We have a most serious behavioral problem in America that amounts to an attitudinal acceptance of theft.
Too many of We the People think that stealing from our fellow taxpayers is acceptable. And unfortunately, too many taxpayers have come to accept this attitude and behavior as normal.
There is a huge difference between the meaning of the two words 'expect' and 'accept.' When we expect one thing but are willing to accept something less than what we expect, we'll often get the lesser thing.
Thus, expecting our government officials and fellow citizens to not raid the public piggy bank won't prevent them from doing just that.
Accordingly, only when it becomes absolutely unacceptable to raid the public piggy bank will public piggy bank raiding cease.
Insisting on what we expect as the only thing we'll accept is a very simple matter. But it's not all that easy to achieve.
In that regard, We the People will have to change our own behavior before the expected from others becomes the accepted. It's very much up to all of us to elevate our taxpayer game of vigilance and due diligence.
Two stories from New York make the point:
(1) Citizen taxpayers get bilked by their fellow citizens when people legally take government disability money but which money they aren't entitled to morally; and
(2) Teachers that solicit and receive pay raises for "aiding" student test score results are cheating students, parents and taxpayers alike.
Shouldn't this behavior be criminalized? I think so.
A -- Railroad Retirement and Disability Fraud Story
We don't pay nearly enough attention to public sector pension plan and related disability fraud payments. More L.I.R.R Retirees Charged in Disability Fraud says this:
"Ten retirees from the Long Island Rail Road were charged on Tuesday with filing fraudulent disability claims to increase their pension payouts in what prosecutors called a “massive fraud scheme.”
Their arrests bring to 21 the number of people charged, including two physicians accused of giving false diagnoses of disabilities, in a plot that prosecutors have said could have led to more than $1 billion in excessive payouts by the railroad’s pension system.
With the arrest count growing, the authorities also announced on Tuesday an amnesty program for retirees who acknowledge having made false statements to win disability payments. The program does not require those who come forward by July 6 to return disability money they have already received.
“The L.I.R.R. is a commuter railroad, not a gravy train,” said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The federal investigation followed a series of articles by The New York Times in 2008 that revealed that nearly every one of the railroad’s retirees had applied for and received a disability pension.
Prosecutors have said many of those who claimed they were too disabled to work nonetheless had robust hobbies, including biking, golf and tennis.
The railroad’s retirees can collect pensions from both the railroad and the Railroad Retirement Board, a federal agency that administers benefits for all railroad workers.
The Long Island Rail Road allows pension payouts for employees as young as 50 who have at least 20 years on the job, which prosecutors say is the lowest age allowed by any commuter railroad in the country. The Railroad Retirement Board pays a disability pension for workers unable to continue in their job, as well as a regular pension at age 65.
The regular pensions at age 65 for Long Island Rail Road employees who also receive disability pensions can come close to matching their base salaries when they worked, prosecutors said.
But the overlapping pensions, and the ease in obtaining a disability pension, made retiring at a young age attractive. From 2004 through 2008, only 7 percent of employees at the Metro-North Railroad who stopped working and received disability payments were 50 to 55; at the Long Island Rail Road, the figure was 61 percent, prosecutors said."
B-- Elementary School Teacher Fraud Story
B-- Elementary School Teacher Fraud Story
Neither do we pay enough attention to what goes on in our "best performing" public schools. Cheating Inquiry Under Way at 2 Top-Rated City Schools puts it this way:
"Two of the highest-ranking public elementary schools in New York City are under investigation for possible irregularities on state examinations, officials said on Tuesday. . . .“there may be other schools involved.”
The inquiry began after administrators and teachers at Intermediate School 318, where many of the children from the two elementary schools move on to, noticed that their class work was worse than their fifth-grade test scores would suggest it should be, according to staff members at Intermediate School 318. After one year at I.S. 318, the standardized test scores of some of these children were falling sharply.
“In some cases, students with perfect scores dropped from being in the 99th percentile to the 30th percentile,” one staff member at the school said. “It was impossible.” . . .
Last year, when the city’s Education Department released report cards for the roughly 1,200 elementary and middle schools in the city, P.S. 31 was ranked No. 1 among elementary schools. Its math scores were nearly perfect, and 90 percent of its students passed the English test, more than 40 points above the citywide average. To celebrate, staff members tied a sign to the building: “School Report Card P.S. 31 is #1 in New York City.”
At P.S. 257, most of the students are black or Hispanic and come from families with incomes low enough to qualify for reduced lunch prices. Some are not fluent English speakers. Last year, 62 percent of the children at the school had a score of proficient or higher on the state English exam. According to the city’s rankings, which compares how well schools perform based on a complicated formula that takes into account whether their students are from low-income families and other factors, P.S. 257 ranked No. 2 among elementary schools.
But a teacher at I.S. 318 said there were glaring discrepancies between some of her students’ class work and their exam scores. One sixth grader, a boy from P.S. 257, scored proficient on the state English exam in fifth grade last year, but is a recent immigrant and speaks English poorly. . . .
Staff members at I.S. 318 said they initially kept their suspicions to themselves. But in February, when the city’s Education Department released individual performance rankings for 18,000 public school teachers, teachers at I.S. 318 fared badly.
The rankings were based on the results on state math and English exams, which are taken by nearly all third through eighth graders. If students’ scores surpassed the city’s expectations, the teachers were ranked at the top of the scale. If they underperformed, the teachers were rated “below average,” or “low.”
At I.S. 318, nearly 60 percent of teachers were rated below average or low. The Daily News singled out the school for its poor performance, and many news media outlets, including The New York Times, published teachers’ ratings online. The sixth-grade teachers’ scores, which depended on the progress students made from fifth to sixth grade, were particularly poor.
At P.S. 31 and P.S. 257, many teachers were rated above average or high, and those ratings play an important role in overall teacher evaluations."
Discussion, Analysis and Summary
These are but two examples of taxpayer ripoffs by public sector workers.
Since it's not unusual for people to willingly accept something for doing nothing, the taxpayer "giver" needs to be vigilant and require his public sector representatives to be vigilant as well.
And when our "giving" taxpayer has delegated decision making and administrative responsibility to public "servants,", those public officials owe a certain "duty of care" to that taxpayer.
Public sector officials must learn to view our MOM as if it were their MOM, and not as OPM.
When that simple fiduciary standard of service becomes standard practice, we'll all be the better for it.
Including the New York railroad workers, teachers and elected officials.
But most of all, We the People will be getting our money's worth for the taxes we "give," and that's only fair.