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Wednesday January 17, 2001

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Sorry about the hip, Gip

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By Cory Spiller

An 89-year-old man fell down and broke his hip Saturday. He happens to be an ex-President. The people of our nation have taken it upon themselves to sympathize with the family and friends of Ronald Reagan, the man who governed our nation over two consecutive terms in the 1980's. I feel bad, too. I bet busting your hip really hurts. I also feel bad for the other 250,000 elderly of this country who break their hip every year who don't get media coverage. However, I don't place my sympathy on Ronald Reagan. I place it on us, the American people. As an elderly person, he has struggled nobly, but his two terms as the President of the United States can only be described as a disservice to our country.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, only one-quarter of hip fracture patients make a full recovery, and an estimated 20 percent die within a year. Good thing the Gipper can afford health insurance. But if you are an elderly person with a broken hip and no health insurance, I suggest you wipe your eyes and cancel that flower order you sent to Reagan's hospital bedroom.

In order to pay for an unnecessarily large military build up, Reagan cut benefits for the poor. Along with the absurd belief that tax cuts to the rich would trickle down to the pockets of the working class, Reagan sent the nation into an economic tailspin. His economic policy left 30 million unemployed in 1982. This resulted in 16 million Americans losing their medical insurance, which was oftentimes tied to holding a job. Another 350,000 individuals suffering from work-related injuries - like broken hips - had their Social Security benefits terminated.

It's great if you feel sorry that Ronnie fell down, but it's entirely questionable whether he would have cared if one of your grandparents had broken their hip while he was President.

There is no doubt in my mind that Reagan will receive the best medical attention there is to offer, not just because he is a former President, but because he is rich. The upper-class of this country are affluent largely because of a Republican legacy of granting tax cuts to the rich. This legacy began under Reagan. Due to tax bills that benefited the richest one percent of the population, the net worth of the "Forbes 400," the 400 richest individuals in the country, tripled. During the Reagan years, the before-tax income of the richest one percent rose 77 percent, while the poorest two-fifths of the population actually saw a small decline.

Don't ever let anyone tell you Reaganomics did not make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Reagan's hip isn't the only medical problem he has suffered in his old age. In 1994, Reagan revealed to the world that he suffers from a politically convenient case of Alzheimer's Disease. Politically convenient because he just simply cannot recall whether or not he was selling arms to Iran and using the profits to fund an illegal covert operation to fight the Sandanistas in Nicaragua.

Whether or not he can remember, he must be held accountable for breaking the trust of the American people, arming a terrorist nation and shedding the blood of thousands of innocent Nicaraguans in a conflict that was none of his beeswax in the first place.

In 1992, less than four years after leaving the White House and two years before his Alzheimer's diagnosis, Reagan was able to escape from further investigation due to his memory loss. When asked about his involvement with selling arms to Iran, the President drew a complete blank. Suspiciously, Reagan could answer in rich detail when questioned about coincidental events not connected to alleged Iran-contra crimes. For example, when discussing a meeting in 1985 with Gorbachev in Geneva, he could describe the weather, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and the size and shape of the table he sat at. However, when asked about the key Iran-contra meeting held during the same Geneva trip, Reagan responded, "I don't have a memory of that."

Sorry about the hip, Gip. We all hope you recover real soon. And if there happen to be any side effects from the painkillers they are giving you, like, say, a momentary recovery of memory, let us know. There are still a few questions you left unanswered.

Cory Spiller is a History and Creative Writing Senior. He can be reached at