Thursday, May 20, 2010

Libertarianism shows its colors?

GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul -- did Ron Paul really name his kid after Ayn Rand? -- thinks the 1964 Civil Rights Act could use a little touching-up. Like, legalizing racial discrimination by private entities.
INTERVIEWER: Would you have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that.


PAUL: You had to ask me the “but.” I don’t like the idea of telling private business owners--I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant--but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
Not just a one-off; see his Maddow interview.

Can I please do the next media interview with Michael Steele? Pretty please? I just have a few questions.

Rand also opposes the Americans with Disabilities Act, FYI.

(And his name is Randal, so I guess calling him Rand is just an affectionate nod to Objectivism.)

... UPDATE: Good news! "I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Well, that's mighty white of him. I trust he won't seek to reinstate the Three-Fifths Clause either.

... Bruce Bartlett, via Kevin Drum:
The libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn't work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.
There's more.


  1. I wonder if he would come to the same conclusion if he thought about the situation as a financial group or store chain rather than a (presumably Mom and Pop) restaurant?

  2. Also, what would "public funding" include? Cities and counties sometimes have stimulus programs, obviously including business loans, but also things like preferable tax rates and discounted permits. Would acceptance of any of those conditions be enough to require proof o' non-discrimination?

  3. The 1964 act never would have passed if it were just a few guys out there discriminating. The discrimination was across the board, and in many cases required by the government. That's why Congress enacted such a far-reaching remedy.

    His point is that if you get the government out of the discrimination business, much of the private discrimination would have melted away on its own. In fact, more and more of the private clubs that have every right to discriminate are choosing not to do so.

    This isn't the solution that those who prefer the heavy hand of government prefer. But it is the correct view.

  4. "much of the private discrimination would have melted away on its own"

    Really? When? It hadn't since Reconstruction.

    Besides, as I've seen around the internet today, Jim Crow encroached on the liberties of business owners. You *couldn't* admit blacks to your hotel or restaurant. But we don't hear the "libertarians" complain about that. Because "liberty" is not the issue here, any more than "rights" were the issue in "states' rights."

  5. "Really? When? It hadn't since Reconstruction."

    That is Rand Paul's point. When the Louisiana legislature passed the law requiring separate cars for blacks and whites, the business interests opposed the action. They just wanted to serve their customers without interference from the state, and didn't want the added cost of having to add more passenger cars to support segregation.

    Segregation became firmly entrenched in the South because it was the law. The state was telling private business owners who and who they could serve. His point is break down this barrier, put up some public roadblocks to segregation, and the practice would have melted away.

    Today our anti-discrimination laws are used in an effort to require Hooters to hire fat waitresses or male Hooter girls. Strip bars are fined for not having a wheelchair ramp onto the stage so wheelchair-bound strippers can have an opportunity for employment. If a business hires and promotes based purely on ability it is likely to be sued if a minority group chooses not to demonstrate as much ability, and is thus underrepresented in the employee pool.

    Do I want to see these laws dramatically altered to prevent this kind of nonsense? You bet.

  6. Rebelyell, which of those suits actually succeeds? People can sue whether they have a case or not. That is no argument for denying justified plaintiffs a right to sue.

    And Paul's statement today is dishonest. He hasn't been going around saying that Title II was an open question at the time. He's been saying that he, Paul, *has* a problem with compelling businesses to offer their goods and services to black customers.

    Really, you do not want to waste your effort defending this guy on this point. Argue that his merits outweigh his flaws, if you like.

  7. The idea that a State would make policy without any input from business strikes me as a bit bizarre. Was segregation around for a four-year period and then revoked due to intense lobbying on the part of business?