Three Boos For Becker On The Disabilities Act

Gary Becker's article "How the disabilities act will cripple business" (Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 14) was most disappointing. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is civil rights legislation designed to enable the 43 million Americans with disabilities to be productive employees and purchasers of consumer goods, not to close businesses. The definition of "disability" in the ADA was taken directly from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and it has not created problems for government or business.

The ADA has generated unprecedented cooperation from the business community, with federal regulatory agencies ensuring the actualization of this landmark legislation. The Justice Dept. has provided technical-assistance grants to the American Hotel & Motel Assn., the Building Owners & Business Bureaus Foundation, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Conference of States on Building Codes & Standards, and the National Restaurant Assn. Plus, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to contract for ADA training for small and midsize businesses.

If we all positively approach implementation of this just law, all members of our society will benefit.

Rick Douglas

Executive Director

President's Committee on Employment

of People with Disabilities


As a physically disabled professor and founder of Pennsylvania's Day of the Disabled, I disagree strongly with the view that the Americans with Disabilities Act will have a negative effect on businesses or become just another make-work project for our lawyers.

While I do not look forward to seeing thousands of unnecessary ADA court cases, I am convinced that the threat in litigation alone will benefit the disabled population more than litigation itself. In fact, many companies are spending significant amounts to adapt facilities to the needs of disabled people in order to prevent potentially expensive lawsuits.

The U.S. Constitution was written more than 200 years ago, and it is one of the best systems of law developed by man. It was purposely written to be so broad and vague that it requires nine special judges to explain it forever. The ADA was developed on a similar basis, and it may need a special ADA court, with wise judges interpreting this act for years to come. In fact, the ADA has made the American Constitution legally more accessible to citizens with disability grievances.

Adolph S. Butkys

Associate Professor of Marketing

Villanova University

Bethlehem, Pa.

The callousness displayed by Professor Becker toward the disabled reinforced a stereotypical notion--not of the disabled, but of economists. Tenured fellows have an uncanny way of turning people with disabilities, such as myself, into widgets and other pieces of mythically bought-and-sold property. Keep up the good work, Professor Becker.

John H. MacKinnon

Belmont, Mass.

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