• The ADA: Another Popular Bad Law

      At www.cato-at-liberty.org, Wally Olson sums up the accomplishments of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   Helping the disabled feels so right and necessary that it is hard for the public to understand why we libertarians view the ADA:

       "as a coercive and fabulously expensive government venture into what ought to be private decision-making."  

      But Olson lays out some good reasons:

        "in recent months a New Jersey jury ordered a rheumatologist [3] to pay $400,000 for not providing a deaf patient with a sign language interpreter at his own expense… a federal appeals court ruled that [5] the nation’s paper currency unfairly discriminates against the disabled and must be redesigned (thus taking a different view from the National Federation of the Blind, which doesn’t think there’s a problem); a police dispatcher won a settlement [6] in her lawsuit saying she was unfairly discriminated against because of her narcolepsy (tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate times…"

      Few public officials dare fight back.  It is political suicide.

      "One reason for the law’s immunity from criticism is that it is defended as a matter of identity politics: if you’re against it, then you must be against the people it protects. So it is treated as rude, not merely provocative, to bring up the failure of the original ADA premise that the new law would “pay for itself” by increasing the labor force participation of the disabled (the rate declined [11] instead [12]). Or to question the law’s “all for one, one for all” extension of the disability label to cover alcoholics [13], the mentally ill [14], and the mentally retarded [15], groups whose problems have historically been seen as quite different from those of the blind, deaf or paraplegic. Or to mention the money-driven ADA “filing mills” in California, Florida and other states under which complainants [16] roam the [17] land [18] filing hundreds of similar complaints against local businesses which their lawyers then convert into assembly-line cash settlements."

      Wally Olson is one of the unheralded heroes of our time.