17A045 Discrimination by Jim Davies, 12/19.2017    


Recently the government's top lawyers ruled that a certain baker is forbidden to turn customers away at his own discretion. Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd in Colorado believes that marriage is meant only for one man and one woman, and so declines to bake wedding cakes for couples of the same sex. His case is comparable to the one considered in the Pence Foolish ZGBlog in 2015. His belief is so strong that he would rather lose business than abandon it.

Silly, in my opinion; but it's his choice and his business and so he's 100% entitled to make it.

A reasonable objection to that claim may be that in Southern States in the century following 1865 there was widespread discrimination against folk with black skin, and that was wrong, and it was corrected in the 1960s by writing laws to say that a business serving the public must provide its services uniformly, without discrimination. It was outrageous indeed that blacks were treated in that kind of way as second-rate human beings, so the argument needs to be addressed. In the coming zero government society, might such irrational prejudice restore some of that racial discrimination?

The objection contains the unspoken premise that refusal to treat emancipated slaves equally would have been almost universal if government had not made it mandatory, with its "Jim Crow" laws. That is not only wrong, it is ridiculous; for if anti-black prejudice in the defeated Southern states had been so strong as to deny them normal business service, there would have been no need to compel it by law!

Instead, following 1865, there would have been a mix - as there will be when government evaporates. Some people (very few in the future ZGS, I think) would have opened their shops and eateries only to white folk, others would have welcomed all because their ambition to maximize profits overcame any resentment that blacks were now competing in the labor market. After some years the former would have lost out so heavily that they would at most have comprised a niche market. More often they would have gone belly-up. By 1900, there would no longer have been much trace of racial pre-judging.

But, but... would not blacks have been paid lower wages than white laborers, given that most employers held them in disfavor, however irrationally? - yes, at first I think that is true. White applicants would have been preferred, following the War. Then those who hired blacks would find that some of them, at least, gave better value than whites; for example some were physically stronger, able to perform more work. Perhaps their long habit of obedience while in slavery would have made them, as employees, more cooperative and so, again, more productive. If so, those qualities would quickly have increased the desirability of black employees, to the point where the wage they could command would first have equalled then possibly have exceeded the wage for whites. The market works.

The same applies today, with regard to female employees. Feminazi groups screech that women get paid less than men for the same work, but it is not true and cannot be true, or not for long; for once the word gets around that ladies cost less than gentlemen, the demand for women workers will increase and pay for performance will equalize; in fact it's already happened. There is no wage gap. The market works.

So it will be with religious or any other prejudice. A century and a half ago it was common in Boston to see "No Irish need apply" in the windows of homes to let; fortunately, greed for profit drove other property owners to welcome everyone regardless, and the bigots were out-bid. Such signs have not been seen in living memory, and that's not because some law was written to prohibit them, it's because people like money. The market works. Mr Phillips' homophobic policies may survive for a while, but eventually his rivals will eclipse his business, without any help from government lawyers.

All that said, in the coming zero government society, there will very probably remain "niche" markets where some firms offer - for an abnormally high price - the kind of exclusivity that some people will prefer, and will pay for. Even today, there is a wide range of prices tagged to articles remarkably similar to one another. I wear a very servicable gold-colored wrist watch, which I bought for about $25 from China; it keeps accurate time, looks fancy, ticks off the seconds and displays day and date. But some prefer to buy essentially the same item but made of real gold and bearing some carefully-crafted brand name, for $2,500 or even $25,000. They get a feeling of satisfaction, and good luck to them, but their watches keep no better time than mine. In just the same way, there may be establishments that cater only for whites, or heterosexuals, or mixed-race transgender folk, or whatever, and by hiking prices they may stay in business. Let every flower bloom. The market works.

Lest by these remarks I've given the impression of a purely utilitarian reasoning, let me correct it. Discrimination and resultant variety will take place not just because the market works, but because it is morally right. One's own decisions, including whom to hire and to whom to sell, are one's own decisions and choices and discriminations; nobody else's. Why? - because of the self-ownership axiom, the bedrock of rational philosophy. We each have the exclusive right to run our own lives, our own way; and that is undeniable. Every action that supports and fosters our own wellbeing is therefore good, just as every action forced upon us by someone else is morally evil, attacking and reducing our very humanity.

After E-Day, that will be restored.


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