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"Unfit for Work" Points Mic at "Disabilities"

It's not a report by John Stossel at Fox; it's Chana Joffe-Walt on National Public Radio with a straight on examination of the growing lists of officially "disabled" people in America "Unfit for Work". The ranks are close to doubling in a decade. There are now almost seven times more youth on disability program payments than was the case 30 years ago and most of them are "disabled" by dint of problems like attention deficit syndrome.

The report is hard-hitting, yet humane. Part of the problem that Joffe-Walt identifies is that a large part of the American population is unable to compete globally. A doctor she interviews in Alabama (in a county where one quarter of adults are on disability) asks his patients if they have a high school diploma. If they don't, he figures that they are likely candidates for disability.

Almost everyone has aches and pains, so it isn't hard to conclude that working would just constitute a hardship. And for some it does. But disability really has become a substitute for welfare. Moreover, it works for men as well as women, single people as well as those with children.

Once you have it, moreover, you qualify for Medicare for your health needs and food stamps for food. In many cases, as the report shows, disability payments are greater than what one would get in a regular job.

Joffe-Walt finds a company in Eastern Washington with a call center that seeks state welfare recipients it can get placed on the federal disability role, thereby saving state governments money. The Public Consulting Group (PCG) then gets paid a couple of thousand dollars a case by the grateful state governments.

She also talks to a trial attorney who has made it his very successful business--advertised on TV--to get people onto disability. He knows the words you need! And, the happy reality for him is that the government has no way to contest his clients' appeals if Social Security, that administers the disability program, initially turns them down.

In this instance, NPR has done a serious investigative public service. Maybe the Congress can start organizing some serious discussions to respond. Even progressives cannot be pleased to see an ever increasing share of the population inducted into what turns out in most cases to be permanent dependency.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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