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Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government's Protection of the Handicapped Hardcover – January 14, 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).
I've heard him speak on CSpan before. he is eloquent and the reason the other side has vicious hatred toward him is because:
1. They don't like a handicapped man telling the truth about how the ADA harms both the handicapped AND normal people.
2. They love censorship.
3. Their incomes are at stake.
If you want to harm the handicapped, then go to Washington and lobby to stregthen the ADA!
Greg Perry presents his arguments in a systematic fashion. And the other reason ADA-advocates (attorneys, psychologists, and government workers) show such hatred towards this handicapped author is because he shows others - using a LOT of humor - how to destroy every pro-ADA argument they throw at us.
I am SO glad that I learned about this. I used to think the ADA was harmless. What I didn't know DID hurt me.
Why do we continue to put up with this? Karl Marx would have been so proud if he had designed the ADA. It keeps the handicapped in "their place" and really makes the people who profit off the backs they break under the ADA wealthy and they feel good that they've done something even though the outcome is disastrous for the people they say they want to help.
The author makes blanket statements and assumptions that all disabled Americans will sue you if you don't do exactly as they say. Of course, this does happen, but the author insults the disabled by implying that they're a liability and will ALWAYS sue you if you don't give them what they want. In trying to be clever in a pretzel logical way, the author tries to show how it is the ADA that is insulting and degrading the disabled but then in his own delivery he does exactly what he claims the ADA does! In my opinion it seems that he is out of touch with the disabled. He was fortunate to have two loving parents and a disability that did not prevent him from walking, seeing, hearing, thinking clearly, or not suffer through hallucinations. Surely, being born without a leg and some fingers IS disabling, but there are varying degrees of disabilities. He also seems hung up on disabled parking spaces as if it's such a major inconvenience for those who aren't disabled. I personally don't even think twice about the empty spaces; I just move on and I don't see many people up in arms about them.
I found it absurd how he questions why employers should have to pay for assistive equipment. OK, Greg, how many wealthy disabled do you know? I can tell you off the bat that most of the visually impaired individuals live off of Disability and Social Security or have low paying job. Visually impaired software and devices cost thousands of dollars so many of the individuals cannot afford them, even those living with families. Yet you think they should have to supply their own? Where do they get the money to do so? Surely, based on your comments about taxes, the taxpayers shouldn't pay for them. Sooooo I guess that means the disabled are out of luck? Most of the individuals I encounter would be so grateful to get a job and don't want to consider themselves as having "the mark" as you call it.
Nobody is putting a gun to the head of employers making them hire the disabled; the disabled have just as much trouble finding work as they did before the ADA, except now they can actually enter places of business and have a chance to be the best they can etc. While reading this book, all I could think of was John Stossel and his Libertarian Utopia, ghost writing this under the guise of a disabled man who wanted to express his anger for being disabled by blaming the ADA for reminding him that he's disabled and that he has to (oh no, the horror) pay taxes! This book is mostly emotions and few factual information. Much hyperbole and little rationality.
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While I think Disabling America is Entertaining and humorous (especially...Read more