Normally I make an effort to avoid any controversy or politics on this blog. But recent comments from US Senate Candidate Rand Paul and supporting statements from professional mustachio John Stossel have forced my hand.
Rand Paul in an interview with Rachel Maddow declared his dislike for the Title II of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations.
John Stossel said on the May 20 edition of Fox News’ America Live,
“And I would go further than he was willing to go, as he just issued the statement, and say it’s time now to repeal that part of the law… because private businesses ought to get to discriminate. And I won’t won’t ever go to a place that’s racist and I will tell everybody else not to and I’ll speak against them. But it should be their right to be racist.”
Ok, so here is their logic as I see it: Businesses should be completely free to discriminate because that equals freedom (for the business owner). If a business chooses to discriminate, the free market will punish them for their “boorish” behavior and they will lose to the non-discriminatory businesses. Yeah, that worked really well prior to the Civil Rights Act.
But don’t let facts and history cloud the discussion.
Here are a few of the problems with permitting discrimination in public accommodations:
- The market will choose to discriminate with the belief that it will benefit the business. For instance, an apartment complex that wants to appeal to the hip and young may choose to refuse renting to the disabled, families with children or the elderly. In this example, the apartment owners could be rewarded since young people would probably prefer to live in the complex that was full of young, active people like themselves. Without the FHA a student with a disability would probably not be able to find private housing close to the campus.
- Some public accommodations provide essential services. Buying food is not optional. In some communities, there may be only one grocery store. What would happen if the owner of that grocery store didn’t like a particular ethnic group? Some small communities cannot support more than one doctor. Imagine if that Doctor thought that people with disabilities were too much risk, could the Doctor just tell them to move out of town?
- In some cases, an entire community is developed by one private entity. This entity may sell all of the houses and be the landlord for 100% of the commercial business. In this situation, there would be no “free market” to prevent discrimination.
Discrimination is wrong. Morally and ethically wrong. If you want to do business in the US, then you must follow our rules. It is because of our self organization as a government that we have the peace, protection and economy to run private business.
Rand and John are wrong on this issue.