The people's voice of reason

Alabama Silver Haired Legislature to meet in Capitol

When Alabama's senior legislature begins its three-day session on October 20, it will have the unique opportunity to convene in the old House of Representatives Chamber in the Alabama Capitol building.

Normally the ASHL meets in the House Chamber located in the State Office Building, but that venue is temporarily closed.

For some of the delegates this will be like a homecoming, since a good many of them had close relationships of a variety of sorts with this venue. For you humble scribe, it will be a matter of returning four and a half decades later to the scene of a challenging news reporting era. In those days the focus was on how well the state was doing with respect to educating its young people; especially so in the new integrated school environment.

Today the focus is on how well the state is handling its responsibilities toward its senior citizens, and how well the Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature can convince their legislative counterparts of the importance of insuring that the special needs of the state's senior citizens are being met.

The senior legislators have, as of this writing, introduced 62 legislative resolutions and when they convene later this month, will see them through their unicameral legislative process.

ASHL members have been successful over the years in helping to bring about many changes to and improvements in the way the state carries out its responsibility to its senior residents.

Senior lawmakers in most states meet in this manner to propose and track legislation effecting their elderly constituency.

The October meeting will be a memorable one for many of the members.

The ASHL will meet in the old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol building. The State’s first legislative session held in this building was in 1851, and has been held there continuously until 1985, when it moved to its present location in the Alabama State House.

As of this writing there have been 62 resolutions submitted covering a wide range of areas that impact on the lives of senior citizens. Three of the resolutions concerned matters related to the need for more geriatricians to serve Alabama seniors.

Also of concern is a need to expand the scope of the Ombudsman program, which at present covers only seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It appears that when Congress prepared legislation related to the welfare of certain elders, a line of authority was drawn which excluded many deserving seniors.. As time passed, the interpretation of independent was broadened considerably, but the services and protection afforded residents of these facilities failed to address their needs.

Pay day lending was another area for which multiple resolutions were introduced. This is a major area of concern since many seniors are the target of pay day lenders.

The remainder of the resolutions cover a broad range of subjects of concern to the senior population.

In the past, resolutions related to elder abuse, ethics reform, various services that provide aid for seniors, and a host of other related matters have gone on to the Governor's office and to the Legislature and have resulted in the enactment of legislation beneficial to senior citizens.

By the end of the three-day session, five resolutions will have made it through the process that related directly to seniors, and five more of a more general senior interest will have also been approved for submission to the Governor.

At last count there are Silver Haired Legislature Chapters in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the number continues to grow.

The U.S. Congress will also get an earful when it comes to issues affecting the elderly. Senior advocates belonging to the National Silver Haired Congress see to that.

State Silver Haired Legislature members are elected by their peers and support bills pertaining to medical care, consumer protection and age discrimination, among other matters. But advocacy isn't limited just to matters affecting those with silver hair.

During its three-day session the ASHL will look at resolutions pertaining to senior nutrition, a variety of tax-related measures, Medicaid wavers, a number of health-related measures, resolutions related to rent and landlord responsibilities, and others.

In Pursuit of Triviality

If you were looking for a time of origin for the cliche it would most likely be to the time man first learned to express himself with words. As soon as early man learned to form sounds into words and to use specific words to describe items or events, cliches soon followed.

Whenever a person joins a group of words together to describe something in a way no one else has, a clever phrase is born. As soon as others pick it up and draft it into everyday use, a cliche is born.

Salvador Dali provided us with a good assessment of the situation when he remarked that: “The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”

And this observation was not all that original either, since the 19th Century French poet Gerard de Nerval had said: “The first man who compared a woman to a rose was a poet, the second, an imbecile.

A colorful phrase is born when someone comes up with a clever way to express something. A cliche is born when someone else repeats it; and others follow suit—until everyone is mindlessly using the phrase. Unfortunately, the word or phrase soon becomes overused and loses its original intent; becoming trite—to the point of being an irritant.

A quick search of the Internet reveals that “at the end of the day” is said to be “the most irritating phrase in the English language.” But that was most likely written before television sets became standard household furniture.

The second most irritating phrase is probably one made famous by John Dean during the Watergate trials: “At this point in time.” And today's candidate for that spot has to be: “Boots on the ground.”

This phrase gained popularity—and quickly thereafter cliche status—in the 1980, during the Vietnam era, then it moved from that geographic locale to the Middle East. Now, any reference to activities in that realm, or anything related to US military involvement, carries the obligatory tag: “Boots on the ground.” In any newscast it is repeated constantly—ad infinitim.

No self-respecting public official, newscaster, or even the man on the street, would deign to mention the situation in the Middle East without at least a half dozen references to the need for, or presence of “boots on the ground.” The term probably originated in the 1970s, and grew in intensity. Like most cliches, it began as a relatively clever phrase—but it soon became trite. People who work for the government have a way of doing that; it saves thinking In the 1980's it began to pick up steam, by the end of the 20th Century it was commonplace, and now it's a blight. Most people have no idea what it means, but no one would miss an opportunity to refer to “Boots on the ground.”

As the American version of the English language falls into disrepair we see other blights such as “like.” People say “like” when they don't have anything else to say. It has almost become punctuation, replacing “you know what I mean?”


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