|INDEX – 01/23/2018
Page One- Letter to Editor
By: Guy Emery
I Am Handicapped
By: Judith La Montagne
Letter to the Editor
By: Guy Emery
Reading the opinion pages recently, it seems no one likes the passed tax reform bill. Several letters caught my eye.
One author proclaimed, “Americans do not want a tax cut for the rich”. Oh, the humility! A liberal speaking from the socialist bubble of the sanctuary state of California knows what someone in the Rust Belt or the Deep South desires for the wealthy among us. Not so fast, my friend.
To be fair, the author may have written his diatribe against Trump, his cronies, and the Koch Bros., before he heard that AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo, etc., is committing to giving bonuses and higher wages of hundreds of thousands of dollars to their employees and to investing billions of dollars to grow their businesses. This should mean thousands of new jobs. It is possible the networks he watched neglected to report these developments. Perhaps he doesn’t realize how many Democrats will benefit from the tax bill. At least 7 of the 10 richest Americans did not vote for Trump. According to openthebooks.com site, over 400,000 federal employees, or one in five, make six figure incomes. In fact, from 2010 to 2016, the number of feds making more than $200,000 increased by 165 percent. As most of them live in five of the wealthiest and most expensive counties in the country, those surrounding the District of Columbia, I’m sure they appreciate the break, and I’m fairly confident they aren’t Trumpists. On a related note, it seems a lot of people don’t know that the Koch Brothers did not vote for Trump.
Others cite studies that show the tax bill will cost this or that, but, if you bet on studies, you’ve lost a lot of money. There are too many variables to really know how it will work. Paul Krugman and Mark Cuban, really smart people I’m told, were positive the stock market would tank if Trump were elected. Well, 6,500 points later…The point is, nobody knows, but the immediate effect is hard to ignore. Consumer confidence is high, and would belie all these dour pronouncements. None of the letters I’ve seen even mentions the lowering of the corporate rate, and that is the most remarkable aspect of the bill. If these companies bring back even half of the cash they’ve had offshore, it should have a tremendously positive impact.
The letters I have referred to have one thing in common. Maybe two things. The authors detest Trump, undoubtedly. They also devoutedly believed in redistributing the wealth, preferably someone else’s. I would remind them that if they don’t think they are being taxed enough, and if they think the government knows best how to use their money, there is nothing preventing them giving Washington, and for that matter, Sacramento, as much as they would like. Leading by example, they might start a movement. I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos would be right behind them. …
The New Handicap
By Judith La Montagne
Life is hard if you’re disabled. I know–because I am handicapped. My legs work fine even with my hip replacement; my heart continues to beat with the help of a pacemaker, and I don’t need a ramp because I can still easily climb stairs. Though I’m 78 years old, it looks like I’ll be around a bit longer. I feel great! But I cannot keep up with the brave new world of computers, no matter how hard I try, and it’s not because I don’t want to. I am not alone; we seniors need a “digital wheelchair ramp.”
Everyone loved computers when they were first developed, and most of us still do. These digital wonders were a great help when it came to typing, mathematics, tracking information, and other simple tasks. No one regrets the opportunity computers offer us.
As an example of the seriousness of this dilemma consider this analogy, I play the piano fairly well. Because I have been playing since I was a girl, I understand the musical language and skills. So what’s the matter with you that you can’t play? (My apologies to those who can.) But what if you had to sit down on a piano bench and play intricate compositions every day—without having the ability to read music? What if you have no musical talent or are even tone deaf, yet playing the piano was still expected of you? This analogy may seem a bit silly, but it’s not as far off as you might think.
Websites can present overwhelming difficulties for many of the elderly, who are presently a large part of our population. Computer language does not come naturally for many of us. We are woefully unprepared for the complete digital takeover that has occurred in just a few years. Many are simply unable to “speak” the language, yet we find we must. To make matters worse, we may also deal with poor eyesight and the difficulty of reading small print.
Most of the time all is well and good. But if we encounter a serious glitch, we often cannot solve the problem by ourselves. Lucky seniors are blessed with a child or other family member who is savvy, and willing to help and understands the complex world of ones and zeroes. They are the lucky ones. For the rest of us, the so-called “help” sites often laugh in our faces. Yet we know we absolutely must deal with some business or governmental requirements online, which leads to great stress and frustration. Modern life consists of one hassle after another, and most problems can only be solved by going online. Too often the elderly can’t figure out how to solve the difficulty, nor can they speak to a live person who might be able to help
It does no good to indict technology itself, which is obviously here to stay, but there must be a compassionate way for all Americans to deal with their computer dilemmas. Leaving us to just “sink or swim” is ignoring the problem and is not fair to anyone concerned. We are frustrating our seniors during a time in their lives that is already too stressful.
It’s time to try some new ideas. So what can we do to ease the problem? Several solutions come to mind.
- We can redesign websites so a senior doesn’t have to respond to ambiguous questions designed by technology “experts.” Seniors simply do not see
problems the same way that tech experts do, nor do they respond well to “computerese”. Allowing a senior to actually state her particular problem over the phone would be a great beginning. Many sites do not even include the possibility of sending an explanatory text or email, let alone display a posted phone number. Since companies already have all our information, including our birth dates, why not Identify older users immediately and make sure they have access to a higher level of help? (The new trend of refusing the “O” prompt for an operator is also maddening.)
- We should design websites in such a way that a client cannot be caught in an endless cycle from which there is no escape. Such a difficulty should trigger automatic tech help.
- Make sure that tech support people, when they do exist, truly know what they are doing. Perhaps the best way to do this is to make pay commensurate with expected skills. Too often help techs are not up to the task and may even cause damage, as recently happened to me.
- Websites often assume that everyone knows technology intimately, which is not even close to true. If I were designing a tech site (What a ghastly thought!) I would test my site using many seniors to see how well it works with the “digitally impaired”.
- Finally, companies should not be allowed to incentivize paperless communication. Free choice should prevail despite the EPA. It is important to have tangible proof of transactions, and not just for seniors. A paper trail provides easy proof of transactions that cannot be lost in spac
Computers may have taken over the world. There is little question about that. But in its frenzy for higher and higher development, important segments of society should not be left helpless. All people are important, including our older citizens. We can and should do better.
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