May I be so bold as to propose another day of remembrance for Americans? It certainly wouldn’t have the depth of meaning that comes with Memorial Day – and it wouldn’t mean another day off with pay for government workers. In fact, this particular day of remembrance would bring with it a specific task that should keep government workers in their offices … hard at work (if you can imagine such a thing).
I’ve yet to come up with a catchy name for this holiday. The purpose would be to remember a day in America when our lives weren’t so bogged down by millions of pages of government regulation. Our government workers would head for their offices on that day for one purpose: to identify a government regulation that is worthy of elimination.
The average American would be hard-pressed to think of one single action they can take during the course of any normal day that is not in some way or another controlled or influenced by a government regulation. You can’t even go to sleep without the help of our imperial federal government. Note, please, that little tag at the end of your mattress and the federally mandated label on your sheets telling you how they must be laundered.
The greatest treasure trove of regulatory absurdity can be found in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Never before in our regulatory history have good intentions been translated into a more hideous law. When you can’t advertise a house with walk-in closets for fear of offending those who cannot walk, you know that you are some serious trouble.
My favorite ADA outrage came from (where else?) Southern California. We set the scene by taking you to one of your friendly Los Angeles strip clubs. I’m told that strippers like to set up little routines on stage – an “act,” if you will. One particular stripper was evidently into cleanliness and good personal hygiene, and brought this obsession with her to the stage.
The stagehands would push a portable shower stall out to the middle of the stage. Once the shower was positioned the stripper would enter with a grand flourish. She would disrobe slowly and then proceed to take her shower. She would soap up, and rinse down, then soap up, then rinse down. The crowd, would show their appreciation for a good, clean act with thunderous applause and hefty tips.
So, what does this have to do with the ADA? Well, on one particular day there just happened to be an employee of Los Angeles County in the audience. After seeing this particular stripper’s act, this loyal and dedicated government worker went back to his office and promptly filed a complaint under the ADA. The shower stall, you see, wasn’t handicapped accessible. It was a shower stall being used by an employee and it couldn’t accommodate a person with disabilities.
Even if you can’t appreciate this woman’s attempt to clean up her act, you can surely see how absurd government regulations have become when her act results in a citation for violation of a federal regulation.
Did you know that in the state of Texas they license interior decorators? How’s that for your image of Texas and Texans? Yes, in Texas you could be fined if you accept payment from someone for telling them what color of draperies would look good with a certain style and color of carpet – unless, that is, you first secure the government’s permission to make that judgment.
In almost every state in the nation, you can’t pay someone to clip your fingernails unless the government approves. You can’t even give someone five bucks to wash your hair without violating the law!
Come on, folks! Can we try to get back some sense of reality here? Isn’t America supposed to be about freedom and individual liberty? Then tell me, please, why do I have to go to the government to get a list of people who are “approved” to massage out a cramp?
Look around your office. See any doorknobs? Knobs – not those lever things – real honest-to-goodness doorknobs. They’re illegal, you know. You or your boss he could be fined for each knob! There is the chance, you see, that someone with a disability might try to open one of those doors someday and they might not be able to turn that troublesome knob.
When I built a building for my law practice in the early 1980s, I ran into trouble with my carpeting. I wanted a deep plush-pile forest green carpet in my personal office. The local building inspectors said no. It’s just too hard for someone in a wheelchair to move around on deep plush-pile carpeting. “No problem,” I said, “We’ll push them if they need to get into Neal’s office.” No way. I had to wait until after the inspections were complete … then in came the plush carpeting.
Nuts. I’m just getting started here, and I’m out of space. Let’s just get cracking on setting up that day when we can reminisce about life without over-regulation. It would be a great way to honor those who worked to bring us our freedoms.