Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Elixir of AARP

Does anybody not believe that AARP is really politicized? Check out the mass email I received from the AARP, that said in pertinent part:

With the budget taking precedent this session and talk around the halls centering on cuts, we need a strong alliance to get our message out, “NO CUTS TO HUMAN SERVICES! PUT PEOPLE FIRST!” We all need to get the message out to our consumers to make phone calls to the governor’s office NOW and up to next Tuesday, January 29th, the date of his budget speech. The governor needs to hear from us over and over again in the next 6 days. . . .

That seems well enough at first glance; who wouldn't support "putting people first"? But let's face it: some services probably need to be cut to balance a budget. (Oh wait; there are always the casinos.)

Here's the problem. The AARP's mass email campaign is being spread by my (and perhaps your, if you're over 50) membership fees. Note that no one asked for members' opinions on this matter before it was disseminated.

The board of AARP unilaterally makes these decisions on behalf of the membership without polling the members. I learned this when I called them on their blanket objection to privatizing social security last year or so. (I happened to like the possibility of being able to contribute to my own retirement and invest it as I see fit, while others could choose the traditional government plan.) When I called AARP and asked how they knew the membership was against the privatization of social security, I was told that they did not poll the members and the board felt that this was the best for all. That sort of paternalism is insulting.

But most members, perhaps, are lulled into complacency because the AARP keeps feeding the masses with the elixir of benefits, such as supplemental insurance, fee reductions on various services, and so on -- benefits that are available elsewhere.

I resent an organization purporting to speak for me, but without bothering to solicit my opinion before they act. My advice is to wait and see. Members should keep sending in their dues or donations, but don’t follow too closely to the rear end of the lemming in front of you. Remember the three-second rule.

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