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Handicapped by Bureaucracy

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bill Bonner's article at this morning closed with a conversation he had about being handicapped-compliant with the building department bureaucracy . He explains that he is having to install both an elevator and an extra bedroom just in case he happens to have a handicapped visitor in the future. In his article, he recites his conversation with the building architect who is explaining to him why he must now install these "necessities" for the handicapped:
"You don't understand, Monsieur," continued the architect. "The law insists that you be prepared for a handicapped person. Whether he actually ever shows up or not is another matter. And let us suppose you only get one person in a wheelchair every five years. You may think, how silly it is to invest 25,000 euros in a special elevator for the man when you could easily help him up the stairs...there are only three steps to the front door, by the way. But the law requires that this man have the ability to be as independent as possible. He shouldn't have to rely on you to help him up the stairs. He should have the same freedom of least insofar as his condition any other person."
I'm not sure if this conversation is quoted verbatim, but even it were not, the general sentiment is the same and universal: the law says you have to provide these for the handicapped, so comply. What struck me was the sentence, "[The handicapped] shouldn't have to rely on you to help him up the stairs." But he is relying on you, isn't he. More to the point, he's relying on the police powers of the state to force you to spend "25,000 euros" to help him up the stairs. Think of it this way. Instead of you helping him up the stairs if he happens to wheel up to your entrance, he's gotten the state to make you provide him some form of mechanical aid that will be at his service whenever he chooses to enter your building. You are no longer required to aid him in going up and down the stairs. Your money has done that for you.
To say that he shouldn't have to rely on you for help would only be true if he actually pulled himself up the stairs on his own. To put in a ramp, an elevator, or to hire a man to stand there to assist him is to aid him up and down the stairs. To have the government force you to provide those things on his behalf is the same as him holding a gun to your head while you installed them. It's still coercion.
Mr. Bonner closes his article with this final quote from his architect:
"Thank you for your thoughts on the matter," interrupted the architect, taking back the conversation. "But the Department of Public Health and Safety is not the least bit interested. You've got to put in another bedroom and an elevator."
That about sums up bureaucracy... Comply, or else.


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