The numbers are in, and the news is bad: our public benefits system has gone to rack and ruin. From Social Security to food programs and other pillars of the welfare state, waste, fraud, and abuse is rampant.

Take disability payments. According to an Inspector General’s report obtained by Pajamas Media, the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance program (OASDI) has provided significant benefits to people who should not have them — including the dead. A newly commissioned audit reveals that more than 2,900 dead people may have received more than $23 million in Social Security disability insurance payments.

Bureaucracy, its own excuse, strikes again. As of Feb. 2009, the report goes on to note, there were also more than 6,000 people on the books whose benefits had been suspended, and whom the SSA knew were dead. And in nearly half of the cases, someone had been receiving payments for people who were dead.

One’s lack of confidence in the likelihood of reform could be excused. An IG’s report is supposed to answer questions. This one, unfortunately, raises many more than it answers. How, for instance, did the Social Security system get so out-of-whack in the first place?

Stories can be drawn from nearly every state and nearly every federal benefits program. Who can forget the FEMA debit cards being used at strip clubs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?

Add in the lottery winner who’s still on food stamps and the “adult baby” who’s on disability and it becomes obvious the system is woefully broken. Where are the politicians with the guts to fix it?

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