When altruism becomes cancer

by on 17 August, 2016

By Satyajeet Marar

I love paying my taxes. I love it because I know the money is helping to take care of the less unfortunate and the downtrodden. People like the head statistician of the ABS, David Kalsich who makes $700,000 a year on the public purse – only close to double what the US President makes. With that kind of funding, how are they supposed to afford the diamond studs for his leopard-print Jaccuzi bathrobe?

man money

“If it wasn’t for the Aussie taxpayer, I’d probably have followed my childhood dream of producing Adam Sandler movies or Nickelback albums.”

 

obamma

Pictured: Current US President Barrack Obama, reduced to cannibalism due to his low public sector wage of just $400,000 AUD.

But hey, it’s all good though. Because bureaucrats and lawmakers have our best interests at heart. They’re always looking for new and innovative ways to make sure the peasants are taken care of.

Actually, f**k the peasants – disabled peasants, that’s a thought that REALLY pulls at the votestrings-er, I mean heartstrings. It so happens that US lawmakers passed the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 – mandating strict guidelines for the number and size of parking spaces for disabled people which must be followed by private businesses providing ‘public accommodation’. The act’s stated aims are to alleviate the discrimination faced by the disabled who would otherwise find it difficult to access goods and services where parking isn’t available or there aren’t facilities catering for their impediments. A noble cause, no doubt. But what could possibly go wrong?

“Don’t be Dis-in’ my Ability.”

Since its inception, the act has resulted in thousands of lawsuits filed against businesses across the U.S. Many of these are big corporations for whom fixing up a few parking spots is no big deal. Unfortunately though, a majority of the lawsuits target small mom-n’-pop businesses who due to either not knowing that they were non-compliant or struggling to afford the resources needed to upgrade their facilities, got caught in the crosshairs of a plaintiff or plaintiff advocacy group.

They’re called “drive-by lawsuits” because the groups filing them actively scout parking lots to find offenders they can hit with a suit. There is no requirement to notify the business beforehand or to give them a chance to upgrade their facilities of their own volition or to even simply respond. Many are forced to settle cases for thousands of dollars rather than risk protracted litigation even if they have a valid case to make.

One of these groups is California-based Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, somewhat aptly abbreviated as AID(s) which has flooded public courtrooms with thousands of AwD act lawsuits this year alone.  The star plaintiff in many of AID’s lawsuits was a man named David Ritzenthaler. Someone who, despite describing his motives as being simply for the greater good, refused to confirm or deny whether he planned to receive a salary as the organisation’s director. It’s also estimated that Ritzenthaler received hundreds of dollars per successful lawsuit – money that he says has been invested back into another (note – unrelated) charity he runs which turns out to be a religious ministry.

The real kicker? An American news story revealed that AID’s own office building was non-compliant with AwD act standards! This despite the fact that their parking facilities would be used by a far greater proportion of disabled individuals than those of most private businesses.

In a nutshell – a law passed with good intentions has instead resulted in serious damage to honest workers and businesses as well as the creation of an artificial ‘litigation market’ with spoils of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to be made over thousands of lawsuits. To make matters even graver, studies indicate the AwD act has actually hurt people with disabilities by disincentivising their hiring because of the associated mandatory costs.

baird

“I don’t know what everyone’s fussed about. Looks pretty vibrant to me.” – Emperor Mike ‘Nero’ Baird of Sydney.

Strict regulations passed with good intentions ultimately create victims – businesses who are already forced to operate in an environment of red tape that can make staying afloat a tough exercise. It’s a scary reminder for us here in Australia where our own NSW state government’s disastrous lockout laws as well as some of the most draconian alcohol service laws in the developed world have resulted in the failure of hundreds of honest businesses unable to compete amidst a desecrated nightlife industry that lies in ruins.

 

Leave a Reply