Tarzan versus Eve: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Wild Wild West : One Thread
Sorry, but the vision of the "first woman" against the "lord of the jungle" is just too tempting. Mea culpa.
For educational use only
An excerpt from an article by Brian Doherty
Do Do-Gooder Laws Do Good?
"The feel-goodism of the ADA does not come free, or even cheap. All indications are that the ADA simply cannot be obeyed in its entirety. Which means every business, every public building, every government in the country is living under the shadow of a potentially exhausting and financially devastating lawsuit.
And for what? Like research into ADA's macro costs, research into its benefits has been thin. But the data that exist are not encouraging.
The National Organization on Disabilities conducted a survey on the status of the disabled in America in 1986 and again last year. The big numbers are numbing: 49 million disabled, more than one of six people of working age (defined as between 15 and 64). Fifteen percent, this survey says, have back problems as their only disability.
The specific figures are more striking. When Congress was considering the ADA, its advocates emphasized the benefits of making the disabled taxpayers, instead of tax consumers, by giving them freer access to jobs. But the ADA has had no appreciable effect on getting the disabled into the workforce.
In fact, the percentage of working-age disabled actually working went down from the 1986 survey--31 percent were working in 1994, compared with 33 percent in 1986. A similar study done by Vocational Econometrics Inc. found that the percentage of disabled males working or actively looking for work dropped to 30 percent in 1993 from 33 percent in 1992.
Nor has the ADA shown any signs of stanching the flow of federal disability relief money. Total benefit payments from the Social Security's disability insurance trust fund were $40.4 billion for fiscal 1995, up substantially from the $30.4 billion in 1992, when the ADA went into effect.
The data don't prove the ADA has not had benefits in bringing the disabled into the workplace--perhaps without the ADA their employment rate would have been even lower. But there is certainly no evidence, despite all the costs, that the ADA has helped.
George Kroloff, a spokesman for the National Organization on Disabilities, still thinks the ADA has done some--unquantifiable--good: "We're seeing the disabled presented more positively in movies, advertising, TV shows....The tenor of the nation, in some not-measurable way, is more caring than it has been in the past."
The Politics of Reform
If that's true, then perhaps draconian legal solutions to the problem of handicapped access aren't necessary, especially since there's no indication that the ADA approach has worked except to satisfy the activist groups that have claimed the scalps of the likes of Blair Taylor and Richard Kubach.
Injured war veteran Bob Dole was a key supporter of the ADA. Phil Gramm also voted for it. Both are now angling to be elected president in 1996, as leaders of a party ostensibly dedicated to easing unfunded federal mandates, chopping through the regulatory thicket, and creating an America of, in Gramm's favorite phrase, more freedom and less government. The ADA threatens all three goals.
Still, Dole staffers say that they see no reason to rethink the ADA now, and they doubt that any of his '96 opponents will attempt to outflank him on the issue. Indeed, no one from either Gramm's campaign or his Senate office would comment. As one Senate staffer put it, even his great-aunt who ran a local chapter of the John Birch Society doesn't have much of a problem with the idea of handicapped access.
The principled argument against the ADA is that it violates free association. And unlike more-traditional civil rights law, it sometimes forces people to bear huge costs while doing so.
The point of race- and sex-based civil rights law was to treat everybody the same; the ADA demands treating everybody differently. The disabled are not, in civil rights terms, analogous to blacks or women. It's one thing to say you must let into your restaurant, or hire, someone who in all practical aspects is just like any other customer or employee. It's another matter entirely to force you to build a ramp (instead of just giving someone a physical boost) at great expense to allow them easy access. And it is even more extreme to require that businesses allow employees to keep working if their emotional disturbances make them an unproductive nuisance.
It's a bit much to expect Republican politicians to recognize such principles--or even to consider them. But it would not be too much to recognize that the vagueness and reach of the ADA make it a law that has lost its bearings."
-- Ken Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 08, 2001
I originally posted this to the wrong thread. Is that how Altzheimer's starts?
Allow me to offer 1 1/2 cheers for ADA. Yes it is a lawyer's wet-dream; yes it is just another example of busy-body bureaucrats run amok; yes it benefits manufacturers of products that are suddenly required by law (such as specially sized toilet bowls---no doubt ADA has brought much new business to the union-busting Kohler of Kohler Corp).
But, putting on my disability hat, I can say that I do appreciate some of what ADA has wrought. I appreciate handicapped parking spots. I appreciate public restrooms that are accessible. I appreciate curb-cuts and grab-bars. I am retired due to my disability so have no informed opinion on the employment ramifications of ADA.
As in most everything, there is a middle ground here.
-- Lars (email@example.com), January 09, 2001.