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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Just why is American politics so dysfunctional? One answer is that both parties, for different reasons, have created self-serving mythologies that reward them for not dealing with pressing problems that, though daunting, are hardly sudden or secret. For proof, see Paul Taylor’s new book, “The Next America.” Taylor oversees many of the Pew Research Center’s opinion surveys. His masterful synthesis of polls shows that three familiar mega-trends lie at the core of America’s political and social stalemate.
Second, family breakdown. In 2011, unmarried women accounted for 41 percent of U.S. births, up from 5 percent in 1960....
Finally, aging. Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. The retiree flood is swamping the federal budget. By 2022, Social Security, Medicare and the non-child share of Medicaid will exceed half the budget, up from 30 percent in 1990, projects an Urban Institute study. To make room for the elderly, defense and many domestic programs are being relentlessly squeezed.
There’s no generational justice, argues Taylor: “The young today are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for the old that they themselves have no prospect of receiving when they become old.”
Read it all.
...more people every year, locally and across the nation, continue laboring for a paycheck past the time when they could be collecting Social Security.
The average age of retirement in America, which had been on the decline during much of the 20th century, has been rising for the past two decades for a combination of reasons. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that about 27 percent of people ages 65 to 74 were still in the workforce, compared with just 20 percent in 2002. It predicted nearly one in three people of that age would be part of the labor pool in 2022.
“People today are working later than they have been for quite some time … as long today as in the 1970s,” said Kevin Cahill, a research economist for the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College. “The incentives have shifted in favor of work.”
Read it all.
Dr [John] Haas says that because of the current demographic trend the world population is aging and it is not being quickly replaced: “I think it is a very apt topic – these are grave social problems in most Western countries with an aging population, all kinds of ethical questions arise with regard to their treatment – end of life decisions have to be made”. “It can be “a very difficult time of life but it can also be a very beautiful time of life depending on how we go in to it” he said.
Commenting on the emphasis Pope Francis puts on the importance and value of the elderly, Dr. Haas says Francis has a profound impact on the way people think by virtue of his personality which leads them to “sit up and pay more attention”. He also says that Francis’ emerging “theology of compassion and of accompaniment” is fundamental in the way society treats its elderly. “I think that this call will really resonate with the faithful” he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
For those in positions of leadership in over a dozen churches in..[Pictou County] it’s been a tough job knowing when to do what.
Declining membership, coupled with population decline, migration, rising heating costs and a decline in those practising Christianity, has caused churches of all stripes to re-examine themselves, their mission and their facilities.
Archdeacon Peter Armstrong of Christ Anglican Church in Stellarton believes this is part of a continuing cultural shift that began 40 years ago.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market * International News & Commentary Canada
"Many people ask me, several times a week... if I ever contemplate (assisted suicide). It makes one feel like I should be contemplating it for the sake of the health service, for my family watching what I'm going through. I'm afraid that it will extend into the social conscience that people will almost expect assisted dying.... a (new) law will pressurise people."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium The Netherlands * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Baby boomers make up the largest share of banking customers in the U.S., according to a December Gallup poll. Nearly nine in 10 baby boomers (89%) currently have at least one checking, savings, or money market account at a bank or another financial institution. But Gallup's 2013 retail banking study shows that just 12% of baby boomers with active bank accounts trust banks a "great deal," with the majority placing only "some" or "very little" trust in these institutions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly History Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
...while they are having a lot of sex, seniors didn’t seem to get the safe sex memo, or when it came through they ignored it because they did not think it applied to them. They obviously don’t have to worry about pregnancy. And they grew up before the safe sex era. So seniors might think they have no reason to use condoms. According to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among college-age Americans, condoms are used in about 40 percent of sexual encounters, but only in about 6 percent of sexual encounters among those 61 and older. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that older men who use Viagra and similar drugs are six times less likely to use condoms compared with men in their 20s.
Combine retirement communities, longer life, unfamiliarity with condoms and Viagra — and what do you get? You get an S.T.D. epidemic among the Social Security generation that rivals what we imagine is happening in those “Animal House” fraternities.
These S.T.D. numbers demand that seniors take responsibility for their actions.''
Read it all and there is more here also.
True to their "live to work" reputation, some baby boomers are digging in their heels at the workplace as they approach the traditional retirement age of 65. While the average age at which U.S. retirees say they retired has risen steadily from 57 to 61 in the past two decades, boomers -- the youngest of whom will turn 50 this year -- will likely extend it even further. Nearly half (49%) of boomers still working say they don't expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Pensions Stock Market The U.S. Government Medicare Social Security Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Paul Gregoline lies in bed, awaiting the helper who will get him up, bathed and groomed. He is 92 years old, has Alzheimer's disease and needs a hand with nearly every task the day brings. When the aide arrives, though, he doesn't look so different from the client himself: bald and bespectacled.
"Just a couple of old geezers," jokes Warren Manchess, the 74-year-old caregiver.
As demand for senior services provided by nurses' aides, home health aides and other such workers grows with the aging of baby boomers, so are those professions' employment of other seniors. The new face of America's network of caregivers is increasingly wrinkled.
Among the overall population of direct-care workers, 29 percent are projected to be 55 or older by 2018, up from 22 percent a decade earlier...
Read it all.
While plenty of baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, have become affluent and many elderly around the U.S. face financial hardship, the wealth disparity of this father and daughter is emblematic of a broad shift occurring around the country. A rising tide of graying baby boomers is less secure financially and has a lower standard of living than their aged parents.
The median net worth for U.S. households headed by boomers aged 55 to 64 was almost 8 percent lower, at $143,964, than those 75 and older in 2011, according to Census Bureau data. Boomers lost more than other groups in the stock market and housing bust of 2008, and many also lost their jobs in the aftermath at a critical point in their productive years.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Pensions Stock Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Medicare Social Security
But there’s a problem. [Charles] Lindblom’s common-sense insight has a giant exception: crises. Change, forced by outside events, then happens by “leaps and bounds.” The recent financial crisis caused Congress and two presidents to embrace measures (the rescue of big banks, General Motors and Chrysler) that were unthinkable a few months earlier. In the 1960s, civil rights demonstrations pushed Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that, in outlawing most public racial discrimination, wasn’t “incremental.” History offers other examples, including the Civil War, the New Deal and both World Wars. Small changes won’t suffice when big changes are required.
On the budget, muddling through comes with a crucial assumption. It is that continuous deficits won’t provoke a crisis that compels political leaders to take harsh steps that they would otherwise not take. This optimism may be justified. For decades, “experts” have warned of the dire consequences of unchecked deficits. Yet no great crisis has occurred. But this conviction also could be complacency. Government debt is in territory that, except for wartime debt, is unprecedented. We don’t know the consequences. Someday, we may no longer have the luxury of muddling through.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Billy Graham has gotten weaker since celebrating his 95th birthday at a celebrity-studded party last month in Asheville, but he is “not in any imminent danger,” and his “vital signs are quite good,” Graham spokesman Mark DeMoss told the Observer in an email on Sunday.
DeMoss, citing Graham’s medical and personal staff, said Graham has not been as strong lately as he was at the Nov. 7 party at the Omni Grove Park Inn, but that his health is not as dire as some news reports have suggested.
Those reports were reacting to recent comments by Franklin Graham, son of the Charlotte-born evangelist.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
You may watch the announcement by Jacob Zuma here.
The Wall Street Journal now has an interactive obituary complete with some of his most memorable quotes, tweets and video there
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
A long-retired first grade teacher who died a couple of years ago in Simsbury, Connecticut, lived very simply and wasn’t aware of how many riches she had – not until her lawyer discovered she was actually quite wealthy. NBC’s Harry Smith reports that she gave it away to the institutions that mattered to her the most in the community.
There are two videos and they are both well worth your time: The first may be foundhereand the second there.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Education Rural/Town Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
The Archbishop of Canterbury has turned down an invitation to become part of an “army of Good Samaritans” checking on elderly people at Christmas because of Church of England policy.
Organisers of the NHS “Winter friends” campaign, under which people sign a pledge to help isolated elderly people in practical ways, have recruited a series of well-known figures including Joanna Lumley, the actress, and Stephen Fry, the broadcaster, to support them.
But their hopes of signing the Most Rev Justin Welby up as a key supporter were dashed because of a policy which prevents the Archbishop joining campaigns.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A 76-year-old woman who was knocked to the ground by a stranger yesterday is thought to be the latest victim in a dangerous 'knock out' game in New York.
Yvonne Small was walking through Brooklyn at about 11.30am when an unidentified person punched her in the back of the head.
Ms Small, who was knocked to the ground in the unprovoked attack, is believed to the the tenth victim in a sick craze.
Read it all from the Daily Mail.
First, a lot is meant to happen before you are 35. It used to be that parents were a few years into their duties at least. No longer. Family formation is being delayed – sadly, often for too long. High housing costs and weak wages mean young people may not feel able to have the family lives that they would want.
Second, a world of ever-escalating house prices will embed inequality....
These problems are too serious for (usually older) people to wave away. Nor are they easy to solve at a stroke. Part of the problem is that global competition and automation have removed a lot of decent starting jobs. But there are ways to help. We could subsidise employment and education for the young a bit more. Tax and planning law could be reformed to create incentives to build new housing. None of the obvious pro-young ideas is simple, but none is even on the agenda. Politics tends to pander to the old.
Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The pension age could be pushed back to 70, and older Australians forced to use growing equity in their homes to help pay for government services under proposals designed to help Australia cope with an ageing population.
In a paper titled ''An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future'', the Productivity Commission projects Australia's population will grow from about 23 million in 2012 to about 38 million by 2060, with a substantial increase in the number of retirees as people live longer.
That will mean lower overall participation in the workforce, and more pressures on governments to pay for higher health, aged care and pension costs.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Pensions Politics in General * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s life in all circumstances.
When asked about end-of-life decisions for other people, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say there are at least some situations in which a patient should be allowed to die, while nearly a third (31%) say that medical professionals always should do everything possible to save a patient’s life. Over the last quarter-century, the balance of opinion has moved modestly away from the majority position on this issue. While still a minority, the share of the public that says doctors and nurses should do everything possible to save a patient’s life has gone up 9 percentage points since 2005 and 16 points since 1990.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Alcohol/Drinking Health & Medicine Life Ethics Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Rev. Billy Graham has been taken to a hospital in Asheville, N.C., with respiratory problems, a family spokesman said Wednesday.
"Mr. Graham is in the hospital with a respiratory congestion issue, similar to what he had a few weeks ago," Mark DeMoss said. "As was the case then, we expect he will be able to return home in a day or two."
Graham, who celebrated his 95th birthday earlier this month with a party in Asheville, was taken to Mission Hospital.
Read it all.
The last time I saw Billy Graham in person was in 2005, when he addressed a crowd of 60,000 at Flushing Meadows in Queens, N.Y. It would be, he declared, his final Crusade for Christ. Everyone who watched and heard him understood why. Billy approached the pulpit leaning on a walker and his voice as well as his body wavered as he spoke. He was 86 years old at the time and suffering from Parkinson's disease, among other ailments.
And yet, for the past three weeks, the face of Dr. Graham, white-haired but ruddy with seeming good health, has gazed down from a billboard overlooking the glitter of New York's Times Square. The billboard seems to say: "He's back!"
As it turned out, the billboard was promoting "My Hope America with Billy Graham, " an outreach video campaign produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The half-hour program and three "bonus" videos feature segments of Billy preaching when he was still in vigorous and magnetic middle age, plus testimonies from others on how they found Jesus—presumably because of that preaching.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
[Billy] Graham and his sermons can be found online in dozens of YouTube videos, but before there was YouTube, there was the boob tube and the Crusades.
Dr. Ann Blue Wills is a Davidson College professor and is co-editing a book on Billy Graham.
"These meetings were designed as a kind of civic event and the roots of them went way down, or way up or way over to all different aspects of life," explained Wills of the Crusades.
According to Wills, the events pulled in all different kinds of people.
Read it all (and consider the video as well).
At 98, Hal Lasko is an unlikely master of computer art. Born before the invention of broadcast radio, Lasko spent his career as a commercial graphic designer, working with his hands to create typography and design. But as age caught up with Lasko the brush strokes became more difficult. “When I lost my eyesight, I thought my painting days were over,” says Lasko. Instead, around 15 years ago, Lasko’s grandchildren bought him a computer and introduced the artist to Microsoft Paint. The program allows Lasko to magnify the area large enough to draw pixel by pixel. “If it takes me two years to do that [create a painting], I can do it. I got a lot of patience,” says Lasko.
Read it all and watch the whole video.
Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation's troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces.
If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. "We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we're not seeing that right now," said Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state's largest insurer by individual customers. "We're seeing the population skewing older."
The early numbers, described to The Wall Street Journal by insurance executives, agents, state officials and actuaries, are still small—partly a consequence of the continuing technical problems plaguing the federally run exchanges, experts say. HealthCare.gov, the federally run marketplace serving 36 states, is suffering serious technical problems that have prevented many people from signing up.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Blogging & the Internet Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues Science & Technology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
No one wants to be against Grandma, who — as portrayed in the media — is kindly, often suffering from some condition, usually financially precarious and somehow needy. But projecting this sympathetic portrait onto the entire 65-plus population is an exercise in make-believe and, frequently, political propaganda. The St. Louis Fed study refutes the stereotype. Examining different age groups, it found that since the financial crisis, incomes have risen for the elderly while they’ve dropped for the young and middle-aged.
The numbers are instructive. From 2007, the year before the financial crisis, to 2010, median income for the families under 40 dropped 12.4 percent to $39,644. For the middle-aged from 40 to 61, the comparable decline was 11.9 percent to $56,924. Meanwhile, those aged 62 to 69 gained 12.3 percent to $50,825. For Americans 70-plus, the increase was 15.6 percent to $31,512. (All figures adjust for inflation and are in 2010 “constant” dollars. The “median income” is the midpoint of incomes and is often considered “typical.”)
There has been a historic shift in favor of today’s elderly. To put this in perspective, recall that many family expenses drop with age. Mortgages are paid off; work costs vanish; children leave. Recall also that incomes typically follow a “life cycle”: They start low in workers’ 20s, peak in their 50s, and then decline in retirement, as wages give way to government transfers and savings. Against these realities, the long-term gains of the elderly and losses of the young are astonishing. From 1989 to 2010, median income increased 60 percent for those aged 62 to 69 while falling 6 percent for those under 40 and 2 percent for those 40 to 61.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General
Clearly this payout trend is unsustainable, but what politician dare touch it?
Social Security is not that difficult a problem in theory (at least in comparison to Medicare), except for the politics of it all. Numerous things could be done to put the system in the green.
Possible Ways to Make Social Security Actuarially Sound
Raise retirement age
Raise or eliminate the cap on payroll taxes
Collect Social Security on personal income
Implement a Tiered Cap structure
Democrats would oppose 1 and 3. Republicans might oppose all but 3. So, how does this mess end if politicians won't touch it?
Read it all and make sure to take a careful look at the charts.
Stan Druckenmiller makes an unlikely class warrior. He's a member of the 1%—make that the 0.001%—one of the most successful money managers of all time, and 60 years old to boot. But lately he has been touring college campuses promoting a message of income redistribution you don't hear out of Washington. It's how federal entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are letting Mr. Druckenmiller's generation rip off all those doting Barack Obama voters in Generation X, Y and Z.
"I have been shocked at the reception. I had planned to only visit Bowdoin, " his alma mater in Maine, he says. But he has since been invited to multiple campuses, and even the kids at Stanford and Berkeley have welcomed his theme of generational theft. Harlem Children's Zone President Geoffrey Canada and former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh have joined him at stops along the tour.
Mr. Druckenmiller describes the reaction of students: "The biggest question I got was, 'How do we start a movement?' And my answer was 'I'm a 60-year-old washed-up money manager. I don't know how to start a movement. That's your job. But we did it in Vietnam without Twitter and without Facebook and without any social media. That's your job.' But the enthusiasm—they get it."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Middle Age Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Standard & Poor’s is only raising half a cheer at the deal:
“We believe that to date, the shutdown has shaved at least 0.6 per cent off of annualised fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth, or taken $24bn out of the economy.
“The short turnround for politicians to negotiate some sort of lasting deal will probably weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed. If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their cheque books. That points to another Humbug holiday season.”
Read it all (if necessary another link is there).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare Social Security The National Deficit The United States Currency (Dollar etc) Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate
...it is still foolish to ignore the leverage that the individual mandate gives opponents of Obamacare. America's healthcare system for the elderly (Medicare, plus Medicaid for nursing-home care) is already edging the country toward generational war because Washington will sooner or later be forced to choose between drastic limitations on coverage in those programs or drastic increases in taxes on the decreasing portion of working Americans. Now we're adding a parallel obligation on younger workers to subsidize healthcare for fiftysomethings.
What to do? The path of least political resistance is to tough it out, hoping younger households will be unable to figure out what's happening, or simply unwilling to throw in their lot with opponents of gay marriage, marijuana reform and the like. Alternatively, we could start paying attention to the building crisis as younger households scramble ever harder for a middle-class living standard.
And none too soon, because the signs of generational conflict are already appearing.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare The National Deficit Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
....the Federal Disability Insurance Program...serves nearly 12 million people -- up 20 percent in the last six years -- and has a budget of $135 billion. That's more than the government spent last year on the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department combined. It's been called a "secret welfare system" with it's own "disability industrial complex," a system ravaged by waste and fraud. A lot of people want to know what's going on. Especially Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Tom Coburn: Go read the statute. If there's any job in the economy you can perform, you are not eligible for disability. That's pretty clear. So, where'd all those disabled people come from?
The Social Security Administration, which runs the disability program says the explosive surge is due to aging baby boomers and the lingering effects of a bad economy. But Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations -- who's also a physician -- says it's more complicated than that. Last year, his staff randomly selected hundreds of disability files and found that 25 percent of them should never have been approved -- another 20 percent, he said, were highly questionable.
Read it all or better still watch the video.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Middle Age Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim....
First, the good news: The CBO projects the deficit will shrink to $378 billion in 2015, or 2.1 percent of the size of the overall U.S. economy. Compared with just a few years ago when the budget gap ballooned as a result of the recession, this marks a nearly unprecedented improvement in the deficit picture. It's a rapid decline in budget shortfalls not seen since the end of World War II. The national debt will bottom out in 2018, at 68 percent of GDP.
The bad news: From there, the picture gets decidedly less rosy. Budget deficits gradually rise, "mainly because of increasing interest costs and growing spending for Social Security and the government's major health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and subsidies to be provided through the health insurance exchanges)," says the report. By 2038, the national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP....
Read it all and follow the link to the actual report.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Middle Age Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Anglicans for Life is pleased to announce the publication of their new 8-week Adult Education Curriculum Embrace the Journey. This one-of-a-kind educational series is designed to help churches educate and equip parishioners to care for elderly family and church members.
According to Georgette Forney, author of Embrace the Journey and President of Anglicans for Life, “The church and our culture are aging. There are more than 40 million people in the United States age 65 and over, and 5.5 million of them are 85 or older. We as the church need to be prepared to minister to these people and help family members care for them.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
In 36 years with three school districts, Bull counts his sick days on one hand -- five -- and tallies just as many in 13 years as a carrier, first as a substitute in 2000 and then as a full-timer in 2007. The temperatures he works in can swing 120 degrees Fahrenheit, from 115 (46 Celsius) in the summer to below zero in the winter’s wind.
Five years ago, the snow and ice were so deep on the road that his power steering gave out. He zigged and zagged and tore through an electric fence, leaving a hole for 50 head of cattle to roam free. He pushed on the gas, nudging the truck out of trouble and on to the nearest farm for help.
“You just never know what might happen,” Bull says over rib-eye and potato salad at his favorite steakhouse.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * General Interest Weather * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
With falling birthrates and rising life expectancies, the U.S. population is rapidly aging. By 2050, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections, one-in-five Americans will be 65 or older, and at least 400,000 will be 100 or older.1 Some futurists think even more radical changes are coming, including medical treatments that could slow, stop or reverse the aging process and allow humans to remain healthy and productive to the age of 120 or more. The possibility that extraordinary life spans could become ordinary life spans no longer seems far-fetched. A recent issue of National Geographic magazine, for example, carried a picture of a baby on its cover with the headline: “This Baby Will Live To Be 120.”
Read it all.
The number of over-sixties divorcing their partners has hit a 40-year high as men seek a new life of adventure after years of marriage, according to figures published yesterday.
“Silver splitter” divorces are continuing to rise at a time when the overall number of marriage failures is in decline. Unlike other age groups where women are more likely to file for divorce, among the over-sixties men are as likely as women to want to end a marriage.
Read it all (subscription required).
Rising healthcare costs for needed items such as shower chairs and grab bars gave parishioners at Immanuel Episcopal Church in Bay Minette the impetus to begin a new outreach ministry.
Offered as an idea at a church retreat held this past spring, the plan has developed into an active ministry with shower chairs, grab bars and commode chairs delivered and more shower chairs, commode chairs and grab bars purchased and ready for delivery.
“After a lifetime spent working hard, raising a family and contributing to their community, many of these people now face multiple health problems and mounting healthcare costs,” said Ryan Gillikin, Immanuel vestry member and coordinator of this ministry. “While Medicare and insurance cover many of these costs, there are certain things like shower chairs and grab bars that are no longer covered. These items can increase a person’s independence, improve quality of life and decrease fall risk.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
O’Connell: Could you start by telling us why you think the suburbs are in decline?
Gallagher: The suburbs were a great idea that worked really well for a long time, but they overshot their mandate. We supersized everything in a way that led many people to live far away from where they needed to be and far away from their neighbors, and that has far-reaching implications, no pun intended. People have turned away from that kind of living. Add in the demographic forces that are reshaping our whole population, and the result is a significant shift. Census data shows that outward growth is slowing and inward growth is speeding up.
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...one theme emerged that I hadn't expected: women in the middle of their lives who felt invisible and ignored by the church, the same way they feel invisible or ignored in our culture.
These are women of my mother's generation, maybe 10 or even 20 years on either side. I heard their hurt, sorrow, and stoicism about life within the church. In a sea of artful hipsters and energetic young people with self-promotion apparently engrained into their DNA, they feel invisible and overlooked.
One woman told me about how she had led worship at her church for years. But when a new young pastor was hired, he wanted a cooler band to get more young people in the door. First thing to go? Older women. "No one wanted to see middle-aged women on stage," she wrote candidly, and so she was replaced with young women in their late teens and early twenties.
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For those over 50 and unemployed, the statistics are grim. While unemployment rates for Americans nearing retirement are lower than for young people who are recently out of school, once out of a job, older workers have a much harder time finding work. Over the last year, according to the Labor Department, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers.
There are numerous reasons — older workers have been hit both by the recession and globalization. They’re more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing, and since their salaries tend to be higher than those of younger workers, they’re attractive targets if layoffs are needed.
Even as they do all the things they’re told to do — network, improve those computer skills, find a new passion and turn it into a job — many struggle with the question of whether their working life as they once knew it is essentially over.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
One of America’s chief fiscal burdens is the mounting cost of entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) – an obligation that will only grow larger as baby boomers age. In tackling this problem, the United States should look to what many might see as an unlikely model – the European welfare state, Sweden.
“Usually, U.S. policymakers look to Europe to determine what not to do when it comes to social-welfare policy,” James C. Capretta, former associate director of the US Office of Management and Budget, wrote a few years ago.
But, he continued: “When you are in a hole, the prudent first step is to stop digging, and the United States can indeed gain insight into how to ‘stop digging’ the entitlement hole” by studying the reforms that some European countries have implemented. Most notably, he suggested, we should study what Sweden and Germany did to cut their long-term government pension commitments.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicaid Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The American hospice movement is thriving. Forty-two percent of all Americans who died in 2010 were in hospice care—up from 22 percent in 2000. The number of organizations providing hospice care has grown steadily, up 13 percent from 2006—from 4,500 to over 5,000—as has the length of time that patients spend in hospice care. More people are spending their dying days experiencing the holistic medicine and dignified care that hospice seeks to provide.
But the growth in the hospice movement has tended to neglect African Americans. African Americans constitute 13 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8 percent of hospice patients are African American—even though blacks have the highest cancer rates of all ethnicities and are more likely to die from cancer than whites.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Race/Race Relations * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
You might have heard about peak oil, but what about peak child? When I was born in 1965, about one in three of the world's people were children. That will fall to one in five in my lifetime - assuming I make it to the ripe old age of 85.
It might not sound dramatic but the repercussions of that shift are Earth-changing. The number of babies being born around the world is unlikely to ever be higher than now, and that means the domination of the world's population by those in lower age brackets is ending.
Over the past 50 years, the population aged under 15 ballooned from 1 billion to nearly 2 billion. But revised 100-year population forecasts, released by the United Nations last week, show the number of children will flatten out over the next 15 to 20 years and then fall back to 1.9 billion by 2050.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Globalization Marriage & Family Middle Age Sociology * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The fact that economics tell us to discount -- as in make less of -- each dollar owed or received in the distant future, however, doesn't mean a government can ignore those obligations and receipts, especially if there are loads of future obligations relative to receipts.
Take the just-released 2013 Trustees Report on Social Security's long-run finances. Table IVB6 shows an infinite horizon fiscal gap of $23.1 trillion separating the Social Security system's projected costs and taxes after taking into account the several trillion in the Social Security trust fund. To give you a sense of how massive this shortfall is -- and it grew by fully 8 percent last year alone -- it is 50 percent larger than U.S. GDP and almost twice the size of total federal debt held by the public.
Table IVB6 also reports Social Security's fiscal gap over the next 75 years. It's much smaller -- only $9.6 trillion, and that's the number people tend to use in discussion. But that number is only 41 percent of the actual economic gap: $23.1 trillion. Thus, the 75-year fiscal gap hides three fifths of the system's true long-term shortfall.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly History * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Baby boomers are a “fortunate generation” who have enjoyed dramatic improvements in living standards but are now “absorbing” more than their fair share of taxpayers’ money, one of the Church of England’s most senior clerics has suggested.
The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, who is 65, said there were “severe questions” about the share of government spending that goes on his own generation.
He said the world was in the midst of a transformation that had left many believing that our best days could be “behind us”.
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The purpose of Social Security is to help families. It reinforces the intergenerational sharing that families already — though imperfectly — provide. It helps retirees by stabilizing their income, and it helps their grown children, who are relieved of any excessive burden of supporting them. This purpose strongly suggests that the Social Security benefits should be indexed to some measure of the available, aggregate economic pie. That means a formula that looks completely different from the ones being discussed today.
Clearly, something needs to be done: if nothing changes, and the trust fund runs out in 2033, the system would be able to pay only about 75 percent of promised benefits.
The issues are complex, as economic theorists like Henning Bohn at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have shown. But now that an index change is on the table, we should take this opportunity to get it right.
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The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, will present a bill to the House of Lords next week which would introduce a system similar to that in place in the US state of Oregon.
It would allow doctors to provide a fatal dose of drugs to patients judged to have less than six months to live....The bill, which will be tabled on May 15, is based on the conclusions of Lord Falconer’s Commission on Assisted Dying, a group of peers and academics which held hearings in the style of a royal commission.
The Commission was dismissed by critics, including the Church of England, as a “self appointed” group of euthanasia supporters.
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Research published as part of David Cameron’s plan to measure the nation’s “happiness” indicates that almost seven million members of the baby-boomer generation and above admit feeling lonely.
Among people over 80, the proportion rises to almost half, including a large minority who admit they feel lonely much of the time.
But campaign groups warned that the study suggests that the generation now approaching retirement will prove to be a “loneliness time bomb”.
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While the fight to preserve life is often centered on abortion and capital punishment, the future Pope Francis also warned against a more subtle form of disregard for human dignity: what he called "covert euthanasia."
"In this consumerist, hedonist and narcissistic society, we are accustomed to the idea that there are people that are disposable," among them, the elderly, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in a recently published book.
Citing examples of intentional neglect, the future pope said: "I believe that today there is covert euthanasia: Our social security pays up until a certain amount of treatment and then says 'May God help you.'"
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To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash.
But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that are often many times higher than those on credit cards.
In lean economic times, people with public pensions — military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others — are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations, but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Pensions The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Sunday mornings at Wayman AME Church in Minneapolis brings a faithful crowd. But it’s quite likely no one there has said as many prayers as Noah Smith. It’s not just because he’s a preacher, it’s because he’s had more time to worship – over a century in fact.
At 105, Smith is still hard at work, preaching at Wayman.
“My life is so busy with church and things now. I don’t even get to read the paper sometimes,” said Smith.
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There is a great graphic here and some comment there.
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Watch it all (a little over 13 1/2 minutes) or if you need to (second best) read it all.
One month after the Coalition’s ‘mid-term review’ sidestepped a pledge to cap social care funding, it appears the Government are finally willing to show their hand.
Today's announcement will impose a limit of £75,000 on the amount that individuals will have to pay towards their own care – after which point, the state will cover further costs.
Demos analysis shows a cap set at that level is miserly, helping only 16% of older people.
However, there remains another significant problem - one that risks further alienating the kind of middle class families already reeling from having their child benefit cut and marriage tax break postponed. The scheme contains a hidden penalty for couples, and for their children.
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Nearly 70 years later, Chaney is among the dwindling number of South Carolinians who fought in World War II. And at 87, he may be among the oldest to receive post-traumatic stress disorder benefits for it.
After decades of nightmares and sessions with doctors, Chaney last year was approved based on his World War II experiences that, according to some of the paperwork involved, included much more than spanning Europe’s rivers and streams.
“My unit was involved in the release of prisoners of war at the Buchenwald concentration camp,” he said in one account his family provided to the Department of Veterans Affairs. “The prisoners looked like walking skeletons and some died while I was there. We used big earth moving machines to dig massive graves.”
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The CBO forecast finds a persistent mismatch between tax revenue and spending over the coming decade. As the economy improves, tax revenue should rise to 19 percent of GDP for the period from 2015 through 2023, up from 15.8 percent in 2012, the report said. But federal spending, after an early-decade dip, will start rising persistently faster than revenues.
"After 2017, if current laws remain in place, outlays will start growing again as a percentage of GDP," the CBO said. "The aging of the population, increasing health care costs, and a significant expansion of eligibility for federal subsidies for health insurance will substantially boost spending for Social Security and for major health care programs relative to the size of the economy."
The CBO's current-law "baseline" calls for spending to reach about 23 percent of GDP in 2023 and, more worrisome, to be "on an upward trajectory."
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Update: An IBD article is also available on this, entitled "CBO Report Shows We're Still Headed Toward A Fiscal Cliff" and it may be found there.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate
...the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.
These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.
Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”
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The finances of the US’s multi-employer pension schemes have deteriorated so quickly over the past year that the body that insures them will almost certainly run out of cash in 20 years, according to a new report.
The chances of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation – the publicly created but privately funded body that insures the nation’s occupational pension schemes – going bust went from 1 in 3 at the end of 2011 to more than 9 in 10 by the end of 2012, a report prepared for the PBGC and released on Tuesday said.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Pensions The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Single and retired, with no family nearby, 64-year-old Lorna Grenadier knows she'll need a better support system if she wants to grow old in her apartment in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where she has lived for 40 years. So she's added community organizing to her list of interests and is helping create a service network she hopes will enable her and others like her to remain in their own homes as they age.
For the past 18 months, Grenadier has been working with other volunteers to research and launch the Foggy Bottom West End Village network. The group aims to provide paying members ($600 a year for singles; $900 for households) a range of services, including transportation and connections to vetted local businesses, as well as serve as a contact point for emergencies. Some of the annual fee will also cover social activities for members.
"It’s also about providing peace of mind," says Grenadier -- a sort of insurance policy should someone need help. In a survey of potential members in the her area, 75 percent said they were interested in the concept, though just 50 percent said they would need the services today.
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I looked it up and found that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, learning problems, attention-deficit disorders, autism and related disorders, and developmental delays increased about 17 percent between 1997 and 2008. One in six American children was reported as having a developmental disability between 2006 and 2008. That’s about 1.8 million more children than a decade earlier.
Soon, I learned that medical researchers, sociologists, and demographers were more worried about the proliferation of older parents than my friends and I were. They talked to me at length about a vicious cycle of declining fertility, especially in the industrialized world, and also about the damage caused by assisted-reproductive technologies (ART) that are commonly used on people past their peak childbearing years. This past May, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 8.3 percent of children born with the help of ART had defects, whereas, of those born without it, only 5.8 percent had defects.
A phrase I heard repeatedly during these conversations was “natural experiment.” As in, we’re conducting a vast empirical study upon an unthinkably large population...
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When South Korean widow Yoon Sook-hee, 62, died after a bout of pneumonia in mid-January, she joined a growing number of old people in this Asian country who die alone and was cremated only thanks to the charity of people who never knew her.
Once a country where filial duty and a strong Confucian tradition saw parents revered, modern day South Korea, with a population of 50 million, has grown economically richer, but family ties have fragmented. Nowadays 1.2 million elderly South Koreans, just over 20 percent of the elderly population, live - and increasingly die - alone.
Yoon's former husband, whom she divorced 40 years ago, relinquished responsibility after being contacted by the hospital and told of her death. Her only son was unreachable as he had long broken off all contact with his parents.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Asia South Korea * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Eschatology
We agree with Obama that it will take a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to put the government's fiscal house in order. Republicans swallowed hard and accepted an increase in tax rates for the highest incomes to start the year. It's the Democrats' turn to recognize that federal benefit programs, and particularly healthcare entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid, are on an unsustainable path despite the savings from the 2010 healthcare law.
Obama should lead a Democratic push for reforms that preserve these programs for those who need them, while also reducing the deficit and stopping the federal debt from growing faster than the economy. He's in the best position to lead on this issue, able to provide political cover for Democrats concerned that their constituents won't put up with changes to the status quo, while showing Republicans that there are ways to save money without abandoning the government's commitment to the elderly and poor. To create an opening for the rest of his agenda, he needs to step up to that role.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was around 38 percent in 1965. It is around 74 percent now. Debt could approach a ruinous 90 percent of G.D.P. in a decade and a cataclysmic 247 percent of G.D.P. 30 years from now, according to the Congressional Budget Office and JPMorgan.
By 2025, entitlement spending and debt payments are projected to suck up all federal revenue. Obligations to the elderly are already squeezing programs for the young and the needy. Those obligations will lead to gigantic living standard declines for future generations. According to the International Monetary Fund, meeting America’s long-term obligations will require an immediate and permanent 35 percent increase in all taxes and a 35 percent cut in all benefits....
[The final 'solution didn't] involve a single hard decision. It did little to control spending. It abandoned all of the entitlement reform ideas that have been thrown around.
Whom should we blame for this? Again, we should not blame Obama and Boehner. In their different ways, they and a number of other people in the Congress are trying to find a politically palatable way to deal with these hard issues. They got what conditions allowed.
Ultimately, we should blame the American voters. The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money. Many voters have decided they like spending a lot on themselves and pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren. They have decided they like borrowing up to $1 trillion a year for tax credits, disability payments, defense contracts and the rest. They have found that the original Keynesian rationale for these deficits provides a perfect cover for permanent deficit-living. They have made it clear that they will destroy any politician who tries to stop them from cost-shifting in this way.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine History Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Medicare Social Security Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Congressional Budget Office projects that over the next decade Social Security's annual cash deficit will rise by nearly $100 billion, reaching $155 billion a year. The cost of servicing the extra public debt tied to cashing in $1 trillion worth of Social Security's intragovernmental IOUs over the 10 years would add $40 billion to the deficit in 2022 alone, an IBD analysis finds.
Overall, Social Security would account for nearly $200 billion in annual deficits or nearly 20% of the $1 trillion-plus deficit that would occur under current policies, including fiscal-cliff tax hikes.
Then, over the following decade, the retirement program's impact on deficits would really balloon.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly History * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate
Watch it all--very heartwarming.
Earlier this year, The Guardian reported about Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse, who had spent 12 years documenting the last words and dying regrets of those under her care (which eventually resulted in a book). Ware said that people at the end of their lives have “phenomenal clarity of vision,” and therefore we should consider what we might learn from their wisdom.
Ware listed the top 5 regrets (most commonly mentioned) of those on their deathbed. At the end of each regret listed by Bonnie Ware, I share a prayerful reflection about this upcoming New Year.
Read it all prayerfully and carefully.
...social care is in crisis. There are now around 800,000 older people who desperately need social care but who get no help at all.
It is of deep concern to me that pensioners who have more than £23,500 have to pay for their social care costs in full. Many older people who have saved hard, but are by no means wealthy, see their hard earned savings disappear in a matter of months.
Each year around 20,000 older people have to sell their homes to pay for care, one in two people have to pay £20,000 in care costs. One in ten people pay more than £100,000. That is a national scandal. We should all have the peace of mind that that we will be cared for in the right way when our bodies start to fail.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Bishop Lawrence and his family are requesting prayer for the Bishop's mother, Bertha Ann Lawrence, who is gravely ill. We are also asking for traveling mercies for the Lawrences as they travel to be with her.
Almighty God, look on this your servant, Bertha,
lying in great weakness and comfort her with the promise of life everlasting,
given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family
Nowadays we do everything later, be it prancing shamelessly across a stage in front of thousands, à la Sir Michael Jagger, or conquering Mount Everest for a second time, like 73-year-old Tamae Watanabe. As we live longer, humanity is increasingly refusing to sit back, put its feet up and settle for a quiet old age.
Nowhere is this phenomenon of age aping youth more noticeable than in the field of divorce. So-called ''silver separation’’, the parting of couples in their sixties after as many as 40 years of marriage, is on the rise, bucking the general downward trend in divorce.
The actress Diana Quick was 61 when she separated from her actor partner, Bill Nighy, after 27 years. As she said in an interview with the Telegraph this week: “There are far more couples splitting up in their sixties now and one reason is that they can. Economically, they have more independence.”
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KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Three years ago, Anne Stine was a busy mother with three young children and a husband who was on the road a lot. Then her 87-year-old father, a very independent World War II veteran who lived about an hour away, suffered a stroke.
ANNE STINE: And what I found was a man who was no longer independent. He was confused and worried and starting to bark orders. So it was a very emotional time for him, and it was a scary time for both of us.
LAWTON: Her dad, who lived alone, needed a lot of care, and the issues surrounding his care were overwhelming....
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Baby Boomers were the first generation to enjoy the concept of being a teenager, and also the first of the last century to enjoy a prolonged period of national prosperity in which they were encouraged to “have it all”, with widespread home ownership, increasing numbers taking holidays abroad and enjoying the burgeoning consumer economy.
That group of post-war babies are now approaching older age, relinquishing the habits of working life and finding themselves with decades still to live in which they might stay fit and healthy or become increasingly dependent on help and care from those around them. They – and all of us – are mostly in the dark about when we might crumble physically or mentally.
For many who are retired or who are facing retirement soon, the huge questions of how long their health will last, who will care from them and how they finance their care are a colossal and persistent worry....
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Over the years, the amount of money spent on adult social care initially stagnated and then decreased. It cannot be right that at a time when the numbers of older and disabled people are growing, there is a smaller pot of money to share amongst the growing need.
More older people are now having to face spiralling care costs just to be able to live with dignity. The generation that saved for their old age, and paid their dues, now often see all that they worked for is sucked into a vortex of social care costs.
My concern is that even when people give up all their life’s assets, achieved after a lifetime of hard work and diligence, there is no guarantee even that the quality of care they receive is assured.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The older Americans get, the more likely they are to suffer cognitive decline. Roughly 14 per cent of people over 71 have some level of dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For those in their 90s, the rate rises to 37.4 per cent.
Many older folks have spent a lifetime managing their finances and take pride in it. They may hold onto their checkbooks and brokerage statements more tightly than they do their car keys.
Take the parents of John M. Smartt Jr., a Knoxville, Tennessee certified public accountant and investment adviser, who have been married for almost 70 years. Just last week they finally agreed to merge their separate checking accounts and allow Mr. Smartt to write checks for them.
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A major study published by the United Nations has warned that the growing numbers of the elderly presented significant challenges to welfare, pension and health care systems in both developing and developed nations.
And it bemoans the fact that skills and knowledge that older people have acquired are going to waste in societies rather than being used to their full.
"We must commit to ending the widespread mismanagement of ageing," said Richard Blewitt, chief executive of HelpAge International, which collaborated on the report, Ageing in the 21st Century.
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When Jeanne Majors, 63, took an early retirement in December 2005, she assumed that she would pick up a part-time job and be in good financial shape. She didn't know that her future would quickly fall apart.
Majors, who is single and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., learned the hard way about the retirement obstacles that most women face today. When the economy slid into the recession, she lost her part-time job and could not find another.
"They wanted somebody young," Majors says. "Or if I was a man, somebody would have hired me at my age. I'm not sorry that I retired, but things didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. Everything went bust."
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Women * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Pensions Stock Market The Banking System/Sector The U.S. Government Medicare Social Security
Americans live 3½ years less than citizens of the five top-ranked countries - Japan, Hong Kong, Iceland, Switzerland and Australia.
The story of American life expectancy is an alarming expression of its larger story. The US is delivering the full benefits of prosperity and modernity in an increasingly narrow way.
It was long known that richer Americans improved their life expectancy at a greater rate than poor Americans, but lifespans lengthened for all. Today, advantaged Americans live longer while the disadvantaged live shorter. That is the real import of the new findings. It is about inequality, in the most basic manifestation - the number of days of life.
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Would an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health-care law help or hinder South Carolina’s finances? Depends who you ask.
Strains of disagreement are building against the backdrop of a campaign by Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration to build opposition to an expansion.
Generally opposed by Republicans and favored by Democrats, the debate over whether to expand the Medicaid program in the states is set to play out in many statehouses across the country. That’s because a June Supreme Court ruling made the extension of coverage optional.
In the Palmetto State, advocates for the expansion contend Haley’s administration is emphasizing the costs and underselling offsetting economic benefits of an expansion.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate Law & Legal Issues Poverty * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life The U.S. Government Budget Politics in General State Government * South Carolina
More than seven out of ten MPs refuse to back calls to legalise assisted suicide, according to a new survey released last week....
The poll comes just a week after two newly appointed junior health ministers, Anna Soubry and Norman Lamb, suggested that assisted suicide should be decriminalised and just before the Liberal Democrat Conference where some MPs are expected to push for a change in the law.
It found that just 29% of MPs back moves to introduce assisted suicide, while 59% were opposed and 12% were undecided.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
According to Statistics Canada, “grey divorce” has been steadily growing among those 55 and over, with rates expected to increase as more people continue to age.
While marriage remains the predominant family structure in Canada, it only represents 67 per cent of Canadian families, down from 70.5 per cent a decade ago — and 91.6 per cent in 1961, before the advent of the Divorce Act, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday in its latest batch of 2011 census data.
And for the first time, the number of common-law families in Canada outstripped the number of single-parent families in 2011, another sign of the declining popularity of matrimony.
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Opposition is not uniform. A few denominations, like the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, with about 22,000 members in Massachusetts, officially support the concept. The Unitarians and other mainline Protestant denominations typically do not take positions on specific state proposals.
And, in an age when many ecclesiastical hierarchies are weakening, in a country where many people are used to filtering religious beliefs through personal and secular lenses, individual clergy and congregants do not necessarily follow the lead of church officials.
The national Episcopal Church, for example, officially opposes physician-assisted suicide. But the Rev. Daphne B. Noyes, a deacon at the Church of the Advent in Boston and a hospital chaplain, said her work with dying people and their families has led her to believe the option should be available under rigorously limited circumstances that ensure that participation by all parties is voluntary and deliberate.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
My father's health took a major turn for the worse and so we have been scurrying around working on getting him a place to stay. He will be in a skilled nursing facility in the greater Charleston area, and he arrives tomorrow. To say this represents a major change would be an understatement.
Please pray for us and especially for my Dad, Stuart, who turns 80 next month as we all seek to adapt, adjust and let God bless us in the midst of it all--KSH.
Hogewey's 152 residents – never, warns Van Zuthem, "patients" – have all been classified by the Dutch NHS as suffering from severe or extreme dementia. Averaging 83 years of age, they are cared for by 250-odd full- and part-time staff (most of them qualified healthcare workers, the rest given special training), plus local volunteers. They live, six or seven to a house, plus one or two carers, in 23 different homes. Residents have their own spacious bedroom, but share the kitchen, lounge and dining room.
Two core principles governed Hogewey's award-winning design and inform the care that's given here, says Van Zuthem. First, it aims to relieve the anxiety, confusion and often considerable anger that people with dementia can feel by providing an environment that is safe, familiar and human; an almost-normal home where people are surrounded by things they recognise and by other people with backgrounds, interests and values similar to their own. Second, "maximising the quality of people's lives. Keeping everyone active. Focusing on everything they can still do, rather than everything they can't. Because when you have dementia, you're ill, but there may really not be much else wrong with you."
So Hogewey has 25 clubs, from folksong to baking, literature to bingo, painting to cycling.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Psychology * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe The Netherlands
Since 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.
Now scientists studying the intricacies of DNA and other molecular bio-dynamics may be poised to offer even more dramatic boosts to longevity. This comes not from setting out explicitly to conquer aging, which remains controversial in mainstream science, but from researchers developing new drugs and therapies for such maladies of growing old as heart disease and diabetes.
“Aging is the major risk factor for most diseases,” says Felipe Sierra, director of the Division of Aging Biology at the National Institute on Aging. “The National Institutes of Health fund research into understanding the diseases of aging, not life extension, though this could be a side effect.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
South Carolina's pension fund investments have generated far less over the past year than hoped, but officials say there's no cause for alarm.
Preliminary numbers from the state's Retirement System Investment Commission show a return on investments of 0.6 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30. The state assumes a 7.5 percent annual return when calculating what it needs to keep the system solvent long-term.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance Pensions Stock Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General State Government
It's game on. But to understand the contest — and the associated scare tactics — it's best to first understand a few unpleasant facts that are not in dispute:
•The popular old-age health insurance plan is on a financially unsustainable course. Medicare's payroll tax and premiums that beneficiaries pay cover barely half the program's costs, and as Baby Boomers retire, things will get worse. The tab is projected to rise rapidly: 7.6% a year for the doctor-care part of Medicare and 8.8% for the program's prescription drug benefit, for example. The economy, a rough proxy for the nation's ability to afford this, is growing less than 2% a year, leaving a huge gap.
•There is no painless fix. Both presidential candidates have committed to detailed plans for curbing costs, and no matter who wins, beneficiaries will pay more or get less, likely both. People who say otherwise are deluding themselves. As economist Herb Stein famously said: Anything that can't go on forever won't.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Middle Age Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicare The National Deficit Politics in General Office of the President * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fort Mill, South Carolina--The bocce ball court is busy. The swimming pool is crowded. Golf carts whiz down well-manicured trails. Couples walk briskly through sprawling neighborhoods of charming one-story houses.
"I'm very happy that we're here," says Dorothy "Dottie" Serran, 69, of the Carolina Lakes Sun City community she and husband Ralph, 70, moved to after retirement. "It's very nice. … You can do as much as you want or as little as you want."
Life is good for most of the nation's seniors, according to a recent poll of 2,250 older adults. Whether they move to "active adult" communities such as Sun City or grow old in the homes where they raised their children, they say they are pretty darn content.
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As of 2012-06 the civilian labor force was 155,163,000....As of May 2012, the outlays are $756.9 billion annualized. Fewer worker relatively speaking, support more and more recipients with exponentially growing payments. This is supposed to work?
As of 2012-06 there were 111,145,000 in the private workforce
As of 2012-06 there were 56,174,538 collecting some form of SS or disability benefit
Ratio of SS beneficiaries to private employment just passed the 50% mark (50.54%)
Read it all from Mish's economics blog (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Middle Age Psychology Young Adults * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Census/Census Data Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Roy Johnson fell so far behind on his $1,000-per-month mortgage payments that last year he allowed the redbrick, three-bedroom ranch he had owned since 1963 to lapse into foreclosure.
“I couldn’t pay it any longer,” he said. “One day, I woke up and said, ‘Hell, I’m through with it. I’m walking away from the house.’ ”
That decision swept Mr. Johnson, 79, into a rapidly expanding demographic: older Americans who have lost their homes in the Great Recession. As he hauled his belongings by pickup truck from this Atlanta suburb and moved into his daughter’s basement, Mr. Johnson became one of the one and a half million Americans over the age of 50 who lost their houses to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011. Of those, the highest foreclosure rate was for homeowners over 75.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
This retirement oasis in the desert has long beckoned those who want to spin out their golden years playing golf and sitting by the pool in the arid sunshine.
But for Clare Keany, who turned 62 last fall and cannot find work, it feels more like a prison. Just a few miles from the gated estates of corporate chieftains and Hollywood stars, Ms. Keany lives in a tiny mobile home, barely getting by on little more than $1,082 a month from Social Security.
“I would rather be functioning and having a job somewhere,” said Ms. Keany, whose pixie haircut, trim build and crinkling smile suggest someone much younger than her years. “I really don’t enjoy living like this. I’ve got too much to do still.”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market Personal Finance The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The U.S. Government Social Security
Do not miss this, especially the obstacles she herself has had to overcome in her own life.
Federal officials said Wednesday they had charged 107 people across the country in recent days for allegedly running a string of unrelated Medicare fraud schemes involving a total of $452 million in false claims....
Among those arrested were seven people in Baton Rouge, La., who were accused of recruiting elderly, mentally ill and drug-addicted patients from nursing homes and homeless shelters. The suspects allegedly signed up the recruits for mental-health services billed at $225 million over six years that never were given or were medically inappropriate, according to officials.
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Government accounting for Social Security has devolved over time from deceptive to dishonest to desperate.
The latest Social Security Trustees report says that benefit promises are fully financed until 2033 and three-fourths financed after that. In short: no crisis.
Here's the truth, embedded between the lines: At the current payroll tax rate, Social Security would only bring in enough revenue to pay for 72% of all benefits through 2036.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Economy The U.S. Government Budget Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President Senate
Pope Benedict marks two milestones this week and while his health appears stable, signs of frailty have again prompted speculation over whether he will be the first pontiff in seven centuries to resign.
Benedict, one of the oldest popes in history, turns 85 on Monday, and on Thursday he marks the seventh anniversary of his election as successor to the immensely popular John Paul II.
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Dr. Mark Rosenberg, chairman of emergency medicine at St. Joseph’s, said he had consulted on more than 50 geriatric emergency rooms to be opened across the country, from Princeton, N.J., to California, overcoming initial resistance from doctors and nurses who saw assignments to the units as scut work.
“They thought it was a bedpan unit, focused on nursing home patients,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “When they finally realized this was the unit that gave better health care to their parents and grandparents, they jumped onboard.”
Hospitals also have strong financial incentives to focus on the elderly. People over 65 account for 15 percent to 20 percent of emergency room visits, hospital officials say, and that number is expected to grow as the population ages.
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The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: people 60 and over.
New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans in that age bracket still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.
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A respected Baptist academic has called upon churches to ensure they are a welcoming home for Britain's ageing population.
Dr Roy Kearsley, of South Wales Baptist College, admitted that ageing was a challenge for church, mission and pastoral care.
He said that recent headlines about poor levels of care for older people in Britain were "disturbing" and indicative of a "social and spiritual crisis".
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists * Theology Pastoral Theology
Dr. Georgia Witkin, author of the new book, “The Modern Grandparent’s Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to the New Rules of Grandparenting,” (New American Library, $15)...[says that] the average age for a first-time grandparent is 48....Whether they work or not, grandparents are busy, active people. They’re shaking their bodies in Zumba classes, running marathons, biking from the suburbs into the city and back, and chatting with friends and family, far and near, on Facebook.
And some grandmothers, like Gregory of Southfield, Mich., are even abandoning the traditional moniker for names that better fit their personalities and lifestyles, such as Grand, GiGi or Nana.
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Nineteen years after Anne Lamott gave birth to the child she wanted desperately enough to become a single mother, her son, Sam, called with the news that he and his 20-year-old on-again-off-again girlfriend were expecting. "They're both a little young, but who asked me?" Lamott writes, setting the self-deprecating tone for Some Assembly Required.
A sequel to Operating Instructions, Lamott's best-selling 1993 chronicle of the struggles and epiphanies of her first year of motherhood, Some Assembly Required addresses the exhaustion, exhilaration and stresses of her grandson Jax Jesse Lamott's first 12 months — from amusement at his "copious Newfoundland drool" to profound worries over his parents' rocky relationship. Her interest is in how this birth affects her — and Sam — to their very core. To get at this, she intersperses her journal entries with comments she elicits from her son in interviews and email exchanges.
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By itself, Benedict's advanced age [of 85] probably would invite speculation about what comes next, even though there's no indication of a health crisis. This is, after all, a pontiff who departs next week for a six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba.
Yet it's not just a birthday that has people thinking about succession. There's also a mounting perception that for all of Benedict's brilliance as a teacher, something isn't working in the internal governance of the Vatican, and it's not likely to be fixed on his watch. The tawdry "Vatileaks" scandal is the most recent symptom of a series of maladies -- an inability to keep personal conflicts under control (the Boffo affair), to anticipate the foreseeable results of policy choices (the Holocaust-denying bishop debacle) and to tell even positive stories effectively (the pope's role in the sex abuse crisis).
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At some point, the spectacle America is now calling a presidential campaign will turn away from comedy and start focusing on things that really matter—such as the "fiscal cliff" our federal government is rapidly approaching.
The what? A cliff is something from which you don't want to fall. But as I'll explain shortly, a number of decisions to kick the budgetary can down the road have conspired to place a remarkably large fiscal contraction on the calendar for January 2013—unless Congress takes action to avoid it.
Well, that gives Congress plenty of time, right? Yes. But if you're like me, the phrase "unless Congress takes action" sends a chill down your spine—especially since the cliff came about because of Congress's past inability to agree.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly History * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Budget Medicare Social Security The National Deficit Politics in General House of Representatives Office of the President President Barack Obama Senate
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