09 February 2010

Benefit of Doing Crosswords: I Know the Meaning of "Ort."

Century Dictionary (5)

  1. A fragment; a scrap; a piece of refuse: usually in the plural. Let him have time a beggar's orts to crave. Shak., Lucrece, l. 985. Hang thee, thou parasite, thou son of crumbs And orts! B. Jonson, New Inn, v. 1. I wouldn't give a fiddlestick's end for all the Constitutions in creation. They take the best of everything, and leave us only the orts and hog-wash. S. Judd, Margaret, ii. 7.
Beggars, parasites, sons of crumbs and hog-wash should be familiar words to many of America's older people. After all, aren't those the hidden words which define the attitudes of our politicians, and the monied interests who own them, toward seniors and retirees.?

Instead of being honored; we are patronized, instead of being venerated; we are subjected to snickering; instead of respect we receive impatience; instead of meaningful and effective programs to insure that every older American lives out their later years in peace, comfort, safety and economic well-being; we get the "Orts" from the economic table.

Yes, we get, despite more than a century of hard-work by activists and politician's promises to each passing generation what we get is the refuse, the crumbs, the leavings and the scraps from the rich repast enjoyed by those who own our economic system and the politicians who set the policies of that system.

Oh but, you say, there's Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and meals-on-wheels and senior centers. OK, I reply, those are the "Orts" of which I speak.

Let's talk first about Medicare. How often are you told that Medicare is rife with fraud and waste and will shortly be bankrupt? Medicare, while essential in cushioning the effects of catastrophic illnesses or accidents, fails in so many ways to meet the needs of today's older persons and their families. The program enriches insurance, drug and health care providers but leaves older people holding the bag for deductibles, co-pays and high-cost premiums for supplemental insurances to lighten the effect of some of those burdens. Medicare's failure to provide an equitable drug, vision, dental, or preventative programs and in-place assistance to families with frail or sickly aged family members are very well documented. Compared to what the wealthy get, or for that matter, the coverage Congress has given its self, Medicare is nice, but hardly the sort of treat one wants to set up and beg for.

Social Security is a highly effective way of preventing seniors, the disabled, widows and orphans from sliding entirely into poverty. But, it does not come close to meeting all the needs of retirees or older people who have left the work force due to infirmity or the effects of age. Yet, we see the insurance moguls and robber barons of wall street cackling like jackals in the night at the thought of privatizing this important program. Imagine General Motors, Enron or AIG overseeing your Social Security Insurance. But even at that, Social Security fails to meet the test of providing a safe and secure retirement for most older people. Too many are left hovering right at or below the poverty line as they struggle to pay their Medicare, their supplemental insurances, their medicines, their food, their lodging and the run away costs of unregulated utilities.

Getting the picture? Older Americans get the scraps...huh? Oh yeah. Medicare. Well, let's be kind and just say Medicare is woefully underfunded and those who rely on it are considered as beggars and parasites.

Now, let me provide the solution. Do not expect anything to happen to change this without your action to bring about that change. Join grassroots organizations which fight for seniors, run for office yourself and stay on the phone to your representatives telling them what you want, what you deserve, what you're entitled to, what you've earned!

Tell them you don't want their damned "Orts", and snicker while they race for the dictionary. But don't expect to run across any of them at a senior center or relying on "Meals-on-Wheels" for a least one decent, hot meal each day!

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