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Power to the people

November 8, 2011
by Patricia Sheehan, Editor-in-Chief
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It's tough to recall a time over the past 50 years when there was such a mood of unrest and uncertainty among the American populace as there is today. The ′60s might qualify-a decade when proponents of myriad causes (civil rights, women's rights and anti-war)-voiced their manifestos at large public rallies while demanding change at the highest levels of government.

This year we've witnessed a culmination of citizens' frustrations over an anemic economic recovery, massive bank bailouts, the ongoing housing crisis and projected cuts to entitlement programs that threaten the two things Americans have come to expect and cherish: a fair shot at achieving the American Dream and a small measure of economic security in their retirement years.

We're seeing the same kinds of public displays of disaffection that defined the ′60s. The explosive growth of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is fascinating to observe-even if its mandate is somewhat scattered-covering everything from corporate greed and social inequality to the war in Afghanistan and the environment.

Meanwhile, seniors and long-term care groups are busy organizing their own protests as the congressional super committee considers proposals that cut entitlements. In mid-October, an estimated 500 AARP members representing 23 states converged on Washington, D.C., to implore their representatives to spare harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, provider associations-such as the American Health Care Association, LeadingAge and the Coalition to Protect Senior Care-organized protests, fly-ins and letter-writing campaigns of their own.

A famous quote from the iconic ′70s movie Network comes to mind during these turbulent times: “I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!” Regardless of your stand on any of these hot-button issues, we're in for some interesting days ahead.

Long-Term Living 2011 November;60(11):06

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