The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘grandma’


If you don’t like pizza – well, you’re just un-American.  I’m a good and loyal American so it goes without saying that I not only like, I LOVE pizza.  Hot, cold, thin or thick crust – other than throwing pineapple and ham on it (or peanut butter), it’s almost impossible to ruin this all-American favorite.  (We did invent it didn’t we?)

Well if you’re thinking that under our ever-beneficent radical socialist leaders in Washington, seniors are going to be able to get all the pizza they can eat, I’m sorry to report that you’re wrong.  (At least for the moment – but who knows?)  No, I’m referring to new job opportunities which those who rely on walkers to perambulate may soon have available to them.

You see, there’s this law that passed called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a/k/a/ Obamacare).  And a mighty law it is indeed – as we’re only beginning to discover.  Fortunately, it doesn’t fully kick in for another year so that allows us time to think and pine and fret over its implications as they begin to further unfold.  But there are a few things about it which we do know.

(This includes those Democrats including my own former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley who recently failed to advance her career to the United States Senate and is now out of politics.  The good Congresswoman followed leader Pelosi’s advice and voted to pass the bill without bothering to read it.  Details, details.)  And, by the way there are a lot of details.

One of the details that we do know is that employers will be required to provide health insurance for all employees who earn less than $15 per hour.  If they fail to do so they will be subject to a fine of $2000 per employee.  But the cost of the insurance is likely to be at least five times as expensive as the fine.  So, in essence, the reasonable employer will make the choice between spending $2000 per year or $10,000 per year – and which number do you think she will select?

But, wait – there’s a way around this.  You see this only applies to those employees who are considered “full time” employees – that is to say that they work (or at least show up) for 30 hours or more a week.  (Whatever happened to the 40 hour work week?  I guess I owe myself a lot of back pay at an overtime rate!)

So, as an alternative, an employer can cut back on her full-time staff, reducing them to part-time status and thus skirt this provision of Obamacare.  Apparently when our esteemed Congress passed this bill and the President signed it into law, they overlooked this eventuality and the consequent reduction in income and standard of living that those whom the law is intended to benefit will undergo.  I guess it’s just another example of unintended consequences.

But in my musings, I have arrived at a solution which I would like to share with all those small business owners (and little pizzerias that I love to frequent).


You see, if we merely raid the retirement homes to find the able-bodied among our senior citizens, we can recruit them to work in our stores and businesses and avoid this provision of Obamacare since they already have insurance, Medicare.

And this works out well for our seniors.  Not only will it provide them with additional income that they need to compensate for the rising prices of food and gas (the kind you put in your vehicle) which are far outstripping the increase in their Social Security benefits but, since their doctors are now becoming veterinarians, there’s no need for them to worry about missing their appointments – since there won’t be any.

And this works out for the pizza-eating public as well.  I mean really, would you rather see some acne-pimpled teenager tossing the dough for your pizza, or some lovely silver-haired lady who reminds you of your grandmother?

“I’m here to pick up my extra large pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper and onion pizza, Grams.  Oh, wait.  Don’t strain yourself.  Let me help you lift that.”


In a post from January,  I spoke of how my grandmother, mom and aunt survived the Great Depression.  Food was both scarce and sacred.  I will never forget grandma saying at dinner, “Now eat everything because there are children in China who are starving.”   I always took her admonition seriously and my plate was always clean.

It still bothers me today when food is wasted.

When I lived in Chicago, an acquaintance who was a public school teacher told me that in his school, the milk which was provided at luncheon for the students which went unconsumed was dumped at the end of the day.

“Dumped,” I asked.  “You mean thrown out?”

“Yes,” he replied.

This bothered me immensely on several levels.

First, of course, was the sheer waste.  Second, why couldn’t the unopened cartons be gathered up and distributed to children who were poor?  I’ve bought a few gallons of milk in my time and I know that they usually come with a ten day to two week expiration before the milk sours.  Third, the National School Lunch Program has been an ongoing Federal program since 1940.  This program subsidizes the distribution of milk to school children and that subsidy is paid for by the taxpayers.  What an incredible waste of taxpayer money.

I asked my acquaintance if he knew why the milk was thrown out rather than given at no cost to children who needed it.  He responded that he thought that it had something to do with liability should the milk turn out to be bad.

Of course, the illogic of that statement stunned me.  We apparently didn’t worry about the liability of selling it to our school children at a low price but were afraid that children who received it for free might wind up suing the Federal government.

Well, I took this as merely another sign of bureaucratic bungling – and surely, if we are looking for ways to trim fat and waste from government, this is, to use a metaphor in keeping with our subject, really “small potatoes.”

And then today I read a story about a woman near Philadelphia who is being threatened with fines of $600 per day because she is distributing food for free that is provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to needy children in her neighborhood.

This is the link to that story:

I don’t care if you’re a union worker, an entrepreneur, a secretary, between jobs, a temporary worker; I don’t care if you’re a Libertarian, Democrat, Republican or an Independent; I don’t care if you’re an Anglican, a Jain, a Muslim, an agnostic, an atheist or a Shinto; if you have an ounce of reason I hope you will agree that this is merely another example of “Government Gone Wild.”

At a time when many of us are struggling; when we have three and one half years of the worst levels of unemployment since the Great Depression; when an increasing number of our citizens are dependent on subsidies for their mere existence and the numbers sinking below the poverty level are escalating; it is hard to describe the position of the Pennsylvania Township’s council as being anything other than, “Beyond Stupidity.”


 If you’ve followed along for awhile you realize that most of the important things I know I learned from my family. Grandma was in the forefront in that educational process.

I remember that one Saturday, having done the laundry earlier in the week, grandma decided that dad needed to get some new shirts. Several of the ones she had just washed were beginning to look a little frayed.

They would soon be included in her rag bag after she had dutifully removed all the buttons to add to the button box. She asked me to go with her to Bloomingdale’s where she would buy dad some new oxford cotton button downs.

I had been doing the “Jumble” and the crossword in the morning paper and thought that I had seen an ad for button down shirts. I went back to the paper and started leafing through it. Sure enough – there they were on sale at a store on 14th Street called Alexander’s.

I brought the paper into the kitchen and said, “Grandma, Alexander’s is having a sale on shirts for dad. They’re two for $5.99. How much do they cost at Bloomingdale’s?”

Grandma, responded, “They’re $5.00 each.”

So, being the math wiz that I was, I said, “Well, then we should go to Alexander’s to buy them. We’ll save almost half the cost.”

Grandma just smiled at me and said, “No, we’re going to go to Bloomingdale’s and I’ll explain why.”

I want to get your father six shirts. If we were to go to Alexander’s, you and I would have to take the subway – which would cost us $.60. We can walk to Bloomingdale’s and save the carfare. But here’s the main reason we are going to get these at Bloomingdale’s.”

“The shirts from Bloomingdale’s are made of a better material and they will last your father for at least two, maybe even three years. The shirts from Alexander’s won’t last for six months. So in the long run, it is less expensive to buy a better quality shirt than the cheap ones you saw advertised in the paper.”

Rack up another life lesson for grandma. And they just kept coming and coming and coming.



 Out of the many tasks grandma undertook on behalf of our family, I know she loved cooking the most. But another job that she enjoyed was buying clothes for me. She was in charge of making selections for my wardrobe – and updating my school uniform as I outgrew those clothes was no exception.

 The concept of a school uniform might seem strange or antiquated to you. When I see children going to the school just outside my little homeowners’ community, it’s apparent that there are no standards for attire. Sadly, this leads to unfortunate rivalry among children – who has the most expensive pair of athletic shoes – that sort of thing.

 By contrast, children who are in their school’s uniform have none of that competitive consumerism. We all dressed and looked the same. The uniform engendered a sense of camaraderie – we all belonged to the same family. Instead of focusing on what we were wearing we could focus on what we were learning.

 The components for my school uniform could only be obtained at one store – Rogers Peet. They and they alone had the required charcoal grey slacks that I would wear during the next school year.

 Rogers Peet was an upscale clothier. They catered to an upper income clientele (we were not part of that group) – and to a number of New York’s private schools in providing the uniforms those school’s required their pupils to wear.

 As there was already a little nip in the air and it was gusty that day, grandma put on her usual black cloth coat, having arranged her white hair with two bobby pins and her hair net. She grabbed her purse and we were off on the bus to get me attired.

 As we walked in the store, it was painfully obvious to me that the sales staff looked at grandma and thought she must be “the help” for one of their wealthy clients. Although she asked several of the sales people for assistance, each of them was “busy.”

 So unassisted we made our way to the pants department to begin looking at their selection. Grandma pulled out a pair of pants and held them to my waist to see how close a fit they would be. After a few tries we found the right size and waited patiently for one of the store’s sales people to assist us with our purchase.

 Three more of the store’s employees came by but they too were “busy.” I couldn’t understand what all the sales people could be doing with so few customers in the store. But we waited patiently for someone to finish with their present customer so they could assist us. We waited over twenty minutes but no one came by.

 Finally, grandma began removing stacks of pants from their rows on the shelves, piling them neatly on the floor. She was working on her fourth stack when a man came rushing towards us.

 “Madam,” he said. “What are you doing?”

 Grandma asked him who he was. He said he was the store manager.

 She said, “We have been in your store for half an hour and none of your sales people would help us. But now that you’re here, you’ll do. I would like to purchase this pair of pants.”

 By the look on his face, you might have thought that grandma had landed a strong left hook to this man’s midsection. But he wrote up our purchase and we left the store with my new pants which grandma would spend the afternoon altering at home.

 I remember being embarrassed about this incident while we were in the store – embarrassed for my grandmother who was obviously snubbed by the store’s sales staff. And embarrassed for the sales people who made the assumption that this little lady who looked like “the help” couldn’t possibly afford to buy anything at their exclusive store.

 Grandma was always considerate, kind and caring. But when she had to be – she could be one tough lady.


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