Accessibility is not a Right
30 October, 2009
Sorry but, in my opinion, if I am still allowed to have one not pre-approved by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Accessibility is Not a Right.
I know, I know. I only say this because I am an evil, selfish, mean spirited person who does not care about those who are disabled. Ok, so let me just say I am guilty as charged.... so don't bother with that reproach.
Nor will you gain any traction by asking me to hypothesize about whether my opinion would differ were anyone I love disabled.
I thought I should get that out of the way because I have no doubt that my opposition to any by-law mandating wheelchair accessible taxis will result in a deluge of such accusations.
Now, for anyone willing to listen, I would like to provide a shortlist of human rights as I see them.
I have a personal obsession. I hate debt. I once got in over my head with credit cards. I hated it.
So finally, I resorted to extreme measures to get out of debt. I moved out of my apartment and lived in a tent for a while. I also borrowed my dad's van and slept in it at the side of the road. No doubt my co-workers thought I was some kind of kook.
What? Me a kook?
Well, sort of I guess.... especially when it comes to my inability to recognize the official truth when I see it.
Anyway, back to my own personal debt story.....
To make a long story short.... I cut my living expenses to the bone in order to pay off my debts. In the end I was successfull.
To this day, I have managed to avoid debt. I have contracts for hydro and phone and internet. I entered into those contracts voluntarily... and I pay my bills every month. I feel an obligation.
Today, I live debt free.
And I feel pretty good about it.
That is, I felt pretty good about it... until I found out that I have another debt, as yet, unpaid.
According to the Ministry of Transportation (Ontario).... accessible transportation is a human right.
Which means to me, since I am in the transportation business, that I am not free of debt.
I owe something to a certain group of citizens who, based upon certain criterion, are officially considered to be, disabled.
At our meeting of the Taxi Advisory Committee meeting on October 20 (2009) a motion was put forward by the de-facto chairman of the committee: "Should 100% of Hamilton taxis be forced (at some unspecified future date,) to become accessible?" (I.E. wheelchair vans.)
Immediately one of the committee members blurted out, "Well, accessibilty is a right, not a privilege."
It was said with such certitute, such moral authority.... such obvious lack of critical thought. It was almost biblical in it's certainty.
But in Canadian society these days we all know how to spout the popular line. We all know the answers that will draw minimum criticism.
Well, of course, I was one member of the committee who was not so ready to jump on this morally self-congratulatory bandwagon.
When it came to a show of hands I did a quick inventory of the 7 (as opposed to 2) yes votes.... the yes votes, were dominated by committee members who either would expect to benefit personally (or politically) from such a mandate and those for whom such a mandate would not represent any personal financial commitment and those who seemed not to really understand the motion(!).
It ought to go without saying that the two "no," votes came from members who understood they were the ones who were being "asked," to provide the means for the realization of said mandate - and one member who has lot's of experience recognizing counterfeit "rights," for exactly what they are: state mandated privileges or entitlements, designed to benefit one group of citizens at the expense of another.
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed sheep contesting the vote. -- Unknown author. Often attributed to Ben Franklin or James Bovard.
And that my friends, is how many Canadians find themselves in debt... not through any personal contract or commitment, but by a vote of nine people in a committee.
How secure does your freedom feel now, knowing that government committees are voting on saddling you with new debts you never thought you owed?
Who shall suffer most from this new, government imposed debt obligation?
A lot of cab drivers in Hamilton own their cabs but "lease" their plates. Few of them, I suspect, make $40,000 a year. If the city mandates that all taxicabs be "accessible," then these lessees shall have to fork out about $40,000 (the rumoured price of an accessible vehicle,) instead of the $5,000 currently spent on used police cars.
It doesn't really matter whether these lessees are given one year, or fifteen years to comply. The $35,000 difference represents a year's worth (probably much more) of labour that these happless citizens will be forced to forego because the disabled, (but not they,) have "rights."
Let's consider the brief list of rights I listed above in light of the claim that accessible transportation is a human right.
From the point of view of the cab driver, lessee, owner.......
They do not have the right to life. Well not all of their life because now, as a result of a pronouncement from the Ministry of Transportation... ( and a vote of the Taxi Advisory Committee,) part of their life has to be allocated to accomodating the disabled.
They do not have the right to liberty. The government is now telling them what to do ( purchase wheelchair vans) ... or else(!)... their license and their means of earning a living will be revoked.
They do not have the right to pursue happiness. Their right to pursuit of happiness has been trumped by the "right of accessible transportation." The happiness of influential lobby groups must be accommodated before any of their efforts be allocated to their own pursuit of happiness... (well, awe shucks... pursuit of happiness is an American idea and thus carries no weight in Canada.)
The right to own property. Well, we have all heard the saying, "property is theft," so if you think you own it, all it means is that you stole it.... and it really belongs to someone else -- you know .. that special, rights endowed, someone who didn't pay for it.
So now, we in the cab business find we are indebted to the disabled community. Property is theft. So, I suppose is mobility.
Those of us who have mobility, like those of us who have property, have stolen it... and it is time for us to pay it back.
"I stole this head, these hands, this body and ran off with them." -- Frederick Douglas
The right to earn a living. This right is going to be cancelled by the government. First, you provide accessible transportation. After that, you can concern yourself with making a living. Accessibility, is a "basic right." Your right to earn a living takes a back seat. (Sorry.)
The right to say, "No." Sorry again, accessible transportation is a basic right. You are not allowed to say "no." If you do, your license... your means of making a living, shall be revoked. (This is the price we pay so that politicians can pretend they "care." Does it start to feel like someone has a firm grip on your balls yet?)
The right to be left alone. He he. If you expect to make a living in this city, you're dreaming.
Years ago, my notion of human rights was summed up by the novelist Ayn Rand. She wrote,
Any alleged "right" of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right.
So much for the "right," to accessible transportation.
Compassion is one thing. Statist mandates and phony compassion are quite another.
"A liberal is a guy who cares so much he would give a poor man the shirt off someone else's back."
Almost fifty years ago the U.S. Democratic party was not so progressive... they forgot to include the right to accessible transportation. (and ... not to be offended by free speech, and, and ..... internet access(!), etc. etc.)
From "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," by Ayn Rand.....
"Bear clearly in mind the meaning of the concept of rights when you read the list which the [Democratic platform of 1960] offere[d]:
A single question added to each of the above eight clauses would make the issue clear. At whose expense?"
"What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."
I will not attribute that last quote. If you are interested, Google it.
The state is that fictitious entity by which everyone attempts to live at the expense of everyone else. Frederic Bastiat
On 22 October, 2009, during the taxi advisory committee meeting a motion was put forth: Should it be mandatory that Hamilton Taxi Cabs become 100% accessible at some unspecified future date?
Seven of the members voted yes.
In this country we used to have a saying, Put your money where your mouth is.
I would like to see that saying become popular again.
I think I have come up with a great way to reintroduce that question into Canadian political discussion. I would like to propose that the 100% accessibility motion be re-introduced at the next Taxi Advisory Committee meeting with one slight modification.
This time, I want the Yes, voters to put their money where their mouths are.
Now, it ought to be well understood, that those who voted yes, are deeply compassionate citizens of our great land. More to the point, those members who voted yes, have a special regard and concern for that segment of society who, through no fault of their own are unable to move about in a normal way.
All of my life I have been told that Canada, as opposed to our greedy cousins to the south, is a Compassionate Society.
The next Taxi Advisory Committee meeting will give seven Canadians the distinguished opportunity to stand up and show the whole world just how compassionate Canadians can be.
What I want to see at the next TAC meeting, is for the yes, voters to bring $1000 of their own money, put it down on the table, and pledge to donate their dollars toward the purchase of Hamilton's first Accessible Taxi under the mandate.
Then we will have a second vote. If the motion carries, we will know that this small group of compassionate Canadians are indeed willing to put their money where their mouth is.
I kind of doubt that a single member of the TAC will accept my challenge.
I am so confident of myself here that I will add this additional sweetener.... if the yes, voters put a kewl seven grand into the middle of that table, I will donate an additional fifty dollars to the noble cause.
Definition of a liberal: "Someone who cares so much he would give a poor man the shirt off someone else's back
The ACPD Presentation to the Taxi Reform Subcommittee.
October 22, 2009
Two representatives of the Advisory Committee for Persons With Disabilities (ACPD) were present at the Taxi Reform Sub-Committee meeting on October 22, 2009.
During their presentation, they lambasted the Hamilton taxi industry for ignoring their, rights.
What rights you may ask? Well, the answer to that question ought to be pretty clear to anyone who has been paying attention.... they are referring to rights, that were generously dispensed upon them by a branch of government (do you see the irony in that? Government as a dispenser of rights, government who in the words of Ludwig von Mises.....
"The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster."
Mischief and disaster? How could that be? 180 or so million dead as a result of democide in the 20th century alone?
As I write, our trusted governments are all engaged in the debauchery of our currencies, stealing our savings through inflation.... too gutless to raise taxes to fund their grandiose schemes.... and all the while generously bestowing rights, upon various politically influential constituencies.
But I am getting carried away, sorry. According to the ACPD Presentation, The ministry of Transportation states that access is NOT a privilege.
No. It's not a privilege. It's a right.
Now that we know that access is a right, we have all the ammo we need to blast the Hamilton Taxi industry with its sorry record of human rights violations.
For example (according to the ACPD presentation): number of accessible taxis in Hamilton is zero accessible vans - operating as livery vehicles - vehicles being used that would not pass inspection - no 24-hour service - trips must be booked in advance - spontaneous trips rarely available- 2 providers of taxi-like service WAVE -Blueline
Well, I am but a simple cab driver. If my years on the business have been dominated by a desire to make a living, to pay the rent and feed my kids, then I beg your forgiveness. I thought I was trying to make a living, I didn't realize I was violating your rights. (sorry)
In pursuit therefore of my own devilishly selfish interests, I forgot about you.
Would it make any difference to you, in pursuit of your rights, if I told you that, even those of us not confined to wheelchairs have problems too?
I suspect not. Politically granted Rights, reign supreme. Of what consequence are my meager needs?
With respect to the issue of the right to accessible transportation, as declared by well-paid politicians, I would like to draw your attention to one of the demands of the ACPD no additional fees for assistance.
Well, those of us in the cab business understand well the additional effort and time required when accommodating the disabled. Your demand for,
no additional fees for assistance.
acknowledges that extra effort is required to ensure that your rights are respected.
The question I have become accustomed to asking is, At whose expense?
I t makes me think of a very dear, sweet man I know... who is a cab driver. He is suffering right now. The business is down. He gets calls from home... the kids need milk and bread.... but, he is not free to respond to that need.... because he has been dispatched to transport a client who has rights, a client who requires assistance, a client who, as per demands of the ACPD, has a right to demand his compliance.... with no additional fees for assistance.
So it may take him an additional 15 minutes to accommodate, this person who has been endowed with rights, even though it will put him 4 or 5 spaces back in the queue for the next trip.
Well, the kids are just going to have to wait a little bit longer for their milk and bread.... well, because the disabled have rights.
I wrote something about fifteen years ago.
DARTS - A Truly Disabled Organization
My how government does grow!
I came across a newsletter recently that reminded me of something I had read many times, in one form or another in the libertarian literature, over the last twenty years. I dug through my little book collection and came up with the following, from "The Tyranny of the Status Quo" - by Milton and Rose Friedman (copyright 1984, 1983):
"The key characteristics of bureaucrats are these: first, they spend other people's money; second, they have a bottom line, a proof of success, that is very distant and difficult to define. Under those conditions, a major incentive for every bureaucrat is to become more powerful --and this is true whether the bureaucrat is dominated by broad and unselfish interests or by narrow and selfish interests. In either case, being more powerful will enable the bureaucrat to pursue those interests more effectively. In most cases, the way for a bureaucrat to become more powerful is to have more people under his or her control --to expand the scope of whatever piece of the gigantic governmental structure is that bureaucrat's domain."
Here's what I read that made me think of this. It pertains to the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System of Hamilton-Wentworth. This is just one relatively small manifestation of the disease which afflicts this country:
A SPECIAL THANK YOU
Thirteen years ago, D.A.R.T.S. provided 90,000 trips to 1500 registered passengers using 16 vehicles and a staff of 25. The budget at that time was $700,000. This year D.A.R.T.S. has provided 525,000 trips to our 13,000 passengers using 45 vehicles, 35 minivans and taxis, and a $7,000,000 budget. D.A.R.T.S. has successfully accomplished this growth over the years under the leadership and guidance of our Executive Director,..." etc. etc.
-- from the newsletter 'On Target with D.A.R.T.S.' November 1993.
Based on the numbers for 1993, the average DARTS trip costs about $13.33. This is at least twice the average taxi fare for Hamilton. DARTS customers pay $1.70 per trip regardless of the length of that trip. Taxpayers pay the rest. In addition to the taxpayers being ripped off by this system, the artificially low fares are siphoning passengers away from the private (though regulated) taxi business which has already been devastated by the recession. Many of these ex-taxi patrons can easily afford taxi fare but choose instead to let their neighbors pay the bill. Who can blame them? They have learned, as increasing numbers of Canadians are learning...... in a cannibalistic system, it's 'eat or be eaten.'
I thought about this article when I got to the part in the list of demands by the ACPD that stated, with such unabashed moral authority,
Taxis have had 27 years to figure out how to become accessible yet we have zero accessible taxis in Hamilton."
Yeah, well go figure ey? Why, or how, could you possibly expect the taxi business in this city to reconfigure itself into an organization geared to satisfying the needs of one of it's largest market segments when the government itself was at the root of that great big sucking sound?
In the 1970's taxis were the main source of accessible transportation. A huge chunk of our market was sucked away by D.A.R.T.S.
And now, you have the unmitigated audacity to admonish us for not responding to a market that was being driven out of existence by government competition?
Shame on you.