Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract

Book review courtesy Common Courage Press. Internet publication URL:

Book review courtesy of Common Courage Press

"What Ralph Nader did for the consumer movement...Marta Russell has accomplished in her riveting Beyond Ramps. No one who reads this book...will come away unchanged."

- Marcus Raskin, Institute for Policy Studies

Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract

Marta Russell
256 pages; Index
PAPER $18.95, ISBN: 1-56751-106-6


Marta Russell exposes the neoliberal thrust to shrink government with the Reinventing Government mantra. "We are dangerously close to a Jerry Lewis democracy where middleman beggars and corporate CEO's getting huge paychecks may replace entitlements with charity," reveals Russell in a devastating analysis of the "reform" of the social safety net.

From Russell's Introduction:

"Americans seem to have lost sight of the fact that policies are social decisions and that these decisions can result in the de-valuation and even loss of human life. I am often asked why I write so much about disability. Other topics are far more 'sellable' (that is certainly true). But the past years have made it insidiously apparent that the plight of disabled people, like canaries released into the coal mines to detect whether there was enough oxygen in the air to survive, is a barometer for the 'progress' or lack of it in our over-capitalized civilization. Disability and disability policy--past, present and future--is a tool for all to rate our present socioeconomic order."

"Vividly written...goes to the heart of many matters, starting with the profound desire of 'normal' people, many of them supposedly broad-minded types squarely within the liberal tradition, to reach for the sterilizing knife, or the medicine cabinet of Dr. Kevorkian when confronted with an affront to their sense of the 'normal.'"

- Alexander Cockburn, author and columnist

"The kind of analysis that virtually no one has done--to the peril of everyone in this nation."
- Mary Johnson, editor, Ragged Edge

"Russell has marshaled, with impressive lucidity, the salient truth."
- Ronnie Dugger

"A hard-edged, in-your-face book that goes to war against market-based Social Darwinism. Russell combines rage and insight, a great feel for the particular, and a keen understanding of macro politics and historical detail."
- Eric Mann, director, Labor/Community Strategy Center

"An incredible eye-opener for everyone...If you believe knowledge is power, you'll come away from this book powerfully informed."

- Dianne Piastro, former syndicated columnist and appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson to California's State Independent Living Council

"A stinging critique of a capitalist economic system...a significant contribution."
- Harlan Hahn, professor of political science, University of Southern California

"What Ralph Nader did for the consumer movement in his book Unsafe at Any Speed Marta Russell has accomplished in her riveting Beyond Ramps. No one who reads this book...will come away unchanged."

- Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute for Policy Studies, professor of public policy, George Washington University

Marta Russell has been a producer and photographer whose investigative reporting earned her a Golden Mike Award for best documentary from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California in 1994.

Disabled from birth, Russell began writing when her disability progressed and she had to navigate the disability policy netherworld to survive. Russell has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union Tribune, New Mobility Magazine, Ragged Edge, Mouth: the voice of disability rights, Mainstream Magazine and Z Magazine, among others. "Disabled and the Cost of Saying I Do" was nominated for a MAGGIE in 1995. Her articles have been reprinted in two anthologies, The Ragged Edge and The Disabled. She has a 17-year-old daughter and lives in Los Angeles.

She can be reached at