Majority of Americans Now Disabled?

by Steven F. Hayward

Years ago the political scientist Aaron Wildavsky in a classic essay entitled “The Search for the Oppressed” concluded that 374 percent of the American people were minorities and victims. This exploration into the advanced victimology of liberalism is based on simple math, starting with the fact that according to Ralph Nader, all consumers are victims, so since we’re all consumers, we’re already at 100 percent of the population; women are victims, too, and since they are half the population, we’ve reached 150 percent of the population before we even start with the historically oppressed people of color. From there it is easy to fill out the list and get to 374 percent of the population. The problem, as Wildavsky saw it, was that this was creating an “Oppression Gap”:

The proportion of privileged elites (defined as people of high formal education and income) has been increasing at a geometric rate, while the population of oppressed minorities for them to lead has been decreasing at an arithmetic rate. This “oppression gap”—the constantly decreasing ratio between privileged elites and oppressed minorities—is responsible, as I shall explain presently, for the vast inflation in the value of oppressed minorities. . .

Everyone knows that the politics of nobles oblige has become the preeminent status symbol of our time. No one who is anyone, who wishes to be thought well of by his fellows, can fail to make his contribution. All he needs is an oppressed minority willing to let him help it.  This, however, is where the Oppression Gap has caused trouble: As the supply of oppressed minorities was decreasing, the demand for them was increasing.  Thus the country was faced with a situation in which oppressed minorities would not have been available for aspiring elites at virtually any price. . .  Accordingly, through repeated attacks on the problem in the past decade, they have discovered that it is possible to increase the supply by changing the rules governing who is entitled to be considered a member of an oppressed minority.

This analysis came to mind as I watched this Fox News report last night about new regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that expands the definition of “disabled” under the Americans With Disabilities Act to include even people suffering from depression. It is possible that a majority of the American workforce may now qualify as disabled under these expanded rules. Watch the video and see if the EEOC commissioner Chai Feldblum doesn’t perfectly embody Wildavsky’s description of an elitist expressing noblesse oblige on behalf of all of us disabled Americans (and see if you can also restrain the urge to smash the TV while Feldblum is talking; can’t we just rename the EEOC the Department of the Inferior and get it over with?).

Meanwhile, apparently there is concern that crash test dummies don’t reflect America’s bulging waistlines, so naturally the do-gooders want us to start using . . . wait for it . . . fatter crash test dummies. How about we use fatheaded EEOC bureaucrats instead?