About 4 years ago, I was attending a mandatory “leadership” course. With all such courses, they like to throw in games about value systems. One such game seemed to try to make the point that although people are extremely contentious about some issues, other issues share wide consensus.
People were directed to stand under signs that said “Agree”, “Slightly Agree”, “Slightly Disagree”, and “Disagree”. As issues were offered up, people shuffled around the room and defended various sides. That is, until the question came up about handicap parking spaces. “It is wrong to park in a handicap parking space.” The entire class shuffled over to “agree” while I stood alone at “disagree”. The teacher, apparently wanting to show people that consensus could be reached, just passed me up on the chance to defend my stance (a typical teacher tactic).
Later on, the question came up “it is wrong to bring more than 20 items to an under 20 item checkout”, where I stood under slightly agree. One student, after class, asked me to explain my seeming “contradiction”.
When someone drives to a grocery store and sees two signs, one for “expecting mothers” and one for “handicap people”, only one of those spots is placed there willingly. Every store owner, despite how handicapped or not handicapped his customers might be, is forced by the government to designate parking spaces to those the government decides are “handicap”. The government, in turn, awards handicap parking stickers to whomever they favor. Often those with handicap stickers have zero discernable disabilities. Infuriatingly, those who are overly obese seem even seem to qualify. The government, in essence, created a special class whose privileges are handed out to favorites and then are manically enforced by overzealous police men.
The “expecting mothers” sign, however, was placed there willingly by the business. The business wanted to encourage families to shop at their store. They realized that certain individuals should be shown courtesy, and proceed to do so. The business owner picked the description of favored individuals and the number of spots to give them. The parking spaces are not enforced with fines and jail time, but with social stigma. Ever actor is acting on their own free will using their own judgment. Everyone involved feels good about seeing mothers parking in those spaces.
Without handicap parking spaces laws, would handicap parking exist? Probably it would, but one might not expect the number of spaces found today’s society. The spaces might be designated as “wheelchair” parking, or “elderly parking”. No one would see “obese” parking. Most importantly, business owners would be free to choose the makeup of their own parking spaces. The government would not be persecuting individuals, and there would be less social anger in society.
Perhaps a better title for this post would be: “why I oppose government coerced handicap parking spaces”.