"Give Me A Break!" -- John Stossel is a Massive Tool

Cannibal, we've drawn the distinction between fully qualified and not qualified for particular positions, based on the requirements of the job. You keep trying to muddy that, but that's not the point.

What if Hooters only hired attractive white waitresses? Should they be able to do that? How about the military? If there is no benefit to society from equal rights, why should the government have to follow those rules? Why should not let government discriminate as it pleases?

Robear wrote:
Cannibal, we've drawn the distinction between fully qualified and not qualified for particular positions, based on the requirements of the job. You keep trying to muddy that, but that's not the point.

What if Hooters only hired attractive white waitresses? Should they be able to do that? How about the military? If there is no benefit to society from equal rights, why should the government have to follow those rules? Why should not let government discriminate as it pleases?

And you keep muddying the public/private discussion. The libertarian answer is that the government should not discriminate, and should regulate itself. It also should not employ nearly as many people as it does, mitigating the problem.

In public affairs, how do we not have equal rights? Don't ask Don't Tell is the only abomination that comes to mind.

As for private matters, they are private. If I can exclude you from my house (private property) because I don't like you, why should I not be able to exclude you from my store (also private property) because I don't like you? Not saying I don't like you, just hypothetically.

Your argument seems to stem from your belief that every business "owes something". Apparently, providing a desirable good/service and employment opportunities are not enough.

ADDITION: You can't legislate morality. I'm not saying that racist hiring practices are acceptable. I'm saying that they are a localized, private problem, that can be efficiently dealt with locally through boycotts and the like.

So explain why government's interests are more restrictive than the public's, for whom government works? That's the crux, to me. If publicly funded government should not do it, then corporations that employ and serve the public should not either, as a general principle. I should not have to go to a government facility to get fair treatment; it should be available to me in any public venue I enter, or any workplace.


As for private matters, they are private. If I can exclude you from my house (private property) because I don't like you, why should I not be able to exclude you from my store (also private property) because I don't like you? Not saying I don't like you, just hypothetically.

What if you are the only provider of that service for 100 miles? And so forth.


Your argument seems to stem from your belief that every business "owes something". Apparently, providing a desirable good/service and employment opportunities are not enough.

But you are arguing for the business *not* providing goods or services, *arbitrarily*. How does that serve the community? As most corporations recognize, there's more to business than profits, and getting along in the communities in which they function is usually an important element of doing business.

So how does denying services equate to providing them? (Not making fun here, just trying to understand how you can work both sides of the arguments - "businesses provide services to a community" and "businesses should be able to deny services to anyone they want".)

I do hate John Stossel.

The evil of anti-discriminatory laws is the specter of litigation that comes along with them. Have you ever worked for a large company, and had to fire a minority employee for incompetence? In my experience, it's simply not possible. The fear of getting sued for discrimination is so high that we wind up just keeping them until they quit. I've had paper trails of poor performance reviews going back for years, and just can't get it pushed through. So eventually I shuffle them off to some other group and I hate myself for it, because I've just handed the problem to someone else.

It's a tough issue with no perfect solution. Taking the example of the small business that refuses to hire black workers or people named Earl or whatever, well, they're just foolishly reducing the pool of skilled potential employees that they draw from. Over time they'll be out competed by companies which don't have discriminatory hiring practices. Short term, yes, it sucks. But trying to legislate this issue opens up doors for the lawyers, and until such time as our legal system gets its head screwed on straight, I just can't endorse that.

I'm sort of a small-l libertarian, but I don't think you're being realistic here. You seem to expect 'market forces' to somehow overcome social conditioning, but markets are just people. If enough people are convinced that, say, black people are inferior, should be in chains, and would be great in cotton fields, well... the market doesn't fix that.

So far, only massive armies have changed that, in fact.

If everyone in a market is convinced that serving people of type X is a bad idea, then those people won't be able to get service at any price. When a whole society is convinced of something, they have monopoly power, and only outside intervention can break it.

Robear wrote:
So explain why government's interests are more restrictive than the public's, for whom government works? That's the crux, to me. If publicly funded government should not do it, then corporations that employ and serve the public should not either, as a general principle. I should not have to go to a government facility to get fair treatment; it should be available to me in any public venue I enter, or any workplace.

That really was the whole point of the Constitution. It is a relatively short list of the things the federal government is allowed to do. Most of what it does today is power it has seized through semantic games.

We are not disagreeing on the principle here. You should be able to. That does not mean you have the right to. You head straight to "there ought to be a law", while a libertarian thinks "that jackass should be out of business".

EDIT: The thought I was looking for... Government is there to protect rights, not invent them. What you propose is a manufactured right to my property and labor.

Robear wrote:
What if you are the only provider of that service for 100 miles? And so forth.

You can open or encourage a competitor. You can move. You can live without the service. Exclusivity does not magically give you a right to my labor or property.

Robear wrote:
But you are arguing for the business *not* providing goods or services, *arbitrarily*. How does that serve the community? As most corporations recognize, there's more to business than profits, and getting along in the communities in which they function is usually an important element of doing business.

So how does denying services equate to providing them? (Not making fun here, just trying to understand how you can work both sides of the arguments - "businesses provide services to a community" and "businesses should be able to deny services to anyone they want".)

I am not arguing both sides. You only think I am. What you are describing is a poor business decision, and the company deserves to be run into the ground by a better competitor. As you put it, most companies are smart enough to want every available customer, and yet you focus on the few that aren't. Most companies want the best employees available for the job, regardless of skin color or sex. It is not and should never be the role of the federal government to prevent poor business decisions.

Businesses do not provide services to a community. They provide goods and services to their customers. Important distinction. Government (of all levels) provides non-excludable services to the community.

Malor wrote:
I'm sort of a small-l libertarian, but I don't think you're being realistic here. You seem to expect 'market forces' to somehow overcome social conditioning, but markets are just people. If enough people are convinced that, say, black people are inferior, should be in chains, and would be great in cotton fields, well... the market doesn't fix that.

So far, only massive armies have changed that, in fact.

If everyone in a market is convinced that serving people of type X is a bad idea, then those people won't be able to get service at any price. When a whole society is convinced of something, they have monopoly power, and only outside intervention can break it.

Here's my problem with that... If everyone in town hates you, does a law forcing them to hire you really help anything? Might it actually make things worse?

Even a war and some Constitutional amendments didn't really create equality for blacks. Remember, the war was because half the country already disagreed. Maybe my knowledge is lacking, but even Dr. King was taking a moral stand, not a legislative one, a full 100 years later.

I can be a completely honest business owner, and hire the most qualified people, and still be guilty of violating anti-discrimination laws based on statistical analysis, which is the only real way to enforce them.

Malor wrote:
I'm sort of a small-l libertarian, but I don't think you're being realistic here. You seem to expect 'market forces' to somehow overcome social conditioning, but markets are just people. If enough people are convinced that, say, black people are inferior, should be in chains, and would be great in cotton fields, well... the market doesn't fix that.

So far, only massive armies have changed that, in fact.

No. People changed that, ordinary people, by standing up to the armies and police, showing the injustice, and making everyone else uncomfortable. The American Civil War did not "end" slavery, it was just renamed. Most of that stuff stopped when the society changed, and that change was a concerted, conscious effort, two hundred plus years long, by a lot of brave people (and, to be fair, some stupid and destructive ones). As you might recall, the government was on the side of the racists until the government was changed by the people.

If everyone in a market is convinced that serving people of type X is a bad idea, then those people won't be able to get service at any price. When a whole society is convinced of something, they have monopoly power, and only outside intervention can break it.

That only lasts as long as someone doesn't realize that they can do better by serving people of type X. And if a whole society is convinced of something, good luck getting their representative government to change the problem - they are going to listen to their constituents. Slavery was embedded in the Constitution. It was the society that forced the change, not the government.


You head straight to "there ought to be a law", while a libertarian thinks "that jackass should be out of business".

I think that's unrealistic, but that's where we differ. There are services that are necessary, like for example pharmaceuticals. Do I assume that your answer is "don't piss off the pharmacist"? What if the pharmacist doesn't think you should live in his town? And so forth.

Your only answer to that is to postulate some weird, geographically and market-perfect world where any problems are immediately wiped out by competition. Would that that were true. But in the lack of those capabilities, there's no sense in going back to the situation of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where there *were* no protections for workers.

In a sense, libertarianism is ideally designed for agrarian, rural countries and economies. My personal take is that the rise of industrialism and the massive inequities that introduced requires some *basic* regulation that applies to everyone.

And I'm actually espousing opinions of some of the Founders; it's not like this issue has not been discussed throughout American history. I'm just trying to get an idea of where you'd accept regulation. Given that your answer seems to be "nowhere outside government service", I tried reminding you of the problems of sanctioned discrimination. If the answer is "market forces will prevent it", I would say that's not supported by American history. History shows that capitalism is very good at over-reaching and abusing, when unregulated as you seem to suggest. The reason I say you are arguing both sides of the issue is that the claim that the market will take care of problems is just wrong.

So I guess we disagree.


That only lasts as long as someone doesn't realize that they can do better by serving people of type X. And if a whole society is convinced of something, good luck getting their representative government to change the problem - they are going to listen to their constituents. Slavery was embedded in the Constitution. It was the society that forced the change, not the government.

No, it was secession, and the subsequent war that did it. Lincoln wanted a Constitutional solution, but the Southern states were not willing to participate. If your thesis was correct, he'd have declared slavery outlawed at the outset of the war. Instead, his decision was unpopular and disputed even though it came a few years into the war. And of course the reforms he and Congress put into place lasted only into the 1870's, when society overcame them in state legislatures and Congress, and decided on segregation as the law of the land.

And that is the enshrinement of the principles you espouse here, in my opinion. Federal protection of the right to discriminate, the will of the majority over the minority in injustice. Some things are worth protecting against in the law, history shows.

Robear wrote:
I think that's unrealistic, but that's where we differ. There are services that are necessary, like for example pharmaceuticals. Do I assume that your answer is "don't piss off the pharmacist"? What if the pharmacist doesn't think you should live in his town? And so forth.

Few pharmaceuticals are truly necessary. If pharmaceuticals are truly necessary to you, then I would suggest you not piss off the pharmacist. Barring that, there's always the option of mail order. Any difficulty you would have obtaining medications through other sources are the direct result of government regulation.

Robear wrote:
Your only answer to that is to postulate some weird, geographically and market-perfect world where any problems are immediately wiped out by competition.

Patience is a virtue. How many problems are really immediately wiped out by regulation? We are discussing racial discrimination how many years after it was regulated? It will never be wiped out by regulation, only by education and acceptance.

Robear wrote:
Given that your answer seems to be "nowhere outside government service", I tried reminding you of the problems of sanctioned discrimination.

You are equating the absence of vague and overbroad federal regulation with "sanctioned". There are plenty of things I find morally objectionable that are not illegal. That does not mean they are green lit.

Robear wrote:
History shows that capitalism is very good at over-reaching and abusing, when unregulated as you seem to suggest. The reason I say you are arguing both sides of the issue is that the claim that the market will take care of problems is just wrong.

History shows that government is even better at it. That's kind of how this country got started. The market does take care of problems, just not quite the way Americans want. We've become an instant gratification people who no longer consider opportunity costs or unforeseen consequences. We shun personal responsibility and love to blame "the others who are ruining America" for all of society's ills. We have trouble even taking stock of what those ills are. The market will not create a socialist utopia, but history shows that neither will socialism.

Robear wrote:
In a sense, libertarianism is ideally designed for agrarian, rural countries and economies. My personal take is that the rise of industrialism and the massive inequities that introduced requires some *basic* regulation that applies to everyone.

And I would say communism works in those environments as well, it just doesn't scale well. Libertarianism scales much better. Libertarianism is about rights. The government's role is to protect those rights, and to resolve conflicts in personal rights. Modern government likes to invent ways to abrogate rights.

Sure, there are instances where *basic* regulation is required. I would love to see some *basic* regulation. We don't believe in *basic* regulation anymore. We've thrown so much influence and power into the federal government that a fisherman in Louisiana with enough influence can turn a Minnesota man pissing in a river into a federal felon, complete with six page addendum to the Clean Water Act.

Market forces don't prevent everything we don't like, but neither does government regulation. I ask you to honestly give me a scenario that the market and court systems cannot resolve that can be completely prevented by government regulation. My guess is that you will present a beast born of government regulation, with a call of more regulation to fix it. Keep in mind that even most regulation is punitive after the fact, something that the tort system does very well.

Robear wrote:
And of course the reforms he and Congress put into place lasted only into the 1870's, when society overcame them in state legislatures and Congress, and decided on segregation as the law of the land.

This is actually a wonderful argument for libertarian ideals. Segregation violated the basic rights of American citizens, and as such should never have been subject to the whims of state legislatures or Congress.

Those who would subjugate others while the majority live forever under the cloud of possibly becoming outnumbered. Remove that power from the majority (whomever they are), and you need not fear future subjugation.

Perhaps the best question is what do you value more, society or individuals? I value the individual and his potential contributions to society.

Robear wrote:
Federal protection of the right to discriminate, the will of the majority over the minority in injustice.

Again, you equate the refusal to trash personal rights as cart blanche. The majority should never have such power to begin with. It is not a federal issue, period. By codifying the will of the current majority, you subject a fundamental individual right to the will of a future majority.


Few pharmaceuticals are truly necessary. If pharmaceuticals are truly necessary to you, then I would suggest you not piss off the pharmacist. Barring that, there's always the option of mail order. Any difficulty you would have obtaining medications through other sources are the direct result of government regulation.

Again, this is a fantasy, because the mail-order companies can deny you service for the same reason, once that can of worms is opened. And what if the local mail guys decide not to deliver your drugs?


Patience is a virtue. How many problems are really immediately wiped out by regulation? We are discussing racial discrimination how many years after it was regulated? It will never be wiped out by regulation, only by education and acceptance.

Agreed. Implicit in that is the idea that it should not be allowed to be policy.


You are equating the absence of vague and overbroad federal regulation with "sanctioned". There are plenty of things I find morally objectionable that are not illegal. That does not mean they are green lit.

You're sort of shifting the ground here. I'm pointing out that your position explicitly allows discrimination; you say "but since it's not enshrined in the law, it's okay." I don't buy that, it's avoiding the issue. If it's allowed through lack of regulation, why not just make it law of the land?

Alternatively, how long till accepted practice brings it into case law?


History shows that government is even better at it. That's kind of how this country got started. The market does take care of problems, just not quite the way Americans want. We've become an instant gratification people who no longer consider opportunity costs or unforeseen consequences. We shun personal responsibility and love to blame "the others who are ruining America" for all of society's ills. We have trouble even taking stock of what those ills are. The market will not create a socialist utopia, but history shows that neither will socialism.

This is not an argument about which is worse, government or the free market. It's not an argument for socialism. I'm not arguing for instant grat solutions. I'm not shunning personal responsibility. I'm making the simple, accepted, historically supported argument that unfettered capitalism allows various problems to exist and thrive that minimal regulation easily solves, and job discrimination is one of them. The solution is far, far less onerous than doing without.


Sure, there are instances where *basic* regulation is required. I would love to see some *basic* regulation. We don't believe in *basic* regulation anymore. We've thrown so much influence and power into the federal government that a fisherman in Louisiana with enough influence can turn a Minnesota man pissing in a river into a federal felon, complete with six page addendum to the Clean Water Act.

This is what puzzles me. It's hard to get more basic than "if someone is qualified for the position, you can't refuse to hire them based on some artificial bias." How do you define bias? Look at the entire organization. If you have 5 people and they are all white, so what? If you have 25,000, in a country that's 20% minority, and 0.25% are minorities, you've got a bias running - unless you can show it's due to actual job requirements. And you should look into that and find out why it's happening and change it. Not to exactly 20%, but not to 2% either. In a country that's based on equal opportunities, if you are turning down qualified candidates because of their skin color, or religion, or sexual orientation, that's skewing away from equality.

This isn't anything like the Endangered Species Act or other highly complicated regulations, nor is it likely to be. But it does strike at the very basic notion of an egalitarian America in which everyone who works hard can find a place to succeed.


Market forces don't prevent everything we don't like, but neither does government regulation. I ask you to honestly give me a scenario that the market and court systems cannot resolve that can be completely prevented by government regulation. My guess is that you will present a beast born of government regulation, with a call of more regulation to fix it. Keep in mind that even most regulation is punitive after the fact, something that the tort system does very well.

I can't, because there's no "complete prevention". People *constantly* try to apply their fears and dislikes to others. You can't show any market scenario that "completely prevents" the problem either. That's an unrealistic standard.

Further, you need to show some examples to support your position - and they need to come from before the period of regulatory reform in the 1920's. Take a look at Sinclair Lewis, or other accounts of life in the US in the early 20th century, or late 19th, when what we call Libertarian ideas flourished in society. It's pretty grim and brutal. No workplace safety standards. Private corporate militias to beat and kill union organizers. Slave wages in corporation owned towns designed to keep employees in debt indefinitely. Unlimited work hours and child labor. No pensions, no social security, no health care options, no investment options. And of course, the ability not to hire Blacks or Italians and most especially not Catholics and Irish and Chinese, if the owner wants.

The basic social reforms put in place over the twentieth century *seem* onerous at times, but the alternatives - which we lived with in the past, they are not speculative - were far worse. I'm not suggesting socialism, tyranny of paperwork or beggaring the wealthy. Just the basics in place to prevent obvious, pervasive, abusive discrimination; blatantly dangerous workplaces; physical and economic abuse of employees; stuff like that. And it's a truism that capitalism, left without regulation, has no financial incentive to prevent any of that. We know that from history, and we should choose not to repeat it, no matter how attractive the theory.

Robear wrote:

You're sort of shifting the ground here. I'm pointing out that your position explicitly allows discrimination; you say "but since it's not enshrined in the law, it's okay." I don't buy that, it's avoiding the issue. If it's allowed through lack of regulation, why not just make it law of the land?

Alternatively, how long till accepted practice brings it into case law?

Because when you make it the law of the land, you put physical force behind it - life and death. It's not "allowed". The goverment does not "allow". The government has a specific mandate to protect certain rights of its citizens. You're arguing that there are only two possible outcomes: regulated/suppressed, and unregulated/rampant. The fact is that government regulation is not the only factor, and is usually a fairly minor one, with very high opportunity costs and serious consequences (see: War on Drugs).

This is not an argument about which is worse, government or the free market. It's not an argument for socialism. I'm not arguing for instant grat solutions. I'm not shunning personal responsibility. I'm making the simple, accepted, historically supported argument that unfettered capitalism allows various problems to exist and thrive that minimal regulation easily solves, and job discrimination is one of them. The solution is far, far less onerous than doing without.

This is what puzzles me. It's hard to get more basic than "if someone is qualified for the position, you can't refuse to hire them based on some artificial bias." How do you define bias? Look at the entire organization. If you have 5 people and they are all white, so what? If you have 25,000, in a country that's 20% minority, and 0.25% are minorities, you've got a bias running - unless you can show it's due to actual job requirements. And you should look into that and find out why it's happening and change it. Not to exactly 20%, but not to 2% either. In a country that's based on equal opportunities, if you are turning down qualified candidates because of their skin color, or religion, or sexual orientation, that's skewing away from equality.

Or you just didn't attract those workers, for whatever reason. There's no way to "prove" what someone is thinking. You confuse correlation with causation.

I can't, because there's no "complete prevention". People *constantly* try to apply their fears and dislikes to others. You can't show any market scenario that "completely prevents" the problem either. That's an unrealistic standard.

Which one is more cost-effective for the government? There's a price to be paid for any law.

Further, you need to show some examples to support your position - and they need to come from before the period of regulatory reform in the 1920's. Take a look at Sinclair Lewis, or other accounts of life in the US in the early 20th century, or late 19th, when what we call Libertarian ideas flourished in society.

Uh, what? Libertarian ideals might have "flourished", but only because of the serious issues with rights and the rule of law at the time, same as anarchist and socialist thought. The police routinely attacked or killed striking workers, anarchists, and whoever they could get their hands on. Government troops or Pinkerton men were routinely used to break strikes and kill striking workers. The government was almost completely beholden to powerful businessmen of the time - not dissimilar to today, in fact. Elections were often ... interesting. Life was the way it was largely because the government, vastly expanded during the Civil War, was increasingly authoritarian and anti-libertarian (and anti-anarchist/anti-socialist as well). Laying these issues at the feet of libertarianism is ... a stretch.

Robear wrote:

That only lasts as long as someone doesn't realize that they can do better by serving people of type X. And if a whole society is convinced of something, good luck getting their representative government to change the problem - they are going to listen to their constituents. Slavery was embedded in the Constitution. It was the society that forced the change, not the government.

No, it was secession, and the subsequent war that did it. Lincoln wanted a Constitutional solution, but the Southern states were not willing to participate. If your thesis was correct, he'd have declared slavery outlawed at the outset of the war. Instead, his decision was unpopular and disputed even though it came a few years into the war. And of course the reforms he and Congress put into place lasted only into the 1870's, when society overcame them in state legislatures and Congress, and decided on segregation as the law of the land.

And that is the enshrinement of the principles you espouse here, in my opinion. Federal protection of the right to discriminate, the will of the majority over the minority in injustice. Some things are worth protecting against in the law, history shows.

Huh? My thesis was that the war did not have anything to do with the real end of slavery. Your statements are essentially correct - the war was ineffective. Slavery didn't really end until the mid-20th century, and that change was brought by the people, not the government.

My point was that you can't use the government to "fix" the people - it has to happen the other way around. That's what history shows. They tried and utterly failed. Discrimination is much less today that in the 19th century because we, as a nation, decided that it wasn't right. Not because the government mandated it. If you removed the laws today there would be very, very little actual effect, other than not wasting a lot of time and money on lawsuits that would be better solved in other ways.

What can I say? I disagree that we need to allow discrimination in order to let people and businesses express their freedoms.

Aetius, the Civil War *was* effective. The problem resurfaced later because the laws that were established and enforced to give blacks the rights that were taken away, were abolished, and the exact freedoms you espouse were enshrined in the Jim Crow laws. People wanted the right to discriminate, and they got it. As you note, society *is* the problem in this area - and unless it's restrained, it has no real reason to examine itself and change. The *only* reason we have the civil rights we do today is the laws passed in the 60's. And there are many who want to use the freedoms you espouse to roll that back, under the guise of individual rights. (I'm certainly not accusing you of that, just saying that you seem to regard that as a negligible problem, while to me it's the main show.)

Giving people the freedom to perpetuate bias is not the way to eliminate that bias. Some things cannot be solved by giving people the freedom to do the right thing, and hoping they do it. Government is a pretty good response to those things.

I note you cite the failures of government, but not the many successes. The latter outweigh the former, obviously, or we'd not have such a high standard of living. Just a thought - our government is actually pretty good, considered as a whole.

Robear, I salute your tenacity. There isn't usually much you can say to an anarcho-capitalist in response to arguments like these, but you've done an excellent job. I am continually surprised that some libertarians never seem to recognise that the free market does not have the tools to handle certain situations ( wiping out fishing populations, avoiding industrial waste problems, social discrimination ), and sometimes we have to make some tough decisions if we want to keep from limiting our options in the future. The market does not know how to put true prices on goods that are incredibly scarce.

As has been said many times, your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose. Discrimination against people because of their skin color, gender, or sexual preference is connecting the punch; your hiring choice is punishing them for something they have no control over.

Yes, it's suboptimal to have laws telling you who you can hire and fire. But it's better than what we had before. Some of the stuff, like Affirmative Action, is just reverse racism and no longer belongs in the public sphere, but the fundamental assertion (and backing with the arms of the state) that all people are created equal, and endowed with certain inalienable rights by their Creator, seems entirely appropriate to me.

Robear wrote:
Aetius, the Civil War *was* effective. The problem resurfaced later because the laws that were established and enforced to give blacks the rights that were taken away, were abolished, and the exact freedoms you espouse were enshrined in the Jim Crow laws. People wanted the right to discriminate, and they got it. As you note, society *is* the problem in this area - and unless it's restrained, it has no real reason to examine itself and change. The *only* reason we have the civil rights we do today is the laws passed in the 60's. And there are many who want to use the freedoms you espouse to roll that back, under the guise of individual rights. (I'm certainly not accusing you of that, just saying that you seem to regard that as a negligible problem, while to me it's the main show.)

"The *only* reason we have the civil rights we do today is the laws passed in the 60's." Nevermind the fact that the only reason we didn't have them was the laws passed in the 1800's. Nevermind the incredible courage and efforts put forth on the moral front by black leaders. The only reason is because the current majority decided it was okay now.

Step back from this post and analyze your argument. You are essentially saying that the problem is that the will of the majority can do bad things with laws, so the answer to it is the will of a different majority being imposed through law. In your system the rights of the minority are always subject to the whims of the majority. In our system, those rights are inalienable, and the charge of government is to protect them.

The question becomes, "what rights". What rights are anti-discrimination laws protecting? The right to work someplace that doesn't want you? The right of convenience in shopping someplace nearby? Those sound quite hollow and empty to me. These are paternalistic gobbledygook that treats people as helpless dopes who can't stand up for themselves.

When white restaurants and stores were legislatively permitted, blacks did not all starve to death and run around naked. They set up their own shops and businesses. They have the right to do so. When those shops were burnt down and their owners beat up or killed, that was where government failed. "The market" provided a solution, and the "will of the majority" sanctioned the destruction of that solution. You are equating libertarian ideals with the "will of the majority", and that is your fallacy.

Your arguments assume that people are evil bigots who will oppress the poor victims, and you must legislatively protect them. At the same time, you subject current policy to the will of that very majority. You consistently throw out, "what if all the x's refuse service?" Is that how you view people? A worst case scenario? I see people as better than that.

Robear wrote:
I note you cite the failures of government, but not the many successes. The latter outweigh the former, obviously, or we'd not have such a high standard of living.

And you do the same with market forces. You give all credit for our standard of living to the government, just a short while after denouncing the enormous economic success brought on by the horrible working conditions of the previous centuries. This country became a superpower on the blood and sweat of poorly treated immigrants, not on government paper. I'm not saying that was a good thing, but let's give credit where it is due.

WesWilson wrote:
I am continually surprised that some libertarians never seem to recognise that the free market does not have the tools to handle certain situations ( wiping out fishing populations, avoiding industrial waste problems, social discrimination ), and sometimes we have to make some tough decisions if we want to keep from limiting our options in the future.

Wah? How about exorbitantly high fish prices, tort law and consumer backlash, and streamlined business startups respectively? What tools does government have to fix any of these? They ban them, then they punish the people who do it anyway? Is that "fixed"? Or does it just make people feel better about themselves?

There are things the market can not take care of effectively. Foreign relations, military, policing, and others. All too often we use those to enforce the "right du jour" instead of the basic rights they are meant to protect.


You are essentially saying that the problem is that the will of the majority can do bad things with laws, so the answer to it is the will of a different majority being imposed through law. In your system the rights of the minority are always subject to the whims of the majority. In our system, those rights are inalienable, and the charge of government is to protect them.

That's a really strange formulation, because what I'm suggesting is that there are basic things that are wrong in a country that espouses equality for each citizen. This means that what I'm suggesting is at minimum part of the American social contract, whether or not the majority agrees.

It follows that when the majority is allowed to go against that, they are wrong. By granting them the power to do so in hiring, deciding who can patronize a store, and the like, we fail to ensure that citizens are treated equally by others. Note that this will never be perfect. But it's not just one majority over another, arbitrarily. There are things that are simply wrong, if we start from the idea that all citizens are to be treated as equals.


The question becomes, "what rights". What rights are anti-discrimination laws protecting? The right to work someplace that doesn't want you? The right of convenience in shopping someplace nearby? Those sound quite hollow and empty to me. These are paternalistic gobbledygook that treats people as helpless dopes who can't stand up for themselves.

The right to equal opportunities in the pursuit of happiness. Housing, work, use of public facilities, access to goods and services via private industry, etc.


When white restaurants and stores were legislatively permitted, blacks did not all starve to death and run around naked. They set up their own shops and businesses. They have the right to do so. When those shops were burnt down and their owners beat up or killed, that was where government failed. "The market" provided a solution, and the "will of the majority" sanctioned the destruction of that solution. You are equating libertarian ideals with the "will of the majority", and that is your fallacy.

You can't seriously propose "separate but equal" as a good solution here. Government did not burn down black shops and beat up their owners. That was a problem with society, one which was not prevented by law enforcement in many areas. I'm not saying libertarian ideals are en bloc, but rather that they can fail to prevent some problems in the name of freedom, and I believe those problems to be more damaging than the freedom that allows them justifies. Hence, basic restrictions on the most egregious behaviors that could occur under the aegis of personal liberties.


Your arguments assume that people are evil bigots who will oppress the poor victims, and you must legislatively protect them. At the same time, you subject current policy to the will of that very majority. You consistently throw out, "what if all the x's refuse service?" Is that how you view people? A worst case scenario? I see people as better than that.

Sure, to the first point. I'm glad you didn't tar everyone with that brush, but yes, it's human nature at times, and that's a role that government can successfully play, albeit not perfectly. Where you make the mistake is taking the basic human equality of the Constitution and ascribing that to some trendy "will of the majority". If I thought that was the case, I would not be worried. Instead, I see racism as a big problem even today, and the basic protections of the civil rights laws as reasonable responses to that.

I understand that you are looking to the good in people. I do too. But I think that *reasonable* protections are not onerous, whereas your position is that *any* restrictions are onerous. I have problems with extreme positions, even when they are noble and virtuous in intent. I don't think it's realistic to expect that racism is so dead that it won't be a problem if we drop anti-discrimination laws. I'd love to be wrong.


And you do the same with market forces. You give all credit for our standard of living to the government, just a short while after denouncing the enormous economic success brought on by the horrible working conditions of the previous centuries. This country became a superpower on the blood and sweat of poorly treated immigrants, not on government paper. I'm not saying that was a good thing, but let's give credit where it is due.

No, not all of it, I just didn't get into that very deeply. The industrial growth of America was amazing, but it was the restraining of the abuses of the early 20th that sealed the deal. It's government and business, working together, that makes the American system so successful. What caught my eye was your unwillingness to credit government as part of that equation, and your absolutist objection to even basic protection of the egalitarian offerings of the Constitution and it's amendments. It's not one "will of the people" against another arbitrarily, it's whether or not we need help living up to it, as a society. That's what those rules do, and that's a reasonable trade-off for the restrictions imposed on business owners.


Wah? How about exorbitantly high fish prices, tort law and consumer backlash, and streamlined business startups respectively? What tools does government have to fix any of these? They ban them, then they punish the people who do it anyway? Is that "fixed"? Or does it just make people feel better about themselves?

Fishing is a good example. Even the fisherman in the Northwest admit that without government shutting down certain areas to fishing on a rolling basis, they would have been fished out. We have ample evidence of that from the disappearance of other fishing grounds before government decided to step in. Eradication of food fish species is a significant danger that high prices and market forces will not correct on their own. (For example, as Chilean Sea Bass became more rare and expensive, demand and price went up, leading to even more determined fishing of the reduced population - ie, the exact opposite of what you expect from your thesis.)

The original concern over the addition of the Bill of Rights was that it would be seen as an enumerated list. If something isn't in the list, it should be fair game. Rather than an enumerated and finite list of governmental powers, the Constitution would be shifted to a short list of things the government can't do, instead of a short list that it can. This is the concern with your setup, and the point where we're talking past each other.

The U.S. Constitution is supposed to ensure individual rights. Enumerating these rights legislatively effectively puts them up to a popular vote, when in reality this should not be required. Anti-discrimination laws are ancillary to the fairly plain text of the post Civil War Amendments. Those Amendments correct the withholding of "inalienable human rights" from blacks. A good government would have stood up to Jim Crowe laws and "Separate but Equal" as violations of those Amendments.

Your *reasonable protections* are put in place by popular vote, and thus are subject to repeal by popular vote. Constitutional provisions should not be subject to popular vote, excepting the particularly onerous task of amending.

I recognize that I am beating my head on a wall. Our transformation from republic to democracy has rolled along since the ratification of the Constitution. Perhaps you are correct and human nature prevents the nation envisioned (mostly) by the founders.

Robear wrote:

Wah? How about exorbitantly high fish prices, tort law and consumer backlash, and streamlined business startups respectively? What tools does government have to fix any of these? They ban them, then they punish the people who do it anyway? Is that "fixed"? Or does it just make people feel better about themselves?

Fishing is a good example. Even the fisherman in the Northwest admit that without government shutting down certain areas to fishing on a rolling basis, they would have been fished out. We have ample evidence of that from the disappearance of other fishing grounds before government decided to step in. Eradication of food fish species is a significant danger that high prices and market forces will not correct on their own. (For example, as Chilean Sea Bass became more rare and expensive, demand and price went up, leading to even more determined fishing of the reduced population - ie, the exact opposite of what you expect from your thesis.)

Good example. Government intervention is required because of a distinct lack of a critical market provision, ownership. No one "owned" the waters or fish, and therefore had no incentive other than immediate profit. Since a lack of sea bass does not create a tort situation, and ownership of ocean segments would prove obnoxious, regulation will be required.

I knew you could come up with a good example if you tried...


A good government would have stood up to Jim Crowe laws and "Separate but Equal" as violations of those Amendments.

Precisely. And it did, nearly a hundred years later. We agree on this.


Your *reasonable protections* are put in place by popular vote, and thus are subject to repeal by popular vote. Constitutional provisions should not be subject to popular vote, excepting the particularly onerous task of amending.

And on this. That's the shades of grey stuff inherent in my position, that this solution is not perfect, but it *can be* effective in the face of abused liberties or misguided actions.

However, the Constitution in this case should serve as the arbiter, modulo sweeping changes in society that make it clear we've gone past certain things.


I recognize that I am beating my head on a wall. Our transformation from republic to democracy has rolled along since the ratification of the Constitution. Perhaps you are correct and human nature prevents the nation envisioned (mostly) by the founders.

And I certainly respect the hope and desire that people won't *need* these protections in the future. I'm willing to look at the results of experiments at rolling them back, as has been done with Affirmative Action in many ways. But until then, we have to compromise on our ideals, and the free market is not good at that *kind* of compromise, since it's sometimes damaging to commerce, or more often seen as limiting.

Good discussion. Well, minus the wall-head-beating, of course.

Very good point about ownership, and that gets into the nature of resources that are not actually within a state's boundaries...

Robear wrote:
I'm willing to look at the results of experiments at rolling them back, as has been done with Affirmative Action in many ways.

Affirmative Action went down because the University of Michigan fiasco showed just how convoluted and dumb it had become. You have to promote minorities, but you can't do it by promoting minorities? WTF? The increased scrutiny meant that someone had to acknowledge the reverse discrimination the law required but denied.

Topic shift

I can't help but analogize forcing a business to accept an employee they don't want to forcing the Girl Scouts to take in males. It doesn't happen nearly as often as folks think (thanks media!), very little good can come from it, and every time it does somebody makes a federal case out of it. The thought has been making me chuckle all day.


I can't help but analogize forcing a business to accept an employee they don't want to forcing the Girl Scouts to take in males.

Straw man. Unless you mean racists being forced to hire minorities, in which case, screw 'em. Let them pick and choose their way to court.

The choice should be between qualified applicants, not people unsuited for the job. Beyond that, the employer can choose who they are comfortable with, but not outside the bounds of equal opportunities. IE, if you "don't like" minorities, better be prepared to explain how that is justified by the job role, or someone's gonna make a lot of money off of you in court.

Robear wrote:

I can't help but analogize forcing a business to accept an employee they don't want to forcing the Girl Scouts to take in males.

Straw man. Unless you mean racists being forced to hire minorities, in which case, screw 'em. Let them pick and choose their way to court.

Not really a straw man, just an analogy. In both instances, you end up with a "victim" who receives vindication through the legal system by forcing themselves into a group that does not want him/her. In both instances, I question what was actually accomplished. What is gained by forcing yourself into the midst of a group that does not want you?