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Speculations Modest Proposal I: Shipping the Old By Mary Lenz With the Reagan administration in full swing it now develops that not only are you in trouble if you are black, poor, gay, liberated or high, but you can also forget about being old. This comes as something of a surprise. In my uncharitable school years I thought old white folks were firmly in control of everything and the more wrinkled up and doddering the better. It’s also a little odd when you consider that Reagan himself is one of the most wrinkled up and doddering presidents we’ve had in the past several decades. Who would have expected a septuagenarian to call for slicing benefits to the elderly by 10% by 1986, and eventually by nearly one fourth? Maybe the President just figures he isn’t going to be around when the cuts take full effect. But we the dreaded postwar babies who gave him fits in the 1960’s are going to catch them smack in the middle of our arthritis years. But the essential issue is if you cut social security, just what are you going to do with old people? One answer might lie in the third world. In most third world countries the social security system is handled by the grim reaper, and some people are doing well to make it past 38 or 40. This means third world countries have a serious shortage of the elderly. If the Reagan administration developed a policy of shipping American old folks to foreign countries, it could probably cut social security benefits in half and leave recipients positively wealthy compared to the natives of Pakistan and Chad whom they would live among. In Texas, we could trade grandmothers for braceros. Perhaps the simplest thing to do would be keep old people working. The administration is moving toward this by cutting benefits for early retirement. The problem is at present there are just not a lot of things you can do if you are slowly getting hard of hearing and it takes you 30 minutes to make it to the end of the block. 22 MAY 29, 1981 We need more investigation into the area of jobs for the elderly, but so far my research indicates old people could take jobs as the following: Spies groups of white haired American tourists are a familiar sight throughout Europe and are even becoming known in Russia and China. High technology photographic and recording devices could easily be concealed in pacemakers and hearing aids. The same is true for internal security with which Republicans are so frequently concerned. As the administration revives on-campus surveillance, who could better serve as an agent provocateur in drug roundups than a sorority house mother? Security guards By themselves, elderly people seem frail and helpless. But if you hire a group of 15 or so oldsters to stand around your convenience store at midnight, they would provide an effective deterrent to holdups. Any armed By Katherine Torrans Fort Worth Well, the Senate in Washington has gone and voted to deny pregnant victims of rape and incest the right to abortions under Medicaid programs unless the women’s lives are in danger. So, if you are a poor woman who depends on these monies for an abortion, be figuring out how to get yourself in danger of dying. Katherine Torrans is a Fort Worth free-lance writer. robber would be justified in shooting two or three witnesses to avoid identification, but if he has to gun down 20 or so, he’s going to run out of bullets. And as the current, princely $339 per month social security benefit indicates, the elderly come cheap at a group rate. Medical research Old people are always getting sick and falling down and breaking their bones anyway. Why not do it professionally as scientists test new cures and conduct experiments in germ warfare. Chaperones Many of Reagan’s supporters are extremely concerned about teenage sex and unwanted early pregnancy, which they are currently attempting to prevent by wiping out family planning clinics, prohibiting abortion and taking a closer look at the Saudi Arabian justice system. A better way might be to hire elderly people to serve as chaperones on teenage dates. For only a slightly greater sum, a family could actually pay an elderly widow to sleep in their daughter’s room and follow her everywhere. An enterprising oldster could make extra bucks accepting part of the teenager’s allowance to look the other way. Congress Perhaps the best place for older folks to seek work is in Congress, where everybody mostly just sits around and talks all day anyway. Many leading congressmen have demonstrated that senility is no handicap to a political career, and you practically never have to take early retirement. As for you women of more blessed financial circumstances, do not be fooled. That vote is only the first step toward the abortion-prohibiting legislation the forces of the religious right have in view. \(Kindly do not call these forces “prolife,” since women who get illegal abortions or abort themselves sometimes mary anti-abortion person in that august and distant body, made it quite clear that “this is a question of what is right or wrong.” This is not a procedural matter, Modest Proposal II: Wombs for the Reverend