Amsterdam, that progressive city known for solving prostitution, drug abuse and other social perversions by making virtually everything open and legal, has once again surged to the forefront in addressing problems of alcoholics.

Their innovative solution? Hiring alcoholics to clean their streets, and paying them largely with booze.

Let's all drink to that.

Each member of the street cleaning team gets two cans of beer to start their day, two more at lunch, and one or two after their shift, if all ends well. Additionally, each “gets half a packet of rolling tobacco, free lunch and 10 euros a day, or about $13.55”. Apparently it is a huge success, as “there is a long waiting list of chronic alcoholics eager to join the beer-fueled cleaning teams.”

I imagine this has made a huge difference in the city, now that there are dedicated teams of alcoholics paid to sweep away the used condoms, burnt roaches and hypodermic needles that other accommodated vices have left littered in the streets. Life must be truly grand there as a result.

Perhaps we should take a look at the success this program claims, and apply it to one of our own peskier issues of the day. This could be a way to get all of those opioid addled injured workers we've disabled through addiction back on the job.  This could be revolutionary. If successful, I'll definitely need to clear a space on my knick knack shelf for that long sought after Pulitzer.

Think of it. We would reduce the disability roles, eliminate the necessity of doctor shopping, and completely disrupt the economic model of pill mills. We could also save money by closing all those Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs that no one bothers to monitor anyway. And injured workers would be restored to function by once again contributing to society. Win-win-win.

Workers could be outfitted with little Pez-like dispensers containing enough of their required narcotics to get them through the day. We could feed them a nutritious lunch, give them tobacco, and $13.55 that they could freely spend – perhaps on more drugs; All this, of course, only if they agree to do our bidding, and jump through our hoops.

Sure, there might be some minor drawbacks to the plan. A drug addicted city bus driver, for example, might provide a thrill ride worthy of a 6 Flags Amusement park. A Day Care worker might accidently leave a fence gate along a busy highway open, resulting in a slightly reduced enrollment headcount. No, in retrospect, we would have to channel these people into safer, non-essential positions where they are less likely to do anyone harm, like Bloggers or Healthcare Navigators. It is also true that we really wouldn't be helping anybody, and in fact would be further enabling their addiction; but we would feel better about ourselves, and we all know that is what really matters.

Critics would indicate, as I just referenced, that this would only serve to enable their addiction, and fail to bring true help to those in need. Additionally, they would whine about capitalizing on an addict's condition to further our own selfish needs. Lastly, they would likely point out that we could end up facilitating and increasing the already alarming overdose death rate from these prescription drugs.

While the first two issues might have some merit, I wouldn't worry about the last one. We may indeed lose some of these workers to overdose, but that would not affect the program. There would be no shortage of addicts in need. That is the beauty of not actually addressing the problem.

After all, this is workers' comp. We'll simply make more.

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