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Libertarians and the disabled: a request for help

I will be representing Scotty Boman at forum hosted by a group of advocates for the disabled. This will, of course, be a harsh crowd for laissez-faire, and that’s why I’m asking for any and all help in addressing common concerns disabled people have with libertarian solutions.

Thank you!

— J.D. Seagraves


  1. Me Me January 6, 2012

    I have a rare neuromuscular disorder. I receive $700 a month from the government and it’s extremely difficult to live off of that, but unfortunately there are few jobs I’m able or qualified to do and employers would rather hire a healthy individual who is more reliable and has their own transportation. In my county, we have food banks, though I don’t have a way to get to one, and homeless shelters but there are no privately funded long term comprehensive services for the chronically disabled.

    If a Libertarian stepped up to the plate to do for me what the government does and paid me $700 so I can continue to live my meager life, I might consider libertarianism viable, but it has yet to prove itself and that it’s capable of anything aside from making the rich richer, and oppressing the poor and disabled.

    In my mind, I see our society quickly descend into a feudalistic or third world country should it become libertarian.

  2. Zeleni Zeleni October 11, 2008

    If it weren’t for government intervention and regulations, the disabled would have more of an incentive to walk.

    The businesses that want to have disabled customers will make it accessible. The demand from the large population of disabled will push the market towards accessibility, just like before regulation.

  3. Michael Gilson-De Lemos Michael Gilson-De Lemos October 11, 2008

    Some talking points:

    ” ‘We’re not looking for a vote, but a relationship.’ Here’s how we help…

    *Let me begin by telling you that one of the founders of our modern movement who helped design both our past and current platform and co-founded one of our first state parties, Michael Gilson, is a past union member, a family man, but a periodically and indefinitely disabled with very painful Fibromyalgia and the results of a car accident yet has advised people on forming Libertarian groups around the globe and serves in local public office where he is in Florida. He’s helped inspire several elderly and disabled people to get involved in local advisory boards and met with officials so they can participate without prejudice to their benefits. I’m not saying we, he or I know everything, but we have people who pay attention and get folks motivated.

    *Rights with a voluntary approach: The skills we bring to the table are: Presenting and implementing voluntary, not coerced, depoliticized and long term alternatives that expand rights and get folks attacking problems, not people. And we bring consensus sills to the table. We’re the little guy standing up for everyone’s rights, so we certainly need them. But as Mr. Gilson says, we’re the little cuddly Chihuahua, but also one that will face down a tank if needed. We have people who’ve worked on projects for years. We don’t give up. As a result many Libertarians are in leadership positions in the bodies they serve because they listen, do look at the common ground instead of picking fights, and that’s what I want to do.

    *Psychological empowerment: In Pinellas, Florida, disabled Libertarians have founded a group to assist folks in disasters. See: (Skip Ad) The Pinellas Libertarian Party has, for example, a program to encourage the disabled to get on advisory boards. they mentor anyone, not just Libertarians. We don’t see disabled people as victims but Americans who have a lot to contribute. We don’t have the resources to do this in every state, but this shows where are head and heart are and what can be done.

    *Did You Know? Fair public facilities: In common law, public providers and carriers are assumed to be fair to all. Libertarians pioneered dialogue on accessible facilities and setting community goals. However, they oppose rushing to create forced regulations especially as these oppress small providers and are often used against the disabled or indigent, for examples, burdensome regulations on volunteering and providing free services by community groups. We’ve also found when you get people behind voluntary goals, things happen faster and in more creative ways. So we’ll work line by line in regulations where there is an area of improvement we can address.

    *Funding: We feel taxation has moral problems and is obsolete. Now private funding partnerships are in the news every day. Libertarians implement depoliticized and voluntary funding alternatives to taxation. Libertarians for example led the way in creating public endowments based on public assets that provide a ‘reverse tax’ such as the Alaska Permanent Fund as a step in the right direction. People get a check based on assets, not taxes, instead of sending the government a check through investing assets instead of raising the salary of legislators. See:
    Something like this could be improved and adapted in our state. We’re ready to ‘think big’ with the disabled on funding using voluntary tools and explore autonomous entities and funding that are more responsive, for example.

    *Bureaucracy: Sometimes all you can do immediately is improve a situation while building a basis for change. We’re aware that it may be some bureaucratic regulations still discriminate or are insensitive to the disabled, for example, regulations prohibiting meaningful savings when on disability or bizarre paperwork requirements. You can let us know about these problems where non-government private or co-operative systems do better or be created?

    *You’re the user: We believe in localism and the person starting with understanding local concerns and suggesting more stable voluntary alternatives, which again is our skill, that do the job. I would like to walk out of this meeting with 10-20 areas where we can start. Can you help me? What are your concerns?”

    From my notes. Imperfect but I hope this helps,


  4. Arthur Torrey Arthur Torrey October 10, 2008

    I wouldn’t use this in a forum, but I seem to recall various stuff about the large (and profitable) industry that has grown up around “Handicapped rights” – from access provision to lobbying, etc., mostly w/ government money, to the point where some groups actually OPPOSE the application of useful assistive technology – such as cochlear implants for deaf children…

    I think one of the more interesting ones was in L. Neil Smith’s “Pallas” – fiction, but may help find non-fiction links…

    If I were to try to suggest a “libertarian” solution, it might be to urge the various groups to create and fund “X-Prize” type reward pools for the creation of effective enabling technology – i.e. an effective technique for regaining function after spinal injuries, or perhaps a workable artificial vision system (a la Gordy’s visor from Star Drek…)


  5. inDglass inDglass October 10, 2008

    I believe Milton Friedman argued that the free market does more to represent minorities such as those with disabilities than the government does. Even if demand is small, it is there, and the market will serve it.

    I would argue that in a libertarian society, which is free market, the problems of the disabled are solved naturally, although sometimes at a slower rate. In a democratic society, majority rules. In our current Republicrat controlled republican/democratic/socialist hybrid government, laws are bought and paid for by special interests, so the disabled will have to pay up big money and put forth a huge lobbying effort for their concerns to be addressed. They will also have to out-compete other special interests, some of which might directly oppose their agenda. I certainly would pick the society that naturally handles these issues.

  6. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary October 10, 2008

    I wish I could help. But I’m afraid I will raise more questions than answers.

    I helped to start a group home for the developmentally disabled a few years ago. It was the ONLY group home in the entire state of Ohio that was not government funded when we started it.

    The group home was founded on the principles of Jean Vanier’s L’Arche community, or communities, that have sprouted up around Quebec. The basic principle was that Christians would, or could, live in Christian community with formerly incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized people.

    Our focus was only with formerly institutionalized developmentally disabled people (mentally retarded). Our community actually worked for a while as a L’Arche inspired home. We were totally non government supported entity for about eight years. We had five formerly institutionalized people that did pay their own way, along with five people who had outside jobs who each paid an equal share of expenses.

    After about eight years, reality set in. Most people don’t want to live in community forever, and in reality pay to go to work. Especially if you live at work.

    We got county funding. Only about $100,000 a year. We could even pay people to be there when we didn’t want to be there. It wasn’t near enough money. But it worked for a few years.

    When I became board President, I found that we could cut out the county and get even more money from the State of Ohio. Ah, it was great, we could afford a new dishwasher and stove, finally. Then I found out we cut them out of the loop and get the money straight from MediCare.

    Today, the Ark House is still a going concern. We have a new furnace AND air conditioning. And a budget of around $250,000 a year. From the Feds.

    At least the money doesn’t spend a few weeks on the town with the county and the state.

    But, it is a dismal failure for a libertarian.

    Professionally, I work in the engineering field. A lot of my time is spent trying to make capital improvement projects ADA compliant. A new project is easy, it is very easy to make a new housing development ADA compliant.

    But capital improvements (older neighborhoods) projects are something else. It is very hard to make a curb ramp with an 8% slope, wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass, with flat areas at the top and bottom of the slopes, when the area isn’t flat.

    Even new neighborhoods and developments aren’t necessarily ADA compliant.

    I wish I had more answers. And I wish you well.


  7. Catholic Trotskyist Catholic Trotskyist October 10, 2008

    Yes indeed, I am a blind person myself, and many people may think I have a mental disorder, though this is not the case, but as a blind person I am an expert on this topic. Although there are some disabled conservatives like Krauthammer, most of us are proud liberal/socialist statists. We want legislation about access to buildings, we want government money from SSI and the state Departments of Rehab for technology that will give us equal access to the world, we want government to put braille on the money, we want legislation to give us full civil rights for jobs and housing, we want government to pay to our medicine, and that’s only the beginning. Anyone can become disabled, so we don’t feel like we’re asking for an unfiar entitlement. There’s nothing you can do to persuade us to become libertarian, and I hope they shout you down brutally, with God’s help, amen.

  8. G.E. G.E. Post author | October 10, 2008

    To put it in plain language: I’m confident they’re going to be advocates of legislation that mandates access, etc., at the expense of private-property rights. I’m looking for help in making the libertarian case.

  9. Michael Seebeck Michael Seebeck October 10, 2008

    Not being familiar with this area, I’ll have to ask the question to promote the discussion: what are the common concerns to address?

    Not being snarky here–I honestly don’t know, and I think it would add some clarity.

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