Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bill Maher Gets It Wrong Again - Joking on Seniors, Sex and "Entitlements"

Bill Maher, again, has it in for seniors. According to his end segment  ('New Rules') last night on REAL TIME, and quoting a HARPER's piece, the Federal yearly spending per child in this country is $3,822 while the federal yearly spending per senior is $25, 455. He continues by posing the ludicrous question:

  "What kind of world are we leaving for our grandkids, well one where Headstart, nutrition assistance and child welfare are being cut"

Then adds his little hee-haw zinger:

"These days when grandpa finds a quarter behind your ear, he keeps it!"

Really, Bill? You believe this bollocks? He then leads into the reason circulated by the Neoliberal media for why "Uncle Sam's  always giving first dollar to grandma"- because she votes.  He then veers off into "CDC reports" on how "fucking in nursing homes is at an all time high" and "syphilis and chlamydia in seniors has nearly tripled in the past decade".  Both citations are intended to make the gullible believe 99% of seniors are on a real sex binge joy ride in their elder years, and on under 60 y/o citizens' taxpayer dime- while the kiddies starve. Never mind that the senior percentage applicable to Bill's narrative is perhaps 1/2 of one percent, if that. Talk about taking an  exceptional incidence and turning it into a commonplace for the sake of fallacious argument!

But hey- it provides Bill with material for his last segment. Also his ending tirade about "why are so many seniors among the angriest people in the U.S.,  opposing Obamacare, etc. ....despite the fact they have government care that will pay for their ED, penis pumps etc."

Nice jokes, but again, misplaced. If Maher had taken the time to actually read and understand why so many seniors are miffed at Obamacare, he'd have learned that its financial inputs are predicated on $500b in cuts to Medicare - most of which were relatively well concealed until recently. One is cuts to Medicare providers which are causing many seniors to lose their primary care physicians. Tens of thousands of seniors with cancer who need chemotherapy have been turned away from Cancer centers (that deliver the treatments) thanks to just 2% cuts to Medicare providers.

Another is the new hidden bomb in hospital admissions, where the option is left to the hospital - according to the law- to enable the sickly senior to be admitted "under observation only".  In this case, the costs are 3 to 5 times higher than they'd have been if it had been full admission.  The senior then, after having perhaps recovered from one heart attack, almost has another when s/he sees the bill.

Leaving out Bill's exaggerations concerning the sexual exploits of seniors, let's look at some stark realities. First and foremost is that it isn't seniors "taking" from the kids - but our vastly expanded (since 9/11)military -industrial complex. This is the ‘elephant’ in the room,  laying waste to the domestic landscape:  the gross, even malignant expansion of the war and national security state. This nexus has benefited from a political establishment invested in the insane policy of perpetual war. It is this policy that has drained us dry and made the country even more vulnerable to terrorism than it would have been had we not stuck our nose in where it never belonged.

It has also left our kids hungry, and our long term unemployed without benefits, and seniors waiting for the next shoe to drop in terms of cuts (e.g. Chained CPI).  The much ballyhooed "bipartisan budget deal" in December was a perfect example, in which the military-industrial state was granted an extra $23 b while domestic needs were sacrificed. See e.g.

This Military malignancy has already drained us of over $4 trillion and it may well be much more, when all the medical needs of the returned Iraq and Afghanistan vets are tended to, as well as their future disability benefits finally paid for.

Yet despite naming the ‘elephant’, Maher ignores it and wanders off the beaten path and points to seniors receiving Social Security or on Medicare STEALING "from our children"!  And he makes this oh so much more credible because he couches it in yucks about senior sex.

What the elder "sacrifice" mongers like Maher and others forget is that if those "entitlements" weren't there to provide that support, 8 out of 10 elderly would have to move in with those adult "kids". But somehow, the image of rich, greedy old farts persists, thanks to Maher, having endless sex romps.....despite the fact that the AARP's own statistics show that only the uppermost quintile of seniors receive more than $50,000 a year in their retirement. The unlucky ones who don't hit that threshold are eaten alive by medical costs, and let's bear in mind Medicare only pays a fraction of those.

If even $50,000/ yr.  sounds like a lot, just think about this: One major accident, say a fall, could land a senior in a nursing home at a cost of $4,000 a month. If the senior is unlucky enough to have the gene that leads to Alzheimers, he could end up in the same position - emptying his or her bank account - to be warehoused in some home. Likely ending up bankrupt. One wonders how this never got onto Maher's joke tableaux, but perhaps it was too serious to blend in. Far easier to hack for cheap laughs.

Are seniors really "cavalier" and "coasting nice and easy" like Bill claims? Hardly! According to the latest Newsletter from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare the "grand bargain" bollocks is still on hold, and with it the yen to implement the chained CPI. As the NL puts it:

"This cost of living adjustment is not a 'technical tweak' but a benefit cut for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans."

Indeed. It reduces the cost of living adjustment down by 0.3 percentage points annually. That translates into a cut in benefits of 3 percent for those who have been retired ten years, 6 percent after 20 years, and 9 percent after 30 years. The people who have been retired the longest and are, therefore, the poorest, will see the largest cuts. After ten years, the senior will lose the equivalent of one whole monthly S.S. payment - and given inflation isn't going away (especially for prescription drugs, fuel, food) this could be disastrous.

And now, based on Bill's jokes, many ponder taking food out of poor seniors' mouths???

Just so we are clear on this, let me also provide a quote from the American Prospect article: 'Stealing From Poor, Making Rich Richer':

"Social Security isn't broke, but millions of retirees who depend on it are, and many more would be broke without it. The average retired worker's Social Security benefit is just $922 a month--about $11,000 a year. Disabled workers average just $862.

One out of three seniors depends on Social Security for 90 to 100 percent of their income. Two out of three seniors depend on it for more than half their income. Even with Social Security, many seniors must choose between eating and heating, paying the mortgage or paying for medicine."

The next time Bill Maher, David Brooks, Robert Samuelson, Tom Brokaw, Richard Haas or anyone else thinks of playing the "generational war" meme they need to be reminded of the following:

- Seven million children currently live with grandparents - who depend on Social Security to care for them

- 8.5 million other children (including college kids that find themselves jobless and live at home) who live with elder parents that depend on Social Security to make do.

- The tens of millions of 50-plus Americans who, through their tax dollars and Social Security monies, pensions, provide voluntary contributions to support public schools, child health programs, grandparent guardianship programs as well as other charities that care for homeless kids (e.g. Covenant House).

 Concocting war between the generations, pitting young against old, therefore serves no useful or moral purpose. It is merely a cheap, malicious tactic to take attention from the REAL problem: the malignant growth of the Military Industrial Complex to the detriment of all of us outside it!

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