matriarchy. Some women just can't keep their mouths shut.