Niagara Gazette

Columns

December 18, 2012

CONFER: Seniors and the power of family

Niagara Gazette — Everything is on the table when it comes to the fiscal cliff. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are talking about significant cuts to Medicare. Such talk has been a long time coming. This poorly thought-out and completely unconstitutional program costs taxpayers $555 billion per year and holds nearly $39 trillion in unfunded liabilities. 15 percent of the federal budget is dedicated to health care for seniors.

Right now many of you think I’m heartless — you think I love money and the Constitution more than I do our elders. It’s no wonder that when I talk about cutting Medicare I am met with an incredulous, “who will take care of the seniors?!”

My response is simply this: Who took care of seniors before Medicare was introduced in 1965 (which really wasn’t that long ago)? The answer: Themselves, charity and their families.

You see, that makes my love and respect for seniors different than yours. You see their wellbeing as the responsibility of the collective (government). I see it as being the responsibility of the individual. That’s a more powerful and meaningful love than that which comes from a federal bureaucracy.

Let’s focus on the last of the three support systems for senior citizens, since it’s the most important one of them all — family. It used to be that family — and the love, strength, and support that came from it – meant something. “The Waltons” weren’t just some fanciful fictional creation from the mind of Earl Hammer. They reflected what he felt and saw growing up in rural Virginia during the Great Depression. The Waltons in all their extended-family glory (where Grandma and Grandpa lived with or very near their children and grandchildren) represented the typical American family for a good portion of the last century. In 1900, 57 percent of all adults aged 65 or older lived with their descendants.

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