Published at 5:06 p.m., Tuesday November 28, 2006.
Last revised at 11 p.m., Tuesday November 28, 2006.
When I got the FNC Alert below in my e-mail box at 4:44 p.m. today, I thought it had to be a joke. But sure enough, at Fox News, at 5 p.m., it was the headline at the top of the page, not yet linked to any stories. I checked the calendar; it isn’t April Fool’s Day.
“Breaking News >> Federal Judge Rules American Paper Money is Unfair to Blind People”
By 5:12, the headline had a story:
U.S. District Judge James Robertson said the Treasury Department has violated the law, and he ordered the government to come up with ways for the blind to tell bills apart.
Now the first thing that occurred to me was that this will make it easier to counterfeit money. And sure enough, Treasury made the same argument.
Government attorneys argued that forcing the Treasury Department to change the size of the bills or add texture would make it harder to prevent counterfeiting. Robertson was not swayed.
The good judge gave Treasury ten days to begin fixing the problem. How kind of him. I think Treasury would spend the time better, putting in its appeal.
"Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations," Robertson wrote. "More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired."
So, America is unique. I like that. As for Judge Robertson’s implied claim that every nation on earth has deliberately changed its currency, in order to aid the blind, if you believe that, I have a great deal for you on a slightly used bridge. His claim sounds like a sophistic hook the plaintiffs and the American Council of the Blind came up with, for friendly judges like Robertson to hang their hats on.
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, I can see changing their bills to accommodate the blind, not to mention in order to appease Moslems who see images of Mohammed everywhere, and currency cultists. But over 80 percent of the world's 200 or so nations would laugh at activists who demanded they change their currency for the blind … and then shoot them, and laugh some more. We’re talking about impoverished countries that are run by dictators, and where life is nasty, solitary, brutish, and short … but we're supposed to believe that the butcher-in-charge hops to, in order to change the currency for the sake of activists and their clients. (We’re also talking about countries whose currency is safe from counterfeiters, because it is worthless!)
What I think is going on here, is that the plaintiffs and their judge took the odd-sized foreign bills, and assumed that they had been changed to accommodate handicap activists.
"The fact that each of these features is currently used in other currencies suggests that, at least on the face of things, such accommodations are reasonable," he wrote.
He said the government was violating the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs. The opinion came after a four-year legal fight.
"It's a landmark decision. I believe it will benefit millions of people," said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Dominican Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, East Timor, Haiti, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, The Central African Republic, Congo I, Congo II, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Etiopía, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, The Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, The Maldives, Moldovo, Morocco, North Korea, Kosovo, Lesotho, Laos, Lebanon, Nigeria, Niger, Namibia, Mali, Chad, San Marino, Somalia, Somaliland, The Sudan, Swaziland, Suriname, Togo, Tanzania, Syria, Tajikistan, Russia, Latvia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Rwanda, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Red China, Palau (Palau?), Mauritania, Mauritius, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and last but not least, good old Zimbabwe.
(I’m pretty geographically literate, as these things go, and yet a few dozen of this week’s new national names are Greek to me.)
How many of the 101 above-named nations – roughly half of those in the world today – do you see going broke, changing their currency to accommodate the blind?
This is the world we live in, not the world of Judge Robertson’s humanitarian fantasies.
The good judge’s claim that the federal government is in violation of the Rehabilitation Act is nonsense on stilts. Money is not a “government program.” If James Robertson gets away with redefining money as a government program, oh, the mischief that will ensue – on top of his own mischief, that is.
And for every person the turning upside down of American currency will benefit, it will wreak havoc for the hundred others who will have to foot the bill for the cost of printing up billions of new bills, and then foot the bill for billions of dollars in costs due to counterfeiting. Not to mention the millions of vending machines whose owners will then be sued by activists and attacked by the media as being guilty of “discrimination.” (Will Judge Robertson be around to claim ‘More than 100 of the other nations mandate that all vending machines take bills varied in size, according to denomination, and every other nation mandates that machines include at least some features that help the visually impaired”? I wouldn’t put it past him.) And the owners will get expensive new machines, whose costs will have to be borne by the 99 percent that will not benefit from them.
The Treasury has spent years and a fortune developing bills that are more difficult to counterfeit, something that Judge James Robertson evidently could care less about.
I can just hear someone say, “But what about justice?!” Yeah, what about it? This isn’t about justice, unless we redefine “justice” so that it means that certain selected groups can turn the world upside for everyone else, at everyone else’s expense, while everyone else is disenfranchised.
One other such group for whom the judge has a particular solicitude, is terrorists.
Mooks like James Robertson talk “justice,” but have contempt for the law, and for any notion of justice worthy of the name. What they have is loyalty to certain groups, enmity towards the rest of us, and a hubristic self-righteousness. Robertson and his ilk in the judiciary, the bar, and among activists and politicians are in a competition to see who can incur greater costs to the American taxpayer, and cause more damage to American society.