Katie Kieffer
Government worker: “Do you have a disability?”

Man: “No.”

Man’s wife: “What does he get if he’s disabled?”

Government worker: “His monthly payments will [double].”

Man’s wife: “Well, then he’s disabled.”

Government worker (to man): “What’s your disability?”

Man: “I’m stressed.”

An attorney friend of mine recently overheard the above conversation in a Florida government building. The man, who had just turned 65, was signing up for retirement benefits while his wife stood over his shoulder. I relay the story to illustrate how our government is expanding the definition of the term “disability.”

Howard Rich explains in his recent Wall Street Journal commentary: ‘Washington isn’t broke because the government is inefficient. It’s broke because it promises too much. …$125 billion in disability payments each year—a number that’s increased 17-fold over the past four decades (after adjusting for inflation). …[due to the] government’s increasingly malleable definition of what constitutes a “disability,” …workers who complain of “persistent anxiety” and “chronic fatigue” are now viewed by the government as being disabled.’

Basically, if you’re stressed, the federal government now considers you to be disabled. But isn’t everyone (with a life) stressed? So are we all disabled?

Activities or activity levels that “stress” one person will energize or relax another. Stress is not only subjective but it is a natural byproduct of pursuing goals more challenging than watching soap operas while soaking in a bubble bath.

Man is a rational creature and so the highest enjoyment that he can achieve is that which fulfills his mind. In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, the hero, John Galt, says: “Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. …But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. …the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man.”

In other words, man will not achieve happiness by avoiding work because this will lead to a level of mental frustration (stress) that no amount of monthly stipend from the government can ease.

Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is a columnist and political commentator. She runs KatieKieffer.com. Kieffer is the author of the forthcoming book "LET ME BE CLEAR."