“Disabled” America. “Dependent” America. A “culture of dependence.” These are taglines that political hawks are tagging our country.
Especially now that a record 5.4 million more workers have signed on for fed disability checks.
Now this is not something we can whitewash. 5.4 million workers on disability is not easy on taxpayer money, and people becoming dependent on free money is a very real threat to our nation’s identity.
But we have to stop and ask ourselves: why have the numbers gone up?
The political answer is affected by multiple factors. One reason is the loosening of eligibility rules laid out back in ’84. People are finding it easier to get federal aid under the Obama administration than ever before, and it is hurting our wallets.
The slow economic recovery is another reason why workers are seeking disability in the first place. There just aren’t enough decent-paying jobs out there in the market, and disability checks are one of the few lifelines left to those whose unemployment insurance has run out.
When you consider what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about the issue, you will quickly find that it is the latter reason – not the former – that drives people to apply for disability in the first place.
“When opportunities for employment are plentiful, some people who could quality for (disability insurance) benefits find working more attractive.” The CBO brief points out the fact that, “when employment opportunities are scarce, some of these people participate in the DI program instead.”
Another report, this time from the White House, shares much more disturbing findings: those that go for disability insurance rarely go back to the work force.
The solution is stupidly simple but immensely difficult to implement: create more jobs and reward those that strive to work hard.
Now we just need to kick-start our economy and get more jobs back for all of us.