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Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

The Elderly and Their Children

An item from the Global Times of Beijing:

On Dec. 28 [2012], China passed a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents “often,” or risk repercussions. The law is a response to the increasing difficulty of caring for an aging population that will reach 200 million this year. The law does not specify the number of required visits or possible punishments.

Old couple and their granddaughter farming in hilly Ozark country, Missouri

Ozarks (Source)

American social historians and sociologists have devoted much time to studying Americans’ ties to their elderly parents – a way of assessing what may have changed in family feelings and family values over the generations, and also, it turns out, of assessing how government policies affect family life. We haven’t reached — and are unlikely to — the Chinese condition.

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Protected Class

For all the fierce debate in Washington about cutting government spending, it is striking how the interests of one class — the elderly — are protected by politicians on both sides. The Democrats roundly attack the GOP for proposing radical changes in Medicare and Medicaid that would, they charge, undermine the security and health of the elderly.

(image via CDC)

The GOP loudly proclaims that these changes would affect only those now under 55, so none of today’s elderly and soon-to-be-elderly would be touched (grandfathering them in, so to speak). And neither side would do more than delicately tinker with Social Security. Hardly anyone dares whisper that senior citizens might be discomfited.

This is odd: Today’s senior citizens are better off than other Americans – certainly better off than American children. And yet, they are to be protected more than other Americans. (Disclosure: I will soon join this protected class.)

There is increasing awareness of growing inequality in the United States, of the widening gap between the rich and everyone else. But here is another dimension of growing inequality: the gap between the generations. And these haves are getting to have more.

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