We see a lot of folks in the South who are on ‘disability.’  Now, first and foremost, let me say that there are some who truly need it.  I’m delighted to help them.  I’m thrilled that we live in country willing and able to meet the needs of those who cannot work to support themselves.  The world is full of countries where disability means begging and early death.  This isn’t one of those countries, and if anyone thinks America reprehensible, this is a great example of why we aren’t.

However, those of us in our little Southern emergency department see way too many people who are ‘disabled.’  And here’s a good example.  More than once, my partners and I have asked a perfectly lucid, normal appearing man or woman this question:  ‘Why are you on disability?  It will help me to know as I decide how to help you with your problem.’  More than once, here’s the answer:  ‘Doc, I honestly don’t remember!’

Now here’s my postulate, my ‘Leap’s Law of Incapacity.’  If you can’t remember why you’re on disability, you shouldn’t be on disability.  Sure, there are some who have head injuries and short-term memory problems. I’m not talking about that.  Those people are usually accompanied by someone who explains the problem.  ‘He can’t remember anything!  He had a head injury!’  The ones I’m talking about can remember exactly when their check arrives, exactly what time their favorite show is on television, and know exactly what to say to ensure they’re rapid transportation into the emergency department.

The disabled, the truly disabled, are harmed and dishonored by the huge number of people who see disability, not as a crutch, not as a lifeline in crisis, but as a kind of ‘holy grail,’ a ‘golden ring’ to reach for on the carousel of an inactive, purposeless life.  The problem is, it’s a grail, it’s a ring that you and I pay for in our tax dollars.  And somehow, we’ve come to see it as an acceptable benefit! We see our taxes slip away into the great sink-hole of government largess, and congratulate ourselves on our compassion, even as our money is wasted by politicians and those who eat their table scraps.

Do you want to reduce the deficit?  Do you want to make America financially stronger?  Then one sure-fire answer would be to go through the disability roles and clean house.  Back pain?  Learn to do a job without lifting.  Anxiety?  Learn to work from home.  Depression?  Let’s treat them and get them busy; I’d be depressed, too, if I had no sense of purpose or self-determination.  Obesity and leg pain?  Don’t get me started.

Watch the disabled in your emergency departments and clinics, even the ones in your neighborhood.  The truly disabled frequently wish, with all their hearts, that they could work and live normally.  The ‘pseudo-disabled’ often lead busy, active lives, similar to ours, but unencumbered by the annoyance of going to work each week.

Tragically, they recruit their children and grandchildren in ever increasing circles of incapacity and lassitude, so that generations sit around the house and yard, drinking, fighting, fishing, hunting, making children and wondering why the ‘government and those rich people,’ don’t do more to help them.  Even more tragically, it just isn’t that much money.  I suppose if you set your sights low enough, even a small check for no effort (except the effort of acting in front of the right doctor), is better than no check.

Of course, they do work, don’t they?  I love it when my ‘disabled’ patients ask for work excuses.  This happens all the time.  ‘I thought you were disabled?’  (or unemployed as the registration form said).  ‘Well, yeah, but I, uh, I have this little job I do, uh…’

Not only do we need to force them into the vile servitude of the labor force, we need to go after some doctors and either 1) fire them 2) fine them or 3) empower them to say no, up to and including offering them armed body-guards.  I’m convinced that some doctors give disability because they’re compassionate, and some because they’re afraid or exhausted.  But some simply have no idea what they’re doing or are suckers for any shiftless man or woman with a sob story and an unverifiable complaint.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get out there and watch the allegedly broken and wounded and the allegedly disabled; and let’s turn them in!  Let’s get them off of our tax dollars, remove them abruptly from the great breast of the state.  And in so doing, let’s show ever greater respect and compassion for those who are truly disabled, and who so truly would love to work again.

Hoist the Jolly Roger, me lassies and laddies!

Your friend,

Edwin

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