By Dr. Mercola
Have you ever awakened in the morning dreading another monotonous day at a job that you hate? Have you ever fantasized about faking a sudden illness, taking a personal day—or how about a personal year?
Maybe book a flight to Bermuda and spend a few months eating pineapple and getting massages on the beach? Or perhaps better yet, tell your boss you're a CIA spook on a top-secret mission, so you won't be showing up at the office for some indeterminate length of time.
Chances are, these are just idle fantasies that you quickly snap out of as you blink your way back into reality... unless, of course, you work for the US Government where you might just get away with it.
EPA Hoodwinked by Its Highest Paid Climate Specialist
Senior policy advisor John C. Beale of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Air and Radiation pulled off a million dollar con in which he found a fix for his career doldrums by convincing his bosses that he was a top-secret CIA operative.
This required him to be out of the office for extended periods of time—claiming to be traveling the globe on clandestine missions in the interest of homeland security.
Yes, this EPA official was vicariously acting out some sort of James Bond fantasy instead of going to work—and getting paid for it.1 He occupied his time taking lavish vacations on the government's dime.
Beale took 33 airplane trips between 2003 and 2011, costing the government $266,190. On 70 percent of those, he traveled first class and stayed in five-star hotels, traveled by limo, and charged more than twice the government's allowed per diem limit.
Between vacations, he would just putter around his Northern Virginia home doing pretty much nothing at all—and certainly not working. Beale told one shameless lie after another.
For example, in order to be granted a handicap parking space, he claimed to have contracted malaria in Vietnam. However, not only did he never have malaria, he never served in Vietnam!2 How long would you guess he got away with this fraudulent scheme—a month? A year? Try two decades!
Justice, After a 20 Year Long Con...
For well over 10 years and possibly closer to 20, Beale was able to collect his salary—as well as his regular bonuses—while performing almost no work, bilking the government out of close to a million dollars.
Court documents trace his fabrications back through 2000, but additional evidence suggests he may have been lying and manipulating as far back as 1989.
The man was no slouch. A graduate of NYU and Princeton, Beale was making $206,000 a year, making him the highest paid official at the EPA—including the administrator. Pulling off such an elaborate scheme on such a massive scale is quite complicated and requires the skills of a master con. As Michelle Cottle writes in the Daily Beast:3
"You gotta admit: As crackpot lies go, Beale's spy cover was a stroke of genius. Whenever someone grew suspicious about his work activities (or lack thereof),
Beale could simply whip out the national security card: I'd love to tell you why I haven't been at work the past six months, but then I'd have to kill you."
Once caught, Beale admitted to his elaborate deception and on December 18, 2013, was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison and payment of nearly 1.4 million dollars restitution.4
But why did it take more than a decade for the EPA to realize their highest paid climate specialist was not really a CIA agent—in fact, he had no relationship with the CIA at all, not even a security clearance. How did such an elaborate scheme ever escape notice?
Beale Is 'A Poster Child for What's Wrong with the Government'
Two new reports by the EPA Inspector General's office concluded that the agency "enabled" Beale by failing to verify any of his phony cover stories, and failed to check out hundreds of thousands of dollars him in undeserved bonuses and travel expenses.
Inspector General Arthur Elkins said Beale was able to get away with it due to "an absence of basic internal controls at the EPA."2 Prosecutor Jim Smith said Beale's crimes made him a "poster child for what is wrong with government," a statement prompting immediate investigations by two congressional committees into the EPA, including EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, who was Beale's immediate boss.
This was not the first EPA scandal of 2013. EPA official Robert Brenner was scrutinized for accepting an $8,000 discount on a luxury car arranged by a lobbyist. And in the wake of the Beale scandal, another high-level EPA official is under scrutiny for allegedly approving expenses for Beale—an official also under the direction of Gina McCarthy.
Evidence suggests EPA knew as early as 2010 that Beale's story was false, yet did not take action. Congressman Darrell Issa said these EPA cases "raise serious questions about McCarthy's capabilities as a manager and leader."5 This problem, unfortunately, is much larger than one government official or agency. The Beale scandal is just one more example of waste, fraud, and general corruption within the US government.
Government Can't Manage Taxpayer Dollars—Much Less Protect Your Environment
The EPA cannot keep your money safe, much less make the environment safe. Some of the EPA's high-level employees have come from the same companies the EPA is supposed to regulate—they've become a revolving door for industry. The two largest private sector sources for EPA positions are Monsanto and Waste Management Inc. Since 1970, at least 12 high-level EPA employees have come from one of these two companies, including William Ruckelshaus, Linda Fisher, and Lidia Watrud.6, 7
EPA also has a history of being caught in money laundering schemes. Take, for example, former EPA project manager Gordon McDonald who was convicted in 2009 for rigging bids, accepting kickbacks totaling 1.5 million dollars, and funneling big payoffs to insiders via an EPA "superfund" in New Jersey.8, 9
And you may recall the EPA "warehouse" scandal in Landover earlier in 2013. An EPA warehouse had been converted into a swanky man-cave housing a sizeable athletic center, complete with cushy furniture and televisions and a nicely stocked fridge. All of this was, of course, carefully hidden from security cameras by partitions and piles of strategically stacked boxes.10
Even more disturbing is the fact that EPA doles out hundreds of millions of dollars per year to certain organizations of their choice with no accountability, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Sometimes these funds are directed to organizations for non-environmental purposes.11 Other branches of government are even more irresponsible—including the Pentagon itself. As written in this Reuters Special Report:12
"The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China's economic output last year."
Another Massive Source of Waste: Medicare Fraud
The US healthcare system is one of the largest sources of waste. Thirty cents of every healthcare dollar is wasted, adding up to $750 billion annually. Healthcare waste is a result of unnecessary services, inefficient delivery of care, excess administrative costs, inflated prices, prevention failures, and fraud—especially within Medicare and disability programs. Seniors make perfect targets for fraud and abuse.
The Federal Disability Insurance Program has a $135-billion budget and serves close to 12 million people, but its funds are in danger of running out. The Senate Subcommittee for Investigations believes the program is being abused—by lawyers, doctors and even some recipients—putting the benefits for those who truly need them at risk.
According to the Senate investigation, up to 25 percent of disability files should not have been approved and another 20 percent are highly questionable. Some recipients are using disability benefits as a financial bridge after their unemployment benefits run out, which is easy to do since so many Americans have chronic conditions or impairments.
The Biggest Defrauder of the Government Is the Drug Industry
Many drug companies are repeatedly found guilty of fraud, cover-ups of fatal side effects, paying huge kickbacks to doctors, and manipulating scientific research. The worst of the worst are GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Schering-Plough. These four companies accounted for 53 percent of all financial penalties imposed on pharmaceutical companies between 1990 and 2010.
Between 2009 and 2012, criminal and civil penalties have totaled $18 billion. GlaxoSmithKline tops the list of repeat offenders with penalties since 1991 totaling $7.56 billion.13 Recently, GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty in the largest health fraud settlement in US history. The company was fined $3 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability charges related to illegal drug marketing and withholding information about health hazards associated with its diabetes drug Avandia.
Many drug companies are now being investigated for using bribes to boost sales outside the US as well. For example, in August 2012, Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, paid $60.2 million in fines to settle charges that the company had bribed an assortment of government health officials in China, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, and Kazakhstan. Are these the folks to whom you wish to entrust your health? These corporations are some of the biggest goons on the planet.
The Drug Industry as 'Organized Crime'
The unfortunate thing is, whether you're talking about Big Pharma, Big Ag, or Big Banks, the US government has been "bought" by industry thugs. Despite stiffer financial penalties, criminal activity has increased dramatically over the past several years, indicating that criminal prosecution of company leadership may be needed to quell unlawful behavior by the drug industry. Due to the astronomical profits made by these companies, there appears to be no fine large enough to make a difference—even hundreds of millions of dollars!
The size of the penalty must outweigh the size of the gain from breaking the law, and thus far, this has not been the case. In fact, it appears that for some drug companies, commission of such criminal and civil violations has become part of their business model. As an article in The British Medical Journal concludes:13
"Are criminal and civil penalties of hundreds of millions of dollars an important deterrent to law breaking by international drug companies? We are forced to conclude that neither the current level of penalties nor corporate integrity agreements are effective and that there is a pathological lack of corporate integrity in many drug companies."
Take Control of Your Own Health
Ultimately, the take-home message here is that you have to take responsibility for your own welfare, and that of your environment. You cannot entrust your health to the government, in the hopes that someone else will make the appropriate decisions based on what's right and true, opposed to taking the opportunity to make a buck at your expense.
When it comes to your health, an ounce of prevention is certainly better than a pound of cure, especially when the cure comes in a pill. Please keep in mind that leading a common-sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to achieve and maintain a healthy body and mind. And while conventional medical science may flip-flop back and forth in its recommendations, there are certain basic tenets of optimal health (and healthy weight) that do not change, including the following:
- Proper Food Choices: For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods. For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat a good portion of your food raw.
Avoid sugar, and fructose in particular. All forms of sugar have toxic effects when consumed in excess, and drive multiple disease processes in your body, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of chronic disease and accelerated aging. I believe the two primary keys for successful weight management are severely restricting carbohydrates (sugars, fructose, and grains) in your diet, and increasing healthy fat consumption. This will optimize insulin and leptin levels, which is key for maintaining a healthy weight and optimal health.
- Regular exercise: Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor. HGH also helps boost weight loss.
So along with core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching, I highly recommend that twice a week you do Peak Fitness exercises, which raise your heart rate up to your anaerobic threshold for 20 to 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery period.
- Stress Reduction: You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression, to arthritis and cancer. Meditation, prayer, social support, and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using simple tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden, emotional problems.
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Maintain a healthy gut: About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut, and research is stacking up showing that probiotics—beneficial bacteria—affect your health in a myriad of ways; it can even influence your ability to lose weight. A healthy diet is the ideal way to maintain a healthy gut, and regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods is the easiest, most cost effective way to ensure optimal gut flora.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels: Research has shown that increasing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk of death from ALL causes. For practical guidelines on how to use natural sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D benefits, please see my previous article on how to determine if enough UVB is able to penetrate the atmosphere to allow for vitamin D production in your skin.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible: This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Get plenty of high-quality sleep: Regularly catching only a few hours of sleep can hinder metabolism and hormone production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.