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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

What's Next for Grandma?

June 11, 2005

Re "Longevity Crisis? Kill Grandma," Commentary, June 6: Barbara Ehrenreich completely nails it in pointing out the life-curtailing effect the current administration's policies have on senior citizens, but her analysis fails to point out that those policies have the added advantage (from the administration's standpoint) of preferentially shortening the lives of those who would most be likely to vote against the current administration.

Medicaid and Social Security cuts affect the poor (who are disproportionately Democratic) more than the middle class and the rich.

Although stem cell research could benefit rich and poor alike, it is far more likely that when other countries produce the critical technologies in this area, it will be the well-to-do who will be able to travel to those countries for treatment.

Jim Stein

Long Beach

*

Thank you, Barbara Ehrenreich! My husband and I have asked the rhetorical question many times: "What are they going to do with us when we're old, put us in a pit and shoot us?" What else is going to be left for us after retirements are eliminated, Social Security gutted, Medicare cut to the bone, and what if the stock market and our precious 401(k)s tank. We could sell our home and slowly starve to death ... would that make the Bush administration happy?

Do those that "have" really think that the rest of us actually make enough money to save and invest enough to see us through old age? I'm as tight as a tick and save, save, save, but it will never be enough, so do I have to dig the pit too?

Bonny Fazzi

Weems, Va.

*

In light of the real-life Terri Schiavo tragedy, I found Ehrenreich's tongue-in-cheek swipe at the right-wing mean-spirited, in poor taste and dishonest because it was the left wing in this country that actually killed Schiavo. What an ugly and cruel way to defend and promote her liberal views.

Socorro Varela

Los Angeles

*

Ehrenreich incorrectly assumes that to be pro-life means to be a conservative. There are in fact many pro-lifers like me who are opposed not only to abortion, euthanasia and destructive forms of embryonic stem cell research, but also to the war in Iraq; cuts to Social Security, Medicare and education; and the destruction of the environment.

Perhaps liberals such as Ehrenreich and conservatives such as the president should spend less time on self-righteous rants and more time listening to those of us who want to protect both Grandma and the unborn.

Jeff McQuillan

Los Angeles

*

Ehrenreich's Swiftian partisan hatchet job portrays conservatives as heartless, quasi-genocidal monsters. Implicit in her piece is advocacy of the failed concept of the welfare state. Around the world, such well-intentioned but unsustainable schemes collapse as the burden of their entitlement programs crushes their economies, proving over and over the immutable laws of economics.

These are the legacies of politicians hypocritically writing bad checks to buy votes. And now it is time to tell the truth to the people who counted on their lies instead of relying on their own resourcefulness.

But utopians like Ehrenreich continue to agitate, ignoring the truth while doing their best to make tough decisions even tougher.

Do they really believe that poverty and suffering are part of the conservative agenda?

The fact is that Social Security is unsustainable, as most lucid Americans know all too well.

Medicaid, intended to provide medical care for the poor, has become a middle-class, long-term care insurer of last resort.

The conservative solution to these intractable problems is to encourage people to take care of themselves by saving and insuring for the grim realities of life, so far fewer will have to be taken care of by the taxpayers.

Is self-sufficiency anathema to the liberals? If so, one must wonder why. Is it economic illiteracy? Is it condescension, a mistaken belief that people are incapable of fending for themselves? Or is it that self-sufficient people don't depend on, and thus may not vote for, liberals?

Terry Nugent

La Grange Highlands, Ill.

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