Liberty and the ADA


There are so many examples about how “do-gooding” government statutes actually harm people that it is hard to choose the best example. But I think I have a winner in choosing the Americans with Disabilities Act, otherwise known as the “ADA.” When it was passed in 1990, some legislators were quoted as saying things like “No amount of money is too great to safeguard the rights of our disabled.” (Of course, this simply shows what politics can do to a rational discussion.)

Obviously any caring society wants to make things less hard for disabled people, and that certainly includes ours. So that means that some laws and regulations should be enacted for their assistance. But, having said that, we must resist meeting each problem with the response of simply passing more laws. Mostly the things that come to mind in helping the disabled is for those in wheelchairs or on crutches by shaving the curbs on our street corners and providing paths for them to gain access to buildings, etc. Obviously there are more, but when we pass open-ended statutes the bureaucracy unfailingly kicks in and produces numerous unintended consequences. And, of course, there are always people who will try to take advantage of any system. In the case of the ADA, these laws and regulations are often used literally to “shake down” large numbers of businesses by extorting relatively small amounts of “settlements” from them for small and even meaningless “violations.” Of course, little of this is helping the disabled, but it does add to the bureaucracy and reduce the Liberty of everyone. Thomas Jefferson rightly said “That government is best which governs least.” And the ADA is a long way away from that principle.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President