Friday, March 04, 2005

Column on ADA "abuse"

ADA is Easily Abused

Tibor R. Machan

Some 18 years ago the Feds made a law that compels all kinds of business
establishments to accommodate disabled people. This law is often abused,
of course, as, for example, when people want jobs despite lacking
elementary skills to do them or when they demand that restaurants make
accommodation for their disability even if they are able to cope with just
a little extra effort.

But it is not abuse that?s the problem. It is the idea that businesses
are to be made the involuntary servants of people whose disabilities they
do not consider profitable or otherwise worthy to accommodate. Yes, this
may sound harsh but it is far harsher to coerce these establishments to
make accommodations. They are not there for the sake of these customers
but for making a living for their owners and investors. And there is no
moral justification in the slightest for being made legally beholden to
anyone, however unfortunate the person may be.

To some extent nearly everyone has special needs?which is why eye
glasses, canes, hearing aids, and the like are wonderful inventions. Yet,
despite their great value to those who need them, no one has the moral?and
should have the legal?authority to order anyone to produce these
implements. It is up to the inventors to come forth with their
contributions, which then can be used to great benefit by millions of

But the US federal government, with the typical will to power attitude
when it comes to the bulk of the things they now embark upon, believe they
may coerce restaurants, amusement parks and other establishment to render
it simple for disabled people to make use of their facilities. How come?
If no one may force us to invent helpful implements for the disabled, why
may anyone force us to provide them with extra help?

Mind you, it is often decent to make provisions for those who need some
extra assistance. Generosity will often motivate vendors to do just that,
and this is praiseworthy. It is, however, something they themselves must
choose to provide, and to be coerced into doing it is far worse, morally,
than not extending the generous gesture. Not only that?there can be other
perfectly legitimate goals that could well be more important to the
vendors than to help the disabled.

Disability has a devastating impact on many people but, as already noted,
it is part of life. We all have a bit of it. None of us, however, is
morally entitled or authorized to compel others to help us because of our
disability. Indeed, if this were a right thing to do, there certainly are
millions of people around the globe who could just enslave us to serve
them, to provide involuntary servitude for their benefit.

A particularly egregious case of someone with disability harassing
various businesses has finally come under legal scrutiny in California. As
reported at, on February 18, 2005, ?A federal judge last
week accused a San Francisco law firm of ?plainly unethical? conduct in
its representation of a wheelchair-bound man who has filed some 400
lawsuits against California businesses since 1998 for alleged violations
of the Americans With Disabilities Act.? The man is 34 year old Jarek
Molski who in 1988 had a motorcycle ?accident??of which I would like to
know more, since that doesn?t tell us who was at fault?and has been going
about the state harassing various establishments if they do not
accommodate him. He has been especially vigilant in suing various small
wineries in the San Louis Obispo area.

The judge who finally put a stop to this called Moski ?a vexatious
litigant,? one who perpetrates a "scheme of systematic extortion designed
to harass and intimidate business owners into agreeing to cash
settlements." The law group going to bat for this man, The Frankovich
Group of San Francisco, is protesting the judge?s ruling, as is to be
expected, and who knows how the case will end up.

But here is the lesson: Once a bad law gets on the books, there is
probably no way to nail anyone for abusing it since one can only abuse
what is generally good. The ADA law is generally bad, not because disabled
people do not often deserve a break?although, again, this may not include
people who go out of their way to engage in risky conduct or, especially,
those who act recklessly. It is bad because it is coercive, conscripting
vendors to benefit the disabled, something no one deserves, not even for
the sake of providing such help.

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