My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty

Everyone with even a shred of humanity is livid with the Republican Party today, because yesterday they voted down the U.N. treaty that would have urged other nations to adopt the kinds of reforms and accomodations for disabled persons that we in the U.S. have adopted under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But I suspect we just might all be angry for the wrong reason.
First, here’s what we’re talking about:

The 2006 treaty, which forbids discrimination of the disabled, has enjoyed bipartisan support. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty would encourage other nations to develop the kind of protections the United States adopted 22 years ago with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The international treaty’s thrust, he said, was a message: “Be more like us.”

The common understanding is that the nutters from the noisy right are so obsessed with “black helicopter” U.N. conspiracy theories, that they think even a treaty simply meant to project our own example of compassion and helpfulness to our disabled neighbors is actually an evil plot to turn our children into blue-helmeted atheist zombies. There are, no doubt, plenty of Republican lawmakers who do, in fact, think this way. And I use “think” in the loosest sense of the word.

But, forgive me, I think blaming this on right-wing conspiracy-mongering is probably giving the GOP too much credit. (I know, right?)

The thing about building accomodations for accessibilty for the disabled, is that it costs money. Money that people who really, really love money would rather not spend on ramps and lifts. And this treaty from what I’ve come to understand is very much geared toward influencing economies like China and India that are growing so quickly that it’s even scaring the bujeesus out of them.

So my guess is that folks who own a lot of those businesses that operate in China, India, and elsewhere, probably don’t want to be bothered to spend money to help those who need a little extra hand getting around. So those rich operators inform their bought-and-paid-for representatives in Washington, the Republican Party, to put the kibosh on this whole treaty thing, or else they might find that the campaign checks they send will stop showing up in the mail.

To justify this betrayal of basic humanity, the GOP members then scream about how our liberty is at risk, the dumbasses who vote for then believe it, and there you have it.

I don’t imagine that Bob-Fucking-Dole would feel that he had to wheel his ailing carcass to the floor of the Senate to plead with his own freaking party to back the treaty if he thought the obstacle to ratification was just how spooked Jim Inhofe might be about U.N. boogeymen. I bet you Dole knew that his real adversary was going to be the giant sacks of cash strewn about the halls of the Senate office buildings.

I admit, this is, in a way, a “conspiracy theory” of my own, the kind of thing I absolutely have no evidence for. But I do think it’s far more plausible that this is way more about money, and some folks’ unwillingness to spend it, than it is about the supposed fears of educated, successful, powerful men of an imaginary international conspiracy — and a fairly silly, unimaginative one at that.

There’s no way they’re all that crazy. And calling them crazy gives them too much credit. What I think they are is just craven, cynical, and heartless.

9 thoughts on “My Own Conspiracy Theory about the Disability Treaty”

  1. The idea of businesses lobbying against regulations which will cost them money is hardly a conspiracy theory. In fact, it’s what constitutes a great deal of day-to-day politics, and it’s mostly right out in the open. It’s so completely normal and expected that it’s really the null hypothesis.


    1. Even more reason, then, to stop talking about this as though it’s the black-helicopter crazies who are the real problem here.


  2. I think there’s significant overlap here; the corporatists you’re describing want to save money, yes, but they also see any initiative that would cause them to have to spend more of their money on anything that doesn’t directly lead to profits for them as part of an evil international communist conspiracy.


  3. I’m not really clear what this treaty is actually supposed to do. If it’s really just, “hey, you should all act more like us!”, it seems rather pointless. If there’s no actual teeth to it, I’m not sure why I should care one way or the other.


  4. Eh. Those senators may not believe that One World Government!(tm) is going to destroy the American Way of Life if we ratify a UN treaty, but their constituents sure as hell do. I work in DC with an org involved with people with disabilities, and we got crazy calls from our own supporters warning us that we’ll lose their donations because we support One World Government.
    I even heard a fairly credible rumor that some senators on the Republican side have been muttering about not ratifying *any* treaties whatsoever, regardless of content, even tho treaty ratification is specifically mentioned in the Senate’s constitutionally enumerated powers. Because Obama. I’m serious.


  5. I think there may be a fatal flaw in your theory.
    The people who would have to pay for the accommodations for the disabled would not, in this case, be Americans. They would be the governments and corporations in the parts of the world where the ADA provisions are not already in effect.
    Since the money that influences Congress is overwhelmingly domestic, it’s likely that those holding that money would be in favor of making their foreign competitors spend that money (as they had to do in this country). They would have little incentive to oppose the treaty since it would give them a short-term competitive advantage and (ultimately) level the playing field.
    Of course it’s now a world of multinational megacorporations, so at least some US-based entities would be burdened by the treaty’s provisions at their offshore facilities, but my money’s still on the black helicopter nutter brigade.


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