Seniors Against Federal Extravagance (S.A.F.E.) - Smaller government now for a safe future for our grandchildren and all of us. SAFE had its beginnings in 1995, with private discussions among AARP members concerning the huge federal debt resulting from federal spending. Those involved in the beginning were Bill Morris, Warren Foster and Joe Reed of Wilmington DE and Ted Hill of Claymont DE. We felt that senior citizens should help encourage decreased spending to avoid leaving a large debt for the next generations to pay.
Our concern was reported on 1/7/96 in a Wilmington DE News Journal article by Cris Barrish: 4 Seniors Rebel Against AARP: Federal ‘Extravagance’ at Issue
If the nation’s financial boat ever sinks, the American Association of Retired Persons will be partly to blame, according to a grass-roots group of older Delawareans.
Seniors Against Federal Extravagance (SAFE), as the new organization calls itself, resents the “big government legislative agenda” of AARP and its 37 million members.
That agenda spells “disaster for this country and runs counter to the desires of a vast majority of senior citizens,” SAFE contends in a petition it has circulated around New Castle Country. Adds William E. Morris, one of the group’s founders: “We want to dilute the AARP’s legislative effectiveness.”
Morris, a retired DuPont chemical engineer and founder of the Libertarian party in Delaware, started SAFE with three other disenchanted AARP members from the group’s Concord chapter in [the] Brandywine Hundred area about a year ago.
The group has no other official members or meetings, although nearly 200 people have signed the petition and statements in support of SAFE’s goal of shrinking government spending.
SAFE criticizes the AARP Washington office and its lobbyists for consistently pushing for more government spending, and not just for senior citizens. They bash AARP for burdening the Social Security system with benefits for younger disabled persons. They think it’s unfair that the AARP receives $80 million annually in government grants while stockpiling huge cash reserves. SAFE also wants the budget balanced in fewer than the seven years proposed by congressional Republicans.
Morris, 75, formed the group with fellow DuPont retiree Joe Reed, and retired businessmen Warren Foster and Ted Hill.
At meetings of the AARP’s Concord chapter, they started talking about their disagreements with the national organization. That led to lunches at DuPont Country Club, and then “we decided [to] get a little bit active, and do something rather than talking to each other,” he said.
The group believes younger Americans should be allowed to opt out of the Social Security system; wants administrative costs in welfare spending cut in half, and opposes the AARP’s support of socialized medicine.
SAFE’s existence is news to Ed Cahill, president of the Delaware AARP chapter, who knows Morris and the others from meetings at Aldersgate United Methodist Church on U.S. 202.
“But there’s 33 million of us against four of them,” Cahill said.
Of SAFE’s claim that AARP can harm the nation’s financial health, Cahill said: “If our Congress can’t lead our country to avert ruin, I don’t think the AARP can do it.”
Republican U.S. Sen. William V. Roth Jr., the only senior citizen among Delaware’s three congressmen, lauded SAFE’s formation. Roth, 74, said through a spokesman Friday: “While I don’t agree with all of their positions on the issues, I do support their view that the federal government has grown too large and spends too much.”
HOW TO JOIN: To join or get information about Seniors Against Federal Extravagance, call William Morris at 475-XXXX. The article resulted in 62 telephone calls from those supporting our position. This encouraged us to start an organization, which we named Seniors Against Federal Extravagance (SAFE). We then had a public meeting on February 22, 1996, at Boscov’s Department Store in Dover DE.
We obtained an Employer Identification Number in order to set up a bank account. In our 4/23/96 application, we described SAFE as a non-profit educational organization.
Our first quarterly newsletter, Spring 1996, listed Bill Morris as State Chair, Stanley Moum of Seaford as Kent-Sussex Chair, Bob Altemus as Treasurer and Marybeth Hermenson as Newsletter Editor. Stanley Moum insisted that we organize properly with a constitution and by-laws, which we did with his help. They were adopted at our first annual meeting, September 25, 1996, at Boscov’s in Dover DE.
We became a Delaware non-stock corporation (File 2716837) February 11, 1997.
SAFE officers and other members have been in contact with Senators Biden and Roth and Representative Castle and their staff members to make our views known. We have informed the public via talk shows, letters to the editor, Op-Ed pieces, talks at service clubs, and booths or tables at public events including the Delaware State Fair.
As of September 1998, we have published ten newsletters. We have 112 members, mostly in Delaware. Our main effort now is to obtain members in other states through use of an internet website, which is ineffective, but we have gained enough experience to make effective use of professional help to develop an effective website.
William E. Morris, President September 23, 1998
To read more of the SAFE story, check out this post in the blog archives