News on the March….

Looking for empty celebrity gossipy news? Want to know who is dating who; want to know where all the hot stars hang out? Do you want to know which celebrities are pregnant? Sorry, I can’t help you. First of all, I don’t even know WHO the hot stars are anymore let alone where they hang, who they hang with, and whose babies they’re carrying. I don’t know, nor do I care, where they eat, where they vacation, or what their latest arrest was all about. You won’t find lifestyles of the rich, famous, and nihilistic in this space. Better check in with Harvey Levin’s TMZ for that.

Although I do report current news stories every now and again, I usually stick to subject matter that is somewhat meatier than Beyonce’s latest escapades, and because of that, I think it only fair to alert you to the following disclaimer: “Caution, this column contains news which is real and may very well depress you!” Now that you’ve been fully warned we can precede.

Depressing News Story Number One: As reported by, the total number of people in the United States now receiving federal disability benefits hit a record 10,978,040 in May, up from 10,962,532 million in April, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration. The 10,978,040 disability beneficiaries in the United States now exceed the population of all but seven states. For example, there are more Americans collecting disability today than there are people living in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, or Virginia. How’s that for depressing?

The record 10,978,040 total disability beneficiaries in May, included a record 8,877,921 disabled workers (up from 8,865,586 in April), a record 1,939,687 children of disabled workers (up from 1,936,236 in April), and 160,432 spouses of disabled workers. May was the 196th straight month that the number of American workers collecting federal disability payments increased. The last time the number of Americans collecting disability decreased was in January 1997. That month the number of workers taking disability dropped by 249 people — from 4,385,623 in December 1996 to 4,385,374 in January 1997. As the overall number of American workers collecting disability has increased, the ratio of full-time workers to disability-collecting workers has decreased.

In December 1968, 1,295,428 American workers collected disability and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 65,630,000 worked full-time. Thus, there were about 51 full-time workers for each worker collecting disability. In May 2013, with a record 8,877,921 American workers collecting disability and 116,053,000 working full-time, there were only 13 Americans working full-time for each worker on disability.

And get this, according to the latest Census Bureau population estimates, if disability were a state in the union it would rank eighth in population, coming in after Ohio but ahead of Georgia. I’d love to see THAT license plate. The state of Disability: land of disenchantment but great benefits.

Depressing Story Number Two: Diet soda has no calories but that doesn’t mean it still won’t rot your teeth. As a matter of fact, according to a new study published in the journal General Dentistry, constant exposure to the citric and phosphoric acid in soda – without proper dental hygiene – can be just as damaging to teeth as methamphetamine or crack cocaine. “You look at it side-to-side with ‘meth mouth’ or ‘coke mouth,’ it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same,” says Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia.

Depressing Story Number Three: Hey, guess what Medicare is paying for now? This is great for all you aging, vain yuppies out there who don’t want to look old but don’t want to pay to look young out of their own pockets. THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOW PAY FOR YOUR EYELIFTS! Far out, man! If you’re over the age of 65 and suffer from sagging eyelids that hinder your vision Uncle Sam will lift those babies up for you. This procedure is called blepharoplasty, and lots of people are having it done these days, at taxpayer expense. What the hell, it only costs the government millions of dollars – we can always raise taxes again, right?

From 2001 to 2011, eyelid lifts charged to Medicare more than tripled to 136,000 annually, according to a review of physician billing data by the Center for Public Integrity. In 2001, physicians billed taxpayers a total of $20 million for the procedure. By 2011, the price tag had quadrupled to $80 million. The number of physicians billing the surgery more than doubled. Can Botox injections be far behind? Just wait. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as Al Jolson used to say. But what did Al Jolson know? I bet he never even had his eyelids lifted.

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