Tonight on The Factor, O’Reilly and I argue about the role of government.
I am a libertarian. I say: Thank God for the Civil Rights Act. It outlawed horrible, racist Jim Crow laws passed by governments. Southern States required segregated schools and libraries. When private companies didn’t segregate – many thought it was bad business – governments forced them to. The Jim Crow laws were disgusting:
Georgia: No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls.
Georgia: [U]nlawful for any white baseball team to play on any vacant lot within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro.
Texas: Negroes are to be served through a separate branch or branches of the county library.
That government-enforced racism is why eight out of ten provisions in the Civil Rights Act were so necessary. But two other provisions – which ban private companies from discriminating – are a mistake. They violate individuals’ freedom to decide with whom to associate, and what to do with one’s own property. Those two provisions were unnecessary. As I noted earlier on my blog, many private companies in the South were eager to serve Blacks:
When the State of Florida forced transportation companies to segregate races in 1905, the Florida Times-Union reported:
[I]t was passed by the Legislature much against the will of the streetcar companies operating in the state… the streetcar company in this city has always accorded to the colored people who have patronized their lines the most careful and generous treatment… it is thought that there will be no concerted efforts on the part of the colored people of Jacksonville to boycott the streetcars.
Blacks boycotted the railroad anyway. So a competing company built new lines that served mostly blacks and seated them in front, whites in the back. The market partially got around the racist Jim Crow law in that case.
In another case from 1902, Mobile, Alabama, passed a segregation law that the Mobile Light and Railroad Company “flat out refused to enforce.” Enter the fist of government:
On November 1 , the police chief wrote to the president of the Mobile Light and Railroad Company, advising him that the ordinance would be enforced by the police force if necessary… One of [the company’s] conductors was arrested and fined on December 12.
The Savannah Tribune, a black newspaper, reported in 1899 that: “We have always said that the railroad officials are not anxious to carry into effect the unjust laws passed by the several states requiring separate cars for the races.”
The free market is naturally color-blind. Businesses want to make money, and they do that best by serving customers of all races. Eventually, inclusive businesses grow, and racists go broke.
Today, the result of government intrusion is that in the name of fighting “discrimination,” all-women gyms are sued and forced to open to men; a gay softball team is sued for rejecting bisexual members; A wedding photographer in New Mexico is fined thousands of dollars for refusing to take photos of a homosexual wedding.
Instead of just eliminating segregation, the Civil Rights Act imposed mandatory association. Rand Paul had it right. Neither mandatory segregation, nor mandatory association, is appropriate in a free society.