NYC had its first non-smoking day, a welcome relief to those of us skilled at dodging the offensive plumes that greet us as we exit every building. Normally, this would be cause for celebration, particularly if Bloomberg succeeds in getting more New Yorkers to quit. But what will take the place of their cigarettes? The majority of quitters report significant weight gain after they quit. The costs of diet based illness are close to surpassing cardiovascular. But medical costs and insurance are not the only place it cost us. Payments to those disabled by weight has become the fastest growing ailment within the Social Security Disability Insurance program, and government officials expect the fund to be bankrupt by 2018.
While a recent WSJ article, below, set forth what appears to be abuse and fraud, I attended a Disability Rights meeting to get a better perspective held at a NJ mental health facility. Based on the location, I assumed the presentation would be geared toward mentally ill, but I was in for a big surprise. Instead of SSI officials, there were two lawyers presenting to a crowd, which in majority, was morbidly obese. The presentation focused on what you need to say to the judge because “not only is it uncomfortable to navigate your walker, wheelchair, etc, but you may be ostracized and discriminated against for your weight”. So, this collection of people seeking SSI payments were not mentally or physically ill, they were just compromised by their own hand. The lunacy is not only that we reward them for such irresponsible actions, but that others with ailments and illnesses not of their own doing will be denied critical support they need, when perhaps all these folks needed was a stint on The Biggest Loser. Here’s the priceless exclamation point to this mess; the refreshments served were juice, cookies and doughnuts.