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The Madness Chronicles – Episode 34

In our 34th episode of the Madness Chronicles, we’ll look at the madness of the government paying dead people and more. Remember, madness is a state of being mentally ill, severely, extremely foolish behavior, and a state of frenzied or chaotic activity. Let’s take a look at the madness of government spending.

Our government agencies recently admitted to making an unbelievable $2.25 trillion in improper payments since 2004. Last year the total was $175 billion. That comes down to about $15 billion per month, or, drum roll please, $500 million per day and $1 million a minute. If we’re not careful, they are going to be spending big money one of these days.

What is an improper payment? Great question. These numbers were revealed in a report from an outfit called Open the Books. Looking to Federal law defines the term as payments made by the government to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason. The 20 government agencies covered by the report are burning $500 million a day of our tax dollars. Let that sink in.

The worst offenders were Medicaid, Medicare, and Earned Income Tax Credit. They represent improper payments of $121 billion or 69 percent of the total in improper payments. The recapture rate, meaning they found their mistake and got the money back, is only 14 cents on the dollar. Who does that, and are they still working for us? Of course, it is the government where accountability is a word in the dictionary, not the union contract.

In 2019 Health and Human Services gave away a whopping $107 billion. Treasury was a piker responsible for giving away a mere $27 billion, with Veterans Affairs coming in wasting only $12 billion. The bottom tier of the 20 giveaway departments was the Veterans Administration, which squandered $22 billion. The Office of Personnel Management came in dead last, only tossing away a mere $339 billion.

Interestingly, a shocking $871.9 million in mistaken payments were made to dead people. That’s right dead people not only vote, but they also get paid. Since about 2.7 million people die a year in the United States, that means each dead person could have earned $323. I doubt if it came out quite like that, though? They did report finding the root cause of the death windfall, failure to verify death. Those folks have a command of the obvious.

Another item they discovered was there 6 million Social Security numbers for people over the age of 112. There are only 40 people in the world now known to be older than 112 years of age in an ironic twist. Apparently, our government workers are ‘verifying death’ challenged.

In fairness, the government is trying to fix it. In 2009 President Obama signed an Executive Order to stop improper payments. In the 5 years following his order, improper payments by just Medicare and Medicaid rose by $456 billion. But, at least he tried, right? A good news story is the Department of Education. In 2018 they overpaid Pell Grants and student loans by $6 billion. In 2019, improper payments were reduced to $1.1 billion – an 85-percent reduction. Kudos to Betsy DeVos. The IRS gets the honesty award. They overpaid by nearly $18 billion in 2019 and said it will continue as they don’t have the resources to chase it down. What a country!

Just thought I’d share something to make us all feel better when we fill out our upcoming taxes.

May we wake from this madness before it’s too late. I wish you good health, and until next time, have fun, enjoy life, and watch out for the madness amongst us. It’s 2020, and it’s getting out of hand.