Jul 31, 2012

Amazing Op Ed Piece In The Washington Post

     From an Op Ed piece in the Washington Post yesterday by Charles Lane with some comments by me in brackets:
The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed with bipartisan support in 1990 at the urging of then-President George H.W. Bush, enshrines the notion that every American can and should hold a job regardless of physical or mental limitations. 
Under the ADA, employers who refuse to hire or promote the disabled may be liable for money damages in federal court.  [Whoa. Time out. That is not what the Americans with Disabilities Act says. That's what a lot of "disability advocates" wish it said.What it actually says is that employers must give "reasonable accommodation" to people with disabilities. There is nothing in the ADA that says or suggests that "every" American can or should hold a job. That would be absurd. If the Washington Post advertises a data entry job does it have to hire a quadriplegic who applies? Of course not. It doesn't have to hire the quadriplegic for that or any other job unless it could do so with only reasonable accommodation and that sure wouldn't be the case for a data entry job. Hire the quadriplegic for an editorial writing job such as Mr. Lane holds? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on the courts being willing to enforce such a right. The words "reasonable accommodation" are awfully vague and the courts have been almost completely unwilling to enforce them. The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't even mean what it appears to mean and what it appears to mean is vastly less than what Mr. Lane thinks it means.]
Social Security Disability Insurance, however, pays people who can show that they are too mentally or physically impaired to remain in the labor force. In short, for many workers, SSDI creates a quasi-right not to work. [Yes, just as it should since there are many people who are too sick to work. Ever call in sick, Mr. Lane? Why? You are of the opinion that no illness should ever prevent a person from working. Why would you be so lazy as to call in sick?]...
In 1960, however, Congress removed the minimum age requirement [of 50], and in 1965, it allowed people to qualify if they suffered from a condition rendering them unable to “engage in substantial gainful activity” for a year or more, including mental and musculoskeletal ailments.  [No, what Congress actually did in 1965 was to eliminate the requirement that disability be permanent. Now disability has to have lasted or be expected to last at least a year. Mental and musculoskeletal ailments that were permanent -- and most were and are -- were already covered before 1965.]
After that, the rolls swelled with people claiming crippling back aches and depression. Both the Carter and Reagan administrations tried to cull undeserving cases, but the resulting backlash was so strong that Congress actually liberalized the rules in 1984. [What makes you so sure they were undeserving? Try to cut huge numbers of people off disability benefits in 2013 and see what happens. It will be 1984 all over again. Go ahead, I dare you, Mitt Romney.  Follow Lane's advice if you're elected President.] In 2010, mental and musculoskeletal conditions accounted for 54 percent of all new SSDI cases, according to the CBO [Congressional Budget Office]. ...
I don’t mean to imply that all, or even most, SSDI beneficiaries are malingering. [So kind of you, Mr. Lane, to acknowledge that not everyone on Social Security disability benefits is a malingerer. Honestly, I think you need to meet a cross section of those receiving Social Security disability benefits before you start suggesting that many people receiving Social Security disability benefits are malingerers. Essentially no one who has contact with Social Security disability recipients on a regular basis would agree with you. You don't know what you're talking about.] Indeed, some of the recent increase in enrollment would have occurred anyway due to the aging of the population.


Nobbins said...

Thanks for offering a counter point to the Op Ed. It is indeed enraging to see such blatant assumptions being printed without challange.

On the plus side, this is posted in a newspaper, so probably only 50 people will ever read it.

Anonymous said...

Charles, paranoid much?! You are reading way more into the editorial than is necessary or appropriate and jumping to conclusions. If you look at the editorial objectively (which I realize is hard for you to do since you are invested in every applicant being found disabled), there is little to complain about, especially since his overarching statement is that we need to consider whether the Social Security disability program is really fulfilling society's goals and if not, what needs to be done to fix it.

Anonymous said...

If the people on SSDI aren't actually disabled as we hear over and over again, then who should this sad WAPO pundit and the others blame?

And why does the blame keep getting heaped on the recipients like they're nothing more than rocks in the pile of dirt?

Let me guess: the blame won't ever get put on an actual person, entity, doctor, judge, or lawyer, rather it will be the fault of "the system."

Anonymous said...

1:17 pm:

Are the powers who wish to limit or end the disability program willing to do "what needs to be done to fix it"? Like providing access to medical care for those who need it, retraining and education programs, assistance to employers to modify jobs so they can be done by medically impaired people. If they are willing, how come they haven't supported these programs up to the present?

Perhaps many or most people on disability now could work with considerable accommodations but in today's world of 8 - 10 per cent unemployment (the ones being counted anyway) and taxes and government programs being treated as communicable diseases, not gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

Here at Bain Capital Management, we're proud of our staff of Schizophrenics. It's how we got where we are today. And they're all paid even more than our female employees.