Sunday, April 08, 2018

AARP, Unrepresentative Lobbyists And Lifeboat Ethics

     The late Robert A. Heinlein remarked that though elderly retirees made great political volunteers, they were a dangerous constituency, since they had no direct long-term stake.

     I'm on the threshold of joining them; at 59 I have, with luck, twenty mostly-hale years left, followed by a decade or two of decline, maybe even three, which is the stuff of Greek tragedy.  My Mom was more fortunate than most and I wouldn't wish her final decade on anyone, with falls and clumsy care-givers and frequent hospital trips.

     But despite my years, the AARP just loves me and wants to be my friend, sending promotional mailers almost weekly and look at all the lovely perks they offer -- discounts for travel and dining out, and my-oh-my, the insurance.  Yes, the insurance -- AARP's co-founder Leonard Davis went on to found the Colonial Penn Group insurance company, and who did they partner with for years and years, right up until a 60 Minutes expose prompted competitive bids?  You won't have to guess.

     The elderly, supposed beneficiaries of AARP's vast clout (their membership makes them one of the biggest lobbies in Washington, D.C.), are a captive market and one with no say about what the organization might lobby for or against -- and AARP doesn't have to care what they think: wait a decade, and most of the critics or supporters of this or that bit of legislation will be dead or incapacitated.

     There's only so much room in the lifeboat.  There are only so many dollars in the Federal Budget.  How will you spend it?  Who will you save?  My goodness, Granny is in dire straits -- and so are the thugs trying to use her as a flotation device.

     I haven't joined AARP.  You know what the biggest difference is between them and the NRA?  No, not politics; sure, one leans left and the other right, but not so much you won't find their well-suited flacks at the same D.C. parties, grabbing after the same mixed drinks and laughing politely at the same tired jokes.  Here's the difference: I get to vote on NRA board members and they send me surveys to get an idea of what matters to the NRA membership.  I have some input into what they do and how they go about it.  AARP has none of that; they just keep pushing those lovely discounts and that fine, fine insurance.  (Income from lending use of the "AARP" name to products is a bigger source of group's income than membership dues.  Consider that A Clue.)  Maybe someday I'll have to join up to get supplemental insurance -- but not today, thank you very much, and not if I can find some other way.

10 comments:

Will said...

Typical of government want-to-be's, they are decidedly anti-gun. Shame the NRA can't figure out a way to turn that around. That much muscle on our side would be a Good Thing.

Patrick Monahan said...

AMAC is the other side of the spectrum, and seems more responsive to members. Also, they are virtually identical item for item with all the perks and benefits.

RandyGC said...

I quit getting pimp literature from them when I turned 55 a few years ago when I used the postage paid return envelope to send them a long (and, I must admit, somewhat profane) list of reasons why I will consider them one of the "enemies foreign and domestic" I swore an oath to resist, why I consider many of their legislative positions over the past few decades reprehensible, and the general low regard I had for their scam organization.

When people talk about how evil and powerful the NRA is because they use lobbyists, I invite them to take a close look at AARP.

jefferson101 said...

If AARP was selling $5.00 Bills for $3.99 each, I wouldn't buy them. There would be a catch somewhere. They can go fly a kite, or whatever, for all of me. I send their Postage Paid envelops back with a big chunk of a Shotgun New or suchlike enclosed, every time. You would think they would have figured it out eventually and stopped bothering me, but no, they don't. It's fun, and it costs them money. What could go wrong with that?

OTOH, it should be noted that if one is in any business and asks if they have an AARP discount, they mostly do. And they never ask for proof that you are actually an AARP member.

Just saying....

D.W. Drang said...

Just turned 60. Just got my first AARP mailing.
It turns out that one organization that honors the Direct Marketing Association's Consumer Choice program is AARP.
So I have that going for me.
Which is nice.

Jay Eimer said...

Second on AMAC - they get you all the benefits of AARP with none of the leftist politics. Whenever someone sells their list to AARP and I get a mailing from them, I send them a bill. As a computer consultant, I bill $200/hr one hour minimum. It's amazing how fast they remove me from their "ok to spam" list when they see it might cost them.

Merle Morrison said...

I used to tell my friends "you are officially old after you get your third AARP invitation" - some of them didn't take it too well..... :)

.45ACP+P said...

I have an intense hatred for AARP. Between being pro union and having helped force Obamacare upon the country, they have worked hard for it. The most I can do is return to them their postage paid envelopes filled with their promotional crap minus anything personally identifiable.. Post Office benefits and AARP pays for it twice. If I somehow accidentally persuade them to stop including the postage paid envelopes, I suspect it will decrease their membership as well. Either way I win a small victory. May they all rot in Hell. They are a plague upon the nation.

Antibubba said...

My wife and I joined our first eligible year. I got so much junk mail and spam from them. I let it lapse. I still get pleas to rejoin. I have the card; it's undated, so I can still use it, but I'll not rejoin.

rickn8or said...

Roberta, it's been my long held opinion that AARP exists to sell insurance to gullible old people. You're neither.