Just One Problem With That Theory...

Ben Adler at TAPped writes:

I've long been of the opinion, in all seriousness, that Republicans have it in for the disabled. First there is their positioning regarding discrimination against people with disabiilties in the workplace (President Bush, for instance, has repeatedly appointed judges who are extraordinarily hostile to discrimination claims). Then there is their desire to eviscerate social insurance programs that support people with disabilities, like Social Security, and recently there has been their opposition to funding for potentially life-improving stem cell research.

My suspicions have now been confirmed, at least in the case of one Congresswoman, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). As pointed out yesterday on Midterm Madness, Cubin's Libertarian challenger, Thomas Rankin, says she approached him after a campaign debate on Sunday and said, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face." What chair she was referring to? The electric wheelchair that Rankin, who has multiple sclerosis, gets around in, when he isn't working from home in a hospital bed.

The thing is, while I don't know the details of Rankin's views on these topics—his platform doesn't directly address them—he sounds like a pretty straight-up, across-the-board libertarian. Which means, presumably, that he also opposes workplace discrimination laws as interference with private rights of association, opposes Social Security, and opposes government funding for medical research, though his plank objection to political interference with FDA decisions suggests that (like me) he's probably of the view that if we're going to have such funding, it should be disbursed in as neutral a way as possible, not constrained or skewed by sectarian theological taboos.

So, in the likely event that Rankin does hold these views... are we supposed to infer that he "has it in for" himself?

Update: Ben Adler responds that he actually did the journalist-y thing here and picked up the phone to check on Rankin's views. As it turns out, he's in favor of anti-discrimination laws. It's less clear exactly what his position on government-funded medical research and Social Security is: He apparently thinks government shouldn't be involved in either ideally, but given that both are entrenched doesn't want to do away with either anytime soon. (I should probably note that these are perfectly coherent sorts of positions for a libertarian to have, in my view: There are various things I don't think government ought to be doing, and that I'd like to phase out at some point, but would be wary of just abolishing overnight in light of the disruption it would cause in many cases.)

But if he did have some more extreme version of the positions I imagined, Adler says he certainly would "have it in for" himself, because "belonging to a group does not mean that you get some sort of free pass for taking actions that are hostile to its needs." But I'm not sure this is to the point, which I took to be about motivation. That is to say, it just seems silly to describe opposition to some program intended to benefit group X as "having it in for" group X. There are plenty of reasons to be against laws or programs that benefit specific groups which just have nothing to do with one's attitude toward that group.

I suppose Ben could always borrow a page from the hawks who tarred their opponents in the run up to the Iraq war as "objectively pro-Saddam" and argue that libertarians are "objectively anti-disabled" even if "subjectively" they like disabled people just fine. But it doesn't seem like a terribly useful way to frame things.

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  • Jennifer||

    Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). As pointed out yesterday on Midterm Madness, Cubin's Libertarian challenger, Thomas Rankin, says she approached him after a campaign debate on Sunday and said, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."

    Sit in a wheelchair or don't, but who told Cubin that slapping people you disagree with is how grown-ups behave? Too bad Rankin wasn't able-bodied; I'd love to see Cubin slap him so she could be arrested for assault.

  • ||

    not sure of your point here, Julian. the author seems to be referring to Cubin, the Republican, not Rankin, the Libertarian. his argument is weak (Cubin wanted to slap Rankin, Rankin is physically disabled, Cubin wants to slap the physically disabled), but I'm completely missing what you're trying to say

  • ||

    Ben Adler might have been on better footing going after Limbaugh's tripe on Michael J. Fox.

    For pure semantics, Rankin's (alleged) positions on these matters doesn't blunt Adler's point. Rankin's still disabled and Cubin is still a Republican who has it in for him.

    What does blunt Adler's point is that Cubin did NOT slap him because he's disabled...although I guess that could be a form of disrimination if you really think about it.

  • ||

    Ben Adler might have been on better footing going after Limbaugh's tripe on Michael J. Fox.

    For pure semantics, Rankin's (alleged) positions on these matters doesn't blunt Adler's point. Rankin's still disabled and Cubin is still a Republican who has it in for him.

    What does blunt Adler's point is that Cubin did NOT slap him because he's disabled...although I guess that could be a form of discrimination if you really think about it.

  • ||

    How can you say Republicans hate the disabled? Hasn't anyone noticed how many mentally challenged persons they have employed via political appointment?

  • ||

    Yeah that is exactly what I thought when I read this , madpad. Adler seems to be arguing Republicans refuse to make special considerations for the disabled, and, Cubin, by not slapping Rankin because he is disabled, made a special consideration for the disabled. Of course, there is no just cause for slapping someone after a political debate in any case, or at least certainly not over what she was pissed off at Rankin for saying.

    I would argue it's very likely, however, that were Rankin not bound to a wheelchair Cubin would
    a)Not have slapped him.
    b)Not have even made a threat to that affect...
    So regardless of her or the Republican party's positition on the disabled in general, she's still a total bitch.

  • ||

    madpad and biologist - The point you're missing is that the author is equating these positions to having it in for the disabled. Thus, by Adler's reasoning, Rankin has it in for himself.

  • ||

    Wasn't signing the Americans With Disabilities Act supposed to be one of Bush the Elder's principal achievements? Of course, big points are always scored by partisans who point out that a hostile Congress had the president over a barrel (see also, Bill Clinton and welfare reform, etc).

  • ||

    Thus, by Adler's reasoning, Rankin has it in for himself.

    Dave B.- Adler singles out Republicans. Cubin is one. Rankin is not one.

    I did get Julian's point. But I also said I was playing semantics. I was setting up for my punchline a few sentences later.

  • ||

    I wish Cubin had said "If nobody was looking, I'd wheel your ass off into a swimming pool, and we'd see how smartmouthed you are then." The political shitstorm could have been spectacular.

  • Dan T.||

    When is Reason going to address the blatant violation of our rights from government mandated handicapped parking spaces? What makes the government think that they know better than me where I should park my car?

    Besides, if we got rid of such laws, the Free Market would actually guarantee even more open spaces for the handicapped! Everybody wins.

  • ||

    Besides, if we got rid of such laws, the Free Market would actually guarantee even more open spaces for the handicapped! Everybody wins.

    Priceless, Dan T. Priceless!

  • Dan T.||

    Adler seems to be arguing Republicans refuse to make special considerations for the disabled, and, Cubin, by not slapping Rankin because he is disabled, made a special consideration for the disabled.

    No, Cubin's remarks indicates that she thinks so little of disabled people that she doesn't think that one can handle the slapping that she apparently thinks they occasionally deserve.

  • ||

    Let the handicrippled park in front of the fire hydrant or on the sidewalk.

  • ||

    So, Julian, did you go with the thirty-ought-six for these particular fish, or did you just stick a 12 guage into this barrel? Man, that's some demogoguery right there.

    Republicans don't "have it in for the disabled." They just don't give a shit about them, just like they don't give a shit about lots of other people.

    Dan T., that was sweet.

  • ||

    "Republicans don't "have it in for the disabled." They just don't give a shit about them, just like they don't give a shit about lots of other people."

    This seems about as fair as claiming that because Democrats knowingly impede growth and investment, they don't give a shit about people that are going to be sick.

  • ||

    Oddly enough, I think nearly everything characterized above as "hostility" to the disabled is nothing more than treating them exactly as you would everyone else. As far as I can tell, the hostility amounts to:

    Declining to write them checks or give them special workplace protections because they are disabled.

    Treating disabled political foes with the same degree of contempt that you treat all your political foes.

    They just don't give a shit about them, just like they don't give a shit about lots of other people.

    Also known as "freedom."

  • ||

    "When is Reason going to address the blatant violation of our rights from government mandated handicapped parking spaces? What makes the government think that they know better than me where I should park my car?"

    Mandated handicap spaces are an infringement not of your rights as a parker, but of those who own the property on which the parking lot sits.

    Didn't the Center For Advanced Sarcasm teach you that satire has to sustain an inner logic to be worth a damn?

  • ||

    As everyone knows, the only way to determine if someone gives a shit is if that someone spends vast sums of other people's money on social programs, and the Republicans have shown a lot of promise in this area recently.

  • ||

    Declining to write them checks or give them special workplace protections because they are disabled.

    Exactly...

    If the free market decides that it just isn't fiscally worth the hastle of employing the handicapped -- then tough shit for them. They also don't deserve special perks from the government in the form of disability benefits either. It's not like they've contributed anything to deserve a "benefit".

    They don't have a right to work or to be employeed any more than anyone else. If they can't find a way to climb stairs because they are wheel-chair bound -- I don't see why that should be anyone's problem but theirs.

    The resourceful ones will find a way to survive...the rest will just die off and make the gene pool better.

    That's the epitome of freedom, right RC?

  • ||

    "This seems about as fair as claiming that because Democrats knowingly impede growth and investment, they don't give a shit about people that are going to be sick."

    Now that is going to leave a stretch mark.

  • David Nieporent||

    ChicagoTom: right. Except that "the free market" doesn't actually "decide" anything; that's just a metaphor. It's individual employers who decide that.

    But it's not necessarily 'tough shit.' Anybody is free to give them charity.

  • ||

    RC Dean,

    I passed a guy on the street today. I did not grab a stick, lean over, allow him to grab the end, and pull him towards myself.

    I also passed a guy thrashing about in a swimming pool, bobbing up and down, unable to keep his head above the water. I also did not grab a stick, lean over, allow him to grab the end, and pull him towards myself.

    Clearly, the two are precisely equivalent.

  • ||

    But it's not necessarily 'tough shit.' Anybody is free to give them charity.

    Right-o -- but to those who don't manage to get charity or if there isn't enought charity to go around, then it's tough shit for whoever gets left out.

    The problem with the libertarian line of thinking in this particular realm is that that no one ever addresses what happens when the market fails these people.

    It's really nice of you to be willing to roll the dice with the market when it's other people's lives at stake...people who are disabled and don't have the same opportunities or basic abilities as the non-disabled.

    Instead, thankfully, most people with a conscience prefer the moral (statist) approach which is to guarantee these people some sort of assistance/benefits without having to rely on the generosity of others that may or may not be there.

  • ||

    Well, I don't recall anyone bringing up killing benefits for disabled people, or letting them die to enhance the gene pool, except you. (And I don't quite understand how removing people who become disabled via accidents or stuff is gonna help the gene pool, but I guess I'm missing something there.)

    You're kinda scary.

  • ||

    Well, I don't recall anyone bringing up killing benefits for disabled people, or letting them die to enhance the gene pool, except you

    Ahem...
    Declining to write them checks or give them special workplace protections because they are disabled.

    Who is writing them checks??? The government in the form of Disability compensation.

    But it's not necessarily 'tough shit.' Anybody is free to give them charity.

    Why would they need charity?? Because libertarians believe that the government shouldn't be providing these kinds of benefits.

    Furthermore, everyone who advocates getting rid of Social Security is also implicitly advocating getting rid of Disability Benefits since they are part of Social Security.

    To be able to give these people benefits, taxes must be collected -- and quite a few people have expressed their distaste for being extorted by the government to pay taxes to provide public benefits to people who need assistance.

    You're kinda scary.
    Sure --- Im the scary one..not the people who believe that we shouldn't provide benefits to or protect from discrimination the disabled because its somehow an infringement on freedom.

  • ||

    No Chicago,

    I am happy to provide assistance ot those in need... I am just unwilling to rob my neighbor at gunpoint to come up with the money.

    Verstaten?

  • ||

    "Right-o -- but to those who don't manage to get charity or if there isn't enought charity to go around, then it's tough shit for whoever gets left out."

    No one argues that heroin addiction is a good thing, but there's plenty who think outlawing heroin is a bad idea.

    Similarly most everyone agrees that its important to make sure the handicapped have the ability to live reasonably useful lives. It's an open-ended question whether government does a particularly good job in assisting in this goal.

    Handicapped parking spaces are not that old of an invention. Before they existed, it wasn't like people stood around and kicked cripples while they were helpless in the street. The laws requiring handicapped access are even newer.

    Just because government is currently doing something, doesn't mean it wouldn't get done if government wasn't involved.

  • David Nieporent||

    It's really nice of you to be willing to roll the dice with the market when it's other people's lives at stake...people who are disabled and don't have the same opportunities or basic abilities as the non-disabled.

    And it's really nice of you to be willing to provide them property when it's other people's property at stake.


    Instead, thankfully, most people with a conscience prefer the moral (statist) approach which is to guarantee these people some sort of assistance/benefits without having to rely on the generosity of others that may or may not be there.

    Obviously, you don't really believe that, or you wouldn't say, "if there isn't enough charity to go around." You know that most people don't agree with you.

  • Dan T.||

    Mandated handicap spaces are an infringement not of your rights as a parker, but of those who own the property on which the parking lot sits.

    Didn't the Center For Advanced Sarcasm teach you that satire has to sustain an inner logic to be worth a damn?


    It depends on your point of view - I'm right if you believe that all people, when patronizing a business that is open to the public, should have the right to equal access to the facilities.

    If you believe that if somebody owns a piece of property, they have no responsiblity whatsoever to the public and can use that probably however they like, then you're correct.

  • Dan T.||

    Eh, what I meant was: "...use that property however they like..."

  • ||

    tarran,

    Hysterical language about robbing people at gunpoint doesn't actually make taxation illegitimate. You seem quite willing to rob your neighbor at gunpoint to pay the judges and police who enforce your property rights.

    Again,

    "It's an open-ended question whether government does a particularly good job in assisting in this goal." No, it really isn't. Since hadicapped-access laws ant anti-discrimination laws have gone into effect, the participation of disabled people in society, including as productive contributers to the economy, has undergone epochal change. Back in the good old days, before people were being robbed at gunpoint (sob), it was expected that the "crippled" would subsist on the support of their families and the government.

  • ||

    "if there isn't enough charity to go around." You know that most people don't agree with you.

    That math doesn't work. Unsufficient resources (or insufficient contributions) does not equal insufficient agreement.

    And more importantly, math not withstanding, you've raised NO evidence that most people disagree with some safety net for the disabled.

    You've only raised arguments based on libertarian-objectivist philosophy.

    That's all fine and good to assert a position based on your philosophy. But don't pretend that it's a view most people share.

    Many people are certainly intrigued by (and indeed 'sold' on) the notion that the market can address many social problems better and more efficently than government can.

    But most people are, in fact, more than a little suspicious of the idea that the market should (and can) effectively deal with ALL social ills.

    Notice I am NOT weighing in one way or the other about whether or not support for the disabled is one of the areas that should or should not be left to market forces.

    What I AM saying is that you have not yet offered sufficient proof that most people agree with YOU on the subject.

  • ||

    Joe:

    "Hysterical language about robbing people at gunpoint doesn't actually make taxation illegitimate. You seem quite willing to rob your neighbor at gunpoint to pay the judges and police who enforce your property rights."

    LOL Joe, I am an anarchist. So I am unwilling to rob my neighbors at gunpoint for anything. And it is at gunpoint... What do you think would happen to me if I stopped paying protection money to your gang? Do you think the men who come to talk to me about my "debt" would come unarmed or would they be packing some heat? Would they agree to third party arbitration or would they kidnap me, lock me up in a cage and force me to go to a court that is paid with the protection money I refuse to pay?

    It's always pathetic how members of organized crime gangs try to make it sound like they are legitimate businessmen providing some service that is paid for voluntarily.

  • Dan T.||

    I am an anarchist. So I am unwilling to rob my neighbors at gunpoint for anything.

    Uh, if you're an anarchist why would you have a problem robbing people at gunpoint?

  • ||

    Uh, if you're an anarchist why would you have a problem robbing people at gunpoint?

    OR...If you're an anarchist, what would keep them from robbing you?

  • ||

    A few thoughts:

    Lamar: The connection between Democratic destruction of growth and Republican (scratch that, small government) destruction of redistribution is not really a stretch from where I'm sitting. There is a profound belief on the part of small government types that growth inhibition is culpable for future pain and suffering just as there is a belief of the part of redistributionists that current suffering is best alleviated by transfer payments. I don't think characterizing either one of these positions as "They don't give a shit," is fair, and that was my point above.

    Charity is a handout and redistribution is a handout. Fans of redistribution seem to draw some distinction wherein the check that comes from the government is somehow more dignified. I don't think that is a defensible position. Government checks come at the expense of choice and provide the benefit of increased access to payments under adverse conditions.

    It is not clear that government checks are higher. It is not clear that government checks are more available in every case. It is only clear that in adverse market conditions, there is a political process involved to reducing payments. There is a substitution problem with government checks that needs to be accounted for (i.e. the belief that the government is responsible means that voluntary charity can decline).

    Lastly, an assault on medicare or on Social Security is not identical to an assault on government checks in general. Maybe, just maybe, there is the belief that those systems are wasteful and inefficient at delivering on what they promise.

  • Dan T.||

    Charity is a handout and redistribution is a handout.

    Redistribution is not necessarily a "handout" - it could be looked upon as a correction of the market's inability to allocate resources in the best possible way.

    For example, if you sweep floors for a living and depend on food stamps to feed your family, you're not getting a "handout" because you are working and contributing to society. So the food stamps are society's way of compensating you when the free market doesn't compensate you enough.

  • ||

    Dan, a distinction without a difference. The question isn't whether you are doing anything at all or doing nothing. It doesn't even matter if you are the hardest working person in the city. If you aren't contributing sufficiently to a productive activity for which there is demand that you can't pay your bills, the excess you need comes in the form of a handout from those who are.

    This is NOT a moral judgement, it is a statement of economic reality. The disabled may require handouts. The rest of the discussion is about the shape those handouts are to take.

  • ||

    Redistribution is not necessarily a "handout" - it could be looked upon as a correction of the market's inability to allocate resources in the best possible way.

    Funniest thing I've read all day.

    I'm sure the guys who cleaned out my neighbor's house while he was away on vacation would say the same thing.

  • ||

    Redistribution is not necessarily a "handout"

    I redistribution might not be a handout...but a handout is definitely a redistribution!

  • Robert Goodman||

    Let's say it's true that the various edicts have increased the participation of the handicapped in society, such as by working. If they weren't participating as much before, is it because employers were stupid? Or is it because employing them costs more than it's worth? If the former, then I guess we're just smarter democratically than we are indivdually, and we should have government run all businesses. If the latter, then it's all a sham, and society would be more productive having the handicapped take explicit charity than make-work.

  • ||

    OK, anarchist tarran, you get a pass. I'm moving you up from whiner, past hypocrite, all the way to loony. I can respect loonies.

    Jason Ligon, "Fans of redistribution seem to draw some distinction wherein the check that comes from the government is somehow more dignified." No, just more effective, because of the scale of the resources available.

    Also, this is wrong: "It doesn't even matter if you are the hardest working person in the city. If you aren't contributing sufficiently to a productive activity for which there is demand that you can't pay your bills, the excess you need comes in the form of a handout from those who are." Employers don't pay what their employees are actually worth. They pay what they can get away with paying them. Why are libertarians so willing to conclude that business owners allocated their labor costs between themselves, their fellow managers, and their employees based on objectively-accurate estimates of their value, rather than on self-interest?

  • ||

    Okay, anyone who thinks handicapped parking spaces are some sort of arbitrary mandate and a handout is being ignorant. They're a manifestation of social contract theory. The laws ensuring such access were enacted by a popularly-endorsed government. People like these laws. People are willing to not park in a certain space in exchange for, in the event they become unable to walk a sufficient distance due to accident, disease, injury, or age, they'll be able to get that permit and use that space themselves. It's a social contract. Most people think it's a fine deal. Otherwise we wouldn't have it.

    I understand that Libertarians do not endorse social contract theory. However, the founders of the United States did, and the vast majority of the population accepts it, perhaps not as an abstract concept, but definitely in various concrete manifestations.

  • ||

    No, just more effective, because of the scale of the resources available." - joe

    Just because it comes from the gov't via the taxpayers doesn't mean that there are more resources available. That just doesn't pass the common sense test.

    If the gov't takes $5 from you and gives it to me, it doesn't mean that $5 suddenly transmutes into $10. With or without the gov't, the scale doesn't change - and if it does it doesn't go up but down (due to bureaucratic mismanagement).

    If you mean the gov't takes a lot more money than it needs to, pisses most of it away, and gives the poor a smaller cut than most of us would want them to have, then you might have a point.

    Actually, I think the argument would be about 1) whether you're being forced to pay taxes that don't even go to the poor (if that's your end goal) and 2) if it wouldn't be better-handled by a non-profit charity like the Red Cross, which people willingly give to in massive amounts.

    Frankly, I have no beef with helping the poverty-stricken. Based purely on self interest, I'd rather that they not have to resort to crime to feed themselves and their families because I and my family might become their target.

    But do I think it's right for the gov't to do it? No, because they do an amazingly poor job of it. If I had my druthers the only departments left in the Executive Branch would be the Depts of Defense, Justice, and Welfare.

    The rest of it is just pork...

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