By John Dillon who posts at Pension Vocabulary.
There’s an old standard joke told at Republican cocktail parties. The short version goes something like this: After being saved by three elderly fisherman in a small dingy, a beautiful mermaid decides to reward their behavior by giving each of them a miracle. The first old man’s broken and twisted hands are suddenly made supple and youthful. The second angler’s darkened eyes behind inch-thick glasses become unexpectedly clear and bright. The third old fisherman, whose back is bent and misshapen by years of toil, yells out, “No! Don’t! I’m on disability.”
It doesn’t take too much deconstruction to arrive at the nasty barb that sits within the middle of this little tale. Those on disability or claiming injury would rather remain that way instead of working, and at the expense of the employer or the insurance companies.
If you listen to the Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly, you’ll hear a number of terms thrown about with deadly serious looks and a somber shaking of heads. Workmen’s Comp and Causation will be re-echoed in the next few months’ after one more failed budget, and Governor Rauner will cite the burden of those expenses on businesses in Illinois as the singular reason for our state’s failure to recover economically. He’ll be sure to add property taxes as well.
The definition of causation has changed in the last few years primarily as a result of legal interventions on the state level. In short, causation refers to the legal obligations in a workplace accident and the subsequent compensable responsibility to provide for a worker’s recovery or permanent disability.
In other words, $%@& happens, and if it happens on the job, the employer should assist the injured worker. It’s not a new idea, and, in fact, for as long as $%@& has happened, there has been some kind of workers compensation, believe it or not.
Records of workers compensation can be traced all the way back into the Old Testament, when warriors (generally a pretty common form of employment in those days) were reimbursed for loss of limb or appendage. In some cases, rewards were based even upon the inches of flesh lost. Yikes!
Quite probably the form of workers’ compensation most closely resembling our current form of insured workers reimbursement can be found in the high seas adventures of the pirates of the wind-tossed Caribbean.
Pirates, before entering into an expected bloody and dangerous fray, often pooled their expected swag before the battle; and the money would be used to pay out for loss of limbs or other parts of a daring swashbuckler – especially parts that would be necessary in future pillaging and plundering.
In fact, the loss of a right (or dominant) arm was reimbursed at a higher level than the left (or less dominant) arm. Eyes were also insured, most especially that last one. Blind pirates were given monetary amounts that acted as a small sinecure for the rest of their lives. Captains also added large amounts of promised booty to these “insurance” pools, for they knew that a brigand was more likely to fight wildly and recklessly if he knew he was covered for losses to his person. Pirates valued their work forces and sufficiently rewarded sacrifice.
And you expected a similarity to politicians?