Previously, I wrote, on behalf of The Soul Fighter Foundation, to the Editor-in-Chief of Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine, Knight Kiplinger regarding his December 2012 piece on the question, "Should Parking Rules Favor the Handicapped?" (link of the article below). On our Blog, I posted the e-mail that I wrote to Mr. Kiplinger and I wanted to share with you his professional and thoughtful response.
In doing so, I wanted to share, in this blog article, the importance of Advocacy and how it can bridge a relationship of understanding and mutual respect between both parties. Clearly, as you will read in Mr. Kiplinger's response, he outlines his position in a thought provoking manner, as to why he felt the importance of writing his piece on Parking Rules for the Handicapped and the misuse of Disabled Parking Placards by individuals in the Washington DC area.
Let me give you a quick background, prior to reading Mr. Kiplinger's response to understand his Advocacy of Fraudulent use of Disabled Parking Placards, along with the issue coming to light with recent investigative reports, such as NPR, that has come to our attention in the past weeks through different medial outlets. I want to give you both sides of the arguments.
As a Sociologist and an Advocate, I feel it is important to view both sides of the argument instead of just on side. Soul Fighter Foundation is based on Disability Education & Advocacy for the disabled individual and their families, Caregivers, Friends, etc. We feel it is important to bring to light the issues of today and how Advocacy of important issues are affecting the Disabled Community as whole.
A few weeks ago, our Foundation posted on our Facebook Page and on Twitter about the NPR weekly segment "Unfit for Work" detailing the invisible data of the Disabled in our US Economy and how that is impacting current statistics. Moreover, NPR began to investigate the purging of applicants applying for disability benefits and/or companies paid for by local governments to search for welfare recipients and place them on State Disability to alleviate the Government's Monetary burden in Welfare costs. I have attached the link of the NPR article/podcast below. Moreover, I am also attaching additional articles referencing the same News Piece by NPR from different media perspectives.
Again, I am informing you of this prior to you reading Mr. Kiplinger's response to enable our readers with valuable information as to his article and his Advocacy against fraudulent Disability Claims and/or uses of Disabled Parking Placards.
All injuries, whether work related or non-work related, have an impact on the body and will leave an individual with certain limitations either temporarily or permanently. There are programs and/or financial aid to help those individuals through their recovery. State Disability Insurance (Statutory Disability Programs), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which deals with Permanent Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which deals with both temporary and permanent disability income support. These are VALUABLE programs to help the disabled individual and their families with financial support for the duration of their disability and/or time out of work, or to rehabilitate the individual for their return to work. WE FULLY SUPPORT those programs. What we do not support is fraudulent use of those programs and Companies paid for by State & Federal Government to encourage this type of trend. I wanted to give you definitions as to the difference between Temporary Disability and Permanent Disability.
Overall, we are Advocates for the Disabled Community and their families. We believe that the Disabled Community has many hurdles to cross in a society that judges, harasses, and discriminates against. However, where we draw the line within our Foundation, is the fraudulent use and abuse of a system that is set up to protect, to give financial aid, and to help the Disabled individuals and their families within the appropriate guidelines set forth by State Disability Insurance, Social Security Administration with accompanies State and Federal Disability Acts, Guidelines, and Laws.
Mr. Knight Kiplingers Response (via e-mail)
Dear Ms. DeMont,
First, my apologies for so tardy a response to your very thoughtful and informative letter.
I regret that my column, which was a necessarily brief explanation of my position, suggested a lack of empathy for the handicapped, which does not characterize my personal views at all. As a matter of fact, I thought I was striking a blow for handicapped rights by suggesting a way that cities can crack down on the unconscionable abuse of handicapped parking privileges by many able-bodied citizens. I personally know handicapped citizens who bemoan the shortage of special parking spaces because they are taken up by dishonest people.
I could see a system under which disabled people who have a legitimate financial need—many do and many don’t--may apply for a separate, means-tested permit that allows them to park for free or at discounted rates. Handicapped people who have no special financial need—and they are legion in every city, blessedly—would get the right to conveniently located parking, perhaps with unlimited time allowed, but have to pay like other people. The spread of automated meters in many cities makes this easier than ever, with credit card billing, so drivers wouldn’t have to return to their cars to feed the meter. Or they could pay for parking in advance, through an annual charge that is later adjusted for actual use. I think we would both agree, too, that there should be much stiffer penalties for the fraudulent misuse of handicapped parking placards and plates.
I heard from another reader who cited research showing a national unemployment rate for handicapped men and women that is about two times the rate for the general population. Clearly, many handicapped people have difficulty making a good living, and using low income as a screen for free placards would address that issue. But in Washington, D.C., it appears that a very high number of civil servants, federal and local, were using handicapped hangers to park all day for free in the blocks around their government office building, while presumably they were inside performing well-paid work; the issue was not their need for convenient handicapped parking, but their parking for free without any verified financial need for this freebie. That's what led to a public backlash against an apparent abuse in this city and others.
Again, my appreciation to you for your very thoughtful response to my column, and I hope you can see that I meant well in my approach to this dilemma. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, and I hope you continue to find our publication useful to you and your business.
Best wishes, --- Knight Kiplinger
Editor in Chief and President
The Kiplinger Letter, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and Kiplinger.com