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Help the AARP lose its undeserved IRS tax-exempt status now!

By       Message Eugene Elander       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Perhaps about the time that the former American Association of Retired Persons became just the AARP, it not only lost its name, but also its purpose and, indeed, its very soul. This once-premier agency for America's elderly has become just one more purveyor of often-overpriced and sometimes-unnecessary items to senior citizens.

Such issues and concerns about the AARP are really nothing new; in 2011 many such matters were raised in the U.S. Congress through a set of hearings in which highly-paid top AARP officials participated. Then, according to the official AARP website, "We do not sell insurance," Barry Rand, chief executive officer of AARP told the committee. He described AARP's insurance related revenues as "royalties." In such an arrangement, AARP receives a fee from private insurers in exchange for tweaking their policies, accepting an AARP "brand" and selling those polices to AARP members. In 2009, AARP revenues from such royalties amounted to two and a half times the amount the association received from member dues. {End of quote}

HERE IS THE AARP GIMMICK: The agency does not directly "sell" insurance, instead partnering with various insurance companies such as The Hartford for auto and home policies, and other partners for medical insurance -- on and on, endlessly and in numerous arenas. If there is some product or so-called service the AARP can make a buck from -- usually, many bucks -- they will find some "partner" to sell it for them, and pay the AARP so-called royalties. The really wonderful thing about this deal is that it allows the AARP to take zero responsibility for the actions or inactions, rights or wrongs, behavior and misbehavior, of their "partners." Great system -- at least for the AARP -- but not so great for America's senior citizens!

Having recently left the clutches of the overpriced and under-serviced The Hartford AARP auto and home insurance program, I know all about this matter firsthand. When The Hartford first lured us into the program, then gouged our rates, jacked up our premiums unmercifully, and finally refused to explain their gouging -- not mention outright lies that we would receive a premium reduction for longevity in our third policy year, which was then refused -- I turned to the AARP for assistance with the sins of their partner, The Hartford. The AARP first turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the problems, and it took many emails to their top corporate level to even get any response. When it came, that response was essentially, "Hey, we are not responsible for our partners, you will find no redress here at AARP!" That is truly shameful in any agency.

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Meanwhile, vital issues facing America's elderly are essentially ignored by the AARP. There is very little advocacy on behalf of seniors today; when social security is frozen once again, while our costs (such as medical care) continue to rise much more rapidly than the national inflation rate. from AARP there is only the "sound of silence." When seniors are often disenfranchised from voting by adverse practices in some states such as requiring enhanced proof of identity, policies which particularly afflict minority voters, from AARP there is only "the sound of silence." When members such as me raise vital issues and concerns, again there is only "the sound of silence." At AARP, the sounds of silence have become the sins of silence. Meanwhile, this once-noble agency is now just one more seller of stuff we do not need!

AARP, then, no longer deserves its tax-exempt status granted by the IRS to charitable agencies which promote the good and enhance the welfare of their members. Purveyors of products are not entitled to tax-exemption, nor is the AARP. This is not the first challenge to that tax-exempt status, which Congress has already questioned in 2011. Anyone reading this article who has any information, or a story, or an experience, with AARP is welcome to post it in the COMMENTS section -- this author will be monitoring those comments closely, and will then decide on the best approach to taking control of the AARP, including removing its unjustified tax-exempt status. America's elderly deserve much better! Meanwhile, one can only hope that a real senior advocacy group will emerge from the ashes of the misbegotten AARP. Write on -- and Right On -- American seniors!

 

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Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)
 

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