MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Should We Be Free To Discriminate? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 11, 2023

What matters is not whether characteristics like race, sex, and age are used as means of differentiation and judgment but whether they are used rationally to infer other characteristics of interest on the basis of some known correlation or causal relationship between them.”

We must do whatever we can to promote complete freedom contract.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2023/01/lew-rockwell/should-we-be-free-to-discriminate/

By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

A case has recently been in the news and is being decided by the Supreme Court. It concerns a cake designer who doesn’t want to bake cakes for homosexual “marriages.” Is the cake  designer free to refuse, on grounds of freedom of religion—the designer’s religion doesn’t recognize such “marriages” as legitimate, or must homosexuals be served, because the cake-making service is a public accommodation that must be open to any customer who can pay for the service provided? This question frames the basic issue the wrong way. If you offer a service or sell a good, you should be free to sell it to whomever you want, or to refuse it sell it.  A sale and purchase is a voluntary transaction that requires the consent of all the parties to the deal. Thus, if a cake designer doesn’t want to sell cakes to homosexuals, he should be free to refuse. He isn’t required to claim that selling the cake goes against his religion. What if he just doesn’t like homosexuals, but doesn’t allege that his religion backs him up in this dislike? He should be free to “discriminate” in any way he wishes. In arguing in this way, we are following the principles of the greatest twentieth-century theorist of a free society, Murray Rothbard.

Exactly the same principle applies in employment. You should be free to hire and fire any workers you want in your business, regardless of your reason. As  Murray points out in his great book Power and Market, “A very common criticism of the libertarian position runs as follows: Of course we do not like violence, and libertarians perform a useful service in stressing its dangers. But you are very simpliste because you ignore the other significant forms of coercion exercised in society—private coercive power, apart from the violence wielded by the State or the criminal. The government should stand ready to employ its coercion to check or offset this private coercion.

In the first place, this seeming difficulty for libertarian doctrine may quickly be removed by limiting the concept of coercion to the use of violence. This narrowing would have the further merit of strictly confining the legalized violence of the police and the judiciary to the sphere of its competence: combatting violence. But we can go even further, for we can show the inherent contradictions in the broader concept of coercion.

A well-known type of ‘private coercion’ is the vague but ominous-sounding ‘economic power.’ A favorite illustration of the wielding of such ‘power’ is the case of a worker fired from his job, especially by a large corporation. Is this not ‘as bad as’ violent coercion against the property of the worker? Is this not another, subtler form of robbery of the worker, since he is being deprived of money that he would have received if the employer had not wielded his ‘economic power’?

Let us look at this situation closely. What exactly has the employer done? He has refused to continue to make a certain exchange, which the worker preferred to continue making. Specifically, A, the employer, refuses to sell a certain sum of money in exchange for the purchase of B’s labor services. B would like to make a certain exchange; A would not. The same principle may apply to all the exchanges throughout the length and breadth of the economy. A worker exchanges labor for money with an employer; a retailer exchanges eggs for money with a customer; a patient exchanges money with a doctor for his services; and so forth. Under a regime of freedom, where no violence is permitted, every man has the power either to make or not to make exchanges as and with whom he sees fit. Then, when exchanges are made, both parties benefit. We have seen that if an exchange is coerced, at least one party loses. It is doubtful whether even a robber gains in the long run, for a society in which violence and tyranny are practiced on a large scale will so lower productivity and become so much infected with fear and hate that even the robbers may be unhappy when they compare their lot with what it might be if they engaged in production and exchange in the free market.

‘Economic power,’ then, is simply the right under freedom to refuse to make an exchange. Every man has this power. Every man has the same right to refuse to make a proffered exchange.

Now, it should become evident that the ‘middle-of-the-road’ statist, who concedes the evil of violence but adds that the violence of government is sometimes necessary to counteract the ‘private coercion of economic power,” is caught in an impossible contradiction. A refuses to make an exchange with B. What are we to say, or what is the government to do, if B brandishes a gun and orders A to make the exchange? This is the crucial question. There are only two positions we may take on the matter: either that B is committing violence and should be stopped at once, or that B is perfectly justified in taking this step because he is simply ‘counteracting the subtle coercion’ of economic power wielded by A. Either the defense agency must rush to the defense of A, or it deliberately refuses to do so, perhaps aiding B (or doing B’s work for him). There is no middle ground!

B is committing violence; there is no question about that. 

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