September 15, 2014
A scooter in every garage
If you thought the bungled healthcare.gov roll-out was an exception to the rule, consider Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold's investigation of Medicare fraud involving power wheelchairs, specifically of the electric scooter variety, detailed in this C-SPAN interview.
Scooter scammers recruited doctors to write "scooter prescriptions" for "patients." Medicare paid the bill for heavily marked-up scooters, no questions asked. They only started asking questions when the crooks got so freaking greedy it was impossible to ignore.
Nor was this the work of criminal masterminds. An analyst cited in one of Fahrenthold's Washington Post articles:
We're mostly getting people who didn't finish high school, who've stolen more than $10 million in three months. Those are the ones we get. And you know the clever people are just invisible.
If that isn't bad enough, do you know how the federal government processes pension applications for retiring federal workers? Dave Barry and P.J. O'Rourke couldn't concoct something this crazy on purpose. As pure fiction, it'd be too unbelievable to suspend disbelief.
Fahrenthold reveals the process in the second half of the interview, which ends up sounding like a really boring post-apocalyptic flick written by a really bored accountant (who's spent his entire career processing pension applications for federal retirees).
Frankly, Obama should have gone for the whole single-payer nine yards from the start, just so we could get that hypothetical out of the way once and for all. Except the processing of pension benefits has been stuck in the 1970s since the 1970s and shows no signs of changing.
So don't count on any of this getting better anytime soon. Keep in mind that the federal government has no reliable way of telling whether you're alive or dead either. (The Japanese government has the same problem.)
James Madison was rightly obsessed with the need for government to be ruled by rigorous checks and balances. The law alone is not enough. China and North Korea are living proof that not even an all-powerful police force can otherwise stem the tide of corruption.