The Corner

Hopefully the Most Insane Document You Will Ever See

In the midst of a big research project I’ve been doing on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, I happened to come accross the Department of Justice’s “2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.” It is the single most insane official document I have ever seen. 

New and altered dwelling units have to have kitchens and bathrooms five feet wide, with expansive kitchen countertops. (I immediately wondered how on earth New Yorkers of the future will be able to afford their rent, just to provide access that might not be needed once in a hundred years). The regulations on recreational boat slips and pools are almost intentioanlly absurd, and quite enough to make you laugh. But by the time you get to the mandates for mini-golf courses, it’s not so funny anymore. There’s obviously something very wrong with our government. If you’re already having a bad day, you probably should not look at this document, especially if you have ever read Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (1944).  

The regulation was adopted by the master social planners of the Department of Justice without any consideration of the costs to society as a whole. And because the costs are totally hidden in the private sector, unlike direct government subsidies, there’s no way of telling whether each dollar’s worth of ADA benefit for the disabled is costing the rest of society $100,000 or merely $1,000. Even better, the ”undue burden” qualifications alter your obligations depending on your financial resources, with the effect that nobody is really sure just what they are required to do. That’s the sort of thing that makes The Road to Serfdom seem like the oracle in a Greek tragedy. 

It’s sad to say, but the disability lobby has now become part of the special-interest elite that have been converting America’s government into a machinery of extraction since the New Deal. The Constitution guarantees equal protection of the laws. But some of us are more equal than others. 

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