Among TLC’s endless production of circus sideshow inspired television shows is one that chronicles some of the US’s fattest people as they get gastric bypass surgery. It’s called “My 600 Pound Life”. Every episode is roughly the same. These people are so fat they can’t even get out of bed. Someone helps them go to the bathroom, in their bed, and cleans them. There’s so much fat that bulges seemingly grow out of bulges. And at virtually every corner, there’s a loved one enabling them.

Last night we were introduced to Penny, who more or less hasn’t left a hospital bed since giving birth to her son five or so years ago. Her idiot husband takes care of her and even sets up Skype in her room so she can watch her son eat dinner in the room next to her.

All of this is fine and dandy until Penny’s enabling husband points out something I should have noticed all along about families like this. No one seems to work. Penny’s husband comes out and says it. He can’t work because he must take care of his wife around the clock. So they live off of Penny’s disability check.

I thought, surely you can’t collect disability for being fat. But I was wrong. Now, I would question every choice Penny has ever made. But at this point there’s no denying she’s disabled, no matter what the legal definition of the term is. It’s just surprising that was grant disability checks for obesity.

But my real problem isn’t with Penny collecting disability, it’s that somehow this family can survive with neither person working. The husband admits to taking care of Penny around the clock, therefore can’t find a job. No matter your feelings about obesity and disablement, this family is stuck in a trap. If the husband goes too long without working, he’s unemployable. Clearly, his wife is unemployable as well. And the solution of our government is just to cut the family a check until Penny eats herself alive.

There has to be a better way. The government is enabling a system where the family, and Penny, have an incentive to keep her fat. Her obesity is their only source of income. This setup is the most disgusting part of Penny’s situation.

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categories: government, personal finance