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Taxpayers hurt by US disability dependence

November 7, 2012


I saw a good friend the other day who had had some problems with high blood pressure.

He told me he didn’t even know he had high blood pressure, that he had become dizzy and a bit disoriented at work and had gone to the doctor, who immediately put him into the hospital. I was shocked!

He told me the doctor had prescribed medication to control his blood pressure, but that he wanted to do everything he could not to have to depend on medication.

I agreed, and told him I was working on the same problem, trying to lose some weight, watch my diet and exercise more. We commiserated together and encouraged each other toward better health.

Then, he changed the subject to a subject that ultimately led to both of us raising our blood pressure. After he had been released from the hospital, the doctor wanted him to rest at home a while and not return to work. My friend has worked his whole life. Work is what you do. I mean, if one doesn’t work, what does one do? We share this fundamental work ethic.

He told me he would walk around his neighborhood for mild exercise and visit with neighbors. Some of his neighbors, learning about his new “disability,” congratulated him and told him he didn’t have to work any more.

Now that he was “disabled” he could stay home and collect a check from the government!

That’s when his and my blood pressure started to rise.

He couldn’t believe people really would take advantage by retiring at the government’s expense — not really the government’s expense, but at taxpayers’ expense and at the expense of a skyrocketing national debt of $16 trillion.

Not only did he not mind working, he wanted to work and to keep on working as long as he could. Some of his neighbors had discovered disabilities that made them eligible for early retirement and government assistance, and they had jumped at the chance to receive government checks and to sit at home doing whatever.

I believe we’ve seen this dependence mentality expand over the last four years of President Obama’s reign. Even though the recession of 2007-08 ended in June 2009 and we’ve been in “recovery” ever since, the number of those receiving government assistance particularly through disability claims has skyrocketed.

Why? Has America suffered an onslaught of accidents and poor health over the past four years? I don’t think so.

What has changed? Under President Obama it’s been much easier to claim disability, to qualify for food stamps, to receive unemployment benefits, in short to become more dependent on government transfer payments. And my friend and I have learned there are not only those among us who jump at the chance to quit working and collect government, i.e. taxpayer dollars, but who also are encouraging those around them to jump on the welfare wagon with them.

It’s really sad.

Yes, we need a real change in attitude in Washington, but we need an even bigger attitude adjustment out here in the rest of America. We need to return to our American roots fostering a good work ethic particularly among our young people. Regardless of who’s in charge in Washington, we need to take charge of our own communities and encourage our friends, neighbors, and family to work together for the benefit of all.

Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. Contact him at

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