Thursday, December 24, 2009
If you have your health, you have everything!
Health Care Reform
Cyber School teaching
Service Learning travel
“If you have your health, you have everything!” This is a common saying that I have heard in our senior community in the US. The Senate health care reform bill will take 1/7 of our economy, and seniors will be the largest beneficiaries. I believe that the expansion of Medicaid will solve the Medicare bankruptcy problem. Ben Nelson is seen as a pro-life senator that was the remaining hold-out on health care reform. I believe that the golden thread and common ground of health care reform was not anyone’s stance on abortion or even the deficit. I believe that the underlying pressure that is forging this bill is a political problem of how to honor the senior community. The public option failed because it did not serve seniors. The Senate bill succeeded because it met the needs of seniors. I couldn’t help noticing Harry Reid, Max Baucus, Chris Dodd, Richard Durbin, and Charles Schumer’s hair color and outward appearance as they announced their victory after the Senate vote. They were all noticeably elder statesman. The ultimate winner of the 2009 Health Care reform bill could be the US Senior community.
Last year I had the privilege of traveling to China. When I was there, I was able to capture an outsider’s perspective of attitudes toward the senior community in China. We passed by some seniors that were dancing in the park. I pointed at them and asked my driving companion who those people were. She said that they were retired. “They have nothing to do with their time.” Her off-chance comment resonated in my mind, and I have not been able to forget it. I wonder if what is happening in China today could be a premonition of something that we must avoid. From an outsider’s perspective, the tradition of honoring elders is commonly assigned to the Chinese people. In my opinion, the Chinese government honors this tradition, but does not tap the resource of this elder population.
Our senior community is also desirous of a life style of indolence. I would ask that they be careful what they ask for on this Christmas Eve of 2009. They may get it. What we desire is not always what will best serve us. I have just celebrated my 54th birthday. I am knocking at the door at becoming a senior myself. I believe that the senior community and the gang of five with the legacy of Ted Kennedy mentioned above should be empowered and not retired. They are an important asset that we must find a way to utilize. Ultimately, seniors will not be happy if they are not useful. If health care reform paves the way for an indolent life style, our desire for care will be confounded by irrelevance. My Christmas wish for 2009 is that 1/7 of our economic output be used to keep seniors in the mix of solving our problems and contributing to solutions to move our country forward as we compete on the world stage.
Many of the problems we face as a society are common to our shared desires for safety, comfort, and efficiency. A merging of cultures and values will create a greater need for collaborative skills to find solutions to new problems. Unfortunately, many of these problems will be irregular problems in the years ahead. The smartest, sharpest, and fastest individuals can solve some of these difficult problems by trying new alternatives. Many of these problems have been endured by our senior community over their lifetime. The senior community can provide a safety valve of life skill moderation for the younger population who will be forced to try new alternatives to solve problems.
I found it ironic to this post that the Senate provided a moderating influence over the House of Representatives health care reform bill. Senators are typically older than members of the House of Representatives. They hold a place of honor and usefulness in our government process. They should not be retired to “dance in the park.” They should be forced to interact and collaborate with the younger generation to forge compromises filled with the moderation of brilliant ideas. Jefferson would have said the values to preserve would be life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would say that these values are currently in a state of reconfiguration to reflect the values of the world stage. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights would say these values are life, liberty, and security of person. I believe that the shift from the pursuit of happiness to a security of person will be facilitated by embracing the assets of our senior community. In this way, our senior assets are moving our country forward as much as the younger generation as we compete and cooperate with the world community.