Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Interesting: When Disability Is An Asset

So, it appears that people are hiring tour guides at the Tragic Kingdom, my old employer Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Nothing surprising about that .  But there is a wrinkle.  If there is a disabled person in your party, you get to cut the line.  This can save an hour, or more, at each ride.

That--the right to cut the line--is a valuable asset.  It's non-transferable, though, as it should be.  The disabled person can't sell the right to cut in line to someone else who is able-bodied.

Now, growing up in Central Florida, I have seen parties where one person was the designated wheel-chair person, having just pretended to be disabled so the group can cut in line.  That's wrong, no good, etc.

But can you hire a disabled person, someone you don't know, to go around with your party?  Is the exchange euvoluntary?  The disabled person (presumably) is made better off.  In fact, otherwise unemployed people may now get jobs, where someone else pays their ticket cost, and pushes them around to go on Disney rides for free, and not have to wait in line.

The problem is that all the other people in the party get to cut the line also, because they are paying the disabled person to be their "guide."  Perhaps the disabled person is also a good tour guide, having been to the Tragic Kingdom 100 times or 1000 times on one of these gigs.  But the tour guide part--meaning pointing out the sites and talking about history-- is NOT what makes the hire attractive.  It's the disability part.  It's the wheelchair.

The people hiring the "tour guide" must be better off, or think they are.  The tour guide is explointing his/her disability, but it's a job.

Who is harmed?  The people waiting in line are likely to have wait a little longer, but if this practice is not too widespread it won't be over a minute or two (times 500 people in line, that's a real cost, of course).

Should this practice be illegal?  We give disabled people other privileges, why not this one?  Is it euvoluntary, or should the state intervene?

(nod to Jeremy Balog)

UPDATE:  Check back two days earlier for SW's take on the same issue.  I should have checked!

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?