A Late Summer Break

It’s the end of summer, and a good time to take a break. The mornings are a little cooler now, and although the days and evenings are still warm and hazy, I can feel fall and winter in the air. So, I’m going to slow down, and savor what’s left of this summer!

For two and a half years since I started this blog, my first thought each morning and my last thought each night was writing for this blog. It’s been an obsession, and a great pleasure! It’s hard to believe that I’ve written 120 articles with no concern about running out of things to write about. It is an interesting world, full of important and urgent issues, which call for attention, research, and consideration. One idea leads to another, one hundred and twenty issues down, hundreds more to go! read more

The Stunning Failure of the Contribution Pension Plan

Ask any Millennial what they’ll live on when they retire, and they’ll look at you with a blank stare. First off, they are young (oldest are 35), so age 65 seems a lifetime away. Secondly, most of them are occupied with just getting by, an outcome of living in the gig economy, in which saving is unlikely. And we (the Silent generation and older Boomers), were like that too—someone out there would look out for us, things would turn out. Furthermore, most of them are convinced that retirement with a pension is a thing of the past. read more

Guaranteed Basic Income—Still a Utopian Dream?

There’s no doubt that talk of a guaranteed basic income (GBI) is gaining momentum. It’s not a groundswell by any means—it hasn’t caught the interest of a critical mass, but its slowly becoming a buzzword.

Last week I wrote about the GBI, discussing its history, and listing countries that have already implemented a version of it. I realize now, as I continue my research, that some of my facts were not completely accurate, so I’m revisiting it.

Here’s how the GBI currently stands:

In Kenya, participants from selected villages are included in a basic income project. They receive a basic income through a charity program, GiveDirectly, a New York-based nonprofit. Initiated in the fall of 2016, this 12 year pilot program includes 95 participants in a rural village in Western Kenya, who receive about $22US every month, to save or spend as they see fit. Before GiveDirectly began the payments, many people in the village were living on less than $0.75US a day. Afterwards, an analysis claimed that “for 45% of the village’s residents, the first month’s basic income payment was the largest amount of money they’d ever had.” read more

The Basic Income—An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

With its promise of lifting people out of poverty and ending the need for food banks, the Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) sounds radical, and even subversive, an invitation to create a shiftless, dependent population—but it may be an idea whose time has come.

This is not a new thought—Thomas Moore wrote about it in Utopia, (published in 1516), in which he explored some of the problems of society. Observing the stern measures that were being taken against thieves, and recalling a conversation with John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, he wrote: read more

No Welcome Mat for Odocoileus Hemionus in This Garden!

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I have a cliff garden. Yes, it is exactly that—a garden perched on a cliff, 30 or so feet above a quiet street bordering the harbor.

I don’t own the garden. That would be impossible, given that I live in a condo. How it came about is a long story, but I’ll give you the short version.

Several years ago, our six story 25 year old building was restored, resulting in piles of building debris everywhere, and a general disturbance of the grounds.

The strip along the outside of our ground floor condo was an eyesore, and since no one came forward with a solution, I offered to clean it up. I’ve had lots of gardening experience, so I felt confident in starting this project. read more

Why the Media’s Messages Matter to Old People

Old people get a raw deal in television and in the movies. We don’t make a fuss about this, because as we age, we become conditioned to the themes and images that flood the media, and bombard us with their messages. That’s just entertainment, we think—it’s not meant to depict real life.

But if we stop for a minute, and analyze the performances in front of us, we may become aware that there is rarely anyone in these presentations that vaguely resembles us.

If you wonder why this is important, researchers say that we are influenced by media, and respond to how it portrays us. Older characters don’t show up very much in the media we view, and when they do, they are shown in ageist or stereotypical roles, frequently ridiculed. read more

Does Social Media Help Old People Feel Less Lonely?

Remember when people speculated that social media would produce a population of isolates, working alone in a room, disconnected from the rest of humanity? And if lonely older people took up social media, they would become even more lonely and depressed? Well, speculate no more—older adults, just like the rest of humanity, have climbed aboard the social media band wagon, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. In fact, older people, once they try Skype, Facebook or other electronic platforms, become enthusiasts, accounting for a substantial jump in use in just ten years. read more

The Hidden, Internal Language of Loneliness

No matter what successes you have had in your life, none of it matters when you descend into loneliness and depression, especially if you are old. Being old can make you more vulnerable than younger people, and more likely to believe you have no options—you feel that you have less time to explore your loneliness, and less likelihood of solving it.

When you admit you are lonely, shallow advice, like “join groups”, or “volunteer”, or “take up a hobby”, come thick and fast from family, friends and advisers—but it only makes you feel inadequate, and guilty that you haven’t tried hard enough. read more

The Death of a Spouse When You Are Old

The first few days, after the death of your spouse, may be the most devastating and wrenching you will ever experience. Nothing that happens later in life, you are convinced, can ever hurt this much. If you are old, and have been with your spouse for many years, the void that is left when your spouse is no longer there, can overwhelm you. Your feelings can be unimaginably painful and raw, as expressed here:

“I weep no tears because my husband has died. I do weep tears for the lost years. I weep tears for the young family members deprived of the opportunity to truly know him. read more

Why You Should Think Twice Before Buying a New Car

If you’ve been out lately kicking tires, thinking of owning a shiny new car, chock full of the latest innovations like rear cameras, and voice activated commands—think again.

Buying a new car now, some say, would be worse than buying a new horse just as the first Fords drove off the assembly line, and worse by far than buying a three year old iphone.

Here’s why:

There is a huge cultural shift in all areas of the technological world, and it is led by the car. We know it is happening by the quickening of news and predictions about it, but we don’t know how fast, or in what form, the changes will come. read more

The Secret Life of the Older Drinker

The older drinker, men and women who are over 65 and retired, have a ‘perfect storm’ of opportunity when it comes to abusing alcohol or prescription drugs, which are usually their drugs of choice.

Their social circle has shrunk, they are feeling loss of meaning in life, and they have less energy or will than younger people to overcome their challenges in life. The easiest thing in their lives is to reach for that bottle or pill, sometimes combining both.

After all, alcohol is legal, you can get it anywhere, even in some grocery stores. No one’s going to frown or report you if you pick up a couple of bottles or cases of beer. And prescriptions for drugs like Ativan or anti-depressants are readily available from your physician, who is concerned when you tell him about your depression or stress, and happy to steer you to legitimate medication rather than see you take over the counter pain pills. read more

The Disturbing Attraction of the Dystopian Novel

I’m putting aside my novel writing for the summer. I’ve decided to concentrate on other blog themes, and catch up on things like gardening, home decorating, and of course, reading, an enduring summer pleasure.

With the new TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale  in the news, I headed down the stacks in the local library to pick it up, but instead found myself reaching for her newest book, The Heart Goes Last

“Why not?” I say, and add it to my take out pile. The truth is, I don’t have what it takes to read The Handmaid’s Tale again. I remember it as profoundly disturbing—a chillingly futuristic novel about Gilead, and how its female inhabitants are forced to have sex with powerful men and bear their children. read more