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What's In A Number?

Ray Blain is a retired pediatrician and medical consultant. In January, 2024 he plans to publish his latest book with IngramSparks as the printer and distributer. The title is A More Perfect Democracy; Modernizing the United States Constitution for the 21st Century.
A More Perfect Democracy: Modernizing the United States Constitution for the 21st Century

80 seems to be a magic number in America representing senility, weakness, forgetfulness and deterioration. When I was a child I read that the average life expectancy for a white male was 59 and for women it was 62. If those were measured facts, then I mistakenly thought that after that age everyone must deteriorate very quickly. Some defied those numbers and managed to set longevity records by living to be over 100 like one of my grandmothers.

Fortunately, with time, education, experience, observation and scientific investigation, some people not only acquire grey hair, muscle atrophy, visual acuity and hearing loss but wisdom, better judgement, negotiating ability and empathy for those who are less fortunate. What I have learned is that what I and others have experienced in deteriorating skills and performance in some areas may cause some restrictions but what really matters is what we can still do well and what we do with them.

My father was a school dropout in the 7th grade probably because of dyslexia. I believe some of my siblings and I may have acquired some of the features. But my parents learned how important education is for success in the modern world and constantly emphasized that we all have talents that we should develop and use to improve the world. Build a better boat and you can go faster, but raise the water level and everyone rises, calm the waters and everyone travels safer.

I was a terrible writer and reader with horrible penmanship until a forth grade teacher had me work on my writing until it was very legible. Handicaps can be overcome. One of the English Kings and President Biden stuttered. Both improved with effort.

I am approaching 83 and have discovered that I can no longer lift 150 pounds from the floor to over my head with little effort. I can no longer read a type written page taped to a wall 8 feet away. Nor can I hear heart murmurs missed by other doctors. But I can still learn new skills and work to entertain and educate others both of which keep my intellect sharp, my days worthwhile, and give my life purpose.

What's magic about 80? It means we have had the opportunity to develop our skills and put them to good use. People are trying to argue that President Biden is too old for reelection. They must have been in a coma for the last three years. In his first term, he has saved us from a financial crises caused by Donald Trump that experts say was headed toward a depression. His administration has decreased inflation from a disastrous 9% at its peak to about 3.2% now. Egg, milk and gasoline prices are dropping. The supply chain crisis has vanished. Manufacturing jobs are returning. Average people like us have health care insurance we can afford. If this is what an 80 year old President can do, we need more like him.

However, being 80 is no guarantee of talent, wisdom or empathy. What will an octogenarian President Trump bring? More Discontent? More Violence? More guns and more stress and danger for our children and students? Return of inflation? More corruption and dark money?

We must reelect Biden-Harris and prevent the collapse of our democracy. Then we must modernize and strengthen our Constitution. My efforts are summarized in my new book "A More Perfect Democracy: Modernizing the United States Constitution for the 21st Century."

~ Raymond Leo Blain











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