Days in the life

Strummin' While Rome Burns

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Human kind has made unimaginable leaps forward in the last 200 years. Childhood mortality, a scourge of the ages, is effectively non-existent in the industrialized countries and on the decline everywhere else. There are many reason for this, from vaccinations to nutrition.

A parallel development is the government protecting the rights of the people--and being an effective actor in many spheres as an effect, stabilizing and fair force in commerce and regulation. The union movement achieved a lot for the wage earner--and like the government has been a leveling influence.

The creation of these safety nets--immunization, modern government, the union and benefits for the old--are all responses to seeing the results of not having these systems in place. I doubt any mother who had seen polio strike a friend or family member would hesitate having their child vaccinated--oh whooping cough, or measles, or mumps.

The modern age though--the risks of these diseases seems to be remote at best. How many parents these days have any sort of experience with the serious childhood diseases? The risks of them seem far less serious than the possible side effects of immunization. And I suspect there will be an oscillation between enthusiastic immunization--and acknowledging the risks of the diseases--and in increase in fear of the immunization over the disease.

And I think you can see that same behavior repeating itself in politics: we haven't seen corporate excess like the robber baron days in 100+ years and until we fear corporations and the rich as we once did--because we haven't seen the company town, script, and 72 hour work weeks since then.

We are proposing dismantling the safety net for the not yet old because we haven't seen massive numbers of the retired homeless on the streets because of social security and MediCare. And sure enough we are seeing attacks on them--after the dismantling of the defined benefit pension system.

I have no doubt as we see the consequences, assuming we still have any sort of power--that the pendulum will swing back. I also fear that I will be on of the screwed generation. Paul Ryan's MediCare plan that has me paying more than $50,000 a year for equivalent benefits at 81 really crystallizes that feeling.

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By 2030, the generation born in 1956 will be paying less than 1/4 of their retirement income for health care, while those born in 1957 will be paying around 2/3 of their income. As long as retirees vote more reliably than the rest of America, that is a model for change to be demanded at the ballot box.

The plan, as presented isn't tenable. There is no away those cuts would actually survive until we are having to pull money out of our pockets.

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