Washington doesn’t treat seniors fairly

Published 1:51 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

It was real, real unsettling and disturbing to me, as it should be for everyone else, to open the Wednesday Andalusia Star-News and find that, once again, the government has found a way to cut aid to senior citizens.

In the article, “Meals for senior citizens cut,” SARCOA, based in Dothan, issued a statement from director Robert Crowder that due to the rising cost of food and transportation over the next two years, the seven counties covered by SARCOA would have to cut meals now furnished to disabled and home bound seniors by 6 percent and 8 percent. In Andalusia, 150 meals would be cut from the now 330 served. Opp and Florala are also losing funding.

SARCOA is funded by the U.S. government and states must provide matching funds to supplement their programs, with any help from local government and private donations; with this said, how and why does SARCOA, founded in 1986 thru the Older Americans Act and Social Security, 22 years later have a multi-million dollar building to house its operation and employees, yet can’t find the funds to continue supporting the very people on whom this was based?

As far as that goes, why could Congress not give just $699 billion to the “crooked, greedy” private sector of Wall Street, and give the other $1 billion to the states to support the senior programs, or why not keep a billion or so from the trillion sent to “support” the effort of saving Iraq each year and save a few seniors instead, most of which have worked 40-50 years, paid taxes, paid Social Security, and are now forced to live on a limited income?

Maybe I’m just “plain people,” like Sarah Palin, but I learned to count before the first grade, and all that money is not helping any effort here at home. It’s only lining the pockets of politicians and their special interests groups.

Another point is welfare. A local woman I know of is about 80, draws Social Security of around $850-1,000 per month, worked for 55 years, is now disabled with arthritis, yet pays rent, utilities, the $100 charged by the government for Medicare Part B, pays for medications, doctor visits, etc. Yet she can’t hold a coffee cup, open a jar, stand at a stove and cook, and the list goes on, (many other Andalusia seniors are in the same position), but only qualifies for $11 per month on the food stamp program. While in the same complex lives a healthy 23 year-old mother of two, with one on the way, never married, never worked, draws SSI, $190 per child, government paid rent, OCAP paid utilities, government paid health benefits and $450 in food stamps each month…wow!

Oh, I’m sorry, I meant to say all these benefits are being paid for by you, the working, tax paying citizen. But, the point is that something must be done to keep these senior programs going.

Anyone interested in voicing their opinion should contact our local SARCOA board member, Irene Butler; our federal congressmen, our governor, our state legislators, the offices of the Older Americans Act and the Social Security offices in Washington, D.C. It only costs $105 per year per senior to keep this meal program going, and somewhere in our nation’s capitol is someone who is willing to “lobby” for this, we just need to locate them.

I implore you to please help and don’t just throw this in the trash, because if you are not a senior citizen now, you will be one day.

Thank you for your time.

Steven A. Bryant