Shagnasty vs. ‘ol’ what’s shisname’

My old friend Shagnasty wrote an article in this column’a long’time ago chastising the AARP for not supporting legislation to allow affluency testing of senior citizens on Social Security, Medicare and Medicade. At that time, one of our coffee group took issue with Shagnasty’s rationale that the more affluent should lose some of their benefits. ‘Why’ asked Ol’ What’shis-name, ‘should someone who has worked hard all his life, saved and invested his money and has secured for himself healthy retirement income be penalized for his hard work and thriftiness and leave the fellow who has failed to be as thrifty untouched’ ‘I do not have the answer for that,’ I said, ‘but I am quite sure Shagnasty will have one. The next time I see him, I will ask your question but I am warning you that his reply will not be a short one. Old Shag doesn’t know how to give a short answer and when he gets stirred up about a subject he is inspired into fluency which sometimes exceeds his educational qualifications.’ Some weeks later I said to Ol’ What’shisname ‘Well, I talked with Shagnasty last night and I told him that while you agree that something must be done to reduce the deficit and balance the budget you did not feel that the cuts should come entirely from the pockets of the ‘haves’ and leave the ‘have nots’ untouched. Hear ye now what Shagnasty has to say on this subject: Now you remind Ol’ What’shis-name of that old saying that’everybody can’t get into the wagon and since you can’t get blood out of a turnip it is up to the ‘haves’ to help in pulling the wagon and paying off a portion of this deficit. In referring to we double and triple dippers at the government trough it has been said that we seniors ‘are the greediest class in human history.’ Should you disagree with that statement then consider this published statement: if “the AARP’s legislative agenda were adopted, increases in entitlement programs would force the American people into paying an additional $1 trillion in taxes within 10 years.” Should one suggest to a congressman or senator that it is time to molest the hollowed ground of the entitlement programs he would be accused of an act equivalent to ‘blowing his nose on the constitution’.. Mercy, one must remember that they would be messing with one of the largest voting blocs (33 million) in the nation and one that holds the view that benefits once granted can never be taken away no matter our circumstance. On top of that they throw the scare into our no guts politicians (who know full well that restraints on the present entitlement programs must eventually be enacted) by threatening to send them into early retirement should they take any action that would diminish the gravy in their welfare plate. To the greedy within the seniors group a deal is a deal’hence’the only thing that counts is age and the elderly are therefore exempted from affluency screening. Is it any wonder that we are being called the ‘greediest grandpa’s and grandma’s in the universe’ That economists looking upon these social outlays argue that the ‘old are effectively eating their young’ Is it any wonder that the young have begun to resent the elderly because with only 12 percent of the population we now consume 54 percent of federal social spending’ Consider these statistics: In 1990 all levels of government spent more than $11,000 on every American over 65 while spending only $4,200 on youngsters under 18. Because of these elderly benefits many worthy causes for the young are pushed aside. Considering these statistics can the youth of today be blamed for asking ‘Can we afford grandpa and grandma.’ They are sopping up all the gravy in the Social Security plate and by the time the ‘baby boomers’ come of age there will be no sopping left for them. Should you doubt my summation that the present status of many of the elderly is now better than when they were working for a living, I invite you to notice the people filling the eating establishments, the golf courses, the cruise ships and other entertainment areas such as Branson, Mo. Would you care to bet that the majority of the crowds are not the elderly’ Shagnasty ends his lengthy dissertation by saying ‘Now Bode, you ask Ol’ What’shisname if he believes that the more affluent grandpas and grandmas are entitled to a ‘Cadillac retirement system paid for by the young who must make do with used economy cars.’ If he agrees that this system will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden eggs tell him to quit looking upon means testing as a dirty word. ‘It should be needless to say that action such as this could force some of the well-off to give up their soft seats in the wagon. They might find however that in helping to pull the wagon they will lose some of that guilty ‘greedy’ feeling they tried to hide while watching the young ‘tote that barge and lift that bale.’ *** Didn’t I tell you that once old Shag got started he was hard to stop. Naturally, his discourse took up all of the space we are allowed.’ FOOTNOTE: Tex Bender says: It’s best to keep your troubles pretty much to yourself, ’cause half the people you’d tell’em to won’t give a damn, and the other half will be glad to hear you’ve got ’em. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Coming as close to the truth as a man can come without actually getting there is coming pretty close, but it still ain’t the truth. The first thing to do when you get up in the morning is put on your Stetson. (And he should have added: keep the damned thing on all day’no matter where you are.) *** Otto Frederick: At a long ago Chamber of Commerce meeting Mr. Frederick was giving a talk on attracting tourism to Brady. He told the group that each tourist that stopped in town was worth a bale of cotton – and a whole lot easier to pick. And one of his favorite poems was: This is the story of Johnny O’Day Who died maintaining his right of way He was right, dead right as he drove along But he’s just as dead as if he was wrong. Bill Bodenhamer is a weekly columnist for the Brady Standard-Herald. Email him at

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