I have been a member of AARP since 1995, although it is doubtful that I will ever be able to retire. Today I received e-mail from them asking for my signature on a petition to my representatives asking for accountability on health care. Then of course they asked for a contribution of money to support the effort. Here is a copy of my letter to AARP on the occasion:
I signed the petition to tell my representatives that I would use my vote to require accountability on the issues.
I will contribute money to the effort when we are demanding universal government-funded medical care and prescription drugs. We do not, after all, have other essential services ruled by the free market. Our fire departments are not free market. Our police are not free market.
Our government is being run by outlaws, bullies, and rip-off artists. We have no statesmen in the halls of power, and we have nobody who understands “government by the people and for the people.”
The integrity of government is a health issue. Our whole society is suffering from stress-related illness. Nothing our government does (I am talking about Bush and Cheney and the courts they have stacked and the legislators they have bought and intimidated) inspires a healthy, confident outlook on life.
We have no leaders to point out to our children as role models. Our kids from Kindergarten to college are stressed out by high stakes achievement goals, and they cheat at sports and on tests at a level unimaginable only a decade ago. Our professional sports image is continually tarnished by athletes taking unfair (illegal) advantage and using wealth to escape justice. It is our best brains in the academic classroom who are cheating now, because they can’t afford to risk making less than that golden “A.” They cheat to get the perfect GPA so they can get into the best colleges, often aided by teachers. Teachers cheat and permit cheating because student test scores affect the teacher’s own job security and the funding of schools. The same process continues in college, and our government plans to institutionalize it by expanding the NCLB fiasco to cover colleges also. Values education won’t do a whole lot to correct the situation when the system, from top to bottom, requires cheating and looks the other way because winning — achievement, success — is rewarded and it’s acceptance is modeled at the highest levels of government.
Reagan was wrong about wealth. It doesn’t trickle down. But the idea that you can lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead, that you can exploit people’s fears, disregard the laws, and line your pockets and those of your cronies with ill-gotten gains does trickle down. We are drowning in it.
It is the task of organizations like AARP to inform constituents and educate people to understand the issues. Instead, you have joined the rip-off by offering a “competitive” health care plan.
It is people over 50 who should know that the free market doesn’t serve values or people. It is the well-regulated marketplace that serves these ends. The voice of AARP is compromised in speaking this obvious truth by its market participation.
The members are still here, needing health care with the same desperation with which we would need firemen if our house were burning. We are here with lost hopes of retirement because employers let us go just a few short months before we became vested, because they could and because it improved their bottom line.
Of course, so long as we have a president who can veto a health care bill for children because, hey, “poor kids first.” what are we really talking about?