Misplaced Resentment - Part 4 Handicapped Parking

Misplaced Resentment – Part 4 Handicapped Parking

Imagine we’re in a car full of people trying to find a place to park and we see some person park in the last available handicapped-parking stall, get out, and run into a store.  It’s a guarantee that at least someone in the car is going to get all-indignant about that. 
You know what I’d say just to get a rise out of someone?  “Big deal.  So some fat slob has to waddle their way across the parking lot before they can go into Wal-Mart and block up the aisles on their stupid scooter.  That guy parking there has got some balls.  He knows what he’s risking.  You’re just mad because you’re too chicken to do it yourself.”  Suddenly all the anger would be redirected from the ballsy car parker towards me and I would be branded as some insensitive jerk that doesn’t give a crap about the disabled, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Let me explain why if my fellow passenger was truly concerned about the disabled he should redirect his anger from the illegal car parker towards a group of people who are much more sinister.
The world must have become a much more dangerous place since 1992.  A lot more people must be getting hurt.  Since then, the number of people receiving federal disability payments has grown from 3,334,000 to 8,707,000, a 261% increase.  I bet it’s from people getting shot by people who legally own firearms.  We better make guns illegal.
Something doesn’t seem right here.  The number of disabled people that I know doesn’t seem like it has gone up by that percentage.  Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, but I’m sure I’d notice if the number of people out there in wheelchairs had increased by almost threefold.  There must be something else going on here.
At this point, I better make some clarifications.  First of all not every disabled person is in a wheelchair.  There are many types of disabilities including many that the average person could not identify by causally looking at someone.  Also, the definition of disability has been changed over the years to help make sure people who need assistance, receive it.  This is one of the reasons that I had a hard time finding any statistics that would be an apples to apples comparison of the number of disabled people in 1992 and today.  These numbers are important because if the percentage increase of disabled people is significantly less than the percentage increase of people receiving disability payments, we got a problem.
The closest I could get to finding any meaningful numbers were from www.disabilityfunders.org/disability-stats-and-facts which claims that the number of disabled people in the U.S. increased 25% from 1990 to 2000 when there were 49.7 million disabled people in the U.S.  Also www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf reported that they were 56.7 million disabled people in the U.S. in 2010.  Nothing here parallels the percentage increase of people receiving disability payments during the same period.
Have you ever looked at the fines for parking in a handicapped-parking space?  It can be up to $1000 for a third offense.  Is there really $1000 worth of inconvenience for a disabled person if all the handicapped spaces are full?  No, but that’s not the reason for the fine.  It is to prevent able-bodied people from using the handicapped spaces.
If however, we are so strict on preventing handicapped parking space abuse, and if the percentage increase in disabled people is nowhere near as high as the percentage increase in people receiving disability payments, we must make sure that we are ever vigilant at preventing fraud.  After all, just a few people committing fraud over the long term will inconvenience the disabled more (by essentially stealing money meant for them) than all the unscrupulous car parkers put together.

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