In Search of the Holy Grail

In popular culture, the term “the holy grail” is often used to describe the ultimate object of desire. You might consider the idea of a non-addictive pain-killer that could be used after surgery or to quell arthritis pain as one ‘holy grail’ of medicine. The drug companies have been more than willing to take part in this particular quest—oxycontin was one example of a failed quest for the holy grail of medicine. Now marijuana is being touted as the new solution to chronic pain and a number of other medical conditions. However, some doctors and researchers are not yet convinced.

The May Issue of the AARP Bulletin includes an article on medical marijuana. The article notes that medical marijuana is legal in 38 states. The market for marijuana gummies has exploded. The article cites one example of an 89-year-old woman in Maryland who started a cannabis club at Leisure World, her retirement community. She sells edibles and gummies. In the article she notes that gummies can be dangerous in older adults.

The article notes that last year the percentage of people purchasing chewable marijuana surpassed the percentage of people buying smokable marijuana. Since smoking tobacco has become socially unacceptable, it makes sense that marijuana gummies would become more popular than smoking marijuana.

The article mentions that marijuana can help with chronic pain and sleep and anxiety problems. However, the article also notes that marijuana does not seem to help with short-term pain.

There is also the danger of the delayed effect of eating gummies—it takes two or three hours to feel the full effect, so it is easy to take too many. In 2023 a study found that emergency room visits for marijuana-related problems increased 1,808 percent among people 65 and over in California from 2005 to 2019. It has also been discovered that mental problems and heart problems were more common among those who used marijuana edibles than those who smoked or vaped marijuana.

The article in the AARP Bulletin concludes, “…at Leisure World Cannabis 101 Club, Carminetta Verner is very cautious about spreading the gummy gospel. She recommends that new users keep a detailed journal of what they take, as well as the results, to see whether a gummy, or anything else, helps or has side effects. “Each person’s metabolism is different, and you have to learn how your body reacts,” she says. “The cannabis mantra is ‘start low and go slow.’””

The May 2024 issue of Newsmax Magazine also included an article about marijuana. The article cited a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Psychiatry (JAMA) last year.

The article in Newsmax states that between 1995 and 2010 the percentage of Danish schizophrenia diagnoses associated with marijuana usage had nearly quadrupled, and the combination of greater usage with stronger pot is bringing down the age of first onset of mental illness. Someone who might have gotten into their late 20’s without a psychotic episode could now be faced with their first break with reality while still in their teens. The article at Newsmax concludes by stating that marijuana can make treating mental illness more difficult and can throw a person’s life off course before it has a chance to get on course. It also mentions that the marijuana of today is stronger and more addictive than the marijuana than the marijuana of the 1960’s. Neither article referenced above is willing to describe marijuana as a harmless drug.

 

This appeared in my email today–it’s long, but worth reading. I suspect there are many senior citizens who feel this way:

A SHRINKING AARP IS LOSING PLENTY OF SENIORS.  THE LADY WHO WROTE THE LETTER BELOW NOT ONLY HAS A GRASP OF THE SITUATION, BUT AN INCREDIBLE COMMAND OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE !
Her letter was sent to Mr. Rand who is the Executive Director of AARP.  It only takes a few days on the Internet, and this will hopefully reach a large portion of the public in the U.S.A.   Pass it on if you agree with her below analysis and sentiments, which go well beyond just AARP, and to the very core principles and existence of American Freedom. Dear Mr. Rand, Recently, you sent us a letter encouraging us to renew our lapsed membership in AARP by the requested date.  This isn’t what you were looking for, but it is the most honest response I can give you.  Our coverage gap is a microscopic symptom of the real problem, a deepening lack of faith.  While we have proudly maintained our membership for years and long admired the AARP goals and principles, regrettably, we can no longer endorse its abdication of our values.  Your letter stated that we can count on AARP to speak up for our rights, yet the voice we hear is not ours.
Your offer of being kept up to date on important issues through DIVIDED WE FAIL presents neither an impartial view nor the one we have come to embrace.  We do believe that when two parties agree all the time on everything presented to them, one is probably not necessary.  But, when the opinions and long-term goals are diametrically opposed, the divorce is imminent.  This is the philosophy which spawned our 200 years of government.
Once upon a time, we looked forward to being part of the senior demographic.  We also looked to AARP to provide certain benefits and give our voice a power we could not possibly hope to achieve on our own.  AARP once gave us a sense of belonging which we no longer enjoy.  The Socialist politics practiced by the BIDEN Regime and empowered by AARP serves only to raise the blood pressure my medical insurance strives to contain.  Clearly a conflict of interest there!  We do not understand the AARP posture, feel greatly betrayed by the guiding forces that we expected to map out our senior years and leave your ranks with a great sense of regret.  We mitigate that disappointment with the relief of knowing that we are not contributing to the problem anymore by renewing our membership.  There are numerous other organizations which offer discounts without threatening our way of life or offending our sensibilities and values.
This BIDEN Regime scares the living daylights out of us.  Not just for ourselves, but for our proud and bloodstained heritage.  But more importantly for our children and grandchildren.  Washington has rendered Soylent Green a prophetic cautionary tale rather than a nonfiction scare tactic.  I have never endorsed any militant or radical groups, yet now I find myself listening to them.  I don’t have to agree with them to appreciate the fear which birthed their existence.  Their borderline insanity presents little more than a balance to the voice of the Socialist Mindset in power.  Perhaps I became American by a great stroke of luck in some cosmic uterine lottery, but in my adulthood, I CHOOSE to embrace it and nurture the freedoms it represents as well as the responsibilities.
Your web site generously offers us the opportunity to receive all communication in Spanish.  ARE YOU KIDDING???  The illegal perpetrators have broken into our ‘house’, invaded our home without invitation or consent.  The President insists we keep these illegal perpetrators in comfort and learn the perpetrator’s language so we can communicate our reluctant welcome to them.  I DON’T choose to welcome them, to support them, to educate them, to medicate them, or to pay for their food or clothing.  American home invaders get arrested.  Please explain to me why foreign lawbreakers can enjoy privileges on American soil that Americans do not get?  Why do some immigrants have to play the game to be welcomed and others only have to break and enter to be welcomed?
We travel for a living.  Walt hauls horses all over this great country, averaging over 10,000 miles a month when he is out there.  He meets more people than a politician on caffeine overdose.  Of all the many good folks he enjoyed on this last 10,000 miles, this trip yielded only ONE supporter of the current Regime.  One of us is out of touch with mainstream America.  Since our poll is conducted without funding, I have more faith in it than ones that are driven by a need to yield AMNESTY (aka-make voters out of the foreign lawbreakers so they can vote to continue the governments free handouts).  This addition of 10 to 20 million voters who then will vote to continue Socialism will OVERWHELM our votes to control the government’s free handouts.  It is a “slippery slope” we must not embark on!
As Margaret Thatcher (former Prime Minister of Great Britain) once said, “Socialism is GREAT – UNTIL you run out of other people’s money”. We have decided to forward this to everyone on our mailing list and will encourage them to do the same.  With several hundred in my address book, I have every faith that the eventual exponential factor will make a credible statement to you.  I am disappointed as all get out!  I am more scared than I have ever been in my entire life!  I am ANGRY!  I am MAD as heck, and I’m NOT going to take it anymore! Walt & Cyndy Miller, Miller Farms Equine Transport Please KEEP THIS MOVING!!!
Furthermore, if you do a little checking on AARP’s website, you will find their anti- Second Amendment position to disarm us.  When the government takes the Senior Citizens’ guns away, we, especially will be at the short end of the stick, when the time comes for us to defend ourselves from the drug addicts and other bottom-feeders who know us to be soft targets. “In God We Trust”

How The Tax Code Impacts Senior Citizens

After everything we hear about income inequality and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, it is rather amazing that no one has pointed out the higher rate of taxes paid by senior citizens. This is particularly amazing because senior citizens vote in large numbers. There is an organization called AMAC (Association for Mature American Citizens) which is basically AARP for conservatives that has looked at the tax code in relation to senior citizens and posted an article. At this point I need to mention that I am a member of both AMAC and the AARP. One of those memberships is free to me, one I pay for.

The article reports:

The top 1% of income earners nationally (millionaires & billionaires) pay on average a federal tax rate of 22% yearly. Compare that with the rate paid by most seniors receiving Social Security benefits and currently earning over $32,000.00 each year who are forced to pay a tax rate of up to 28%. At the $42,000.00 yearly income level (hardly considered wealthy,) 85% of Social Security Benefits become taxable up to a 28% rate. Seriously, a higher tax rate (28%) for a $42,000 yearly income compared to a 22% average rate for million dollar wage earners? “This “age penalty” is blatantly unfair, confiscatory, and betrays those who are self-reliant, did the right thing, and saved for their future retirement.

The arbitrary mandatory minimum distribution (forced withdrawal up to 4% of all savings, IRA’s and annuities) every year after the age of 70.5 is clearly and simply unfair age discrimination on the part of the IRS and Congress. Forcing seniors to withdraw up to 4% of their savings each year (also taxed at a higher rate and increasing their total income) is punitive and creates a “double jeopardy” tax penalty not faced by younger tax payers.

Another, even more egregious, travesty cooked into the IRS tax code allows the federal government to pilfer the financial assets of seniors upon the death of their spouse. The surviving spouse must deal, not only, with the emotional loss but also must surrender most or all of the Social Security benefits of their deceased husband or wife. To add further injury, standard deduction and personal exemptions ($10,300) of their spouse are also lost, resulting in a higher income tax rate on less income.

The result of all of this is that seniors are financing a disproportionate amount of federal spending. The current presidential campaign provides seniors with the opportunity to demand that those seeking the office explain how they will remedy this government sanctioned “senior abuse.” It’s time to lift the heavy hand of government, reform this unfair depletion of senior American’s assets, allow them to reap the benefits of their retirement planning, give seniors a fair shake, and revitalize the American dream.

It might also be relevant to mention that the majority of senior citizens’ income (with the exception of IRA’s) has already been taxed at least once. Stock dividends, for instance, have been taxed at least once before people receive them (through corporate taxes). Also, just for the record, I am not in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy–they already pay more than their fair share. (In 2013, CNBC reported “the top 40 percent of wage earners in America pay 106 percent of the taxes. The bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent.”)  I am, however, in favor of raising taxes on lower income people so that they begin to take an interest in changing the tax code. The American tax code is a tribute to special interests–it is time to change that.

The AMAC article was written by State Representative Charles “Doc” Anderson, a veterinarian,  who has represented  District 56 (Waco and McLennan County) in the Texas House of Representatives since 2005.

Agreement On Something From Both Sides Of The Political Spectrum

It’s rare when the right and left agree on anything. It is really rare when publications on the far right and the far left agree, but that has happened on the issue of rationing drugs for the elderly. This article is based on articles in The American Spectator and The Huffington Post.

The American Spectator reports:

Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.

The Huffington Post reports:

A proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would make significant changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. In short, the rule change affects what are known as the “protected classes” of pharmaceuticals under Part D — classes of drugs in which, under current law, coverage must be provided for “substantially all” medicines. The logic in maintaining these protected classes is inarguable. Medicare beneficiaries coping with serious, chronic illnesses should have access to the medications that they and their physicians have deemed the most effective treatment for their conditions.

Medications are not interchangeable. One drug can have vastly different effects, and side effects, on different patients. Thus, Medicare Part D is structured to ensure that patients who require antidepressants, antipsychotics and immunosuppressants (critical drugs for patients who have undergone organ transplants) have access to the unique medicines they need to protect their lives and health.

…The best way to make Medicare more cost-efficient is to help patients better manage their chronic illnesses and avoid long hospitalizations and expensive acute care episodes. The CMS proposed rule change will do just the opposite. Restricting access to the medicines patients need to manage depression, avoid organ transplant rejection, and treat psychosis will drive healthcare utilization in far more costly ways. That’s a betrayal of Medicare’s promise of access to care for our most vulnerable, older Americans.

The Obama Administration seems to forget that senior citizens vote. Senior citizens also pay attention. ObamaCare may have been passed with the support of the AARP, lulling seniors into a false belief that the it would not be harmful to them, but many seniors are waking up to the fact that serious cuts to Medicare are part of the President’s plan for ObamaCare. Senior citizens and Americans have been lied to about ObamaCare. It is time to repeal it and start over.

 

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Slime Comes To Healthcare

There are a lot of problems with the ObamaCare website right now. That’s not news–you knew that already. But did you know about the connection between the AARP, United Healthcare, and this miserable healthcare website?

Yesterday the Washington Post reported:

The company chosen by the Obama administration to oversee the repair of the new federal health insurance Web site faced questions from lawmakers a year ago about whether it was an appropriate choice for earlier work on the site, given that it is owned by the country’s largest health insurance company.

Columbia-based Quality Software Services Inc. — known as QSSI — was purchased by ­United­Health Group in September 2012, months after it was picked by the Department of Health and Human Services to help set up the Affordable Care Act Web site. That called for work on three areas: build a data hub for the site so that information could be transferred between different groups, deliver a tool to help users register, and do some testing of the technology.

Keep in mind that QSSI was chosen without the normal bidding process. Remember that the AARP was one of the early supporters of ObamaCare because they will make millions on supplemental medicare programs through United Health Group, the parent company of United Healthcare. There are other interesting connections between OSSI and various White House types.

Yesterday the Daily Caller reported a connection between the Obamas and the website developer.

The article reports:

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov. CGI Federal is the U.S. arm of a Canadian company.

…George Schindler, the president for U.S. and Canada of the Canadian-based CGI Group, CGI Federal’s parent company, became an Obama 2012 campaign donor after his company gained the Obamacare website contract.

Meanwhile, Da Tech Guy On DaRadio makes another interesting observation:

Now there is nothing wrong with pointing out the issues with the site, it speaks to the competence of this administration or lack thereof but any conservative writer or pundit who does had better damn well make sure they stress the real problems with Obamacare which have nothing to do with coding.

Because if they don’t, when the coding interface is repaired the media will declare Obamacare “fixed” and it won’t matter how many people lose their insurance. How many people’s deductibles double or how much more individuals pay for worse coverage. The conversation will be over and they will move to the next topic that serves the administration’s purpose.

That is the crux of what DaTechGuy is saying, but please follow the link above to his article–he includes a few very good video clips to make his point.

Generally speaking, ObamaCare is an example of crony capitalism at its worst. The Republicans were right to shut down the government in an effort to stop this runaway train.

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Some Sad News From The Entertainment World

ABC News is reporting today that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s Disease and as a result has lost her ability to sing. Linda Ronstadt had a truly beautiful singing voice. She could do rock and roll, country, traditional songs and operetta. She provided part of the soundtrack of my early twenties, and later I thoroughly enjoyed her performance in Pirates of Penzance. I wish her the best and hope a cure for the disease is found soon. Her beautiful voice will be missed.

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Who Makes Money In ObamaCare ?

The following charts are from Forbes.com:

What the chart shows is the profits the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) will make as the result of the passage of ObamaCare. One of the aspects of ObamaCare is the end of the Medicare Advantage program–the favorite program of senior citizens.

The article at Forbes reports:

Not only did AARP succeed in getting Democrats to balk at Medigap reform. Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage will drive many seniors out of that program, and into traditional government-run Medicare, which will increase the number of people who need Medigap insurance.

It gets worse. AARP Medigap plans are exempted from most of Obamacare’s best-known insurance mandates. AARP Medigap plans are exempted from the ban that requires insurers to take all comers, regardless of pre-existing conditions. The plans are exempted from the $500,000 cap on insurance industry executive compensation; top AARP executives currently make more than $1 million. AARP plans are exempt from the premium tax levied on other private insurers. IPAB, Medicare’s rationing board, is explicitly barred from altering Medicare’s cost-sharing provisions, provisions that govern the existence of Medigap plans.

And AARP Medigap plans are allowed to have twice the administrative costs that other private insurers are allowed under Obamacare’s medical loss ratio regulations. This last point is key, because AARP’s 4.95 percent royalty is a significant administrative cost.

One of the most corrupt administrations in American history has ruined American healthcare. Unless we vote President Obama out of office and repeal ObamaCare, the crony capitalism engaged in by this administration will haunt us for years.

 

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