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From the Kitchen Table


Treating Symptoms

by Peg Luksik
 

The patient went to his doctor's office complaining of sore throat, swollen glands, headache and fever. The doctor gave him aspirin for the headache and fever, lozenges for his throat, and sent the patient home. A week later, the patient re-appeared and the doctor repeated the treatment. This continued for several months, with the patient coming back every week or two and the doctor addressing the symptoms.

At the end of that time, the patient was rushed to the hospital because the underlying strep infection had developed into rheumatic fever. The patient's family sued the doctor for malpractice, claiming that he had done nothing to stop the disease but had only treated its symptoms.

Everyone knows that America is sick. One of the most obvious symptoms of the illness is economic distress. But economic distress is not the disease.

Consider the following:

The Internal Revenue Service has reported that federal employees and retirees owe roughly $3.4 billion dollars in delinquent taxes.

The Los Angeles Times reported that so many Los Angeles City Hall employees were streaming Olympics coverage online on their office computers that they taxed the system's bandwidth. The city's IT department sent out a memo asking them to stop, out of fear it could trigger a massive computer meltdown. The situation was not unique to Los Angeles.

The Bloomberg News Service obtained a memo that Pentagon Missile Defense Agency Executive Director John James Jr. wrote on July 27, telling DoD government employees to stop using work computers to visit porn sites.

Workers' Compensation Insurance fraud is now so rampant that states have created special departments inside their law enforcement agencies just to investigate and prosecute it. The Pennsylvania Authority has made over 5,800 arrests and gotten court orders for over $53 million in restitution since its creation in 1996. And it's not just Pennsylvania. For example, the Florida insurance fraud authority got court orders for over $47 million in restitution in just the 12 months from July 2011 through June 2012.

Fox News reported on the $17 billion in unemployment insurance fraud, coming from people across the nation who had returned to work, but continued to collect unemployment checks. And that does not include the folks who choose not to even look for work as long as benefits are available.

The list could continue, but we can all see the situation clearly. Every one of these cases has victims. Everyone is paying higher taxes to make up for the fraud in worker's compensation and unemployment. Everyone must deal with more government regulation in as officials attempt to stop the abuse and excess. Everyone pays more for all products and services to make up for the higher costs to business because of the cheating.

With all the higher taxes and extra regulations and higher prices, is it any wonder that there are fewer jobs?

Of course not.

But the taxes and regulations and prices are all just the symptoms of America's disease. The disease itself is not lack of money — it's lack of morals.

And until we stop focusing just on the symptoms and begin treating the disease, we are just as guilty of malpractice as our imaginary doctor, and America's prognosis is just as grim as our imaginary patient's.


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