January 9, 2011
As I write this, the U.S. national debt is over fourteen trillion dollars, or almost $45,000 for each person here. (See a real time national debt clock.) Forty-five thousand dollars per person. And that's in a country where the average income per household is $52,000 (as of 2008) and that's $52,000 per household, not per person. Yet we continue to waste money.
Of all the ways the U.S. government wastes money, probably the way that burns me the most is Social Security Disability.
Or to be specific, a certain segment of people that collect Social Security Disability checks.
I think the simplest way to illustrate who I mean is to tell you a story. It's a true story.
I have a relative who met the person who was responsible for approving who gets Social Security Disability in a certain region of Mississippi. My relative just met the man and was speaking with him. He had not applied for Social Security Disability. During the course of the conversation, this man, the one who decides who gets those disability checks our tax dollars fund, said he felt my relative was schizophrenic and he'd approve disability for him, because, after all, he'd once approved disability for a man who said he was so distracted by women's breasts that he couldn't work around women and, so, couldn't hold a job.
When I heard that, I didn't know which left me more speechless with outrage:
To this day I still find it hard to conceive that my tax dollars are going to some guy who says he can't work because he likes to look at boobs too much.
As for my relative, he is not schizophrenic, at least not in my opinion. He's a con artist who hadn't work for years, except to sponge off anyone he could.
And even if I grant you that he was schizophrenic, schizophrenia is treatable. If he really were schizophrenic, he should get treatment and go back to work. I say "go back to work," but he wasn't working to begin with.
I have a neighbor. He's in his mid-40s and living with his mother as he hasn't been employed in many years. He lives off his parents. (His father is a doctor.) And I wouldn't care about that if his parents were the only people he lived off. But his doctor father arranged for another doctor to diagnosis the son as bipolar so now he gets Social Security Disability. My opinion: the son's not bipolar. He's a lazy-ass addict with a long criminal record. The term "good for nothing" could have been coined to describe him. The one time I saw him put the garbage out, I about had a heart attack from the shock of seeing him lift a finger. But he drives his new BMW to the gym every day to workout -- that's how disabled he is. You know where he doesn't drive his BMW? He doesn't drive it to a physician to get treated for his "bipolar" disorder because he's not under any kind of medical treatment for the condition. And yet, bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. Most people who are bipolar lead fairly normal lives that include working for a living.
I have asthma. There was a period when the asthma was so severe that I could not stand up to brush my teeth. I had to sit down on the edge of the tub and brush my teeth over the bathtub. And that is no exaggeration. I was getting so little oxygen that I could not stand up for the two minutes it took to brush my teeth while at the same time moving my wrist up and down to use the toothbrush. I could do one or the other, but not both. It was a period of my life where if I went to cross a room, I had to sit down on the other side of the room to catch my breath, because just walking across a room left me breathless. I did not apply for Social Security Disability. The idea never even occurred to me. Asthma's a treatable condition. I got treatment. And I got better.
Call me naive, but I reasonably expected that Social Security Disability was for people who have a condition which cannot be managed medically, making it impossible for them to no longer work (meaning they had been working).
But I come to find out we're paying disability to people who didn't work who have medical conditions that could be treated.
What a fine use of tax dollars that we don't have.
This mindset is the reason we have a fourteen trillion dollar debt. It's an attitude that's led to a period of social insecurity of financial crisis and future uncertainty. As a nation we have to make changes as we cannot continue to waste money we do not have.
The Social Security Disability system badly needs revamping. These are my commonsense guidelines I'd like to see the Social Security Administration implement:
If you think that the Social Security Disability system is wasting our tax dollars and you agree with me that these guidelines could help, then please contact your Congressional representatives and tell them.
U.S. House of Representatives