Saturday, March 23, 2013


Today I heard a This American LIfe program devoted to the American disability system and I first thought that this is just grist for the wingnut mill about the evils of the welfare state.  I have no doubt that some people are abusing the system but I think that those with no other alternative will get lumped in with them, like this guy:
But after I got interested in disability, I followed up with some of the guys to see what happened to them after the mill closed. One of them, Scott Birdsall, went to lots of meetings where he learned about retraining programs and educational opportunities. At one meeting, he says, a staff member pulled him aside.

"Scotty, I'm gonna be honest with you," the guy told him. "There's nobody gonna hire you … We're just hiding you guys." The staff member's advice to Scott was blunt: "Just suck all the benefits you can out of the system until everything is gone, and then you're on your own."
He had a heart attack after the mill closed and figured, "Since I've had a bypass, maybe I can get on disability, and then I won't have worry to about this stuff anymore." It worked; Scott is now on disability.

Scott's dad had a heart attack and went back to work in the mill. If there'd been a mill for Scott to go back to work in, he says, he'd have done that too. But there wasn't a mill, so he went on disability.
I wrote earlier that so far the wingnuts like Fats Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Billy Cunningham have overplayed their hand because the rate of increase on the rolls has been steady since 1990 while the population most likely to be affected with disabilities has increased dramatically.

The program provided this graph which is nearly identical to one I provided earlier.
UPDATE: Media Matters also thought this program was a little off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TAL made some good points. Shouldn't those on disability be included in unemployment. This article takes a look.