Think the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent for Chautauqua County is dreadful to look at? You may not even want to look at another rate that continues an unprecedented increase and shows no signs of stopping.
American workers are hitting the Social Security Disability Income rolls in record numbers and no one seems intent on stopping it. In a published piece on Sunday in the New York Post by Kyle Smith, the crux of the high cost of America's payments to the disabled has to do with the current system allowing no one to represent the taxpayer when a case goes to the courts.
"At the hearings, judges make a decision after hearing from only one side," Smith writes in his article headlined "The welfare cowboys." "In what other kind of court would that hold up? Call it a miscarriage of social justice."
And that miscarriage comes at a high cost, especially to those who continue to work.
Unfortunately, however, worker participation is at an all-time low with about 63 percent of America employed. That leaves others - some who have earned it and many others who have not - to collect off the system.
In the meantime, some of those who have been tabbed as being "disabled" are currently working or have worked to represent residents as mayors and board members for area municipalities and school districts.
Some of those residents in our area collecting "disability" because they cannot work are capable of being a mayor or a board member in this region. How fair is that to the Chautauqua County constituency?
"Disabled" residents voting on boards to raise taxes are collecting from our taxes and not contributing to our economy. It is an unfair system - and it shows no signs of getting better.
Dunkirk resident Ralph Burke is no different from many other longtime area residents. He remembers when steel was king in Western New York.
This weekend, Burke's memories of his time at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna will be recalled in an article he submitted earlier this year to the OBSERVER. We hope it brings back memories for many other residents.
John D'Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.