George Graham

Spare the Old and Sick



What sadistic impulse drives Republicans to punish the old and the sick? What cynical mind set would allow Democrats to accept such an outrage?

I ponder these disturbing questions as I await revelation of the details in a budget deal reportedly struck by retiring House Speaker John Boehner and the White House.

This is a personal matter.

As an 82-year-old diabetic with a heart condition, third-stage kidney disease and glaucoma, I rely on a Medicare Advantage plan to help me pay for my prescription medicines and other health care expenses.

An article in The New York Times casually mentions that the budget deal includes “cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.” And that makes me wonder if Medicare Advantage might be under attack.

I realize that the alternative to this budget deal might be a government shutdown. And in the grand scheme of things, the survival of one individual who has lived a long and adventurous life might not seem that important. We all have to go sometime, as my kidney doctor told me.

But what about the younger folks who are disabled? The New York Times article seems to suggest the budget deal includes cuts to their benefits, too.

Is it really necessary to put them on the sacrificial altar so that the Pentagon can buy more bombs, missiles and drones? Is it really necessary for the frail and weak to die so that more people in far-off lands can be slaughtered?

If not, perhaps America’s massive spending could be trimmed in other ways.

How much will it cost to keep those troops in Afghanistan?

Does America really need to spend billions bombing Syria? And why is anyone bombing Yemen? How could those goat herders in Yemen do anyone in America any harm? Why not let the Saudis fight their own battles?

Do America’s leaders suppose the Sunis love us more than the Shia? Or vice versa? Or that bombing will make anyone love us?

What benefits have come from bombing Libya?

As far as I can see, nothing has been gained by the carnage. Old hatreds grow fiercer, old enemies grow more resolute. Yet the old, failed politics of bullying and bluster continue unabated.

Why is an American destroyer on its way to the Chinese coastline? Why is America in a stand-off with Russia?

Whatever happened to that kind word that – according to the book of Proverbs – “turneth away wrath”? Are the world’s leaders not intelligent enough to work out their differences without bloodshed?

Obsession with military might seems to be growing in America. Reports of financial waste and fraud in the Pentagon – costing billions – are ignored while politicians and the media focus on the pennies that “welfare queens” are accused of swindling to feed their children.

Meanwhile, the old and the sick anxiously await news of that budget deal. I can only hope that my fears are unfounded.

Click for the New York Times article.

Click for more on military spending.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for