Handicapper Generals
Worthwhile concern for the disabled is corrupted by state power

Sign of the times: After visiting my UPS store I return to my car and notice a city squad car—in a SE Michigan community where I’ve been on extended visit—with letters on the side identifying the car as a “handicapped-parking enforcement vehicle.”

This rings a bell for me personally.  When the first federal-state laws in the late 1970s mandated the entire bureaucracy of specialized handicapped accommodation, particularly parking, I objected on purely libertarian grounds:

“If a business wants to make special parking available for anyone, that’s its privilege.  Committing acts of aggression on business owners by telling them how they must use
their own property is unethical, not to mention

It wasn’t that I felt handicapped people should not get some specialized treatment.  I just felt businesses and their handicapped customers should figure out the best way of doing that.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out voluntary arrangements in the marketplace work out better for everyone than expensive, massive state bureaucracies based on compulsion by people remote from the scene.  A little surfing turns up a couple of columns from the von Mises Institute:

In “The State Conquers the Parking Lot,” Laurence Vance observes three common characteristics of handicapped parking spots:

• Many of the people using them don't seem handicapped at
• Many of the spaces go unused for hours at a time.
• The stores with the most handicapped parking spaces have
   the fewest handicapped patrons.

He goes on to observe special private-market parking arrangements such as that commonly extended to pregnant women are highly successful.  Virtually no one abuses the Stiork_signsystem because of social pressure against it.  The same kind of system could work effectively for the disabled, with the stores enforcing proper use.

It wouldn’t be too difficult to have a simple registration system.  It would balance the numbers of special spots with the numbers of patrons needing them.
Is a person with obesity-engendered type 2 diabetes entitled to handicapped parking privileges?  Some businesses might say yes.  My business would say no.  I know too many people who need crutches to get around. 

So this observation of the superiority of the market in dealing with less fortunate members of society extends acutely to federal-government pretense of taking care of the handicapped with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Lew Rockwell in Doomed by Special Rights explains that since the ADA was passed in 1989, employment of disabled people has declined 25%.

That’s the deal.  The Iron Law of Government Aggression.

Just like the Minimum Wage Law should be entitled the Black Teenager Unemployment Act, all laws passed by central governments for the alleged benefit of some group make things worse for that group.  Of course the laws extract wealth from working citizens, too.

The only people who make out on the deal are those charged with administering the laws.  They get offices and salaries and pensions, feel important, do quite well.  Unlike the poor cops (or is it meter maids?) driving the Handicapped Parking Enforcement Vehicles.  I do feel for them, and I wish they could do something else.   



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