The Expendable Elderly

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In my semi-retirement years I work part-time at an assisted-living senior center. Almost all the residents there are past the driving age, so I drive them to their appointments. Before the COVID-19 era I also drove groups of them to outings in the residence’s bus. But we do, in fact, live in a new, dramatically different era. Now, I rarely drive any of them anywhere. Instead, my workdays now consist primarily of helping the housekeeping crew daily disinfect the premises. Everyone at the facility is dedicated to keeping our precious seniors as safe and healthy as possible at their age.

That sentiment seems not to be shared by our president and many of his followers. Many, such as Texas’ Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, have suggested that for the sake of the economy, Americans need to get back to work; social-distancing needs to end sooner rather than later. If doing so means more senior citizens—the highest risk group in this COVID-19 era—die as a result, well, they should be willing to take that risk for the sake of their grandchildren.

That might sound noble—especially because Patrick and his messiah, the president, are seniors. But the two of them—as well as most of the other Trumpists making the back-to-work pleas—have the means to isolate themselves comfortably for as long as the virus continues to plague us. The residents in the center where I work do not have that luxury. If the virus were to find its way into our facility, every one of the 80 or so residents would be in grave danger. For that matter, so would all the employees, me especially, as, at 65, I am the oldest employee there.

To Trump, Patrick, and all those other wealthy so-called conservatives who can sequester themselves from most of the dangers average folks face, those run-of-the-mill seniors might seem like nothing more than numbers. But to those of us who serve them daily, they’re like family. On average, we lose about one of them per month, and each time we do, I feel it at a gut level, and not just because I’ll be where they are in a couple decades.

President Trump’s largest base of loyal backers is made up of white evangelicals who proclaim themselves to be “pro-life” based primarily on their opposition to abortion. In the past, most of those who adamantly opposed abortion also opposed euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide because they claimed ending human lives either at the beginning or end is immoral. But now, with Trump, Patrick, and several Fox commentators proclaiming their willingness to sacrifice the elderly for the sake of the economy, will white evangelicals—disproportionately elderly themselves—continue to slavishly follow along? If their cult leader directs them, metaphorically, to drink the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, will they obey? 

If Trump and his wealthy, influential, corporate-controlled colleagues succeed in persuading their cultish followers to defy municipal and state regulations requiring social distancing, the majority of the resultant deaths will be primarily elderly folks. But elderly folks have families and friends. When 2.2 million Americans die from a virus that could have been fought much earlier and much more aggressively, the friends and family members of those 2.2 million Americans should—and likely will—remember the president who said the following about this deadly disease:

  • Feb. 26: “We’re very close to a vaccine.” Wrong, not even close.
  • Feb. 26: The current number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is “going very substantially down, not up.” Ridiculously wrong.
  • Feb. 26: He claimed that the death rate for the common flu is higher than for COVID-19. Wrong.
  • Feb. 28: “And this is their [Democrats’] new hoax. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country.”
  • March 6: “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.” Wrong.
  • March 11: Trump said health insurance industry leaders had agreed to “waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments.” Wrong.
  • March 24: “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter.”
  • Worst of all: Nearly two months after the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the States, the nation still has not begun widespread testing. Certainly, President Trump is not responsible for the arrival of the virus in the United States. Nor, obviously, is he responsible for manufacturing the test kits. But he is responsible for setting the tone in the nation’s efforts to combat the disease. As shown above, he’s failed miserably at that.

Trump and friends are pushing for business as usual because they believe a booming economy will get Trump re-elected, along with returning a Republican majority to both houses of Congress. That’s a pipe dream—a dangerous delusion. Trump and friends are willing to risk millions of Americans—mostly elderly—in their effort to retain political power.

Families and friends of those sacrificed millions must remember that in November.

19 comments

  1. another group that is likely expendable is the disabled but as many of us as there are in the country, they are rarely mentioned in this pandemic and they’re certainly not given the same public attention, even during campaign season as groups like lbgtq and other cultural minorities.
    What do you say?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good one, Scott. If you aren’t white, wealthy, healthy, able-bodied, heterosexual, Evangelical Christian, young, and Republican, then you don’t matter. If you own 20 guns, all the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes grumpy1180, you are expendable. And I am expendable.

    What I have learned, since the 2016 election, is that all humans are expendable, except for the very rich. Our lives can be sacrificed, as long as that gives more money to the already rich.

    I begin to understand what Jesus meant, when he said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Boris from the UK was stupid enough to talk about ‘herd immunity’ at the start of the outbreak there, but I believe Trump in the US, and Morrison in Australia were thinking the same thing when they delayed doing anything about Covid-19 early on. Perhaps they were told that the deaths of so many elderly people would represent a nice ‘saving’ for their respective budgets…

    Last year I spent a number of months teaching computer skills to residents of a retirement village. My best student was 92. Neither he, nor any of my other students are statistics. They are not expendable. And at 67, neither am I.

    Stay well.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Our illustrious Premier of Alberta, thought it was a good thing to divert over $12.5 million of the education budget to Covid-19, laying off 1000s of people in the education field “because there are no students in the schools anyway.” Today, he gave $6.3 billion dollars to build a pipeline to send dirty oil to the States. He is convinced oil prices will rebound soon, and his betting our lives on it. He expects it will create 5400 full and parttime jobs over the long haul.
    Will someone please explain to this ignoramus that oil is a dying commodity, and our lives are worth more than fossil fuels. he is a Trump-wannabee, and he proves it every time he opens his mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. To be fair Trump did announce that after consulting with Dr. Fauci and other medical administrators he decided to continue with the national lockdown/ social distancing/ work ban for another month. Restrictions will be lifted only after seeing signs of recovery and flattened curve proved effective in containing this pandemic. Travel restrictions to other nations will remain for the forseeable future. Going back to work will be voluntary.

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    1. Yes, and I am grateful for his eventual turnaround on this pandemic. But imagine how much better off the nation would be if he had begun by believing the facts rather than his gut. The federal government would have been mobilized nearly two months earlier and the infection and death rates almost certainly would have been significantly lower.

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      1. I totally agree with you, if Trump took a proactive stance back in January, our situation would be much better off. With a 2 month warning from Wuhan, you would think he’d ordered more supplies like masks, gloves and possibly ventilators as a precaution. Trump did nothing and downplayed a catastrophe, this will certainly haunt him in the upcoming election.
        For a success story just look to Russia. Putin took all the necessary steps to mitigate a full blown pandemic in his country. They had all the medical equipment and emergency response in place when travelers repatriating from were screened quarantined and treated properly.

        April 1: 3 things you need to know today
        Russia confirmed 440 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the country’s official number of cases up to 2,777 and 17 total deaths.

        Moscow has enacted a citywide quarantine from Monday, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said as the city’s number of coronavirus cases surpassed 1,000 over the weekend.

        Moscow residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to seek emergency medical care, shop for food or medicine, go to work, walk pets or take out the garbage. The self-isolation order will apply to all residents regardless of age.

        President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation imposing severe punishment — including up to five years in prison — for people convicted of spreading false information about the coronavirus. The legislation also imposes punishments for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules, including up to seven years in prison.

        — Moscow authorities have developed a QR code system to allow residents to leave their homes as well as a smartphone app to monitor coronavirus patients’ movement in self-isolation, the city’s IT chief said Wednesday after tech experts raised privacy questions.

        We would be wise to emulate a successful program no matter if it’s Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela. Right now it’s a disaster in the US with over 200K infected and 5200+ deaths, leading the world as the new epicenter of Covid-19.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post Jerry. Nobody is spared in Donald Trump’s war on the American people…except his rich and powerful friends. The typical mantra…let’s make sure they have their tax cuts, and it will all trickle down. How’s that working out?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There was a time when I bought into the theory of trickle-down economics. And, in theory, I think it could work. But it fails because those at the top are never satisfied with their wealth. First they must have their millions, then their tens of millions, then hundreds of millions, then billions. Never mind that they have more than they could spend in a dozen lifetimes; it isn’t about fulfilling needs; it’s a competition. Screwing the working class becomes an acceptable method in that competition. With a few exceptions, excessive wealth, like excessive power, does corrupt.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good post. Sunday, John Oliver took apart Glenn Beck, Trump and the Texas Lt. Governor’s argument about if the economy fails it would be worse than the virus. After saying the obvious rebuttal about health and mortality risk, Oliver made these points:
    – dying is not good for the economy
    – too many getting sick and overwhelming hospitals is not good for the economy
    – with an eye toward Beck, he said it is easy to talk tough when your risking other people’s lives.

    Today, I read of a Global Markets survey of leading economists. Not one supported opening the economy early. In essence, they unanimously disagreed with Beck, Trump and Texas LG. For now, Trump has backed off, but he is prone to change when the wind blows.

    We cannot say this enough. We must look to the truthtellers. Those would be the people NOT patting themselves on the back saying what a great job they are doing. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m seeing the fear of Corona play out now at my 93 year old mother’s assisted living facility. She’s confined in her room all day, there are no masks and I must social distance myself totally from the facility. What’s next? Legalized euthanasia?

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