Our Big Fat Greek Habits is worth reviewing for several reasons. They all relate to government spending run amok. Consider these excerpts:
(1) "We're not Greece but . . .
The number of employed Americans grew by 316,000 during the first 41
months of the Obama presidency. The number receiving Social Security
disability benefits grew by 1,291,000.
One factor, says MIT's David Autor, was Congress's extension of
coverage in the 1980s to hard-to-verify mental illness and back pain. As
in Europe, the U.S. disability program has quietly morphed into a way
to disguise the extent of long-term unemployment. The program especially
has become a place for older unemployed workers to keep body and soul
together while waiting for Social Security eligibility. Though funded by
a dedicated payroll tax, the program now runs a deficit of $26 billion a
year. . . .
(2) The U.S isn't Greece but . . .
(3) The U.S. isn't Greece but . . .
What information revolution? In 1980, it took one Medicaid
administrator to oversee five Medicaid cases. Today the same
administrator oversees only half as many.
(4) The U.S isn't Greece but . . .
Federal prosecutors just extended their deadline for immunity to Long
Island Rail Road retirees who use phony disability claims to boost
In 2008, a New York Times investigation found that 98% of retiring
LIRR workers (many of them at age 50, after 20 years of service)
immediately applied for and received disability benefits from the
federal Railroad Retirement Board. (The retirement board, which was
supposed to review these claims, apparently only reviewed whether its
rubber stamp was well inked.)
Two dozen have been indicted in the
scam, including two doctors. But the office of U.S. Attorney Preet
Bharara estimates 1,500 LIRR retirees continue to receive fraudulent
benefits. Under an amnesty deal that was originally supposed to expire
in July, those who fess up won't be prosecuted, won't have to repay
their ill-gotten benefits, won't have their names published, and
won't—despite having defrauded the federal railroad pension agency—lose
their eligibility for a federal railroad pension (in addition to their
LIRR pensions) when they turn 65.
Their only cost would be the loss of any future fraudulent payments, in some cases tens of thousands of dollars a year. . . .
(5) The U.S. isn't Greece but . . .
It takes twice as many firefighters to put out half as many fires as
it did 30 years ago. Fewer fires because of better fire safety is one
reason, but another is the dispatch of overqualified firefighters and
their vehicles to things that aren't fires.
In Orange County, Calif., only 2% of responses involve fires. In
Massachusetts the figure is 5%—only because Massachusetts doesn't count
emergencies that don't result in injury or property damage.
The Orange County Grand Jury, an
official watchdog agency, is the latest to plumb this phenomenon: "This
transition from fire emergencies to medical emergencies has not
generated major changes in the operation model. . . . Each emergency
call generally results in both fire trucks and ambulances being
dispatched to the site of the emergency regardless of the type of
Many towns and cities try to get by with two or three firefighters
per truck, which makes sense when a truck is responding to a fender
bender or bicyclist who fell down. The firefighter-dominated National
Fire Protection Association insists on five firefighters per truck—which
makes sense when a truck is responding to a fire.
What would really make sense, of course, is properly manned fire
trucks responding only to fires, leaving other emergencies to one- or
two-person police or ambulance crews. But firefighter unions are among
the most politically potent in the country. . . .
We the People are getting ripped every day by our "public servants."
There is lots of money wasted with no plan to stop wasting it.
Government wants more so it can waste more.
There's never enough to satisfy their drunk and disorderly spending ways.
We need to send them to detox.