A Working Class Hero Versus An Upper Class Zero

According to Paul Ryan, my Grandpa, like millions of other aging Americans who worked so hard for so long is "Boondoggling" you out of your money. I think Paul Ryan is the one boondoggling us.

Today I will fly cross country to visit my ailing hero - my Grandpa.

Grandpa is my hero not because he will leave me a barely-used Cadillac when he passes, but because he double-mortgaged the house once so that I could have a 12 year-old Ford Ranger to get to college on a daily basis.

Grandpa is my hero not because he would hand over the check card when that Ranger acted up, but because he would slide his old man's body underneath it and turn wrenches until "that Detroit son of a bitch" ran smoothly again.

Grandpa is my hero not because he came home from work everyday in a suit and tie, wearing a fat smile and smelling like success, but because he would take off of his construction job early and drive an hour in a truck that had no third gear just to sit in the stands in his pit-stained work shirt to watch me lose a football game to country boys twice my size.

Grandpa is my hero not because he had money or success, but because he had heart and character.

After a hard day's work Grandpa would relax by sitting on the front porch of our old Polish brick duplex on the south-side of Milwaukee, drinking a Pabst and "shooting the s***" with me or anyone else who would sit out there with him. It was a pleasure. Those were the best days of my young life.

Now Grandpa lives in a retirement community in Florida where the elderly flock like seagulls to a touristy spot on the beach.

Now Grandpa is fighting the battle of his life on the shores of the sunshine state instead of the shores of Korea.

Now Grandpa relies on the government to take care of his medical needs, to pay his bills and fill his prescriptions. Grandpa has earned that right.

Grandpa is not rich - He never saved enough money to help me buy books for college or buy me a new catcher's glove when mine tore in the middle of my senior year, but because a man is financially poor does not mean that he should live his last days in squalor and without adequate care.

Thank God Grandpa served his two years in the Army so that the VA is helping to take care of his health care in the sunset of his life.

Thank God Medicare is still around in its current form so that he doesn't have to empty what little there is in his savings account or borrow from family to pay for his surgeries.

Thank God Paul Ryan's changes to Medicare were voted down in his budget proposal.

It doesn't bother me at all that money is taken out of my paycheck to pay for my Grandpa's care or the care of others who no longer have the financial means to fend for themselves.

What does bother me is that people of means like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to privatize Medicare, put a tight cap on its benefits and let the seniors pay the rest out-of-pocket.

Most studies show that Medicare will immediately cost seniors an extra $6,400 per year out-of-pocket for less care under Paul Ryan's version of the program. My Grandpa, who worked his ass off for 50 years has some lint, a pair of car keys and a handkerchief in his pocket - no more money.

Medicare is not a "boondoggle" like Paul Ryan has called it. Social Security, which my Grandpa also lives off of is not a "Ponzi scheme" as Ryan has claimed it to be.

These people - people like my Grandpa have paid their money into the system through a lifetime of sweat and labor and now wealthy one-percenters like Ryan and Romney want to take away these social safety nets for the rest of us. I understand that people of means don't need social security or medicare, but damn it, most of us will, whether we want to admit it or not.

Before Medicare was enacted by LBJ 80% of all seniors lived in poverty. Now less than 16% live in poverty. Take Social Security and Medicare away and watch the number of elderly living in poverty sky rocket again. Take away pensions and increase health premiums, and watch Wall Street gamble away our 401K and that number will be astronomical by the time I am living in Florida.

I don't want any senior who has worked their whole life, or raised a family their whole life to worry about having enough money in their savings to cover their out-of-pocket expenses for end-of-life care.

Someone on their final years of life should be worrying about how often they will be seeing their grandchildren or traveling to places they've never seen instead of worrying if they can cover their prescription drugs this month. No one should have to choose between a bottle of pills for a trip to the grocery store - but that is exactly what is already happening now and it will only get worse under Ryan's austerity programs.

When it is his time, Grandpa will travel somewhere he has never seen before, but until then he needs to spend time with family "shooting the s***" on his screened in "Florida" room in his house in well - Florida, talking to us about the hundreds of little league games and birthdays, and dozens of graduations he has seen over the years...

...Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney seem to think that the elderly and their loved ones should spend their last days sitting around the kitchen table, scouring through family checkbooks and savings accounts to figure out ways to scrap together the thousands of dollars needed for Grandpa's next surgery.

The only thing I want to do while seated at Grandpa's kitchen table this week is play cards, drink Pabst, listen to stories about the '58 Buick he used to own and family road trips involving little kids who I only know as adults.

Grandpa is not perfect: He thinks beer is a nutritional supplement and he couldn't tell you the difference between John Lennon and Vladimir Lenin, but damn it - Grandpa has earned the right to have a decent safety net because Grandpa spent the younger years of his life being a Working Class Hero. He cared more about the needs of those around him than himself. His life savings went into second-hand cars to get people to work and school so that they could have a better shot in life than he did.

There are people right now doing the same thing - working two jobs, trying to put everything extra away for the rising cost of college for their own kids. They will likely end up like my Grandpa, poor in funds, but rich in love and respect.

In my book, people like Paul Ryan (who paid for college with his father's social security survivor benefits) and Mitt Romney (trust fund baby) who want to take away our social safety nets so that corporations and wealthy stock holders can pay lower taxes are Upper Class Zeroes who are rich in material wealth, but who are absolutely morally bankrupt.

Conservatives like Scott Walker and Ron Johnson will tell you that Paul Ryan was "courageous" for trying to take up a plan to diminish the cost of implementing our social safety nets.

But I think there is nothing courageous about taking away from the poor and the elderly. There is nothing courageous about giving tax breaks to millionaires, stock holders and corporations while increasing the medical expenses of the sick and the old.

My Grandpa was a courageous person because he gave when he had nothing to give. We need to be just as courageous and keep Social Security and Medicare strong, even when our pay checks are less than ideal.

I love you Grandpa. Thank you for working so hard your whole life. Thank you for being the most courageous and generous person I have ever known.


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The Anti-Alinsky June 23, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Uh, Drive, exposure consists of providing verifiable facts and details. All Jason did was say Paul Ryan wants to take his Grandpa's Social Security away so he can't buy him another car! (OK, I paraphrased that part) Jason, prove to me Social Security is not a boondoggle or a Ponzi scheme! I can not and will not accept that on your say so!
Randy1949 June 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Not right away. Currently, those over the age of 55 are 'safe'. But I'm realistic, and I wonder just how long people under the cutoff age will be content to support us 'greedy old buzzards' in our retirement. I'm already hearing rumblings to that effect from the Gen X-ers, never minding that we Boomers paid double for most of our working lives and we supported the generations before us. I give it about ten years and then we'll see a push to 'reform' SSI and Medicare for people of my age. Because memories are very short. The other unfortunate effect of a Ryan plan would be that I know my son and grandson will need every penny I can leave to them in order to have savings for their retirement. I'll continue to be miserly at a time when I could have maybe eased up a little. Multiply me manyfold, and there will be a downward force on the economy.
Lyle Ruble June 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
@The Anti-Alinsky...The US Constitution was written as a loose framework of rights, limitations and principles. Those who drafted and signed the constitution purposely wrote it in this manner understanding it to be a flexible social contract. Although the Supreme Court of the US is vague as to their powers and how to exercise them, John Marshall, the first Chief Justice, established the power of the Judicial System and put forth that only the USSC could determine constitutionality. Over time the constitution has been stretched, twisted and changed to adapt to meet changing societal demands. Therefore, as a foundation document it gives the authority for our elected representatives to enter into societal social contracts to benefit the whole of society. Nothing disturbs me more than waste in government. I don't care what program it is, entitlement or other, and find that the funds have been misused. We have been duped out of billions by medicare providers, all private providers; yet we hold fast to private medical care. Why isn't there this problem with fraud in National Health Service providers? Private is not always good or not always bad, but private has more opportunity to commit fraud. J.P. Morgan sold the Federal Government during the Civil War 3000 known defective rifles. He made huge profits and was never prosecuted for his fraud. He grew to immense wealth by any means possible. Is this the way that assures a good and stable society?
The Anti-Alinsky June 23, 2012 at 05:23 PM
"The US Constitution was written as a loose framework of rights, limitations and principles..." There is nothing "loose" about the framework of the United States Constitution. If that were so government could time and again stifle our first amendment rights. Did you see any of that happening last year during the Capital protests? Not at all. The United States Constitution is our HIGHEST LAW!!! Each state has agreed to that as it entered the union. Why does the Supreme Court, whose only authority is the Constitution, the final authority when a law is passed? Why does the President, every member of Congress, and every member of the military SWEAR to uphold it? I would like to see you explain to them the "looseness" of the Constitution! So again I ask (for the third and final time before I label you a crackpot), where in the United States Constitution does it give the Federal Government the right to implement social contracts or programs? I can tell you where it doesn't: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The Anti-Alinsky June 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Randy, why would your son and grandson need every penny you have to give them under the Ryan plan. Facts please, not more rhetoric!
Dirk Gutzmiller June 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
@Dan B. - You said "If all the left where to leave the country the country would be even stronger if the right left who would pay the bills, the country would colapse." Your statement displays an insufferable superiority complex. Hey buddy, I will match my resume and net worth with yours, and I never worked for the government, and never took an entitlement, and inherited very little. And I am left-leaning. We can meet at a downtown Milwaukee coffeeshop with our documentation, and I have a lot of friends there that would like to meet you and have you explain why the left should leave the country.
Lyle Ruble June 23, 2012 at 05:28 PM
@The Anti-Alinsky...Of the example you used of a coworker quitting so they could sit on their posterior and watch TV while drawing unemployment. I have only one question: How can someone quit a job and draw unemployment? It was my understanding that UI was only available to someone who had been involuntarily been laid off.
Lyle Ruble June 23, 2012 at 06:08 PM
@The Anti-Alinsky....I am sorry, but I don't think you have the necessary background to continue the discussion. The problem with "strict constitutionalists" is that, like you, they discount two centuries of precedent. Quoting you directly: "I can tell you where it doesn't: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The last of the clause states to the people. Through our elected representatives we are able to evoke legislation including the institution of social contracts, having the authority of law. For example the 2nd amendment doesn't prohibit or dictate what constitutes "arms", but we as a society have. Why are we able to do this since the constitution doesn't directly address this? It is simply that we have deemed what is necessary and sufficient to meet the constitution and the ownership of fully automatic firearms is prohibited since it exceeds need. You can label me a "crackpot" if you wish, but that doesn't change the relevancy and accuracy of my arguments.
$$andSense June 24, 2012 at 01:44 AM
@Lyle, Randy and others. Stay away from Saul (Alinsky) . Not worth your time. Too young to know anything. Still repeating mom and dads mantra. Hope for him someday to get independent thought.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Totally agree. Listen to the Anti-(Saul)Alinsky. He knows better. I'm kinda suprised $$ is agreeing with me.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Not any more Lyle. I fought it and lost. I flat out told the adjudicator that he shouldn't get unemployment since we had work for him, but we lost anyways.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Is that how you are backing out of a discussion that you can't answer? Slap an unqualified label on your opponent and hope they can't respond? Sorry, but short of you providing your JD sheepskin, I think I am every bit as qualified as you are!!! To quote your response "The last of the clause states to the people. Through our elected representatives..." Wrong. Our elected representatives you refer to ARE the United States, the collections of the states as a whole. "The people" is not some abstract concept intended for Socialist and Marxist to try and create some sort of legitimacy. "The people" are us as individuals. The framers of the US Constitution never intended for the Federal government to be all powerful. Just powerful enough to do the job it was being created for. James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper #45: "...The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite..." (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_45.html) We as a society do not dictate how the Constitution is to be interpreted. We have a Supreme Court that does it's best to make that decision. The primary source is the Constitution, but it researches other writings, such as the above mentioned Federalist papers to help make that decision.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 03:31 AM
As a ten year old, I remember doing a report on President John Tyler and his ascendency to the office of the President of the United States. When William Henry Harrison died, no-one seemed to know exactly what Tyler's role was to be. Article 2 Section 6 of the US Constitution reads: "In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President,..." So what exactly does "the Same" mean? The big argument was whether Tyler was the President or "Acting-President". While the powers and duties clause may have explained the job well enough, there is a certain air of illegitimacy associated with the Acting-President". Yes, our lexicon has changed over the last 225 years, which is why we need a learned group to research the purpose and intent of the Constitution when it comes to specific laws. NOWHERE does the US Constitution give Congress the power to enact social contracts!!! No, I decided I will not label you a crackpot. Just a well meaning misguided individual that has yet to realize the folly of the world he is trying to create!
Lyle Ruble June 24, 2012 at 03:53 AM
@The Anti-Alinsky....You need to look up and understand the definition of social contracts. The Federalist Papers are not the final word on intent, but only the arguments for ratifying the constitution. Also, over time power has passed from the states to the federal government creating the preeminence of federal law over the states. The US Civil War was the vehicle for such change.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 05:06 AM
No argument about the Civil War's effect on the relationship between the Federal government and the States, But does that make it right. When each state entered into the union, they agreed to the shared powers with the Federal government as detailed in the Constitution. Now you are saying it's OK for the feds to ignore the Constitution in order to enact social contracts. The problem is where will it end? You labelled me as a "strict constitutionalist", but having upheld my end of the bargain, I expect the Government of the United States to uphold it's end. By the way, I never said the Federalist Papers were the final word on intent, just that they are one of the sources used!
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Let's face it Lyle, you are trying to twist and use the social contract concept to justify continuing and implementing all the government run social programs you want. It is the same way Lenin twisted and used the "will of the people" idea to convince the Russian people to support the Bolsheviks.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) June 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I actually thought this was going to be a mindful, heartfelt remembrance of one's grandpa until I got to the part of whining about Paul Ryan. I then remembered this guy is liberal and has to inject the usual rhetoric into anything he rights about. Your grandpa is a good man. You sir are a whiner. I take it you're one of the many uninformed that thought Ryan's budget would allow your grandpa to me pushed off a cliff when it is determined his healthcare costs surpass his usefulness. SHAME.
Lyle Ruble June 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM
@The Anti-Alinsky....It would appear that you and I are speaking two separate languages. I'm not sure that we can find a common point of reference. I'm not being critical, but do you have any background in philosophy and the social sciences? I feel that we are also running up against semantics. Your reference to Lenin misses the mark altogether. Although communism is a radical form of socialism, it clearly doesn't work, especially in large diverse populations. Any workable social system requires the cooperation between all parties sharing a foundation of values, folkways, ethics and morals. This is dependent on a series of small agreements and reciprocity. Social contracts if you will, on a small scale. As the size of the group grows, then those contracts become concrete by being written and formally agreed to. The US and States' constitutions are formal social contracts. According to the Preamble to the Constitution, quoting Wikipedia: "This is an itemized social contract of democratic philosophy. It details how the more perfect union was to be carried out between the national government and the people. The people are to be provided (a) justice, (b) civil peace, (c) common defense, (d) those things of a general welfare that they could not provide themselves, and (e) freedom. A government of "liberty and union, now and forever", unfolds when “We” begin and establish this Constitution.[a][22] Much of what is legislated is done under the social welfare.
Lyle Ruble June 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM
@Nuitari...The truth is if we adopt Ryan's plan, when you reach Jason's grandpa's age and health; you'll be the one who is pushed off the cliff.
Jay Sykes June 24, 2012 at 01:03 PM
@Randy and Lyle..... Is a social contract a legal contract? You both indicate this in your respective examples of an 'Annuity' and a 'Bank Deposit'.
Lyle Ruble June 24, 2012 at 01:42 PM
@Jay Sykes....The social contract or political contract only carries the same authority, rights and privileges when it becomes a concrete signed agreement carrying the weight of law. The Preamble of the US Constitution is a social (political) contract outlining the mission and responsibility of the government to the governed, when the governed cede certain rights to the government. From this foundation of principles all subsequent articles follow, which become our basis of law. Where conflict occurs is when within the same founding principles are in conflict. In the case of the Preamble the classic conflict occurs between the principle of general welfare and the principle of freedom. In general, to promote the general welfare means that individual freedoms must be abridged. This is a philosophical conflict between the sovereign community and the sovereign individual. The political right usually supports the sovereign individual principle and the political left the sovereign community. I hope I was able to shed a little more light on this basic issue. Thanks for asking.
Tonto June 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/06/23/Call-Holder-Obama-Demands-IDs-For-Rally-Entrance Where is Eric Holder and the Justice Department when you need them?
Bren June 24, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I honestly think that folks like Nuitari actually and incredibly believe that, like Paul Ryan, his proposed program and budget cuts would not impact them. Unless I'm much mistaken, Nuitari and others here who support Paul Ryan and his "plan" are not elected officials with sweet pension and healthcare plans funded by taxpayers waiting for them (as is Ryan). By the time it is realized (on the wagon heading for the glue factory if one appreciates Orwellian reference) it will be far, far too late.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Wow Lyle. That is the best response you have written. It also is quite a turn around from earlier when you claimed the US Constitution was a loose framework. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that the term "general welfare" refers to the country as a whole. In a temporary situation, such as WWI or WWII, citizen's were needed to sacrifice certain things in order to win the war. They were meant to be limited in time and were applied to a greater purpose, namely to win a war against an enemy that threatened our security. "General welfare" was not meant to be a mandate to benefit only certain individuals. And it certainly was not meant to bankrupt future generations of Americans. How does destroying the future of my children and grand-children contribute to "the general welfare"?
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Well Lyle, I am speaking English, what language do you think you are speaking? The reference to Lenin was to point out that by redefining a concept, you can justify anything you want. For example, despite losing big in the national elections of 1917, Lenin justified the October Revolution by redefining "Will of the People" as what the people would really want if they were educated enough and smart enough to make that decision. In the same way you redefine the foundations of a social contract to limit it simply to representatives that do not always have their constituents best interests in mind. The best example I can think of is Obamacare. Despite massive opposition, the Senate and House passed this terrible piece of legislation. The Democrats realized that Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was the only bill they would be able to pass, and rammed it through simply to get it over with. This bill failed to satisfy ANYONE! Even the few Socialist I know think it's a piece of crap and will only cause more problems. While I don't want to be voting on every piece of legislation, I think something that affects the country that much should have a form of national referendum attached to it.
The Anti-Alinsky June 24, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Incidentally, the old Soviet Union was a in fact a Socialist state with a Communist philosophy. Communism see's itself as an evolutionary mechanism, guiding a state from Capitalism to Socialism to a truly Communist state (short version, it's a lot more involved than that). The Soviet Union failed the same way all other Socialistic entities have failed, they can't provide the proper incentive for a state to grow and thrive. That social contract you keep referring needs to have some sort of legitimate consent attached to it. In the case of the US Constitution, all states ratified it and made it valid. Where was the consent for Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare? Again, these pieces of legislation should have been put forth in a national referendum (ie, amendment ratified by 3/4 of the states) versus representatives whose intents are often suspect.
Lyle Ruble June 24, 2012 at 09:47 PM
@Anti-Alinsky...Communism served human kind well during the period of our hunter-gatherer period. Modern communism as defined by Marx and Engels is an economic model and system that has proven to be unworkable. You are incorrect that all socialist systems eventually fail. In general, social democracies work very well and the most successful current systems are social democracies. Requiring a public referendum to pass significant legislation is not necessary. I agree that Affordable Health Care Act is not a good piece of legislation and I didn't support its passage at the time. It does not go far enough in establishing a national healthcare service.
$$andSense June 25, 2012 at 03:25 AM
"Totally agree. Listen to the Anti-(Saul)Alinsky. He knows better. I'm kinda suprised $$ is agreeing with me." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism Wasted sarcasm on you Saul. You don't get it do you?
The Anti-Alinsky June 25, 2012 at 03:32 AM
No, I'm just laughing at the way you screwed up your poor attempt at trying to belittle me.
The Anti-Alinsky June 25, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Lyle, you mean Social Democracies like Greece and Spain? By public referendum I meant passing an Amendment that allows the Federal Government to run health care. The reason I suggest it - because I know it would fail. Even on the extremely off-chance it would pass, at least it would be a true mandate as directed by the people through the states.


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