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I enjoy life, but with just a small sense of guilt that I am putting a burden on my retirement system, Social Security and Medicare. I sense that I lack the grace to fold my tent and leave without further burden to society. It is a bit like those who go through a war without injury and feel guilty about those who were wounded or lost their lives. Old age is a time for much pondering as there is not much else we are capable of doing.

I have fully recovered from a broken hip and hip surgery, and I walk without a cane or walker. I am grateful for good health, but old age is a factor that cannot be denied.

Still, I wonder how much of my confusion is age-related and how much is generated by government and business. I receive a constant barrage of contradictory information from business and government agencies. While in the hospital and rehab, I did not receive my mail and my credit card was deactivated. I sent in the late payment with penalties and was told that my card was reactivated. After that, some days it worked and others it was rejected.  I called and paid my account down to a zero balance and was assured that everything was in order and my card was fully restored, but today I got another letter advising me that I was in arrears for the two unpaid statements. I called again and was assured that I was fully paid up and in good standing. Some folks at Bank America are not sharing information. They are not too big to fail, but they seem too big to function.

In the first 50 years of my life, I do not recall ever getting a bank statement that was incorrect or receiving a bill from my doctor that I did not understand. Now I get a new billing from some arm of Medicare almost every day.  I thought that I had fully paid my hospital and rehab bill, but yesterday I got a bill for more than $800. I work the cryptogram and the crossword puzzle in the paper every day without fail, but I could not understand any part of the statement.

I just write the checks and send them in, but I am concerned with what I know is an unnecessary incompetence in government and business. I am something of a leach, so I feel bad about what might seem like having an ungrateful attitude. But I wonder how a young person with a serious health problem can cope with this rife confusion. I guess that I really do not need to know what I am paying for as long as I have the money to make the payments, but I remember from my high school business course that we were taught otherwise.

I suppose that this is a political article in a way, but I have serious concern about government intrusion from both sides of the aisle. Even the great hero of conservatism, Ronald Reagan, forbade doctors and family from the pulling of life supports on a brain dead patient. ( I am sure ultra religious people approved of this action.)

Basically, I believe that democratic government is the best remedy for a problem, and I am never against good government no matter how intrusive it is.

So you see why a benign nature takes away our ability to think in our old age. Five years ago, a reader called me a senile old doofus. He was probably not far off the mark, but I still have only a vague notion of what a doofus is. I suspect that I am now more of whatever it is.

Ennyho, I send my readers affectionate greetings from an Old Doofus who is confused about who he is and what he thinks.

TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is tobyhigh@frontier.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.

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