Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Friday, May 27, 2005

Liberty and the ADA

Libertarians frustrate me sometimes. Partly, it's because I can almost agree with them until they start talking about how national parks are Stalinist and evil. Partly, it's the ridiculous factual claims they make. Mostly, though, it's their rigid and arbitrary conception of freedom.

Take the Americans with Disabilities Act. I don't know much about it, but I know that companies have to make reasonable accomodations for disabled employees, and many new buildings have to be accessible. To a libertarian, this is an unconscionable intrusion on liberty. What this misses is that the loss of liberty on one hand must be weighed against the gain of liberty on the other. Businesses aren't free to build certain kinds of buildings, but disabled people are more free to participate in business, education, entertainment, and other things that the rest of us take for granted.

I don't know enough about the ADA to know whether it strikes a good balance between costs and benefits. I don't know whether the market would have been adequate (but I suspect not). My point is that you can't rule out programs like the ADA unless your suspicion of government runs so deep that it undermines your preference for more liberty.


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