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Are you the next disposable item?

May 28, 2015

Senior or soon-to-be-senior citizens may be about to reap the fruits of their child-rearing efforts, and it could be a bitter harvest.

First some background.

For well over 40 years, we have lived in a very materialistic society. Everything is disposable. Use it up, throw it away, and move on to the next big shiny thing. We define our position in the world by the age of the things we own.

That consumer-oriented lifestyle has had a profound effect on our kids.

Nothing is repaired or maintained. Buildings that were once expected to last for 100 years are now routinely torn down to make way for a new and better (or maybe just trendier) edifice in ten years or less.

Everything is engineered for rapid replacement. Cars are obsolete, not because they no longer move us from place to place, but because they don’t advance someone’s cause. Phones, computers, and all things electronic costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars are designed to be useless after three or four years. They are replaced not because they no longer function, but because the necessary hardware or software is not supported by the manufacturers. That’s called building a sustainable market.

And now, it may well be that people are also disposable.

In the past 5 years in particular, there has been a trend to reduce programs that provide supplemental support to the elderly among us, and use the money for things like free college, job training, or other things that are currently more popular.

Social Security, Medicare, veterans programs and many other programs were based on the idea that society owes a debt to people who have reached the point that they can no longer care for themselves.

That’s no longer the case. Turn on any talk show where millennials are grousing about how hard their lives are, and at some point one of them is going to complain about their dollars being used to support Social Security or provide medical care to seniors.

Their argument often hinges on how much better those tax dollars could be spent if they were used to fund free colleges, or save the environment, or whatever topic of the day the show hosts are pitching.

On one of those panelist style shows, one young lady, who said she was 25 years old, went on a pretty bitter tirade complaining that she saw no need to “…pay for some cushy retirement home and a guaranteed income for seniors, or pay to keep people alive that probably should have gone to meet their Maker a decade ago.”

Unfortunately that’s not as much of a shocking surprise at it should be, because she is simply parroting the throw-it-away philosophy she has been spoon-fed since birth.

Another panelist/guest on a different show was asked how he felt about ISIL destroying all the antiquities in their desire to conquer the Middle East. His answer?  “I’m not too concerned about a bunch of old carved rocks, falling down buildings and animal skins from 1000 years ago.”

In other words, we have nothing to learn from history, and all that matters is the here and now.

To be fair, these “guests” are picked for their shock (and ratings) value, and probably don’t reflect the views of everyone under 35.

Hopefully the young woman who was complaining about keeping the aged alive would feel differently if it was her parents or grandparents or even herself. The young man at some time may learn to value history, as he becomes more a part of the past.

But what happens if their attitudes don’t change? Never mind your credit score; have you checked your personal expiration date lately?

From → op-ed

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