There is nothing more addictive than spending other people’s money. And nothing makes us feel more grand than distributing other people’s money to other “other people” whom we think could use it.
Social Security used to be a basic pension. Pay in for the rest of your working life, and we’ll take care of you after you can no longer work. That paying in created a large pile of cash at the Treasury, which is rather like supplying a kindergarten classroom with buckets of brightly colored paint and removing all adult supervision. The results are easily predictable.
So your representatives started fingering the Social Security loot like Scrooge McDuck and one of the brilliant ideas they came up with was adding no more payers, but more payees– this time, it was people under retirement age who were unable to work through no fault of their own. Roy fell through a scaffold at work, broke his back and will never walk again. Social Security is gonna help Roy by replacing some of that income he can no longer earn. Well, there can’t be that many Roy’s out there, and it’s a good cause, and there is just SO MUCH MONEY here, that we should do it. So, we did, and it did make a certain sense.
Fast forward to 2012, when the fastest growing segment of SSI recipients are children who never earned a dime in their lives, but who are diagnosed with a disorder like depression or ADHD or ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or Conduct Disorder or SYGACF (“Something You Get A Check For”). The bar is incredibly low. Momma takes you to a special doctor recommended by a nice lawyer, and she tells you, “Just act crazy and we’ll get money and then we’ll get you those new Transformers!” This is not an exaggeration, as a Child Protective Services worker, I have heard this from the children’s mouths.
My biggest problem is not the fraud, although it is galling. It is the gross stupidity that preceded the decision to take money intended to replace missing income for folks who need it and to give to kids who never earned any and don’t need it.
That’s the addictive power of OPM; it makes you lose your mind. Other People’s Money is the crack cocaine of Congress. Never do you hear a crackhead step back from the pipe and say, “Well, no more for me, thanks. That should be enough for anyone!” And never do you hear a congressman say that, either.