I will never be a member of the AARP. It really made me angry during the Bush administration, and I’ve never forgiven it. As I said back then, “I would rather be forced to eat only live spiders and earthworms for the rest of my life than join the organization that endorsed George Bush’s Drug Plan.”
George Bush’s Drug Plan seemed like a good idea. Everyone gets a drug plan. You get a drug plan, no matter who you are. Now, as it happened, I was getting my meds at Harborview at the time, and — because I was dirt poor — my copays averaged $10 per month. So I didn’t really need a drug plan. But I got one! Everyone got one.
I went from paying $10 per month for all my meds to paying an average of about $90 per month for them. My tax dollars were working for me. I went from dirt poor to dirtier poor.
But that wasn’t what made me so angry at the AARP for its endorsement of the Drug Plan. I realized that my situation was unusual and that most people would benefit from having a drug plan even though it was a setback for me.
What made me angry was that everyone knew when the Drug Plan was being considered that it had no provision for the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Senior citizens, especially, knew this and were up in arms about it.
But then, the AARP announced that it was endorsing the legislation, saying that its membership was for the plan. It was a big fat lie. The AARP never polled its membership. Its endorsement was influential in getting Bush’s Drug Plan passed, and it was fraudulent. The membership had not given their approval, and the AARP misrepresented them.
We got stuck with a drug plan that allowed pharmaceutical companies to ratchet up drug prices steadily, sucking tax money out of the government while raising copays to whatever the market would bear. The main profit was money leeched from the federal government. The copays were icing on the cake.
Now, thanks to a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, it looks like we’ll finally be able to rein in medicine pricing like we should have since 2004. Last I checked we’re still waiting for Arizona’s Sen. Kirsten Sinema to decide whether to follow Manchin. But meanwhile, thank you, Joe Manchin. No thanks to the AARP, as always.
In other gleeful news, the word is out that the tunnel that replaced the SR 99 viaduct is losing money fast, largely due to people working from home during the pandemic. They aren’t using it, so they aren’t paying the tolls. Matt Baume at The Stranger has suggested partially filling the tunnel with water and using it as a water park with a simulated whitewater rafting course. I totally support that suggestion.
After all, the tunnel cost a ton of money. I forget how much money it cost exactly, but at the time I thought it would be cheaper to pave over Elliott Bay so people could just drive from Alki Point to Magnolia or anywhere in downtown Seattle. Or ride their bicycles or mopeds. Or skateboards, or scooters.
It would’ve been so cool. Like a bridge to wherever. There’d have been no other place like it in the world. People would come all the way from Brazil just to lay eyes upon it. It would have been like the Bonneville Salt Flats, only made of asphalt, and you could have fished off the edge.
Another idea for the tunnel is to lease it to Sound Transit and let them put light rail lines in it. Imagine that: parallel light rail tunnels downtown. It would feel like we were living in a world-class city all of a sudden. Sound Transit could have years of fun holding meetings and gathering public comment to figure out how to integrate the new lines with the existing lines. Where should the connections go? How could the process piss off the largest number of communities with unwelcome and badly situated stations? How many decades could the party be dragged out?
I love reading Sound Transit’s projections for the completion of its projects, doing the math and finding out that I’ll be able to get from here, where I am, to there, when I’ve been dead for 10 years.
Read more of the Aug. 3-9, 2022 issue.