Forwarded from Michael Yates (Portland unemployment)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Sep 3 15:55:47 MDT 2003

>7.) And finally, what can one say???:
>      "Things are getting better," Mr. Bush told a subdued crowd here.
>quoted in:
>      Bush Defends Tax Cuts and Announces Jobs Post

Yeah, I got one below to add to Les's list that hits home. A couple of
months ago I found out that my mom had run into some serious debt because
of mounting medical problems that medicare couldn't pay in total, costs of
maintaining her home (rising heating oil, taxes and insurance) and other
essentials. I have bailed her out but I wonder what old folks without
children are doing.


NY Times, Sept. 3, 2003
Golden Years, on $678 a Month

She trudged languorously along the thrumming streets of Elmhurst, Queens,
lost in her early evening thoughts. The air was moist and still. She turned
left on Justice Avenue, away from the crowds. She dislikes crowds. When she
reached the Queens Center Mall, with its clatter of commerce, she turned
around. Stores foster an undercurrent of tension in her.

Walking consumes time, and in the awkward caution of her life it drains her
of troubled memories. She does this loop from her apartment every day. She
derives comfort from one of the few things she can do that carry no price tag.

Anna Berroa is 68, and she is poor.

This is a doleful life that Anna Berroa never anticipated. It seemed to
catch her unawares. One moment she was middle class, envisioning a placid
old age, and then a series of untoward events ambushed her. Last year, Ms.
Berroa received $8,136 from Social Security, and that was it. She has no
savings, no investments, dim hopes.

Poverty is particularly frightful from the lens of old age, when there are
few, if any, opportunities to enhance one's prospects and the only escape
hatch seems to be death. "When you have nothing in the future, you don't
dwell on that," Ms. Berroa said. "And since I had so many bad things happen
in the near past, I don't dwell on that. Just today, 5 o'clock. Then 6
o'clock. Hour by hour."

All in all, the well-being of the elderly has been improving steadily for
decades. The current generation of older Americans is living longer,
feeling better, being more active and earning more money. Recent stock
market losses and near-invisible interest rates have darkened the picture
for many elderly, even forcing some to return to work.


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