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While there's a lot that's unfair, how can you be grumpy living in the U.S.?

Monday, August 26, 2013 - 8:35 am

There is an unfair stereotype that older men tend to be grumpy.

For example, there is a cartoon strip called “Crankshaft” where the title character is an old bus driver who is constantly grumpy about everything. There is even a movie called “Grumpy Old Men.” Old men in TV station comedies are always grumpy.

So – I am determined not to be grumpy.

Still, there are occasionally things going on that could cause me to be grumpy if I were so inclined, which I am not.

For the last several years our federal government has caused interest rates to be the lowest on record. The interest paid on federal bonds (and thus on everything else) is pretty close to nil. That has supposedly been helpful in getting our economy to grow, albeit at a very slow rate, and has helped national employment, though not by much. So is that good? Not if you are an elderly, retired person who expected to be able to live in your retirement on the income from your life savings.

Every so often I hear a senior citizen complain that she or he has to deplete their IRA or their pension fund in order to meet current living costs. The more that they do this, the less income that can be produced from those funds in the future. They worry, with good cause that the money will run out.

And the government has kept interest rates artificially low for years now. It looks to me like the economic “recovery,” such as it is, is being financed on the backs of older Americans. Not fair!

And while I am on the subject of the federal government, let me pose these questions. Why is it that the federal government makes me buy light bulbs that give off a funny light and create a health hazard if they break?

Why do they make me buy a toilet that won’t flush properly unless it is flushed two or three times? Why do they force me to use a shower head that doesn’t produce enough water pressure? Why are they trying to kill America’s coal industry, when the result is sure to be electrical shortages and higher costs for everything?

Does that make sense? Not to us old guys. Not to coal miners either, by the way.

And here’s another thing. I am from Chicago, and have always been a Cubs fan. As hard as I have tried over the years (and I have tried), I cannot seem to shake off this misplaced loyalty for what has to be the prime example of futility in all of sports. Older men seem to be the people most afflicted with loyalty to the Cubs.

Maybe the younger men only watch baseball on television or, for whatever reason, have never been to Wrigley Field. Maybe it’s only a perception, but it seems that the older a Cubs fan is, the harder it is to stop paying attention to them. Why am I still waiting for them to have a good team? This isn’t fair either.

To avoid getting grumpy over things like this, I try to focus on some of the good news. One such news item involves a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. For several years the attorney general, Eric Holder, has been using the federal voting rights act for partisan political purposes. In particular, he has used it to keep Southern states from adopting laws to require photo identification for voters.

Indiana has a voter I.D. law, but the federal government could not block the law in Indiana, because Indiana is not one of the states covered by the Voting Rights Act. But Holder did try to stop other states, such as Texas, from requiring photo I.D. at the polls.

Voter I.D. laws help to avoid vote fraud. A person would think that the attorney general of the United States would want to stop vote fraud, but that does not seem to be true of Holder. He seems to think that vote fraud actually helps his party win elections, although he would certainly deny that this is his motivation for fighting these laws.

Anyway, the Supreme Court recently told Holder to lay off. They ruled that the current application of the Voting Rights Act violates the Constitution. Accordingly, he can’t use it any more to block voter I.D. laws, and there will be less vote fraud than there used to be. Good for the Supreme Court.

And here is another compliment for the federal government: I recently renewed my passport. It was easy. I picked up a form and had my picture taken, and took it all to the downtown post office where a pleasant lady helped me assemble it and get it mailed to the right place. In a couple of weeks — bingo — my new passport arrived. No hassle, no glitches, not problems — good for them!

Who could be grumpy when they live in a great country like this?

Howard L. Chapman is a resident of Fort Wayne.