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NYTimes – A Look At Generations


Two Generations: An American Story

Published: May 14, 2010

To the Editor:

Joel Holland

Re “Root Canal Politics” (column, May 9):

Thomas L. Friedman is right. The Greatest Generation built the most prosperous society in history with its blood, sweat and tears, giving its children a tremendous head start. How have we responded? By consuming our way to insolvency. And now we’re robbing future taxpayers of wealth that has yet to be produced.

The Grasshopper Generation may be too kind a term for us boomers. Even grasshoppers don’t eat their young.

Michael Smith
Cynthiana, Ky., May 10, 2010

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman equates boomers with “hungry locusts” who have eaten through the abundance their parents created for them, sinking our country into crippling debt. If anything, it was boomers who rescued our economy in the 1980s and 1990s through the high-tech entrepreneurial economy they created. And the one president who embraced boomers, Bill Clinton, ended his presidency with a budget surplus that could have lasted for years to come.

Perhaps Mr. Friedman should aim his fire elsewhere. Dial back to the 1960s, when the venerated World War II generation claimed that we could have both guns and butter, and in the process sank our nation into debt while shipping off baby boomers to their death in Vietnam. Move ahead to the 1970s, when that same generation ran our industrial base into the ground, leaving us with double-digit inflation and interest rates and steering our automobile industry into near collapse.

Ronald Reagan ran against the boomer culture and the national debt soared. George W. Bush, demographically a boomer, prided himself on being the anti-boomer and presided over the near collapse of our economy.

Mr. Friedman is right that we need a national reckoning to deal with our economic woes. But criticism of baby boomers will only delay the real conversation we need to have.

Leonard Steinhorn
Washington, May 9, 2010

The writer, a professor at the School of Communication of American University, is the author of “The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy.”

To the Editor:

Far from being a resource-consuming bunch of slackers, members of the baby boom generation have worked hard and steadily for 40 years to pay the bills for themselves, their children and, yes, their parents in the Greatest Generation, an admirable group that nevertheless has taken much more money out of our social safety net than it ever put in.

And the boomers have done all this in a decades-long era of flat wages and rising prices. While many Greatest Generation families could make it on one income, it now takes two incomes. And what is our thanks for all this steady, tortoise-like effort? To be told we are the problem.

This is not a generational quarrel; it’s a political one. Approximately two-thirds of our current national debt was accumulated under the last three Republican presidents: Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes.

Who began the movement to prevent the kind of sensible tax increases we need to pay for the government services we want? Conservative Republicans. Who turns out to oppose tax increases, often school bond efforts? Older voters of the Greatest Generation.

We don’t disagree with Mr. Friedman’s assertion that our social programs may face hard times and cuts. But we disagree that the baby boom generation is to blame. We have had our nose to the grindstone for decades, trying to support not one but three generations.

Jan Farrington
Brian Farrington
Fort Worth, May 10, 2010

To the Editor:

“Root Canal Politics” aptly describes our addiction to free lunch politics. As a local government official who has to balance a budget every year, I see one answer — a balanced budget amendment. Avoiding budget reality has eliminated honesty from our politics and creates disincentives to find efficiencies, to compromise or to prioritize.

A balanced budget amendment — with reasonable provisions for recessions, times of war and debt financing for sound investments — would not change parties’ priorities, but it would force an honest discussion of the trade-offs. We need new rules if we are to bring honesty back to our politics.

Rob Krupicka
Alexandria, Va., May 9, 2010

The writer is a city councilman.

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman states, “My takeaway is that U.S. and European politicians — please don’t laugh — are going to have to get a lot smarter and more honest.”

It is the voters who are going to have to get a lot smarter and more honest with one another first, and then demand that their politicians get smarter and more honest. Given our political system, it’s unlikely to happen the other way around.

Joe McDevitt
London, May 9, 2010

Hardened Arteries, Elderly Falls Linked

Thomas H. Maugh II Los Angeles Times

May 17, 2010 | 10:36 a.m.

A stiffening of the aging brain’s blood vessels reduces their ability to respond to changes in blood pressure, increasing the risk of falls by as much as 70%, researchers reported Monday.

Although the change in the arteries is only one of many factors that lead to falls among the elderly, the findings provide a potential target for intervention, said Dr. Joe Verghese, a neurologist at Albert Einstein University College of Medicine who was not involved in the research. Treating high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other factors, can reduce the stiffening.

“Even if it accounts for only 10% to 15% of all falls, that’s still large numbers that you are talking about,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults over the age of 65 fall each year, and 30% of those suffer moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. Most elderly who are hospitalized with a hip fracture end up in a nursing home.A variety of factors have been linked to falls, including diseases, foot problems, overmedication, environmental hazards — and abnormalities in the signaling potential of the brain’s white matter, which controls both cognitive and motor functions, have also been linked. The study was designed to demonstrate at least one mechanism by which these latter abnormalities could occur.
Dr. Farzaneh A. Sorond, a neurologist at Harvard University’s Institute for Aging Research, and her colleagues studied 420 people over the age of 65. The team used ultrasound to measure the flow of blood in the patients’ brains while they were at rest and when they were breathing rapidly.

Heavy breathing increases carbon dioxide levels and normally produces a dilation of the blood vessels, a phenomenon known as vasoreactivity. If blood vessels don’t properly dilate under stress, the brain does not get enough oxygen and glucose.

The researchers also studied the patients’ gait over a 12-foot course and had them keep a record of their falls. Poor gait is also a factor in falls. About 85% of 65-year-olds have a normal gait, but only 18% of 80-year-olds do.

The team reported in the journal Neurology that patients in the bottom fifth for vasoreactivity had a slower, worse gait than those in the top fifth and were 70% more likely to have suffered a fall during the study period.

“This gives us a window to intervene,” Sorond said. “There is a lot of data, for example, that says [cholesterol-lowering] statins improve vasoreactivity. We hope to be funded to study that over the next five years.” The team also plans to do imaging studies to see if the low vasoreactivity is linked to problems with white matter.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and a private donor.

Betty White!

What a way to go …

From Dallas, TX:

DALLAS (May 18, 2010)—Among the things Fred Krusemark, 87, of Dallas, wanted to do before the end of his already-long life was to take a 100-mile-per-hour car ride.

On Monday he died after fulfilling his dream at Texas Motor Speedway.

Krusemark was a passenger Saturday in a Chevrolet Corvette with a professional driver at the wheel when the high-performance car slammed into a wall at the speedway.

He suffered blunt force head and neck trauma in the crash and died Monday.

Krusemark was taking part in a ride-along program offered by a company called Texas Driving Experience.

WFAA-TV reported that there were four cars on the track at the time of the accident and that one of them was passing Krusemark’s Corvette in a turn when the elderly man’s car hit the wall and ended up in the speedway’s infield.

He and the driver were flown by helicopter to hospitals in Fort Worth.

Krusemark was taken off life support Monday morning, a spokesperson for John Peter Smith Hospital said.

Information about the driver’s condition wasn’t available.

Baby Boomer’s Palate

From AARP …

As individuals age, their taste buds become less receptive, and it may be difficult for them to appreciate the flavors of certain dishes. In order to enable hospitals to cater to the baby boomer population, food experts in the U.S. and UK are working to make prepared meals more appetizing for aging patients.

Chef Heston Blumenthal has teamed up with the experts at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in the U.K. to create dishes that will make seniors salivate, according to Get Bracknell.

Because 60 percent of elderly patients who are entered into a hospital are malnourished, senior citizen advocacy groups say it’s important to provide meals that are appealing to them, the source reports.

“We are still working on how we are going to do this and we will be stripping the food back to see where we can change things to make them tastier but essentially, a cottage pie will still be a cottage pie,” Blumenthal told the news provider. “Elderly people will just be able to taste it more.”

In America, many sectors of the food industry appear to be catering to health-conscious baby boomers’ needs and wants.

The dairy market has begun to offer milk products that include probiotics and prebiotics, which aid in digestion, as well as plant sterols which can lower cholesterol and fatty acids which may promote brain health, according to the Seattle Times.

Hipster culture is having a senior moment –

Hipster culture is having a senior moment –

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