September 15, 2014

A scooter in every garage

If you thought the bungled 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.
Nope, no exception. Business as usual.

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.

And make sure your rabbit is licensed!


# posted by Anonymous Dan
9/17/2014 4:51 AM   
One of the motivations for the Constitutional Convention was to establish a Federal government that could override the petty, personal, politics of self-interested state-legislators. The Federalists believed disinterested "gentlemen" could run the Federal government and govern the "right way", with wisdom and a long perspective of what was best for the country.

I think the Federalists were full of themselves and it is no surprise at all they fell out of power so quickly.

The problem is the Federalists created a Constitution based on the presumption that "angels" would run government. Madison (who began as a Federalist before joining with Jefferson) was not as convinced. He envisioned a government of divided power but he still failed to appreciate that the different branches government could conspire to monopolize power. There is no simple recourse to this dynamic as popular elections amount to little more than the swapping of seats in the movie theater. The view may change but the movie is still the same.

The Constitution, despite its flaws, provided a workable framework until the Progressives utterly ruined it in the early 20th century. The imposition of the income tax and the popular election of Senators fundamentally changed the relationship of the Federal government with its citizens and made states simply wards of the Federal institution. That may have been Hamilton's goal but it was not what the American people signed up for in 1789.

But as long as America has unlimited capacity to borrow the party will continue. The booze is on the house and everyone is invited to the party. All the while the grifters do their business in full view - their ads are ubiquitous on TV mind you! Such is the nature of unaccountable government bureaucracy that criminals can announce they are stealing money and be confident they will get away with it.