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Year of the Plague – 6 – The Right to Life… for the Elderly!

March 25, 2020

Immature bald eagle at Jim Baker Reservoir – March 25, 2020

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But dying so that some jack-ass like Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick or others like him can make a few extra million? Uh-uh. No way, etc. etc.

Maybe they’ll come up with an age of mandatory euthanasia for the elderly? I mean this is a pretty sick society anyway and has been for a long time. So… besides putting on our silver sneakers, us old folks is gonna have to fight for – you’ll love this – the right to life! plain and simple. Has quite a different meaning than the anti-abortionists and other right wing yahoos suggest.

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1. Jim Baker Reservoir

Four of us met at Jim Baker Reservoir in S. Adams County for a walk. David and Molly each came separately, Nancy and I together. We walked around the reservoir – a 1. 4 mile distance – twice being careful to stay more than six feet apart. The first time round, very few people, the second time round more so as it was approaching noon and the air was warming up. The four of us are pretty strict about maintaining our social distance of six feet – actually somewhat more and most of the others on the path were pretty considerate in that respect, but not everyone. Still it was nice to get out.

Often there are large groups of ducks on the water, but not today, it was almost empty. Still early on the walk I looked up to see two redtail hawks circling overhead and wondered if they weren’t the pair that hangs out on the cell phone tower on Tennyson St. across from Clear Creek Valley Park nearby. They circled around very high in the sky and then flew off in a northwesterly direction.

Then, as we rounded the first bend close to Lowell Blvd, some kind of raptor flew by. Couldn’t make it out at first, but it turned out to be an immature bald eagle. He (or she – I wasn’t certain) glided by and then perched itself on a telephone pole on Lowell Blvd. I took a bunch of photos – my camera has a rather large lens both of the eagle in flight and perched on its pole – not knowing how they turned out until processing on my computer. They came out ok actually.

Back by the car an “old timer” – I guess about my age – was sitting in his big red pick up truck. I’d noticed him earlier. He asked if we had seen the eagle and I told him – from a distance of 10 feet or so – that yes we had. He comes to Jim Baker often, sits there for hours in his truck as a way to get out of the house. And so I got the five minute history of Jim Baker raptors: there wasn’t just one bald eagle but a pair of them and they had their nest further down Clear Creek where the creek bends to the north – know the spot pretty well. And that they often fish together at Jim Bakker but that today it was only the male. He was pretty sure it was the male, more so than myself.

And that was not all.

The hawks had been fishing all morning and had struck gold as had an osprey. There is an old osprey nest on a telephone pole on Lowell Blvd. Last year I got some fine photos of it. My new acquaintance went on about how the telephone company kept destroying that nest – I saw them do so once last year – but that osprey, stubborn thing, kept rebuilding it. Maybe, but it was nowhere to be seen this morning although my fellow old timer said he’s seen one fishing earlier in the day.

If you think I’m bored by such discussion, you’d be wrong. It’s one thing to see wild life – not only birds – still pretty exciting for a kind born in Brooklyn and having grown up in Queens, NY. But it’s even more interesting to get the anecdotal history of the wildlife and over the past five years I’ve met people who really know their stuff. They know the plants, the birds, the other wild life in a way I never will and it gives me great pleasure to talk to them. I’ll go back sometime next week – he told me he comes in the mornings, all morning from 8 to noon – to watch Nature. I’ll find him again.

Parent Osprey returning to junior (who does NOT want to leave the nest) – August 29, 2019 by Jim Baker Reservoir

2. The Pandemic – Nancy and I are now eleven days into our self-isolation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a little difficult, not not that much. Since retirement, we both spend a good deal of our time at home and our “inner life” – reading, writing, working in the back yard, me on the wood pile, she on the garden – is such that it’s not too painful, certainly less so than for younger folk, our daughters and their partners included.

We have not gone shopping for two weeks although our dear friends Cathy Schuster and Carlos did drop off a half gallon of milk, a quart of half and half for my coffee and a bottle of orange juice. The Paiz-Garcia neighbors left two magnificent chocolate cupcakes on the table on our front porch a couple of evenings ago. We ate them the next morning. Delightful. Nancy might go shopping tomorrow morning early – the time reserved at Costco for “the elderly.” Neither of us have shown any signs of the Coronavirus. Given our age – mine 75, Nancy’s 68 – we have taken the self-isolation requests – now turned into legal policies – seriously.

The main problem with all this is we are still essentially in the dark as to what to do other than stay at home. For example, it is not at all clear that self-isolation for fourteen days with no symptoms suffices to go out in the world and mingle with people. We have seen a number of different estimates concerning how long the Coronavirus is toxic and contaminates. The statistical analyses that we have seen, likewise, are uninstructive.

Let me take Colorado as an example.

As of this morning (March 25, 2020) one source stated that there are some 912 people in the state that have come down with the virus out of some 6000 tested. 6000 tested in a state the population of which is 5,800,000. Put another way .001% of the state’s population has been tested. What kind of a data base does that represent? Nada. And like everyone else we have read, heard on the news that for whatever figure given, the actual infection rate is ten, twenty times greater. “They” – the medical community – really doesn’t have a clue.

Given what we have seen in China, Iran, Italy and now the New York City area we do not doubt that the Coronavirus is a serious global threat and that folks over sixty like ourselves should be especially careful which we will continue to try to be. But frankly, given the information at hand we are still largely in the dark as to what is going on, how long the pandemic will last, and how long we should self isolate. Needless to say in such situations “caution is better part of valor.” Frankly we are not worried about the isolation ourselves, but we worry for others who are not used to spending time alone. We’re seeing signs of depression, anxiety and all this – whatever it is, is just gearing up from what we can tell.

3. Duty To Die Bullshit

Immature Bald Eagle (again) – Jim Baker Reservoir, March 25, 2020

In 1984, as I mentioned in an earlier post former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm in an opportunist move to throw a bone to a more conservative and financially based constituency made a stupid comment something along the lines that the elderly have “a duty to die” and make room for another generation. Throwing his liberal credentials to the winds, even then, 36 years ago, he also made some nasty and completely racist anti-immigrant statements at the same time and for the same reason.

Over the past few weeks – in what is nothing short of an orchestrated campaign by right-wing Republicans, that same drumbeat has started again, only this time with more teeth. So…

  • In Spain, employees at some nursing homes, refused proper health precautions, have simply walked off the job, leaving the elderly to flounder and die
  • RIght-wing Republicans – including the Lieutenant-Governor of Texas as called on seniors to risk Corona death in order to save the economy.
  • In Great Britain, “the weakest patients” – which mostly refers to the elderly – could be denied funding because of lack of funding for the National Health Service. In what is nothing less than eugenic decision-making, three doctors are given the power to decide which patients live, and which ones die

What is all this pressure on the elderly?

It has to do with population politics. Especially in the more developed countries, there is a growing percentage of elderly born since WW2 and with declining birthrates, typical of wealthier countries, declining birthrates – which translates into a shrinking tax base for social services and more pressure on governments, at the same time that moneys are being cut from social services to feed the military budgets. This varies from country to country and is probably the worst here in the United States where the social net has always been weaker than in Europe or East Asia, particularly where it concerns healthcare.

And we’re (we = those of us over 65) being told to die, get out of the way so that neo-liberal Capitalism can go its merely way. Actually one of the reasons – there were others – that I retired from teaching at the age of 70 was precisely, to make room for some young, bright Phd’s who weren’t able to find full time employment in academia to have a place. Unlike one of my colleagues at the time, I really didn’t want to die in the classroom. That was my own personal example of  working class solidarity. Five years later I have not regretted this decision for a moment.

But dying so that some jack-ass like Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick or others like him can make a few extra million? Uh-uh. No way, etc. etc.

Maybe they’ll come up with an age of mandatory euthanasia for the elderly? I mean this is a pretty sick society anyway and has been for a long time. So… besides putting on our silver sneakers, us old folks is gonna have to fight for – you’ll love this – the right to life! plain and simple. Has quite a different meaning than the anti-abortionists and other right wing yahoos suggest.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Michael Dover permalink
    March 25, 2020 5:11 pm

    Rob, thank you very much for your post. Great narrative content and important political reflection.

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