Only in the leftist welfare state.
For those wondering where the permutations of progressives' infatuation with government-enforced moral relativism lead, Greece is a bellwether. Despite teetering on the brink of national insolvency, Greece's Labor Ministry has decided to expand its list of state-recognized disability categories. The latest additions? Exhibitionism, kleptomania--and pedophilia.
"What's happened is incomprehensible. I think there is some big mistake. The ministry should have a different policy on disability," said Yiannis Vardakastanis, leader of Greece's National Confederation of Disabled People (NCDP). "The list contains major changes to disability quotients, which could effectively remove many people from access to benefits." The NDCP itself called the ruling "incomprehensible" and noted that pedophiles will now be awarded a greater level of disability payments than some people who receive organ transplants. "It's really not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20-30 percent disability rate, and 10 percent to diabetics, who have insulin shots four or five times a day," fumed Vardakastanis.
The Labor Ministry claimed that the new categories on the list--which also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists--were determined by a panel of medical experts, but that they did not necessarily signify benefit entitlements. "No insured citizen has received any benefit under the new rates," a statement released by the Ministry on Tuesday explained.
Yet the NCDP remains alarmed. They are in talks with Labour Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis to get the new code changed before it goes before the Greek parliament and is voted into law. Their primary concerns are two-fold: the new code could be used to undermine state benefits to current disability groups, many of whom rallied in December demanding job and benefit protection; and the new disability scale would work cumulatively "so a person gets 20 per cent for one thing, then more for something else--and when they reach 67%, they are entitled to benefits," noted Vardakastanis, who is blind.
A blind and unemployed person in Greece is currently entitled to $896 per month, while an employed blind person gets $461. "Disability is if society doesn't give you what you need to be like others," said Vardakastanis. "We want the Greek government to really protect vulnerable groups from getting deeper into poverty, exclusion and discrimination."
At this point in time, that is a tall order. Greece has accumulated more than $445 billion of national debt, and must cut state spending to the bone in order to get the next installment of $165 billion in bailout money coming from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF's largest contributor is the United States, which funds 17 percent of its budget. And while bills to defund our $100 billion contribution are working their way through both houses of Congress, it is more likely that onlyadditional funding in 2012 will be prevented. Thus, American taxpayers might someday be underwriting Greek pedophiles.
The outrage over this story has sparked a re-iteration by the Labor Ministry that the new list "solely concerns medical evaluation, not the provision of social benefits." Yet there is no denying that they remain government-recognized disabilities. In other words, the proverbial camel's nose is under the tent. Those familiar with the incrementalist approach employed by progressives with regard to controversial issues know where this is leading. As they have with so many other issues, progressives will wage a campaign aimed at wearing down public antipathy--by any means necessary--in order to get what they want.
And lest Americans think such incrementalism regarding pedophilia is confined to Greece, it should be noted that American progressives are endeavoring to emulate Greece's morally relative ways. At an August 17, 2011 conference in Baltimore, a group of American mental health professionals and sympathetic activists known as B4U-ACT advocated the removal of pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental defects in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
After the symposium, B4U-ACT released a report. “Dr. John Sadler (University of Texas) argued that diagnostic criteria for mental disorders should not be based on concepts of vice, since such concepts are subject to shifting social attitudes and doing so diverts mental-health professions from their role as healers,” it said. The report further referred to pedophiles as “minor-attracted people” and that "concerns" about them can be "resolved" with “accurate information.” Richard Kramer, who represented B4U-ACT at the event, contended listing pedophilia as a disorder stigmatizes the “victims” of the lifestyle choice.
Thus for progressives, the term "lifestyle choice" becomes a viable substitute for moral depravity. And once "criminals" become "victims," we are well along the path to where such victims eventually become "disabled."
Peter Spriggs of the Family Research Council was asked if pedophilia could be classified as a disability. "Even if you are approaching pedophilia from the perspective of it being a mental illness, that still doesn't make it a disability," he contended. "A disability usually involves something that interferes with being able to perform the daily tasks of life...this is a pathology that leads to crime, but it is not a disability."
Yet Spriggs recognizes the insidious nature of incrementalism. Asked if a law similar to the one in Greece could be enacted in the United States, he said he "wouldn't be all that surprised." "While pedophilia has not been normalized there are forces seeking to normalize it," he noted. "If you think it through to the extreme, this actually could actually create a perverse incentive, since you're actually subsidizing people who have an inclination toward, or who engage in this criminal behavior, then you could actually be creating an incentive for somebody to become a pedophile, or pretend to be a pedophile, simply in order to get a government subsidy."
Whether one is living in Greece or America, the argument regarding government subsidies of the social safety net remains the same: who is a genuine victim requiring government intervention, and who is merely gaming the system for personal gain? It has been said that Greece, and its fiscal recklessness, is a cautionary tale for America whose own debt level just reached 100 percent of GDP.
Yet such cautionary tales are not limited to the fiscal arena. Greek progressives have now classified pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, sadomasochists, exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs and pedophiles as disabled. On December 1st, an "informal discussion letter" was posted on our own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) website. It noted that a high school diploma can only be required by employers if it is “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” It further noted employers could be in trouble if a diploma “‘screens out’ an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of ‘disability.’”
One can only imagine what that definition is. One might also be inclined to wonder what other definitions of "disability"--egged on by progressives and enforced by the heavy hand of government--are forthcoming in the future.
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