August 15, 2009
Some things don't changeBy Rosslyn Smith
It was twenty years ago next Monday that a group of elderly protesters outside the Copernicus Center in Chicago taught Dan Rostenkowski that the world did not revolve around powerful Congressmen who thought they knew what was best for the masses. CBS has unearthed the archive footage as part of their coverage of the current protests. The comparison is informative, but as Mary Laney suggests with her weaving of Buffalo Springfield Lyrics with the health care protest story in the Chicago Daily Observer, perhaps we have to go further back to fully understand the dynamics of current events.
This oldie from 1967 nicely pokes fun at President Obama preaching to his hand picked choirs at his so called town hall meetings.
It's wonderful to be here,
It's certainly a thrill.
You're such a lovely audience,
We'd like to take you home with us,
We'd love to take you home.
I don't really want to stop the show,
But I thought that you might like to know,
That the singer's going to sing a song,
And he wants you all to sing along
As Obama attempts to get Americans to stop asking questions and start singing along to the single payer page of the Left-wing songbook, he may have forgotten a key fact: Many of those with the largest personal stake in this debate were busy organizing protests when the professional community organizer himself was still a schoolboy in Indonesia.
We often forget that most of those who took part in the turbulent demonstrations of the 1960s and early 70s were not dedicated Marxists or rabble rousers a la Bill Ayers. They were people who just didn't want to be drafted to serve in a war they didn't understand and being fought in a half ass manner by leaders full of disdain for those in the ranks. Were some of them spoiled brats? Most certainly.
But even those who didn't protest as a rule did not share the W.W.II generation's faith in a benevolent government. Nor did that attitude begin with Vietnam. I have often noted that some of the most antiauthoritarian people I have encountered where those who had been drafted between the time of the Korean conflict and Vietnam. The seemingly pointless regimentation as a draftee in a cold war army may have helped breed an utter disdain for authority that contributed to the social revolution of the 1960s.
Even those who did serve in Vietnam have a reason to protest. Many of them have had to put up with government run healthcare in the form of the Veteran's Administration. It's gotten better, but it is still not something they want to inflict on spouses and children.
Perhaps the biggest change in medicine in my lifetime has been the greatly improved quality of life for those over 65. My own grandmother was old at age 65. My mother did not get old in the same way until her late 80s. Advancements in treatment of arthritis, heart disease, eye diseases, hearing loss, the complications of diabetes and many other chronic ailments have allowed more people than ever before to remain active and independent into their 80s and beyond. For example, when my own father first experienced heart trouble in his late 50s, the only treatment offered was a change of diet and to greatly curtail his physical activities. When he was diagnosed with diabetes a few years later, the available treatments were equally limited to diet, light exercise and a single oral medication. Recently a retired neighbor diagnosed with coronary artery disease was back mowing his hayfield soon after an angioplasty and stenting, armed with a small pharmacy's worth of medications. My own adult onset diabetes is treated with a whole panoply of very expensive medications because such treatment forestalls the debilitating side effects of this pernicious disease. While hip fractures remain a huge health issue, particularly for elderly women with osteoporosis, hip replacement surgery at least offers hope that some mobility and independence may be retained.
Today's seniors and soon to be seniors well remember the days when the only medical treatment available for the chronic diseases that often accompany old age was to lower expectations and take a painkiller. I don't think they will stand for a system of medical care run by disdainful technocrats any more than they stood around waiting to be drafted as cannon fodder for the likes of Robert Strange McNamara.