Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“…Everyone in this country should have good food and medication….”  Snippet” of conversation overheard by passerby at local fitness club, March, 2019.  See postnote, near the end of post.

More on “the AGED” “below the fold”….  Please read the last paragraph.  I am hoping that this post will provide lots of grist for conversation and thought.

From the public brochure for the new Medicare Law, 1965. See the entire brochure, and more personal comments, “below the fold”.


I would strongly encourage watching the entire hour program with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aired on Friday, March 29, but I’m not positive whether the entire program, as I viewed it, will be available, or when, but significant portions can be viewed here.

Much of the conversation Friday night centered around pieces of a proposal called “The Green New Deal”, which can be read here.  Of course, the proposal is controversial.  What isn’t controversial these days?  This is a proposal about helping preserve our – especially the next generations –  future.  The Green New Deal is a very conservative notion; and who better to shape that future than young people, like Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who will have to live in it.


As I watched the MSNBC full hour with Chris Hayes on Friday evening, I was thinking of the “generation gap”.  I’m about to turn 79; Chris Hayes, host, said he was 39; Ocasio-Cortez is 29.  As Hayes said, “you can do the math”.

This is my first mention of Ocasio-Cortez at this space; the first in 1,442 published posts since 2009.  I suspect it will not be the last.  She, and many others, are the vanguard for saving the the future of their generation (people like me will be dead and gone).  The Green New Deal is a heap better than planning for the next war, or pretending a belief will make something  true.

One of my grandchildren is older than Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and since her birth I’ve made no secret of my commitment to trying to make a livable future for this younger generation.

Bah-humbug to those of my generation who dismiss their kids and grandkids future.  We’ve all seen that bumper sticker “I’m spending my kids inheritance”.  It takes on new meaning in these days of attempting to dismiss climate change and the like.  We are spending everything…we don’t know exactly when it will run out, but the clock is ticking faster, and as everyone who is old knows, it doesn’t last forever.  “You can’t take it with you“.

I am an elder, so I know a fair amount about what a long life lived is all about.  About sacrifices made for me, about mistakes I’ve made, about this or that witnessed or experienced by myself or my ancestors before me.  Things like War and the Great Depression.  We dismiss the past and ignore the future at our great peril.  Our greatest investment should be the future of those who will be here long after we’re gone.

The current Vice-President (quick, what’s his name?) had an applause line the other day, which seems to be a new ‘nut graph‘ for all occasions.  All that “green” meant, in his rendition, was “taxes”…. “And the only thing green about the so-called Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost taxpayers if these people ever pass it into law.”   (This comes direct from Fox News…anyone interested in finding it can simply do the google, like I did.)  “[T]hese people”…?

Of course, into the same speech came the current scare-phrase du jour: “socialism”.  (There is a lot, good to be said for “socialism”.  Medicare, which we elders covet, is really a “socialist” program….  This is a discussion we need to have, with a very open mind.)  “Don’t touch my Medicare” someone will say; in the next breath they’ll say “socialism is evil”.  The two are peas in a pod….



Found in the abundant junk at the North Dakota farm in 2015 was the entire Medicare brochure from 1965: Medicare001. Sometimes junk is a treasure.  This is worth reading in its entirety.   The front cover is pictured at the beginning of this post.

Everyone has their own story:

In 1965, Medicare had just been enacted into law, and the potential recipients included my grandparents, Ferd and Rosa Busch, then 84 and 81 years of age.  Their last kids at home, Uncle Vincent and Aunt Edithe, also living on the same farm, were 40 and 45 respectively, and Medicare coverage for them was many years away.  I was 25, then, and my wife had been buried the very weekend Medicare had been signed into Law by President Lyndon Johnson.  My wife had died of kidney disease at age 22.  My oldest son, Tom, now 55, was a year old.  (My other grandparents had died in 1957 and 1963, each dying in hospitals.)

My grandparents were on Medicare.  Grandpa Busch died suddenly at home a little over six months after Medicare began.  I doubt he had ever been hospitalized, though I’m sure he should have been.  Grandma briefly used Medicare the last few months of her life in 1972.  I have been on Medicare, now, for near 14 years.  It has been an economic and physical life saver, most recently open heart surgery 4 months ago.

Nowadays there are people who think that Medicare should end; there are others who think everyone should be on Medicare.  Should health be a right or a luxury?  That is the essence of one of the current debates.  Paradoxically, many of those who most want to get rid of it for others in the future, or things like the Affordable Care Act, are people who now directly benefit from the program.

Such is how things seem to go.  Alexandria and Chris are now young, and they will, Lord willing, grow old, as I have been privileged.  Medicine, drugs, and other “socialistic” programs do cost money, and not everyone benefits directly, but the benefit is always there if needed.

The politics of this and other programs is stark, these days.  Medicare will be saved for people of my generation, until we are dead.  It is politically expedient.  Money will be saved by cutting the benefits (and perhaps ultimately the entire program) to the younger people, hoping they won’t notice.  After all, why bother?  They are “forever young” and won’t have to deal with it.  And there is that deficit, swelled by the tax cuts of 2017.  Magical thinking, is what I’ve heard it called.

This is time for the youth to take over, and I applaud Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and many, many others in her group of new leaders.  There are great numbers of elders, like me, who’ll support their efforts.  But, sadly, probably even greater numbers who don’t much care about what happens in the future, and are focused only on the now, and on the ever more dimly remembered “good old days”.

To the young:  get on the court;  keep on, keeping on!  It is your future that is at stake.

This and following: World Trade Center New York City June, 1972 photos by Dick Bernard

1978 card from Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

POSTNOTE: The comment which leads this post was made earnestly and civilly from a young man to a young woman.  I’m the one who overheard it.  I don’t know the context, the before or after.  It marked, to me, a good beginning point to one of many an essential conversations.  What are the rights of a human being in this by far the richest country in the world?  (The U.S. has about 5% of the world’s population, and 25% of the wealth).  What are our responsibilities to those who have less?

THE SHORT AND LONG TIME SOLUTION: I support the aspiration of young people (those my kids age and younger).  The world we leave behind, is the one that they inherit.  In a democracy, it is those who act who prevail.  This means, among other things, that the young need to not only vote, but to act in their own behalf – supporting what they need for their future.  They need to encourage others to vote, well informed, and to support good candidates in all the ways necessary, including financially.  They can’t afford to be lazy or complacent.  This is hard work.  But work which needs to be done, and cannot be delegated.

COMMENTS (see additional at very end, below):

from Michelle: Thx Dick! Always love your perspective

from Nancy, about a film about Ocasio-Cortez now at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival: “If you have time, Dick, you may want to attend this film. It will be shown three times during the MSP Intl Film Festival — I already bought my ticket for April 13th. I assume that tickets for this will go fast, so you should probably buy online ahead of time, if you plan to go.”

from Molly: Thanks, Dick, for a good post and for the link to another good post.

from Norm: I am just an ordinary individual as well albeit with a curmudgeon side that shows through on occasion.

Yes, I will read again the piece that you forward regarding Sagan and the clowns [here] and think about it some more, something that I think all of us should think hard about and reflect upon what we helped to create.
For example:
  1.  Why did the voters in MIchigan, and especially union voters, show their appreciation for Obama and the Democrats for bailing out GM and saving all of those high paying jobs with good benefits by voting for Trump…when the Republicans wanted to let the company fail?
  2.  Why did so many people and seniors in particular buy into the bull crap that Obama Care was going to cut their Medicare benefits?
  3. Why did so many Democrats get on their purist high horse and vote for Trump out of spite instead of Clinton because the Democratic Party did not endorse an Independent as in an Independent (not then and not now is Sanders a Democrat)?
  4.  They did understand that the next president was going to be able to fill several slots on the SCOTUS and that Trump would sure as hell pushing for very conservative candidates compared to what Clinton would likely have sent forth.  They did understand that those appointments would/could affect public policy for generations to come, didn’t they?  Of course, they did not think that issue thorough very well as they only were concerned about taking their bats and balls home and sitting and whining “poor us ain’t awful” in a secluded corner…”they didn’t nominate our man so we just are not going to play!”
  5.  Why did we in the most condescending politically correct manner send a politically unseasoned novice to Congress allowing her think that she was so important and then immediately began stepping all over herself and confirming for many that the Democrats are all about identity politics all worried about the so called “underrepresented groups” (what a croc!) at the expense of its long standing and long supportive base?
Yes, Dick, we have to think long and hard about these things and more and try to resist the significant part of our DNA that allows us to shoot ourselves in the feet whenever we can so as to be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they say.
We often cite Wellstone and his assertion that  we all do better when we all do better…something that we often trumpet as who we are and/or could be but almost as often something that we do not put into practice due to political correctness, “underrepresented group” myths, and so on.
2 replies
  1. Corky marinkovich
    Corky marinkovich says:

    Refreshing to see the youth and energy of the newbies in office.
    The diversity of dems running for the president position is really energizing. AOC is drawing a lot of attention for knocking over one of the veteran dems in congress.. Thank you Dick Bernard for your thought provoking blog.

  2. virgil Benoit
    virgil Benoit says:

    Hello Dick and those who know you. A note: it is a lesson in courage to read your blog, Dick, in a time when the cynical response to thinking about caring is in fashion. Slinging around untruths, mocking difference, devaluing learning and the process of education have risen into the realm of public entertainment. For now, too many in the world do not trust the next guy, or are sure he/she is ripping them off. How can we win back trust and care so we can begin to structure a fair and just society?
    Thanks for looking for a long time now, Dick, with your readers into the very dark parts of our hearts.


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