Larry Minnix

(Subtitled: “A serious tongue-in-cheek idea”)

Pols and celebrities are advocating the reopening of the country at the risk of the health of seniors. 

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) asked, “As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?”

Dr. Mehmet Oz says reopening schools would result in “only” 2% to 3 % mortality. Sen. John Kennedy (R) of Louisiana says we must be “ready”  to let the COVID-19 “take lives.” And Dr. Phil argues we don’t shut down the country over drunk driving fatalities, cigarette smoking, and drownings in private pools, do we?

So, if we open up our country and “let the virus be the virus,” I suggest a program that designates three basic classes of Americans — Free Rangers, Cavaliers and Gold Clubbers — that will be duly noted in all our official personal documents.  

1. Free Rangers

A Free Ranger is someone who goes regularly to the DMV (Department of Multiple Viruses) and obtains a virus-free license. They are tested privately using heir own money. They are free to move about the cabin, so to speak. They show their license to get into public events, travel on planes and trains, eat at restaurants. They are recertified virus-free like driver’s license renewals. Eventually everyone will want to be a Free Ranger.

2. Cavaliers

This class of citizens can exercise their right not to be tested and to be free from self-isolation. But we have to assume they are infected and contagious absent proof and availability of widespread testing. So Cavaliers must wear masks, social distance, have designated sections on beaches and in churches and synagogues. They receive formal education through distance learning. At employer discretion, their offices would have designated floors and breakrooms. They must use only restaurant drive-throughs. There would be separate cruises of risk takers. They pay a surtax to support research into viruses, and to build walls and nursing home cubicles to isolate infected people. Businesses can can choose to serve Cavaliers or not until one of them sues and the Supreme Court decides ontheir rights versus those of business.

3. Gold Club Members

You are automatically a member of this prestigious class at age 70 and receive Medicare and Social Security! But since the bulk of healthcare costs are incurred in the last months of life, at age 75 Gold Clubbers are encouraged to sign a pledge (voluntary opt-out for more participation) to receive No more medical treatment for the remainder (short, mind you) of life.

The pledge includes a DNR, with no 911, ER, ICU or surgical treatment. No more Part D drug coverage (except Tylenol, Preparation H, Robitussin, treatment for the heartbreak of psoriasis, adult beverages, and morphine.) Broken bones would be repaired so our kids don’t have to wheel us everywhere and miss work. 

Think of the taxpayer money to be saved! We could fund more medical research, kids programs, scholarships, walls, corporate welfare and stock buy-backs. Health stocks would take a beating but sales of snake oil remedies — and small businesses — on QVC would skyrocket, as would sales of Bibles. The cremation industry, checker boards and card games companies would be the new darlings of Wall Street!

There could be a designated holiday for national ceremonial  signing where we could tell seniors how thankful we are for their service, and that our thoughts and prayers are with them in these last months of their lives. The president could lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Gold Clubber.

Then, at a future presidential election, some candidate will no doubt pass out red caps and matching red masks with “MAMA” on them. It stands for “Make America Ethical Again” … 

Let’s ask Lt. Gov. Patrick and his thought leader friends if they will lead the movement to “Take One for the Grands!” and be founding members of the Gold Club.

Larry Minnix is the former President and CEO of LeadingAge, and the namesake of LeadingAge’s Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.