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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

 
IPO for the Poor House

by digby

That obnoxious complaint from the multi-millionaire seems all the more odious in light of this story:

Yesterday, a Deutsche Bank branch in Atlanta had requested the eviction of Vita Lee, a 103-year-old Atlanta woman, and her 83-year-old daughter. Both were terrified of being removed from their home of 53 years and had no idea where they’d go next.


The movers and the police didn't have the heart to follow through, thus creating a moral hazard. What's to stop these two little old ladies from scamming another great deal and getting away with it, huh?

This reminded me of that great story by Grim and Delaney from a few months back about what life was like for the elderly before Social Security:

The woman "could not give street and number, but could 'fotch' the agent to her place," according to a case study labeled "Aunt Winnie" in one of the organization's annual reports from near the turn of the century. "Old age, with a heavy load on top and a strong wind blowing, made the walk a trying one. At last the 8x10 cabin was reached. In it was a stove in many pieces held together with wire, a bedstead with rags for mattress and rags for covering. From the leaky roof the floor was wet through and through."

Aunt Winnie, the report said, had no income save the 50 cents she made every two weeks for taking in the wash. In summertime she raised herbs and greens, but in winter she "suffered for food and fuel." Her children had all been sold away to slavery, and a nearby niece was too poor to offer any support. Her neighbors helped, providing money for the stove and cot, and a "colored friendly visitor was found to carry broth and other comforts to her." The neighborly charity wasn't enough to persuade the agent, who was essentially a private sector version of a social worker, that the old woman should be on her own.

[...]

Aunt Winnie, whose story is preserved in the archives of the Historical Society of Washington, had been sent to an American institution that was by then some 300 years old and went by a variety of names: the county farm, the poor farm, the almshouse or, most often, simply the poorhouse. She would probably have been surprised to learn that more than a hundred years later, after the virtual eradication of elderly poverty, a powerful political movement would materialize with the mission of returning to the hands-off social policies that made the poorhouse the nation's only refuge for the jobless, the aged, the infirm and the disabled.

But not to worry, that will never happen because people today will be allowed to invest money in "private accounts", so it's not like they're heartless or anything. If they are savvy investors and lucky enough to live in the right time period, they should be just fine. If not, well as Ron Paul says: "That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk." Just like the good old days.

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