The American Association of Retired Persons represents the interests of senior citizens, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes, it actively opposes them.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) purports to represent the interests of 33 million senior citizens, but its real agenda is something else entirely. In a new book called Trust Betrayed, excerpted in a recent issue of the national conservative weekly Human Events, free-lance journalist Dale Van Atta charges that the AARP "actively promotes causes seniors neither like nor find beneficial. Some even run counter to their interests, especially the AARP's relentless support of ever higher taxes, disastrous health-care legislation that threatens seniors, and a whole litany of other liberal causes."
Despite its neglect of, and opposition to, the genuine interests of senior citizens, the AARP continues to rake in millions in membership dues. But that's not the only source of its funding. "In 1993 and 1994, AARP's revenue was around $470 million," Van Atta reports. "Less than half of that comes from membership dues. A hefty chunk of it comes from . . . the American taxpayers, in the form of federal funding." The AARP also enjoys "special nonprofit rates from the U.S. Postal Service -- a rate they sometimes abuse for unjustifiable purposes."
The AARP seems to appreciate those governmental goodies more than it does its own member support. "The AARP's dependence on federal largesse has made it an active lobbyist for everhigher taxes and entitlement spending," Van Atta charges. He recalls that the AARP was "a vigorous supporter of the Catastrophic Health Care Act, which would have cost many senior citizens an additional $800 a year in taxes. When senior citizens realized the bill's financial impact, there was a historic revolt of the AARP's rank and file. In a highly unusual reversal, Congress repealed the act."
Van Atta points out that the AARP was "also a major booster of the ill-fated Clinton health-care reform package, despite an overwhelmingly negative response from senior citizens. In fact," he observes, "secret health task force documents released under threat of a lawsuit indicate that the AARP actually helped design the Clinton Health Care Plan."
The AARP's left-leaning agenda has taken a toll on its membership rolls. That decline is likely to continue as more and more senior citizens discover where their membership dues are going. They will discover the truth, in time, but you can help speed up this process of realization by spreading the word. Copy this commentary and distribute it to your older friends and relatives. Attach a note confiding your concern that the American Association of Retired Persons is not truly representing their interests, but merely pandering to them as it exploits their financial support to advance an alien agenda. Tell them you just wanted to make sure they know that there are alternatives to AARP -- other organizations that really do represent the interests of seniors. Recommend one to them, if you can. Then encourage them to get their money's worth by joining that group and resigning their membership in AARP.