Posts Tagged Seniors

NICHOLAS KRISTOFF’S OPEN LETTER TO TRUMP VOTERS

NOTE:  This is an open-letter that Nicholas Kristof wrote, in his regular NY Times column, to awaken all Trump Voters:

Dear Trump Voters,

You’ve been had. President Trump sold you a clunker. Now that he’s in the White House, he’s betraying you — and I’m writing in hopes that you’ll recognize that betrayal and hold him accountable.

Trump spoke to your genuine pain, to the fading of the American dream, and he won your votes. But will he deliver? Please watch his speeches carefully. You’ll notice that he promises outcomes, without explaining how they’ll be achieved. He’s a carnival huckster promising that America will thrive with his snake oil.

“We’re going to win, we’re going to win big, folks,” Trump declared Friday at the CPAC meeting, speaking of his foreign policy.

Great! Problem solved. Next? He then outlined his take on drug trafficking and what will surely be his outcome:
“No good. No good. Going to stop.” Wow! Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

Similarly, all looks rosy for tax outcomes: “We’re going to massively lower taxes on the middle class,” Trump said. But that seems like a classic shell game.

The Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s tax plan (to the extent that there is one) would hugely increase the federal debt and give middle-income households an average tax cut of $1,010, or 1.8 percent of after-tax income — while the top 1 percent would save $214,690, or 13.5 percent of after-tax income.

Trump made more than 280 campaign promises as a candidate, and a few — such as infrastructure spending to create jobs — would be sensible if done right. But there still is no infrastructure plan, and The Washington Post Fact Checker is tracking 60 specific campaign promises and found only six cases so far of promises kept.

It’s still early, and Trump has nominated a smart conservative to the Supreme Court and followed his campaign line on issues like barring refugees.

But while you voted for Trump because you put faith in his gauzy pledges, I bet he will do no better with campaign promises than with marriage vows.

Health care will be one of the greatest betrayals. On Friday, he described his plan: “We’re going to make it much better, we’re going to make it less expensive.”

Yet the steps that Republicans seem likely to take on health care will hurt ordinary Americans.

For example, Trump seems poised to weaken the contraception mandate for insurance coverage and curb funding for women’s health clinics. The upshot will likely be more unintended pregnancies, more abortions, more unplanned births — and more women dying of cervical cancer.

The biggest Trump bait-and-switch was visible Friday when he talked about giving Americans “access” to health care. That’s a scam his administration is moving toward, with millions of Americans likely to lose health insurance: Instead of promising insurance coverage, Trump now promises “access” — and if you can’t afford it, tough luck.

This promise of “access” is an echo of Marie Antoinette. In Trump’s worldview, starving French peasants wouldn’t have needed bread because they had “access” to cake.

Many of you voted for Trump because he campaigned as a populist. But instead of draining the swamp, he’s wallowing in it and monetizing the presidency. He retains his financial interests, refuses to release his taxes or explain what financial leverage Russia may have over him, and doubled the fee to join Mar-a-Lago to $200,000.

The greatest betrayal of all will come if, as some of his advisers recommend, he “reforms” and tears holes in some of the big safety net programs like Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare. Medicaid is particularly vulnerable.

Trump howls at the news media, not just because it embarrasses him, but because it provides an institutional check on his lies, incompetence and conflicts of interest. But we can take his vitriol: When the time comes, we will write Trump’s obituary, not the other way around.

Let’s not get distracted by his howls or tweets. What’s most important at this moment is not Trump’s theatrics, but the policies he is putting in place in areas like health care and immigration that will devastate the lives of ordinary Americans.

Trump’s career has often been built on scamming people who put their faith in him, as Trump University shows. Now he’s moved the scam to a much bigger stage, and he boasts of targeting Muslims, refugees and unauthorized immigrants.

Please don’t cheer, or acquiesce in these initial targets. The truth is that among the biggest losers from Trump policies will be you Trump voters, especially those of you from the working and middle class. You were hoping you’d elected a savior, and instead Donald Trump is doing to you what he did to just about everyone who ever trusted him: He’s betraying you.

The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can fight back and push for policies that will protect your health care and Social Security, defend the integrity of our election system and protect your own interests. You have a false savior, and you will have to turn on him to save yourselves and our nation.

Note from Mr. Kristoff:  I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).

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TRUMP SUPPORTERS, WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE ADMIRED, RESPECTED AND CONSIDERED A GREAT LEADER?

Since the Presidential Election, Donald Trump supporters have been saying that those who did not vote for Donald Trump—a majority of Americans—should “Get over it!”, give him a chance, and that we should show him some respect.  My simple response is “Why?”  So far, both prior to the Election and since, Donald Trump has not given most of us any reason to believe that he has actually changed his stripes.  Once a cad, always a cad!   And what about the respect that he did not afford Barack Obama?

Donald Trump can observe  a decent human being and Great Leader, by watching the Tuesday Night Farewell Speech of Current President Barack Hussein Obama, which was broadcast from Chicago’s Grant Park.  Obama wanted to return to where it all began, in his Hometown.  But, it was truly meant for All of America!  He was Your President too!   Not Blue States, or Red States, but the President of All America!

If Mr. Trump watches that video, he will see a Love-Fest!  Tears of joy, to have had Obama as out President for eight years, and tears of Sorrow, in knowing that it will come to an end, much too soon!  Barack Obama was the President of all Americans, and he did not base that on the size of their checkbooks, their business connections or what they might add to his political stature.  President Obama has given as much as he has received—Love, Honor and Respect.  And, let me add Honesty!

So far, Donald Trump’s House of Cards seems to be showing signs of premature crumbling:  working class Americans are realizing that their first-time ever Affordable Health Care is in serious jeopardy; his Cabinet nominees have been contradicting his avowed policies in Senate Hearings; and Congressional members of Trump’s own party have begun to question his business loans from foreign governments, his admiration for Russian President Putin and, again, a viable replacement, if they repeal “Obamacare”.

So Trump fans, don’t expect that, based on a number of questionable acts and errors, that Donald Trump has become a Leader overnight, much less worthy of being loved, honored and respected.  As far as many of us are concerned, Donald J. Trump is just the fox who has—horror of horrors—been placed in charge of the chicken coop!

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WHY DOES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CONTINUE TO EMBRACE DONALD TRUMP EVEN THOUGH IT CLEARLY HAS NO CHANCE OF CONTROLLING HIM?

It is hard to comprehend the Republican Party Leadership, many of whom have denounced Donald Trump’s words and actions time and again, but they continue to embrace him as the Party’s Candidate for President.  I believe that Trump has combined his usual snake-oil and showmanship with false promises to the populace, which also appeals to his Party’s ideology of Small Government.  Small Governments theoretically assess the smallest taxes possible, eliminate virtually all regulations, and let the people fend for themselves.  But, can you name any?

Thomas Jefferson first espoused the Small Government concept and, it might have worked well in the Pre-Industrial Agrarian America, in the early 1800s, when many people grew much of their own food, tended livestock and, perhaps, bartered for other goods in the small village squares of the day.  But, given today’s modern society, with the industrial age transforming to digital, and increasing life expectancy, are we ready to turn away from personal and mass transportation, an abundance of consumer products and the myriad of advances in medicine?

This is the charade that both Trump and the GOP would have us believe.  It reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Manila, in 1981.  Since the motorcade from the airport passed through an extremely poor suburb, First Lady Imelda Marcos had facades erected along the way, so that “El Papa” would see nothing, but happy Filipinos.  My wife pointed it out to me on TV, at the time, since we had just flown over that same area on our departure, the year before.  And, the Republicans expect us to be happy with a similar facade, although a more modern American version?

But, what would the America that the GOP’s Candidate want us to believe in be like?  Consider just a few of the policies that Trump would have us accept:  Tax cuts skewed toward the wealthy, but add $6.2 Trillion to our National Debt over ten years;  Social Security would be “privatized”, with part of new Payroll Tax contributions going into the stock market;  with the repeal of Obamacare, 20 million newly insured Americans would lose their coverage, and HSA’s and health care coverage would be subject to the whims of the insurance companies; eliminate a Woman’s Right-to-Choose; many of the Jobs promised have already been replaced by the service industry or robots; and horror of horrors, Donald Trump would control the nuclear codes… Must I go on?

The Republican Party has continued to embrace Donald Trump because he is going to reduce the American Government as much as he can.  Expect a National Sales Tax, which would most impact the poor, to be added to State Taxes. The Party Leadership seems to believe that, as long as their ideological needs are met, they will have accomplished their goal.  And, the American People be damned!

To sum up Donald Trump’s willingness to meet all of his false promises, I am reminded of former NYC Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton’s, response when asked to comment on Trump’s pronouncement, the night before, that he would be the “Law and Order President”. Bratton responded, “What’s his experience?”  Seriously, what has Donald Trump ever done for anyone, but himself? And why should we expect him to change now?

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IF YOU HAD IT, WOULD YOU WANT TO KNOW? ALZHEIMER’S?

Most people know or have known someone who either has or had it.  Alzheimer’s is a deterioration of the mind and I certainly will not get into discussing such things, which are well beyond my comprehension.  I’ve read articles, however, that show brain-scans with arrows pointing toward black spots; but, what does that do to me or to you?  That is, unless you might suspect a problem and wish to consult your physician.

I recently ran across the linked article, in the NY Times, which went into more detail, and even included a test:  “A Test for the Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease”, which you can take: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/your-money/a-test-for-the-early-detection-of-alzheimers-disease.html?emc=edit_bg_20140624&nl=booming&nlid=64667462.

The test was developed by a Team led by Dr. Douglas W. Scharre, a Neurologist, at The Ohio State University Medical School.  It was designed over five years and is known as the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (or SAGE).  Apparently it is gaining popularity and some physicians have patients take it in their office, and then discuss the results–and the potential impact–with them.

You can download the test at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/alzheimers/sage-test/Pages/index.aspx.  Once you agree to the Terms and Conditions, click “I agree”, to Download the test.  There are four interchangeable versions of the test; but, you only need to take one.  You can print it out, take the test and discuss it with your physician.  Dr. Sharre’s contact information is listed below that, presumably if your own doctor wishes to contact his Team.

Alternatively, you can cheat, like I did, and click on “For Physicians” tab.  Your doctor will find instructions on administering the rest, scoring the test and an explanation about what the various scores mean.  The Science behind the SAGE Test, the methodology and some technical information is also provided–again mostly for physicians.

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MEDICARE AND THE AFFORDABLE (HEALTH) CARE ACT

This Blog Post has a linked article from the AARP Bulletin. Now, I do not necessarily recommend that anyone join–or not join–AARP. Although it is supposedly a nonprofit organization, I believe that it has “for-profit” subsidiaries or tie-ins with products and services that it might recommended. Everyone should decide for themselves whether to join or buy a product, or NOT, based on their own needs.

I am linking the “Is Your Medicare Safe” article from its January-February 2014 Bulletin; because, there had been a good bit of confusion about the ACA, A/K/A ObamaCare. The link is as follows: http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-12-2013/medicare-and-affordable-care-act.html.

In fact, as the AARP article states, there actually are certain Medicare savings, which reduced the costs of the Part D Prescription Drug Plan, eliminated the “Donut Hole” and provided other savings to beneficiaries. Oddly enough, the $716 Billion reduction in Medicare costs was already signed-into the ACA Legislation in 2010. The savings, which were realized by negotiating lower charges by the Health Care and Pharmaceutical Industries, was a major political football during the 2012 Presidential Election.

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Republican Ticket for 2012, claimed that President Barack Obama was taking the $716 Billion form Medicare to fund his signature Obamacare. Oddly enough, however, that very same idea was recommended by Ryan in his plan for Medicare as noted in the linked ABC News Fact Check, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/08/fact-check-obama-ryan-romney-backed-medicare-cuts/. Ryan, however, WOULD have taken those savings out of Medicare. Funny thing, huh?

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A LITTLE SOMETHING TO CHEW ON

I borrowed that Title, from the Email my Sister sent me, which conveyed this story, from Science Fare, http://sciencefare.org/2013/03/27/why-sea-lions-cant-taste-sushi-but-we-can/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencefare%2Fmain+%28Science+Fare%29. It regards a topic that it is something that is near and dear to all of us–Food, more particularly Seafood. But, at the same time, we probably hadn’t thought much about it in the way this article is written.

In the past, I have Posted how Thinking Skills (A/K/A “Critical Thinking”) can be important to everyone. The linked article might be a good topic to discuss with a child, of perhaps ten or twelve, to have them consider areas of thought that they hadn’t previously explored . Likewise, as one ages, expanding what’s in your Noggin’ might help keep Dementia away.

In fact, you might want to track-down a copy of the movie “Splash”, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. That’s the movie where Mr. Hanks’ character met a girl mermaid, when he was nine or ten, and then meeting her again when they were both adults. So, what does that movie have to do with eating raw fish?

Well, when the two go out to dinner (her in her humanoid form), she was eating raw lobster, perhaps upsetting other diners. So, watching the movie and discussing what’s in the article can provide for different ways of looking at things. Wouldn’t that definitely be “Thinking Outside the Box”? Bon Appetit!

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CAN THE MEDICARE AGE BE INCREASED?

Several decades ago, the “Full Retirement” Age for Social Security was increased to 66 or 67, depending on your Date of Birth. As part of the negotiations regarding the Fiscal Cliff, can a similar adjustment be made for Medicare, as well? NO, and here’s why not.

The Social Security Age is somewhat arbitrary; however, there is still the option for “Early Retirement” at age 62, or thereafter. The actual Monthly Retirement Benefit is pro-rated (on a monthly basis), depending upon the date that you elect Retirement. For instance, someone who retires at age 64 1/2 will receive a higher payment, each month, than at age 62; however, it would be less than if the participant elects it at age 66 or 67.

Let’s focus, however, on why I believe that similar adjustments cannot be made for Medicare, at least not necessarily for everyone. Whereas the Retirement Age might be somewhat selective, Health Care Needs especially are not. Someone who has a desk job, and intends to work until, let’s say, age 67, might be physically able to do so. Also, they might have a company-sponsored Health Care Plan that meets their needs.

But, what about the Construction Worker, he Supermarket Clerk who stocks shelves and unloads trucks, or the Health Care Worker who assists the sick and elderly in getting in or out of beds or wheelchairs? If they can work for an extra year or two, fine; but, what if they cannot?  Wear and tear and injuries can certianly effect Health Care Needs and Retirement Dates.

Also, what about the person who loses their Health Care Benefits–along with their job. In today’s Job Market it can be extra difficult for a 60ish person to be hired by another employer. And, perhaps they never had any Benefits. At least with Social Security, early Retirement is an election for the Participant.

Still, Medicare, believe it or not, is the most cost-effective component of our Health Care System. The Government does NOT select your Health Care Providers–YOU DO! Such Health Care Coverage would be much better than Plan B–going to an Emergency Room.

Unfortunately, some politicians over the years have tried to eliminate the so-called Social Safety Net (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). They say, just go to the Emergency Room. People who do select that option, do so when they symptoms are much more advanced. And, as you know, you and I pay for that person’s Health Care.

Whether you agree or not, please call or Email your Congressional Representatives, in Washington. Let them know how you feel–either way–about this vital issue.

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