Mary Appleby, 76 years old, lost her job in January as a cashier at a
courthouse cafeteria here. She is now looking for minimum-wage work.
Bennett, 80, began filling out applications for fast-food restaurants and
convenience stores after she was laid off last March as a machinist. Fred Dase,
81, a bartender until last summer, also needs another job.
past recessions, older workers simply would have retired rather than searching
want ads and applying for jobs. But these days, with outstanding mortgages, bank
loans and high medical bills, many of them can't afford to be out of
With jobs so scarce, people in their seventh and eighth decades are up
against those half their age in a desperate scramble for work.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Peter Orszag, one of Obama's economic gurus, argues health care reform is the only way the government ever convinces the world it can afford its debt and avoid higher interest rates that will depress economic growth.
"Orszag would begin his talks by explaining that the problem is not one of
demographics but one of medicine. “It’s not primarily that we’re going to have
more 85-year-olds,” he said during a September speech in California. “It’s primarily that each
85-year-old in the future will cost us a lot more than they cost us today.” The
medical system will keep coming up with expensive new treatments, and Medicare
will keep reimbursing them, even if they bring little benefit."
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The story explores a few subjects that I find fascinating:
1) Is access to life saving medicine a human right? Is it a privilege? Is it subject to the same constraints as other commercial products and services? In the US, this debate is going on constantly. The debate will only increase in volume and vehemence as the Baby Boomer demographic enters their 60s, 70s and beyond.
2) When is a crime justified? We see throughout history examples where the laws and conventional wisdom of the day were simply wrong or horribly unjust. Through the lens of the present we see the actions of “lawbreakers”, whether it’s Galileo or the runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad, as acts of heroism. What crimes in modern day America might be seen through the lens of the future as acts of heroism? What might future generations look back on as the great injustices? And how will health care and medicine factor into this?
3) The struggle in health care to reconcile advance medical technology, cost and the profit motive will only intensify. Medicine is both a service for the public good and one of the most profitable businesses in the world. How will we as a society reconcile the inherent conflicts around this?
Most importantly, the story is a tribute and remembrance to my own Grandma Emma Villanova Ragano, who died in 1991. Of course her own life and actions were nothing like the hero of my story, but she lived her life with spunk and a sense of adventure that the story tries to capture.
I’ll be posting the manuscript here and use this as a forum as the story develops.