THE NEW AMERICANS

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Miguel Alvarez stared blankly at the screen of the 2020 model edutainment center that was like everything else in his life - overpriced and purchased with money he hadn't earned yet. He had bought it in the hopes that his children - Maria, little Miguel, and Jose - would be able to better themselves, to escape the grinding, relentless poverty that was their lives.

Miguel looked around the living room of the suburban ranch home he and Angelina struggled so hard to keep over their heads. "What a joke," he thought. When he was a child in Mexico and his father had talked about the United States, the conversation always drifted to what it would be like to live like a rich American in a home just like this. Now homes like this in subdivisions across the country housed only the poor and the workers, also poor, their stomachs barely full of salvage starches sold at the $13.00 Store. The rich former residents of these homes - aging baby boomers - had abandoned them when their children had grown, choosing the convenience of the cities, with their mass transit and their high-security condos and apartments designed to keep people like Miguel and his family at bay, and their gleaming medical centers, where preserving the life of a generation seemed more important than providing basic health care to a nation.

"Yeah," Miguel said to the empty room. "Yeah, look at me now. I got the dream. The suburban house and a good job - two of them, in fact - but I'm still poor."

Miguel's family had emigrated in 2005, part of the first wave of immigrants an aging America had recruited to take the jobs boomers and aging Gen Xers were unwilling to do. Miguel, then 16, couldn't believe his luck. Three years later, the AARP Party became the majority party in the House. In 2010, the AARP captured the Senate. Miles Aldrich became the first AARPer to sit in the White House in 2012, but as far as Miguel was concerned, the dream died years before Aldrich was sworn in. The House passed the first "senior tax relief" bill in 2004, in response to concerns over the future of Social Security. Now, it seemed, a new senior relief bill was passed every month. His effective household tax bracket was now 56 percent, forcing both Miguel and his wife to work the equivalent of two full-time jobs each. Barter helped of course - they couldn't afford child care without it - but Miguel couldn't shake the feeling that he'd never be able to save anything, no matter how hard or lon! g he worked.

There were some in the polarized Hispanic community who felt it was time to rise up against the AARP Party, to force reforms and grant working people some tax relief. Miguel wasn't sure. He had always been taught to respect the elderly, but nobody ever said anything about having to carry them on your back all your life. Dreams don't die, Miguel thought, even when you want them to.

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