Unexpected uses of the Disabilities Act

GOVERNMENT has a way of making a good idea go bad. The Americans With Disabilities Act and related state and local laws are examples.

Since the act went into effect in 1992, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been deluged with complaints about businesses allegedly in violation. More than one-third of complaints filed with the EEOC have come from employees whose disabilities consisted of back pain, emotional problems and, believe it or not, ailments caused by alcoholism, according to a study by The Washington Post. At least 85 percent of complaints filed have been from people who already have jobs.

Another famous ''disabilities'' story involves Mother Teresa, the Nobel Prize winner who has devoted her life to helping the less fortunate. While on a trip to New York, Mother Teresa reportedly was struck by the number of homeless people. She had her organization begin planning to convert two old houses into shelters for the homeless. They never opened. City officials ordered that, without elevators for the handicapped, the shelters would not be permitted.

Americans have a tradition of concern. Unfortunately, government seems to have perverted it beyond recognition.

- The Inter-Mountain, Elkins, W.Va.

Wanted: responsible campaigning

A GOP hit list of liberal members of Congress - mostly African-American, Jewish, and women - in the form of a ''wanted'' poster sinks well below the blurry line where responsible political campaigning ends.

The poster accompanied a fundraising letter mailed by former Sen. Steve Symms of Idaho, who is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee's ''Project 28.'' The poster purportedly aims at those who voted against at least seven of the 10 provisions in the GOP's Contract With America.

The mood of the country is skittish after Oklahoma City. The explosion exposed a strain of frightful intolerance. We would hope the established political parties would exercise more discretion. The ''wanted'' poster format could endanger lawmakers.

- Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, S.D.

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