Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
we are looking for the reason our "recovery" is indistinguishable
from a recession, regulatory legislation like the Americans With
Disabilities Act (ADA) is a good place to start.
have long based social policy on the idea that all people are exactly
alike, or should be forced to behave as if they were. But with the
most wacky piece of egalitarian legislation in history, the feds
have surpassed themselves.
the expensive Clean Air Act, for example, the ADA is not industry
specific. It affects every business in the country with 25 employees
or more (and 15 or more by 1994), forcing them to pretend that the
physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled (and "disabled")
are identical to the non-disabled, and to spend to make it so.
you're a small businessman, barely alive thanks to the recession
and high taxes, and a man who cannot see applies for the job of
office manager. You cannot turn him down, even though the job requires
reading, for that would be "discrimination." You have to hire another
employee to read to him. If you hesitate, you pay back wages and,
thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1991, massive damages.
ADA also protects those who have trouble learning, reasoning, and
remembering. If a supermarket manager refuses to hire a dimwit to
ring the cash register, he can be taken to court. A sales manager
may prefer salesmen who can remember customers' names and preferences,
not to mention products, but discrimination against the memory impaired
is not allowed.
with emotional problems (which do not include being driven crazy
by radical egalitarianism) are included as well. Does a thousand-mile
stare make you and your employees uneasy? You're out of luck, for
this is no longer a chilling quirk but a certified disability.
you rather not hire a warehouseman with a history of drug use? If
he's off crack this week, he's on your payroll.
the applicant is a dyslexic with a history of drug addiction who
not only has trouble reading, but can't learn or reason well thanks
to minor brain damage. If he applies, you have to hire him, and
make necessary accommodations.
to Jesse Helms, the ADA (until it's amended in the Clinton administration)
allows discrimination against transvestites and transsexuals. But
not to worry the gender challenged can be covered under some other
disability. They may have AIDS or be considered loony. Or perhaps
they're fat or ugly; the scale impaired and facially disabled, like
those with HIV, are covered by the ADA as well.
can try to escape some of this by requiring certain abilities in
a written job description, but they must be able to show, in a court
of law, that the requirements are essential to the job.
businesses do not always know ahead of time what a person will be
required to do. So they look for qualities like character and attitude.
But these are unquantifiable, and therefore, to the government,
irrelevant (as you can tell by visiting any government office).
the courts decide, businesses cannot be sure what compliance requires.
That's why more than two-thirds of American companies have done
nothing to prepare.
make up for that, government and private interest groups will use
"testers." These actors, who will want to find all the discrimination
they can, will terrify small businesses. The smaller the business,
the more ADA hurts. That's why big business didn't oppose it. How
nice to have the government clobber your up-and-coming competition.
could this legislation have passed? In Washington, D.C., economics
takes a back-seat to special interest lobbying. Both the Bush administration
and the Democrats favored the bill, and few dared speak the truth.
free market means allowing owners to hire, fire, promote, and pay
based on their assessment of an employer's contribution. But American
businesses have lost that ability, setting us on the road to civil-rights
socialism. Even the Soviets recognized that people's abilities and
attitudes affected their economic roles.
disabled people need strong families, personal initiative, a growing
and free economy, and private acts of charity. Draconian legislation
does not substitute, and it can cripple the economy. The last thing
we need is American business on crutches.