Greetings and salutations, Wizbangers!
The soon-to-be-vacationing Kevin has asked me to step in and blog in his absence. Clearly, he feels that all of you could benefit from continued lessons from me. I am sure that all of you are honored to be in my virtual presence.
And I hear some other bloggers have been invited, too.
But seriously, folks, it’s good to be back. I’m both humbled and honored that Kevin would invite me here once more, and I look forward to crossing swords with all of you once more. I’m also glad to see that Will, Mary Katherine, and Rob are all back as well. This ought to be interesting.
I’d like to open with a couple thoughts about free markets. Last time I posted here, I drew serious flak for my contention that the federal government should have the right to regulate commerce at public accommodations, such as restaurants, hotels, department stores, and exotic dance clubs.
Several expressed the sentiment that a business should be free to deal as it wished with its clientele, including in its selection of the clients with whom it deals, even if that business chooses not to deal with individuals of a certain race, religion, or nationality. The implicit assumption, I think, is that those bad actors who choose to discriminate on such invidious grounds will inevitably correct their behavior because they will lose the business of those against whom they discriminate as well as those customers who disagree with the business’s discriminatory policies.
I happen to disagree with this position; I believe that an unregulated market will not inevitably correct such behaviors, and that even if it does so in the long term, the short-term damage is unacceptable, as individuals who are discriminated against may find it difficult, if not impossible, to use the public accommodations that would be otherwise available if discrimination were prohibited.
I see a particularly pernicious effect in the form of combinations, either on the part of businesses or on the part of the business customers. A couple examples:
1. The companies that provide restaurant supplies in a given geographic area may agree not to do business with any restaurant that serves customers of a given race. A restaurant that does serve customers of that race will face increased costs for supplies because of that combination.
2. Citizens of a town may threaten not to patronize a bowling alley that chooses to serve customers of a given minority race. The bowling alley proprietor has two choices: cater to the minority and not make money, or bow to the will of the combination and not serve members of the minority race. (Note: While it is certainly legal to boycott a business to change its behavior, a business, even in the face of a boycott, may not undertake illegal behavior under the antidiscrimination laws without sanction).
Given the potential for bad behavior, not to mention the imbalance in bargaining power that inheres in many transactions in an unfettered marketplace, the potential harm in a totally unfettered marketplace argues for at least some government antidiscrimination regulation.
Pennywit is so attractive to the opposite sex that women swoon at the very thought of him. He also blogs at Pennywit.com.