by: the Common Constitutionalist
Most everyone, except politicians and those who profit from it (often, one in the same), agree that the Veterans Administration is broken and frankly doesn’t appear to even give a crap about our men and women who have sacrificed in the defense of this country.
Yet I’ve heard that like a lot of “broken” government programs – welfare, social security, etc. – its degradation has been decades in the making and so therefore it just can’t be fixed overnight. It will take time and money (the dreaded “investment”) to fix problems, but constant delays and cost overruns have hampered efforts to provide more care facilities.
To this many, including Ben Carson, have said we simply need to scrap the V.A. and its system of hospitals. Conservatives have been saying, no shouting, that if you want to see the future of Obamacare, of the top down government run healthcare of our future, we need look no further than the VA system.
Carson has suggested it be replaced with a system of health savings accounts “that would allow veterans to obtain treatment at any medical facility instead of restricting them to government-run hospitals. The VA would then be turned into a specialty hospital to care for traumatic injuries such as loss of limb or severe brain injuries.”
Others say no, that you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. That sure, there are some bad hospitals, some bad administrators, but it’s not all bad – that it wasn’t always this way.
Well, to that I say bunk! Unlike other government organizations, the VA system didn’t get as bad as it is over time. It’s been bad and it’s been corrupt from its conception – when it began as the Veterans Bureau in 1921.
As Carly Fiorina says – the government first causes a problem, then, by means of a law, or a big bloated mandated program, swoops in to fix the problem they created. And she’s 100% right. There is not a single problem in this country that was ever fixed by a government program – not one! And that certainly includes the VA.
And as always happens, the government program always ends up the largest. The VA systems is and has been for decades, the largest provided of “healthcare” in the country. It’s the nature of the beast. No matter what, it will always become the largest. And being the largest always means it will be the most corrupt and the most inefficient. It’s becomes too big to properly manage.
Prior to World War I, the federal government provided virtually no hospital or medical care to veterans other than a little extending care to a few disabled veterans. Between the Civil War and WWI, veterans were cared for by means of a pension system, paid but limited only to soldiers or the widows of soldiers who had been disabled or killed in action. Over time payments to soldiers increased to the point where pension payments became larger than the entirety of the rest the federal budget. Something had to be done.
Rather than doing the intelligent and Constitutional thing – block grant money to the States so they may implement a variety of workable healthcare solutions, the big government progressives created the one-size-fits-all Veterans Bureau, or War Risk Bureau, in 1921 with the signing of the Sweet Bill.
Actually, the ball got rolling in 1917 by the Wilson administration when Congress enacted legislation providing that injured military personnel be eligible to receive medical, surgical, and hospital services through facilities operated by the United States government.
Almost immediately, thousands of veterans began complaining about wait times and a lack of treatment. Veterans Bureau administrators, headed by chief criminal, retired Lt. Col. Charles Forbes cooked the books, made fortunes buying and selling land to build new VA hospitals and wildly inflated the cost of medical supplies. Taxpayers lost millions of dollars due to waste and fraud, and of course the medical needs of veterans were often ignored completely.
Gee – does this sound familiar! And this was one hundred years ago!
So what did the government wizards-of-smart do to solve the problem? What they always do. They scrapped the Veterans Bureau and in 1930 replaced it with the shiny new Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Administration. Actually nothing at all changed, except the name. By changing the name, citizens and veterans were supposed to be fooled into thinking things would improve. They didn’t.
VA hospital operating costs rose assiduously between 1930 and the American entry into World War II, from $28.5 million to more than $55 million. And obviously it has never looked back.
The entire VA System is and has always been a train wreck and Dr. Ben Carson is exactly right. As demonstrated by its history, there is no salvaging a system that has been a cesspool of corruption since the day it was formed.