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Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government's Protection of the Handicapped Hardcover – January 1, 2004
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From the outset, I will warn you that this book is highly anecdotal and, to my mind, this is no flaw (as some will allege). We hear stories of cases involving employees who "discover" a disability (like alcohol addiciton, "chronic" back pain, or depression), so that they might sue the pants off their employers. We hear stories of disabled lawyers who sue hundreds of stores at a time (that they have been to all of the stores is often in question).
These, and other, stories will outrage, and this is by design. The subtitle of the book is "the unintended consequences of the government protection of the handicapped," and this is what Perry shows. The ADA, like other government legislation such as the USA PATRIOT act, and No Child Left Behind, doubtless started with good intentions. But like these other Acts, the ADA is rife for abuse and ends up hurting those it intends to help. As Perry notes, the ADA is rife with abuse in large part because the vagueness of what constitutes a disability; everything from drug addiction to affliction with the AIDS virus to situational depression can be called a disability under ADA, and once one is "disabled," the ADA gives wide latitude to sue and make cumbersome demands on everyone from one's employer to one's favorite mom-and-pop store. And why is the ADA counterproductive? It makes people afraid to hire and deal with disabled people by seeing them not as persons but potential liabilities and lawsuits. (It also, like affirmative action, sends people the message that an entire group of people is so bad off that they couldn't make it without hefty government assistance.)
Am a special educator, I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the ADA in education (which is actually governed by a sister law, IDEA). IDEA mandates that every disabled child - and the term is flexible enough to include practically anyone performing below grade level - be provided with an Individualized Education Plan and "accommodations" that often act as wheelchair used by a child who needs to learn to walk; in other words, much of the "help" given to students with disabilities - use of a calculator on all math work, being read to (even in high school) - do more to ensure that a child will stay disabled than learn to overcome their disability. I do not have anywhere near the malice that Perry does for IDEA - and think that in some cases, the law does some good when used well - but the chapter is eye-opening for those who've never thought much on the subject.
My biggest criticism is that Perry's book is highly emotionally charged and rhetorical. There are also times when Perry argues more out of emotion than thought. (He suggests, for instance, that most stores would become "handicapped accessible" on their own, but does not explain why, if this is so, the ADA was ever felt necessary. Nor does he see that many stores simply wouldn't bother to go through the expense in areas where, like most places, the disabled are a small demographic). The book is also quite repetitive, and I found myself skimming, rather than reading, the last two chapters. As a book designed to incense a lay audience, this book is heavy on rhetoric and anecdote, and light on statistics.
Overall, though, Perry's arguments will hold much sway with those of a conservative/libertarian bent. The ADA makes "some more equal than others" by singling some out for very special treatment while leaving others with the expense (handicapped parking seems always to be at the front of the store; the rest of us must park further away, as one small example).
Want to see a sacred cow butchered? Read Disabling America (at your own risk).
The end result is depravity.
Have you ever stopped to think how the Americans with Disabilities Act has HURT the disabled? I never had although I had my suspicions after teaching in the government schools for 2 years (before I escaped!).
Not only does this book expose the seriousness of the planned destruction of the disabled in America, it does so with FAR more humor and funny stories than I ever expected.
So I came away with 2 things:
1. I learned a tremedous amount about a subject I knew very little about.
2. I had a lot of fun reading.
I searched Amazon.com and it appears that this author has written a bunch of computer books but not any books on politics or policy until this one. I hope and pray that he keeps writing in this light. It's so much more important for our future that he keeps exposing these kinds of dangers than teaching about computers.
If I could give this book 10 stars, I'd do so.
And he forgot that phone booths, which wheelchairs could not 'access' went into oblivion--both because of the ADA--and the rise of portable communications devices. They are, like the rotary phones of prior generations, obsolete technology. A thriving society is the one which constantly invents new technologies. Digital clocks and calculators have become mainstreamed vs. a device only to accommodate people who were unable to handle numbers and/or time. This is 'universal design'. Everybody benefits.
Finally, the best concept of the ADA, is that the law itself (signed into law by Republican George HW Bush) only requires the consideration, hiring and retention of an otherwise qualified person. It is next to impossible to argue that allowing qualified people to apply for and work in workplaces decreases productivity. Being 'qualified' means that people do have the skills to properly-safely perform the job. It's a very pro-business/pro-profits argument at the core. Most employers do want the worker who CAN perform the job.
I'm sure this book was written because he was passed over for a job (or two). Perry is just mad and thinks the world owes him everything because he is a person with a disability. Since he doesn't understand the actual law, he wants it trashed.
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