Socialism and the state funded penis pump

State-funded health care has much to answer for, but this one is too good (bad) to be true, writes Cato's Dan Mitchell

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I got this on the NHS darling...
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Daniel J. Mitchell
On 11 February 2012 19:00

It’s not often that I get to use the word “penis” on a public policy blog. But with my juvenile sense of humor, I exploit such opportunities whenever they arise.

** I wrote about an unfortunate guy who had his you-know-what amputated thanks to the incompetence of Sweden’s government-run health care system.

** I commented on the nanny-state mentality behind a campaign to ban circumcisions in San Francisco.

** I posted three wretched examples of welfare state waste, including the fact that Uncle Sam has spent about a quarter-billion dollars on penis pumps in the past decade.

And I also managed to produce a couple of posts with the word “penile.”

** I noted that European taxpayers were paying to provide politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels with coverage for penile implants.

** I expressed amazement that the U.K. government decided it is a human right to have taxpayer-financed sex trips to Amsterdam.

These are such good examples that you may be wondering what I could do for an encore.

Well, when the federal government spends about $4 trillion per year, much of it pissed away (pun intended) on useless and counterproductive programs, it’s just a matter of time before we find another example.

In this instance, we return to the world of taxpayer-financed penis pumps. Here are the relevant parts of an AP report.

"An Illinois man was sentenced Friday by a federal judge in Rhode Island to more than three years in prison for shipping unwanted penis enlargers to diabetes patients as part of a larger fraud scheme that prosecutors say bilked $2.2 million from Medicare over four years. …Winner purchased penis enlargers for an average of $26 each from online sex shops and then repackaged and shipped them to patients… Winner targeted Medicare beneficiaries…and persuaded patients to provide their Medicare information by offering free medical equipment and supplies, prosecutors said. …Winner then charged Medicare an average of $284 each for a total of $370,305, authorities said."

I cite this story not because I’m shocked that somebody bilked the government, but rather because it should irritate all taxpayers that it takes so long for the bureaucrats to figure out what’s happening.

My credit card company periodically will block my account, especially when I’m traveling, because of unusual transactions. But the federal government will blindly reimburse fraudsters for years.

The most powerful part of the story, though, is the way that Mr. Winner justified his crimes.

"When employees confronted Winner about sending out supplies regardless of need, authorities allege he responded: “It doesn’t cost the client anything as the government is paying for it, and that the government would just print more money, so order more.”

He managed to combine the ills of third-party payer, government dependency, fiscal profligacy, and irresponsible monetary policy in one sentence.

This guy belongs in Washington. Heck, he’s qualified to be a member of the Obama cabinet!

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, the free-market, Washington D.C. think tank. His articles are cross-posted on his blog by agreement

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