Divided We Fail

Just about every morning, I run into my friend Samuel Tenenbaum at breakfast, and we talk about various wonkish things, and have a high old time ingesting caffeine and blueberries.

And just about every morning, he mentions that it’s past time I should write about AARP’s program, Divided We Fail. Essentially, it’s an effort by AARP to get candidates in the presidential campaign talking about important domestic issues such as health care.

Shortly after he started working at AARP — and Divided We Fail is his particular mission — I dropped by his office and shot this video (with my phone, sorry about the low quality), which is essentially his answer to my question, "What are you doing here?"

At around that same time, Jane Wiley and others from that organization came by to see the editorial board and talked to us about the same thing. And we have yet to write about it, whereas others who don’t run into Samuel all the time have already written about it. That’s Jane pictured below. (If I shot video at that meeting, I’m having trouble finding it now.)

Well, we’ve had the Legislature winding down, etc., and all sorts of other excuses. But Samuel (and Jane, in her lower-key way) is (are) right to nag me about it.

This is one of several efforts going on in our state that do the very same thing, only with different issues. I wrote previously about the folks trying to raise the profile of global warming in the campaign. There’s also something going on backed by Bono of U2 and saving-the-world fame, and something else pushed by Bill Gates and his lady. I plan to do a column on the whole phenomenon, now that it’s summer.

But in the meantime, check out the grainy video, as Samuel summarizes it better than I could, and then look at the Web site.

I will return to this subject. Yes, I will


12 thoughts on “Divided We Fail

  1. Doug Ross

    Let’s cut to the chase – how much more money do you want to take out of my paycheck to give to other people?
    Call me when AARP is willing to discuss REAL reform that includes raising the retirement age and true retirement accounts owned by the individual and not the government. I’ll agree to give up all claims to any money paid into Social Security the past 30 years if the government will let me have my 7.5% and my companies matching 7.5% for the rest of my working life.
    Cradle to grave reliance on the government. That’s the objective. We’ve transformed The Greatest Generation into the a bunch of scared old folks waiting for that check to arrive from Big Daddy U.S.A. every month.
    For a humorous take on this serious issue, check out Christopher Buckley’s new book, “Boomsday” which chronicles a fictional blogger who starts a revolt over Social Security. Her solution? Pay old folks to commit suicide at a certain age in exchange for tax breaks. There’s a lot of truth in the satire.

  2. Doug Ross

    And Andrew Sullivan covers the “healthcare crisis” perfectly:
    “But I grew up with socialized medicine, and I know what a disaster it is. It’s coming, of course. You can feel it. Bush paved the way. The golden era of American medicine and research will soon cede to more and more state control. It will exchange a great deal of its excellence for more access for more people. That’s the bargain most democracies make. ”

  3. Brad Warthen

    Ah, you know what those Anglo-American gay Catholic conservatives who used to edit “The New Republic” are like. They’re just so predictable; you always know what they’re going to say…

  4. Brad Warthen

    And … here comes my serious response that always follows the ironic one… I’ll point out again that the AARP is not proposing anything, or advocating anything, or endorsing anybody’s plan over anybody else’s. They just want candidates to talk about health care. You know, instead of their haircuts or something, or fighting over who hates Bush the most. Issues. Seriousness. That’s about the extent of it, from what I’ve seen so far.

  5. Doug Ross

    Yeah, right… talk about healthcare. Like the AARP doesn’t have an agenda or a constituency to protect.
    That’s like saying the Sons of the Confederacy only want to have a dialogue about the flag.

  6. bud

    I grew up with socialized medicine, and I know what a disaster it is.
    -Doug Ross
    If you grew up in the USA that would be correct. The issue of whether or not to have socialized medicine in the USA was settled decades ago. The result: We ALREADY HAVE socialized medicine in this country, Republican style, and it is a complete and utter disaster. Repeat after me:
    We have socialized medicine in the USA.
    We have socialized medicine in the USA.
    We have socialized medicine in the USA.
    Why can’t conservatives see that???

  7. Mike Cakora

    Thoughts on nationalized healthcare and AARP from a libertarian:

    The AARP is the most powerful lobby in America. Anyone who thinks that a nationalised system will ration all those dollars poured down the drain in the last few months of life is engaging in fantasy–a particularly ludicrous and risible fantasy because we already have nationalised health care for end-of-life care RIGHT NOW and we’re spending like eighty shrillion dollars on it.

    The AARP correctly insists that the SS Trust Fund is solvent; it has assets, IOUs from the general fund.
    What AARP does not acknowledge is the quite practical matter of how the trust fund will liquidate its assets to pay beneficiaries starting about a decade hence. It will begin cashing in its assets (IOUs) through the issuer (the Treasury) which will pay off the IOU with tax receipts, forcing Congress to increase tax rates.
    The SS Trust Fund is an accounting entry, but AARP seems reluctant to admit that. Ask Sam about it.

  8. Doug Ross`

    More from Andrew Sullivan:
    “Moreover, a wholesale shifting of healthcare from the private to the public sector simply means replacing rationing by wealth with rationing by number, and a drastic decrease in individual freedom on both sides of the medical equation. You’d replace insurance company bureaucrats who deny care with government bureaucrats who deny care. Removing the financial incentive from doctors simply means they will provide sloppier treatment. They’re not saints. They’re human beings. And slashing the profit motive from the drug companies will simply mean fewer new drugs for fewer illnesses. This is the trade-off the left will deny till they’re blue in the face. But it’s a real trade-off.
    The European health systems have, of course, been free-riding on private U.S. drug research for decades. Name a great new drug developed in Europe these past ten years. Their own pharmaceutical industries have been decimated by the socialism Moore loves (and many of Europe’s drug companies have relocated to the US as a result). But I fear the left is winning this battle; and the massive advantages of private healthcare are only appreciated when you lose them. ”

    We have both socialized AND private medicine now. The socialized component is subsidized by the private component (Maybe Dr. DeMarco can tell us what he gets for Medicare reimbursement for an office visit versus a privately insured patient).
    The quality and choices of the private component exceeds that of the socialized version. It is a natural assumption that trying to make our healthcare system MORE socialized may raise the median care for socialized healthcare participants but at the expense of lowering the same for the private healthcare participants.
    And considering the AARP’s agenda, statistics show that 30% of all healthcare costs are expended during the last three months of a person’s life. Perhaps part of the dialogue AARP should be addressing would involve the most rational approach to end of life care. The cost of my late father’s final week of life in ICU this past January would have paid for checkups for more than 1000 uninsured children.

  9. bud

    We have both socialized AND private medicine now.
    -Doug Ross
    Absolutely NOT TRUE. By law hospitals are required by render medical care to persons who need it. That makes it a socialized system. The fact that a few big companies skim huge profits off the top BEFORE care is provided (by government mandate) does not change that fact.

  10. Paul DeMarco

    I’m sorry about your dad’s recent passing. Did his physicians give you the opportunity to refuse aggressive treatment? One of the reasons we spend so much at the end of life is that doctors are not honest enough with patients about the futility of further treatment.
    It’s a difficult topic to discuss with families. Imagine if your father’s MD had said, “We’d rather pay for checkups for 1000 uninsured children than to attempt to save your father’s life.” Asking families to deny their loved one aggressive care by talking about saving the health care system money is not a viable strategy.
    I usually approach it by telling the family what I would want for my father. At a certain point, it becomes clear that the likelihood of benefit from aggressive care is so small that it’s time to move to comfort care. Then we can concentrate on allowing the patient to die with as much dignity and as little pain as possible.
    However, that point may vary from doctor to doctor. And even if the physician is mindful of the burden end-of-life care places on the health care system, families often want more aggressive care than is warranted (i.e. life-support measures such as mechanical ventilation or feeding tubes).
    Your point is well taken, but the solution is complex.
    As to Medicare rates versus private insurance rates-in our rural clinic, Medicare pays better than private insurers. Many insurers now tie their reimbursement to Medicare so that the rates are usually similar. There may be cases in which private insurance pays significantly better than Medicare, but my office manager could not think of such an instance for our clinic.

  11. Anna Lee

    Each of the comments above, suggest that we in America do nothing because it is “right” or because we care, or because we want to
    contribute to the well-being of another person (make the world a better place)….that our only motivation is money.
    Is that who we are?
    As a former teacher, I would disagree.
    There are researchers, doctors, corporate heads and more who aren’t in it for the financial rewards. We need to hold greed
    up for what it is – w r o n g. Our society must make heroes of those who share
    their time, talents, wisdom etc for no
    reason other than the benefit of others.

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