Turning Back Progress Has Never Worked

President Donald Trump said that he wanted to “roll back regulations to 1960 levels”. Of course, this would undo most progress that has taken place over the past 58 years. I am old enough to remember what it was like back in 1960. Let’s take a trip in the “way back machine” that was a feature on Sherman and Peabody, a cartoon segment on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show that was popular back in 1960, and return to 1960. 

In 1960, the United States had roughly half the number of people that it has at the present. But back in 1960 in large parts of the United States, people of color had to use separate public bathrooms and drinking fountains. It was a common practice and legal for a landlord to refuse to rent or sell their house to anyone of color or a different nationality or religion. It was also legal and a common practice for restaurants and hotels to turn away anyone of color or of a different nationality. The civil rights act wasn’t passed until 1964

Nor were there any voting rights either so in many states people of color were prevented from registering to vote. The Voting Rights Act wasn’t passed until 1965. Also in many states, voters had to pay a poll tax before they could vote. Not only did this prevent many minorities from voting, but it disenfranchised many poor from being able to vote because they couldn’t afford to pay a poll tax. Poll taxes were abolished by a constitutional amendment in 1967.

If you worked, most likely you were represented by a labor union. Unions were strong back in 1960 and most likely you also had a pension where you worked. But even though there was a labor union, corrupt unions and shady employers could screw you out of your pension when you retired. Or your employer could go out of business and you would lose your pension, even after retirement. This was because ERISA wasn’t passed until 1974 which guaranteed your pensions and required companies to adequately fund their pensions. It also established the PBGC that protects your pension should your employer go out of business, even after you retire.

Of course, back in 1960, you had to be careful about the air you breathed and don’t think of going swimming in Lake Erie near Cleveland on a hot summer day. This is because in 1960, there were no Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act or Environmental Protection Agency around to prevent companies and cities from dumping their waste in our air or water. Those didn’t happen until 1972.

If your family was poor and you went to bed hungry, tough. There were no food stamps in 1960. Those didn’t come along until 1964. If you were over age 65, most likely you had no health insurance and couldn’t afford to get your medicine or see a doctor since over half of seniors were uninsured. Medicare wasn’t passed until 1965. If you happened to be poor, forget about getting medical care when you needed it because Medicaid wasn’t passed until 1965. Back in 1960, most Americans didn’t have health insurance.

Women in 1960 were expected to marry and stay at home raising children. Most married women did not work outside of the house in 1960. When women did work outside of the house, the jobs that were available to them mostly were as a secretary, teacher or nurse. Then if your boss wanted to “get fresh” with you, you had to just put up with him. Also, it was legal to pay women less than men for the same job and to not hire a woman because of her breast size.

It is nice to look through rose colored glasses and get nostalgic for the past. But in 1960, there was no internet. If you wanted to look up something, you either had a set of encyclopedias in your home or had to go to the library. There were only three television channels and you had to get out of your chair to change the channel. Almost all televisions were black and white. Although color television was around, a color television set was expensive, the color wasn’t great and most shows were in black and white.

I can attest that sometimes regulations can be oppressive and many make no sense. I work in one of the most regulated industries and markets. But regulations are in place to protect the consumers. The United States had an unregulated economy back in the “roaring 20s”. But that led to the stock market crash and great depression. Regulations and laws are there for a purpose and sometimes living with regulations is the price we have to pay for a civil society. 

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 9:01 PM, 01.02.2018