This law is about pools but it relates to much more.
Here are the facts:
Until now, many of the country’s 256,000 public pools have provided access to portable lifts that help people with disabilities. On May 21, instead, the Americans With Disabilities Act will require permanent lifts or ramps. The new lifts will cost spas, hotels and municipalities with neighborhood pools $3,000 to $10,000 plus installation. An alternative solution, ramps, is more expensive.
As you would expect, no one seems to disagree that it would be good for people with disabilities to use public pools with greater ease. And pool owners have known for years that the mandate would be taking effect. But, citing cost, danger for young children, and a law whose wording is not entirely clear, some are saying, “Not Now.” Others are concerned that the mandate will prevent cash strapped municipalities like Vineland NJ from opening neighborhood pools.
I wonder if we are really talking about more than pools. Deciding whether to support the mandate’s immediate implementation involves the broader issue of the role of government, the extent of entitlements and what should be delayed when the economy is sluggish.
Also, as economists, it takes us to considering the opportunity cost because as always, “choosing is refusing.” If we say install the devices now, we sacrifice the benefits of waiting or canceling the mandate. By contrast, delay or cancellation mean the benefits of handicap assistance are foregone.
What is your opinion?