By Rande Davis
What is your best way to get unwanted guests to leave? Let’s face it, sometimes people outstay their welcome. That doesn’t mean you didn’t enjoy their visit or that you were unhappy they came. It only means that, sooner or later, everything runs its course, and every party needs to come to a close. When the stragglers don’t leave even though most everyone else has departed, how do you give them the message that tomorrow is another day and it may be best to prepare to enjoy it right now?
Simple honesty is still the best way, but prior to blurting out, “Hey, the party is over, time to go—now,” it might be nicer to give hints. A little picking up of dishes and glasses might work. Nodding off in mid-conversation or yawning until your jaw cracks, usually works well without saying a word. Asking about their plans for the next day and wondering if they have to get up early, might get them thinking in the right direction as well.
I ask this because sometimes when people are no longer wanted, hints are given before an actual demand to leave is blurted out. I think the State of Maryland has for a long time now been hinting around that senior citizens are no longer valued and wanted. State officials have not exactly said as much, but while other states seem to be begging senior citizens to move there, Maryland essentially doesn’t say a word. Silence can be very revealing, can’t it? Other states say, “Come on down, we won’t tax your pension, your property taxes will be a lot lower. On top of that, since we haven’t spent our way into oblivion, the cost of living will be much more reasonable. Cost of homes, food, transportation is much more like the old days here.”
I recently learned a disturbing comparison between Maryland and Florida. The population of Florida is four times greater than Maryland. If Florida were to spend like Maryland, its budget would be $152 billion dollars. Yet, Florida’s budget is half that. It’s $70 billion compared to Maryland’s $38 billion. With four times the people, it spends only twice as much. Pity the poor people of Florida whose homes must burn down for lack of a fire department or get burglarized for lack of police protection. I am pretty sure the kids don’t go any further in school than the eighth grade, too.
Why is this happening? I think I know why, and it disturbs me very much to think that I might be right. It’s happening because Maryland does not want the seniors to stay even though state officials are too timid to just blurt out: It’s time to go. They prefer to hint around.
Every time a senior couple vacates a house to retire somewhere else, their home is sold (the housing market is still vibrant here, primarily due to its proximity to the Federal government). The new couple is nearly always much younger, with both adults working and a household income far greater than the old folks’. Additionally, since the younger couple earns more, they spend more, too. Since the state revenue comes mostly from personal income tax and state sales tax, replacing an old couple with a younger couple is a win-win for the state. Add to that the reduction in social services for the old folks like Medicaid, the budget crunchers, especially those who cannot ever fathom reducing costs, are pleased the old folks are gone. As the old geezers leave, state budget managers whistle “Happy Trails to You.” Roy and Dale are sick to heart. If you are too young to know the song or don’t understand that last sentence, Google it.
Words of emotion are meaningless. They can say they love the old folks till they are blue in the face. The cold fact is that through its actions, the state shows what it values. It shows its priority by what it financially supports, either by money spent or taxes reduced. If you are a candidate for the AARP, it’s quite clear. Maryland, through its policies, priorities, and actions, speaks its priorities louder than words. It is just like Maryland politicians saying to Mom and Dad, “It’s time to go, the party is over.”