Monday, October 7, 2013

What's it all about? *

I think that there is a significant number of Americans who believe that there's an epidemic of people either faking disabilities, or cynically appropriating the "disability" label, in order to bankroll their laziness or inadequacy. It's the common denominator behind Social Security Disability panic, outrage about Disney World line-jumping, scoffing and eye-rolling at people with chronic pain and other invisible disabilities, grousing about how many school kids are "labeled" as ADHD, and the incoherent rage dumped on people who have the temerity to walk, hobbling perhaps, from their cars parked in handicapped spaces. The vestiges of their grade-school morality won't quite let them hate on quadriplegics and blind people, but anyone else who says they are disabled is fair game.

I'm not saying there are no cheaters. Of course there are. But, it's all a matter of scale, and it seems to me that the level of outrage about these things is way out of proportion to their real prevalence and impact.

And in case we are tempted to think of this as simply a cultural or social issue, the same impulse has caused a wholesale restructuring of disability benefits in the United Kingdom, in which every disabled person has to re-prove in minute detail their disability and its precise extent … with a private, for-profit company paid to do the evaluations, by a government committed to rooting out "benefit scroungers."

* Note: Atrios, the lead blogger at often uses the title "What's it all about?" when he tries to give his broad perspective on what's actually going on with some political or public policy controversy or other.

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