The Americans With Disabilities Act: 20 Horrible Years
At Cato At Liberty, Walter Olson has harsh words for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has just marked its 20th anniversary. I have been a bitter and steadfast opponent of this statute since its inception, and the train of horribles that is often invoked only hardens my opposition to the statute.
The crux of the matter is this. The chief office of an antidiscrimination statute is to counteract the force of monopoly power so that a common carrier cannot force one of two identical customers to pay more than the other for the same services. In its origin, the principle was designed to prevent cross subsidies between parties. The newer statute has exactly the opposite circumstances. The rights to the services are said to be sacred no matter how different the costs of its provision. It costs more to provide a sign language interpreter to the deaf, but the statute makes no provision for covering the additional costs of providing that service, which has to come out of the provider's own pocket. The public in these cases should have the financial courage of its convictions and underwrite the additional expenses. At that point the calculus changes because the implicit costs of the statute are now on budget.
And what will happen? There might be one rheumatologist who would be compensated to deliver that service, and instructed to do so at standard prices now that the extra costs have been covered. The on-balance sheet approach is critical. I might also add that this problem occurs with all antidiscrimination laws today. My current Forbes column talks about the same dangers under Title IX as it applies to intercollegiate sports. There are real costs to identity politics.