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Archive for December, 2017

Cheers to you, my blog readers!  Here are a few suggested resolutions for 2018:
1) Give of yourselves…
2) Love others (and tell them / show them often)…
3) Enjoy long walks (preferably while holding someone’s hand), nutritious food and candle-lit meals, good reading, music which touches your soul, and quiet moments for reflection…
4) Laugh frequently and loudly…  Cry freely and unashamed when you must…
5) Look forward (Hope), while living in the moment (Enjoy), and not forgetting the past (Memories)…
May you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!
Please have a happy (and safe) New Year’s Eve!
[Yes, this is a similar post (okay, the same as) to last year’s New Year’s Eve suggestions.  And, this year, yes, I’m just being lazy!  LOL   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2016 Best Wishes For 2017!
2015 Better Red Than Dead
Tomorrow Starts A New Year
2014 Recovering
2013 Best Wishes For 2014!
2012 My Creed
2011 It Probably Isn’t So

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As it turns out, however, to make sense of new and strange phenomena, one must be prepared to play with ideas.  And I use the word “play” advisedly: dignified people, without a whimsical streak, almost never offer fresh insights, in economics or anywhere else.
   —  Paul Krugman
From the introduction to his book: “The Return of Depression Economics
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On This Day In:
2016 And Fathers, Sons
2015 My Suspect Confidence
2014 Disguised Blessings
2013 Be
2012 The Only Way to Win
2011 Honest Writing

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There’s no universal way to think about things, so I can’t claim that someone else is thinking about something wrongly if they don’t think about it the way I do.
   —  Donald E. Knuth
From the book: “The Essential Knuth
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On This Day In:
2016 Supervise The Results
2015 Just Magic!
2014 It Lies Ahead…
2013 At Least One Difference
2012 Are We, Are We?
On Not Playing The Game
Scale
2011 Nutcracker And Nooks
Seeing Differences

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It is harder to conceal ignorance than to acquire knowledge.
   —  Arnold H. Glasow
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On This Day In:
2016 We Did This
2015 I’m Talking To You
Forced (Again)
2014 We Are Not A Fearful Nation!
2013 Risking Truth
2012 Working On Reality
2011 Massive Contradictory Changes

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A few nights back, I was chatting with my older daughter about funny things which happen at work.  She chuckled and said like teaching the boss to make his own coffee.  I asked what she was referring to.  She said a co-worker approached her one day and commented she was sooooo lucky to have a boss who didn’t expect her to get up and make his coffee for him.  The co-worker inquired how she managed it.
My daughter explained she didn’t actually.  She began working for her boss as an office intern while in high school.  Her only experience with adults drinking coffee up till then was her parents (my wife and I) drinking instant coffee.  When she was asked to make some coffee, she added a couple of spoonfuls of ground coffee to the pot, poured in some boiling hot water, and gave it a stir.  Voila!
She didn’t realize ground coffee went in a separate place and required a filter…
No one actually complained, but no one asked her to make a pot of coffee for quite awhile after that.
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On This Day In:
2016 Preparation
2015 Scarcely Asked
2014 They Resemble Us
2013 Both
2012 That’s Success!
2011 Losing At Dominos
2010 1,001

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The media are desperately afraid of being accused of bias.  And that’s partly because there’s a whole machine out there, an organized attempt to accuse them of bias whenever they say anything that the Right doesn’t like.  So rather than really try to report things objectively, they settle for being even-handed, which is not the same thing.  One of my lines in a column — in which a number of people thought I was insulting them personally — was that if Bush said the Earth was flat, the mainstream media would have stories with the headline: ‘Shape of Earth — Views Differ.’  Then they’d quote some Democrats saying that it was round.
   ―  Paul Krugman
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On This Day In:
2016 Control In The Age Of Entanglement
2015 Okay, Maybe Not Ceaseless
2014 Can Do
2013 Are You Helping?
2012 Inside All Truth Is A Vacuum
2011 So, Whom Are We Trying To Fool Then?

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santa-clause-sparkle-animation
Focus on where you are instead of where you wish you were.  The joy will follow.
  ―  John Bingham
From his book: “No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running
[Focus on family, friends and the moment…  Joy will follow.  Merry Christmas to all… !!   —  KMAB]
[The image was “borrowed” from one of the comments I’ve rec’d from a fellow blogger. Please visit his site if you have a few minutes: http://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2016 Merry X-mas – 2016
2015 Merry X-mas – 2015
2014 Merry X-mas – 2014
2013 Merry X-mas – 2013
2012 Merry Christmas – 2012
2011 I Have Seen

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[This post is a 2-fer…  A poem and an editorial (below the poem).  Merry Christmas to all.  Be safe…  —  KMAB]
‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
  —  Written by:  Clement Clarke Moore
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA O’HANLON
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong.  They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe except they see.  They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.  In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.  He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.  Alas!  how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.  It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS.  There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.  We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight.  The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus!  You might as well not believe in fairies!  You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?  Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.  The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.  Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?  Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.  Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.  Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.  Is it all real?  Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus!  Thank God!  he lives, and he lives forever.  A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
New York’s Sun Editorial Response
Sept. 21, 1897
Although the original editorial was unsigned, the response was written by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church.
[Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  Again, Merry Christmas to All!!  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2016 Sincerest Flattery
The President-elect: Making Spirits Bright
2015 What Are You Looking At?
2014 Ite, Missa Est
2013 I Hear Voices
2012 Positive Thoughts
Hope Works
2011 Look! Up In The Sky…
Humility Before The Unknowable

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In the Middle East, and in isolated pockets of Western Europe, we see people, especially young men, who love the idea of an absolute answer to everything.  That cast of mind has not very often acquired political power, but when it does it’s absolutely murderous.
     —  Philip Pullman
From the interview / article: “Philip Pullman isn’t done building new worlds
Written by Dan Stewart
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 30 October 2017
Online at:  http://time.com/4988596/philip-pullman-la-belle-sauvage/
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On This Day In:
2016 Proceeding Still
2015 Seeing Rainbows
I Am A Runner
2014 The Law Of The Perversity Of Nature
2013 One Standard Deviation
2012 High Anxiety
2011 And I’m Taking Me There
2010 1,000

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We were not designed to stand still.  If we were, we’d have at least three legs.  We were designed to move.  Our bodies are bodies that have walked across vast continents.  Our bodies are bodies that have carried objects of art and war over great distances.  We are no less mobile than our ancestors.  We are athletes.  We are warriors.  We are human.
   ―  John Bingham
From: “Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running
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On This Day In:
2016 And Without Expectation
2015 Just Do It
I Am A Runner
2014 Some Things I Learned (Mostly) In The Army:
2013 Who You Are
2012 Mine Stands
2011 Aversions

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Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
  ―  Aldous Huxley
From:  Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
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On This Day In:
2016 Starting To Stumble
2015 Begin Combat
I Am A Runner
2014 Just Dig ‘N It, Why?
2013 Additions
The Object Of Instruction
2012 Telling Her
2011 On Torture

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The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.
   ―  Ayn Rand
Today, the Republican controlled Congress and Presidency passed and signed [* see correction below] the largest tax cut for the American wealthy class in history.  While it is true that almost everyone who pays Federal Income Taxes will receive a reduction in taxes, the top 20% of all income earners will receive over 80% of the tax savings.  This includes “poor” little #LyingDonald who promised any tax cut would be primarily directed at the working / middle class in American (those making $75,000.00 or less), while “millionaires” would have to pay more in taxes.  This is, if fact, the EXACT opposite of what Congress has just passed.  It seems the “investment” of corporate America in buying the Republican party over the last 40 years has at last paid off.
My prediction:  We will see a booming stock market as the cash reserves being held by American companies overseas comes home to buy back stock and pay dividends with almost NO gain in income being paid to employees.  In other words, if you own large chunks of stock, you’ll see higher dividends (more money and less taxes).  If you own small lots of stock, expect to be screwed by the corporations buying the small lots up prior to paying out the dividends (in other words, you’ll be getting screwed).  If you are a worker, get ready to see more job uncertainty as jobs (and factories) will  continue to move overseas and be automated when left here in the states.  You will only see a salary increase if you can upgrade your education / skill level (personally pay for it) AND find another employer willing to hire you.  There will be a continuing abundance of workers and a continuing shortage of well paying jobs.  Oh, yeah, and almost none of the jobs / companies will have pensions, so you’ll be on your own for that.  But don’t worry, you can pay for your retirement savings with all that extra money you’ll be making.  And don’t count on Social Security or Medicare for your retirement because the tax deficit the Republicans are creating with the tax give-away will be used as the excuse to cut “entitlements” (Social Security and Medicare) next year.  After all, deficit created debt was the reason the Republicans routinely gave / used to try to ruin the Obama Administration’s economic recovery for the last eight years.  You remember the last eight years we’ve had such anemic economic growth.  That anemic growth was because debt (big government and over-regulation) prevented economic growth which should have happened.  So, now the Republicans have intentionally increased the deficit, which will inevitably increase the debt, which they will then use as their excuse to cut spending on social benefits.
Lord, save us from these treasonous Republicans and give us back honest conservatives who sought a limited government which paid for the things (wars, infrastructure and a social safety net) which the majority of Americans discussed openly, debated honestly, and ultimately arrived at consensus on.
[* CORRECTION:  I was incorrect in stating the President has already signed this tax bill.  In fact, as of today (Thursday 21 Dec. 2017), he has not, and it appears he may not sign the bill until next year (3 Jan 2018).  The reason for this is it appears the signing will trigger an automatic reduction in Medicare the year immediately after signing.  If it is signed in January 2018, the automatic trigger does not occur until 2019.  Obviously, the Republicans do not want to do this in an election year, so the signing will be delayed.  The bill has not yet been “enrolled” – that is, formally printed and presented to the President.  This is the point which actually starts the “pocket veto” clock.  If the law had been enrolled on passing, the President would have ten days to veto or sign the bill.  The ten days does not include Sundays, so it is actually a twelve day rule.  Of course, this assumes Congress breaks for Christmas.  If Congress is in session for the full twelve days after a bill is enrolled, there is no pocket veto and the bill becomes law after ten days if the President does not sign it.  This “trigger” is still being debated in Congress.  If it is decided it doesn’t happen until 2019, irrespective of signing, then Trump will sign the bill before Christmas or as soon as possible.  If it is decided it (the trigger) happens in 2018, the Republicans will push the signing date back until January to make sure the the reduction does not happen during an election year.
Also, it appears the tax benefits to the top 20% will be only 60% (-ish) through 2027.  After that, the personal reductions will go away and then 80% (-ish) benefit will be for corporations and the very wealthy.  The benefits to the corporations and the very wealthy are permanent, while the benefits to the middle and working class are limited (sunsetted).  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2016 Something Authentic Happened
2015 Back On The Bricks
On, Rocinante!!
2014 Changing Frequently
2013 Trifles
2012 Simple, Ordinary And Wonderous
2011 Humane Writers

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I’ve read the words of men who walk where understanding grows: who’ve passed beneath the tree of wisdom and had its shadow grant them peace, briefly though it be.
Look in their eyes and you will discover glimpses of eternity.  With them you sense the present is infinite, and events the actors which provide a change of scenery.  In life there are many theories but few explanations.  With time I discovered that we will know more than we can say, and understand beyond our powers of expression.
  —  Peter Wells
From his blog: countingducks   at:  http://countingducks.wordpress.com/
The specific post is: Beneath The Tree Of Life  at:  http://countingducks.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/beneath-the-tree-of-life/
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On This Day In:
2016 Something Authentic Happened
2015 Back On The Bricks
On, Rocinante!!
2014 Changing Frequently
2013 Trifles
2012 Simple, Ordinary And Wonderous
2011 Humane Writers

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This University, like any great university, encourages, and indeed demands, independence of mind.  We expect you to develop the ability to articulate your views clearly and cogently, to contend with and learn from competing viewpoints, and to modify your opinions in light of new knowledge and understanding.  Your Princeton education will culminate in a senior thesis that must both present original research and also contend respectfully with counter-arguments to your position.
This emphasis on independent thinking is at the heart of liberal arts education.  It is a profoundly valuable form of education, and it can be exhilarating.  It can also at times be uncomfortable or upsetting because it requires careful and respectful engagement with views very different from your own.  I have already emphasized that we value pluralism at Princeton; we value it partly because of the vigorous disagreements that it generates.  You will meet people here who think differently than you do about politics, history, justice, race, religion, and a host of other sensitive topics.  To take full advantage of a Princeton education, you must learn and benefit from these disagreements, and to do that you must cultivate and practice the art of constructive disagreement.
Doing so is by no means easy.  Some people mistakenly think the art of disagreement is mainly about winning debates or being able to say, “I was right.”  It is much harder than that.  The art of disagreement is not only about confrontation, but also about learning.  It requires that we defend our views, as we do in debate, and, at the same time, consider whether our views might be mistaken.
It requires, too, that we cultivate the human relationships and trust that allow us to bridge differences and learn from one another.  That is one reason why I disagree with people who consider inclusivity and free speech to be competing commitments.  I believe exactly the opposite, namely, that if we are to have meaningful conversations about difficult topics on university campuses and in this country, we must care passionately both about the inclusivity that enables people to trust and respect one another and about the freedom of speech that encourages the expression of competing ideas.
Building trust depends upon empathy, patience, and sometimes forbearance.  The art of disagreement requires a practiced sense of when to listen, calm the waters, remain silent, or simply walk away.  Even in a University that thrives on disagreement, you need not rise to every provocation.  As you speak with classmates and others, you may sometimes choose to focus on developing relationships, deferring vigorous debate for another day and a more promising moment.
But you also need to find times to speak up, because otherwise you will never have the uncomfortable conversations that really matter.  You will never have a chance to test and develop your own views or to inform the views of your peers.
Speaking up is not always easy.  As a student on this campus and, indeed, throughout your life — at work, in social settings, and in civic organizations — you will encounter moments when saying what you believe requires you to say something uncomfortable or unpopular.  Learning the art of disagreement can help you to choose the moments when it makes sense to speak, and to do so in ways that are effective, constructive, and respectful of the other voices around you.  But no matter how good you become at the art of disagreement, you will also need the personal courage to say what you believe — even if it is unpopular.
“Popular” and “populism” share a common Latin root: “popularis”—meaning “of the people.”  We are back, in a way, to the question with which we began, about what it means to exercise leadership in circumstances of diversity and disagreement.  Some people think leadership depends upon popularity — that it emanates from the approval and praise of a cheering crowd.  This University is dedicated to a different view.  We are committed to leadership through the rigorous and unstinting pursuit of truth.  We believe that sometimes the greatest leadership and the most important insights come not from someone popular, famous, or acclaimed, but from a lone, brave voice insisting on a fundamental principle.
  —   Christopher L. Eisgruber
Excerpt from his speech: “Pluralism and the Art of Disagreement
Given at the Opening Exercises on September 10 to the Princeton Class of 2021
Source: http://paw.princeton.edu/article/pluralism-and-art-disagreement
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On This Day In:
2016 Job Security
2015 For I Have Always Lived Violently
2014 We Stand !! (I Stand With George)
Additional Requirements
2013 In The Present Day
2012 Feeling It
2011 Stretching Science

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The existing safety net for older Americans – a mixture of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – was built for a society that no longer exists.  When Congress created Social Security in 1935, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 61; now it is nearly 80.  When Congress created Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, it was still common for people to die of acute medical issues, like heart attacks; now many survive those traumas and go on to live, with some assistance, for decades longer.  In 1960, the U.S. was overwhelmingly young: just 10% of the population was over 65.  By 2040, 1 in 5 of us will be eligible for that senior ticket at the theater.
As more people live longer, the social and economic systems designed to care for them are changing.  In midcentury America, women had yet to join the traditional workforce en masse and so were widely expected to keep doing what they’d always done: provide unpaid care to children and ailing relatives at home.  Moreover, in the 1960s, a large portion of families had access to stable, fixed pensions in retirement, and about a quarter of all workers were covered by generous, union-negotiated contracts.  Staying in the same job for decades was common.
None of that is true anymore.  Some 40% of households with children under 18 are now headed by women who are the primary breadwinner.  Those women can no longer stay home to care for children or ailing relatives without risking their family’s financial stability.  Meanwhile, fixed pensions have all but disappeared, and union membership has fallen by more than half.  Nearly 1 in 3 nonretired Americans has no retirement savings at all.  “Our current system doesn’t reflect how we’ve changed as a society,” explains Dr. Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, which advocates for older adults.  “So it’s being asked to do all kinds of things it wasn’t designed to do.”
Much of the U.S. economy rides on how this crisis plays out.  Spending on long-term care is expected to more than double from 1.3% of GDP to 3% by 2050 as demand increases alongside an aging populace.  America’s entrepreneurial system is coming up with myriad new ways to serve this growing demographic of gray-hairs.  But in an era of deregulation, companies that profit from the natural, but often unsettling, process of aging and dying aren’t always scrupulous.  The result is a social tension: As health care companies seek to reap not only efficiencies but also profits from a jury-rigged, outdated and overburdened system of elder care, how do we protect those who are often most vulnerable to exploitation?
When things don’t work, the results are ugly.  In nursing homes and assisted-living centers, ever more ubiquitous arbitration agreements leave the elderly without access to a basic civil trial.  Hospice care, beloved by many, is seen as a potential profit center by companies seeking government contracts while providing diminished service to those at the end of their lives.  And Medicaid, once intended to be a last-ditch safeguard for the poorest of the poor, is creaking under the weight of new obligations.  Medicaid is now the default payer for 61% of all nursing-home residents in the U.S., according to a June 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation report – a demand that’s likely to continue to increase.  Meanwhile, adult children already contribute $7,000 to $14,000 a year to caring for an aging parent, according to a 2016 AARP report; that number will likely see an uptick too.
  —  Haley Sweetland Edwards
From the “Special Report”: “Dignity, death and America’s crisis in elder care
Time Magazine, 27 November 2017 issue
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On This Day In:
2016 And A Fellow Who Insists On Telling Us He’s Smart?
2015 Curves Ahead
2014 Sitting?
2013 Misperceptions
2012 Essential Experience
2011 Lest We Forget Those Still In Harm’s Way
Sound Familiar?

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