Archive for the ‘Constitutional Rights’ Category

Founders on Property   Leave a comment

A friend commented the other day that Americans have become so self-centered, not willing to share from their “excess” and the Founders would be so ashamed. I quoted the highlighted section of this James Madison document, but she didn’t believe me. “That’s one of those made up quotes,” she said. I found it for her, but here you go … all you people who have swallowed the socialist statist propaganda. Not only is the quote not made up, but the larger context gives weight to the singular quotes. Property, to the Founders (to THE Founder who mostly wrote the Constitution) was something inherent in an individual and that property included not just houses and lands, but rights.

 

29 Mar. 1792Papers 14:266–68

This term (Property) in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.

In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.

In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.

He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.

He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.

He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.

In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.

Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, tho’ from an opposite cause.

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.

According to this standard of merit, the praise of affording a just securing to property, should be sparingly bestowed on a government which, however scrupulously guarding the possessions of individuals, does not protect them in the enjoyment and communication of their opinions, in which they have an equal, and in the estimation of some, a more valuable property.

More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man’s religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.

That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty, is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest. A magistrate issuing his warrants to a press gang, would be in his proper functions in Turkey or Indostan, under appellations proverbial of the most compleat despotism.

That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties, and free choice of their occupations, which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word; but are the means of acquiring property strictly so called. What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favour his neighbour who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the oeconomical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species: where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.

If there be a government then which prides itself in maintaining the inviolability of property; which provides that none shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner, and yet directly violates the property which individuals have in their opinions, their religion, their persons, and their faculties; nay more, which indirectly violates their property, in their actual possessions, in the labor that acquires their daily subsistence, and in the hallowed remnant of time which ought to relieve their fatigues and soothe their cares, the influence [inference?] will have been anticipated, that such a government is not a pattern for the United States.

If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property, and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.


The Founders’ Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 16, Document 23
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s23.html
The University of Chicago Press

The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962–77 (vols. 1–10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977–(vols. 11–).

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Wisdom of Originalist Interpretation   Leave a comment

Generally, we learn what is wise by watching what is stupid. This is as true in viewing the Supreme Court’s decisions as in almost everything else. The Supreme Court hardly has a history of making profoundly wise decisions. We all remember Dred Scott v Sanford (1857) and Plessy v Ferguson (1896), but hardly anyone remembers the that Civil War and Reconstruction occurred between and yet different justices ruled very similarly in both cases because they were politically influenced. We now look back on these two decisions and shake our heads, wondering how our constitutional republic could have allowed the practices the Supreme Court said were okay. There are many other SCOTUS cases where the decision was stupidly influenced by politics (or fear of the president) and later had to be reversed.

Image result for image of shouting fire in a crowded theaterIn a case that would define the limits of the 1st Amendment’s protection of the right to free speech, the Supreme Court decided the early 20th-century case of Schenck v. United States.

Shortly after the United States entered World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917, meant to prohibit interference with military operations or recruitment, prevent insubordination in the military, and prevent the support of hostile enemies during wartime.

Charles Schenck was an important Philadelphia socialist, general secretary of the Socialist Party of America, and opposed to the United States’ entry into the war. As part of his efforts to counter the war effort, Schenck organized the distribution of 15,000 leaflets to prospective military draftees encouraging them to resist the draft.

The leaflet began with the heading, “Long Live The Constitution Of The United States; Wake Up America! Your Liberties Are in Danger!” It went on to quote Section 1 of the 13th Amendment, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude (unless you’re a felon, in which case it doesn’t apply to you). Schenck’s leaflet asserted that the draft amounted to involuntary servitude because “a conscripted citizen is forced to surrender his right as a citizen and become a subject.” The leaflet told conscripts that, “if you do not support you rights, you are helping to ‘deny or disparage rights’ which it is the solemn duty of all citizens and residents of the United States to retain.”

Schenck was arrested, and, among other charges, was indicted for “conspir[ing] to violate the Espionage Act … by causing and attempting to cause insubordination … and to obstruct the recruiting and enlistment service of the United States.” Schenck and fellow socialist Elizabeth Baer were both convicted following a jury trial and sentenced to six months in prison. They appealed appealed their convictions to the Supreme Court where they argued that their convictions—and Section Three of the Espionage Act of 1917, under which they were convicted—violated the 1st Amendment. They claimed that the Act had the effect of dissuading and outlawing protected speech about the war effort, thereby abridging the 1st Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech.

In a unanimous decision written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Supreme Court upheld Schenck’s conviction and found that the Espionage Act did not violate Schenck’s 1st Amendment right to free speech. The Court determined that Schenck had, in fact, intended to undermine the draft, as the leaflets instructed recruits to resist the draft. Additionally, the Court found that attempts made by speech or writing could be punished just like other attempted crimes.

The Court found that context was the most important factor in alleged violation of the 1st Amendment. The Court said that, while “in many places and in ordinary times” the leaflet would have been protected, the circumstances of a nation at war allowed for greater restrictions on free speech.

Justice Holmes wrote, “When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in a time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.”

Holmes famously analogized the United States’ position in wartime to that of a crowded  theater:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic … The question in every case is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

This quote, while famous for its analogy, also gave the Court a pragmatic standard to use when faced with free speech challenges. The “clear and present danger” standard encouraged the use of a balancing test to question the state’s limitations on free speech on a case-by-case basis. If the Court found that there was a “clear and present danger” that the speech would produce a harm that Congress had forbidden, then the state would be justified in limiting that speech.

Only a year later, Holmes attempted to redefine the standard in Abrams v. United States (1919). Justice Holmes reversed his position and dissented, questioning the government’s ability to limit free speech. He didn’t believe the Court was applying the “clear and present danger” standard appropriately in the Abrams case, so he changed its phrasing, writing that a stricter standard should apply, that the state can only restrict and punish “speech that produces or is intended to produce clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent.”

The “clear and present danger” standard would last for another 50 years, until the Court finally replaced it with the “imminent lawless action” test inn Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). This new test stated that the state could only limit speech that incites imminent unlawful action. This standard is still applied by the Court today to free speech cases involving the advocacy of violence.

So what does this hundred year old case have to do with us in 2017? People are still being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. Since the decision in Schenck v. United States, those who have been charged under the act include Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs, executed communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. Most recently, both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have also been charged under the Act.

My base point here is that when people insist that the Supreme Court must be free to interpret the Constitution in light of their personal feelings about it rather than the words written in the Constitution, I balk because I know history and I know the Supreme Court justices have been wrong in the past and will be wrong in the future. That’s why I value originalists like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. They assuage flavor-of-the-decade politics to rule based on what the Constitution says rather than what’s trending on Twitter this week. And, that is what the Supreme Court was supposed to do originally. James Madison, the principle framer of the Constitution, objected strongly to it being subverted to other purposes and we should bear that in mind.

There is an appropriate way to change the rules upon which our nation is based. It’s called “amendment.” It’s not an easy process. It requires agreement by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of both legislative chambers in each state. This assures that there is broad consensus across the entire country that we feel it is time to make a change rather than that a tiny minority has decided to bludgeon everyone else in the direction the minority thinks they know is best.

Gays Need the Freedom to Discriminate | Jeffrey A. Tucker   3 comments

Gaining the right to be married is a win for liberty because it removes a barrier to free association. But how easily a movement for more freedom turns to the cause of taking away other freedoms!

Related imageFollowing the Supreme Court decision mandating legal same-sex marriage nationwide, the New York Times tells us that, “gay rights leaders have turned their sights to what they see as the next big battle: obtaining federal, state and local legal protections in employment, housing, commerce and other arenas.”

In other words, the state will erect new barriers to freedom of choice in place of the old ones that just came down!

To make the case against such laws, it ought to be enough to refer to the freedom to associate and the freedom to use your property as you see fit. These are fundamental principles of liberalism. A free society permits anything peaceful, and that includes the right to disassociate. Alas, such arguments seem dead on arrival today.

So let us dig a bit deeper to understand why anti-discrimination laws are not in the best interests of gay men and women, or anyone else. Preserving the ability to discriminate permits the market system to provide crucial information feedback to a community seeking to use its buying power to reward its friends and noncoercively, nonviolently punish those who do not share its values.

Ever more, consumers are making choices based on core values. Does this institution protect the environment, treat its workers fairly, support the right political causes? In order to make those choices — which is to say, in order to discriminate — consumers need information.

In the case of gay rights, consumers need to know who supports inclusion and who supports exclusion. Shutting down that information flow through anti-discrimination law robs people of crucial data to make intelligent buying decisions. Moreover, such laws remove the competitive pressure of businesses to prove (and improve) their commitment to community values, because all businesses are ostensibly bound by them.

A market that permits discrimination, even of the invidious sort, allows money and therefore success and profits to be directed toward those who think broadly, while denying money and profitability to those who do not. In this way, a free market nudges society toward ever more tolerant and inclusive attitudes. Money speaks far more persuasively than laws.

Notice that these proposed laws only pertain to the producer and not the consumer. But discrimination is a two-edged sword. The right can be exercised by those who do not like some groups, and it can be exercised by those groups against those who do not like them.

Both are necessary and serve an important social function. They represent peaceful ways of providing social and economic rewards to those who put aside biases in favor of inclusive decision making.

If I’m Catholic and want to support pro-Catholic businesses, I also need to know what businesses don’t like Catholics. If I’m Muslim and only want my dollars supporting my faith, I need to know who won’t serve Muslims (or who will put my dollars to bad use). If a law that prohibits business from refusing to serve or hire people based on religion, how am I supposed to know which businesses deserve my support?

It’s the same with many gay people. They don’t want to trade with companies that discriminate. To act out those values requires some knowledge of business behavior and, in turn, the freedom to discriminate. There is no gain for anyone by passing a universal law mandating only one way of doing business. Mandates drain the virtue out of good behavior and permit bad motivations to hide under the cover of law.

Here is an example from a recent experience. I was using AirBnB to find a place to stay for a friend. He needed a place for a full week, so $1,000 was at stake. The first potential provider I contacted hesitated and began to ask a series of questions that revolved around my friend’s country of origin, ethnicity, and religion. The rental owner was perfectly in his rights to do this. It is his home, and he faces no obligation to open it to all comers.

On the other hand, I found the questions annoying, even offensive. I decided that I didn’t want to do business with this person. I made a few more clicks, cancelled that query, and found another place within a few minutes. The new renter was overjoyed to take in my friend.

I was delighted for two reasons. First, my friend was going to stay at a home that truly wanted him there, and that’s important. Force is never a good basis for commercial relationships. Second, I was able to deny $1K to a man who was, at best, a risk averse and narrow thinker or, at worst, an outright bigot.

Declining to do business with him was my little protest, and it felt good. I wouldn’t want my friend staying with someone who didn’t really want him there, and I was happy not to see resources going toward someone whose values I distrusted.

In this transaction, I was able to provide a reward to the inclusive and broad-minded home owner. It really worked out too: the winning rental property turned out to be perfect for my friend.

This was only possible because the right to discriminate is protected in such transactions (for now). I like to think that the man who asked too many questions felt a bit of remorse after the fact (he lost a lot of money), and even perhaps is right now undergoing a reconsideration of his exclusionary attitudes. Through my own buyer decisions I was actually able to make a contribution toward improving cultural values.

What if anti-discrimination laws had pertained? The man would not have been allowed to ask about national origin, religion, and ethnicity. Presuming he kept his room on the open market, he would have been required under law to accept my bid, regardless of his own values.

As a result, my money would have gone to someone who didn’t have a high regard for my friend, my friend would have been denied crucial information about what he was getting into, and I would not be able to reward people for values I hold dear.

This is precisely why gay rights leaders should be for, not against, the right to discriminate. If you are seeking to create a more tolerant society, you need information that only a free society can provide.

You need to know who is ready to serve and hire gay men and women, so they can be rewarded for their liberality. You also need to know who is unwilling to hire and serve so that the loss part of profit-and-loss can be directed against ill-liberality. Potential employees and customers need to know how they are likely to be treated by a business. Potential new producers need to know about business opportunities in under-served niche markets.

If everyone is forced to serve and hire gays, society is denied important knowledge about who does and does not support enlightened thinking on this topic.

Consider the prototypical case of the baker who doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He is within his rights. His loss of a potential customer base is his own loss. It is also the right of the couple to refuse to give this baker business. The money he would have otherwise made can be redirected towards a baker who is willing to do this. It is equally true that some people would rather trade with a baker who is against gay marriage, and they are within their rights as well.

Every act of discrimination, provided it is open and legal, provides a business opportunity to someone else.

How does all this work itself out in the long run? Commerce tends toward rewarding inclusion, broadness, and liberality. Tribal loyalties, ethnic and religious bigotries, and irrational prejudices are bad for business. The merchant class has been conventionally distrusted by tribalist leaders — from the ancient to the modern world — precisely because merchantcraft tends to break down barriers between groups.

We can see this in American history following the end of slavery. Blacks and whites were ever more integrated through commercial exchange, especially with the advance of transportation technology and rising incomes. This is why the racists turned increasingly toward the state to forbid it. Zoning laws, minimum wage regulation, mandatory segregation, and occupational licensing were all strategies used to keep the races separate even as the market was working toward integration.

The overwhelming tendency of markets is to bring people together, break down prejudices, and persuade people of the benefits of cooperation regardless of class, race, religion, sex/gender, or other arbitrary distinctions. The same is obviously and especially true of sexual orientation. It is the market that rewards people who put aside their biases and seek gains through trade.

This is why states devoted to racialist and hateful policies always resort to violence in control of the marketplace. Ludwig von Mises, himself Jewish and very much the victim of discrimination his entire life, explained that this was the basis for Nazi economic policy. The market was the target of the Nazis because market forces know no race, religion, or nationality.

“Many decades of intensive anti-Semitic propaganda,” Mises  wrote in 1944, “did not succeed in preventing German ‘Aryans’ from buying in shops owned by Jews, from consulting Jewish doctors and lawyers, and from reading books by Jewish authors.” So the racists turned to the totalitarian state — closing and confiscating Jewish business, turning out Jewish academics, and burning Jewish books — in order to severe the social and economic ties between races in Germany.

The biggest enemy of marginal and discriminated-against populations is and has always been the state. The best hope for promoting universal rights and a culture of tolerance is the market economy. The market is the greatest weapon ever devised against bigotry — but, in order to work properly, the market needs to signaling systems rooted in individuals’ freedom of choice to act on their values.

And, to be sure, the market can also provide an outlet for people who desire to push back for a different set of values, perhaps rooted in traditional religious concerns. Hobby Lobby, Chick-Fil-A, In-and-Out Burger, among many others, openly push their religious mission alongside their business, and their customer base is drawn to them for this reason. This is also a good thing. It is far better for these struggles to take place in the market (where choice rules) rather than through politics (where force does).

Trying to game that market by taking away consumer and producer choice harms everyone. Anti-discrimination laws will provide more choices at the expense of more informed choices. Such laws force bigotry underground, shut down opportunities to provide special rewards for tolerance, and disable the social learning process that leads to an ever more inclusive society.

New laws do not fast-track fairness and justice; they take away opportunities to make the world a better place one step at a time.

Source: Gays Need the Freedom to Discriminate | Jeffrey A. Tucker

Make the Bouquet… Or Else! | Roger Pilon   1 comment

Image result for image of a wedding bouquetTo see how little is left of one of our most important rights, the freedom of association, look no further than to today’s unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court upholding a lower court’s ruling that florist Baronelle Stutzman was guilty of violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) when she declined, on religious grounds, to provide floral arrangements for one of her regular customer’s same-sex wedding. The lower court had found Stutzman personally liable and had awarded the plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief, actual monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

This breathtaking part of the Supreme Court’s conclusion is worth quoting in full:

We also hold that the WLAD may be enforced against Stutzman because it does not infringe any constitutional protection. As applied in this case, the WLAD does not compel speech or association. And assuming that it substantially burdens Stutzman’s religious free exercise, the WLAD does not violate her right to religious free exercise under either the First Amendment or article I, section 11 because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.

We have here yet another striking example of how modern state statutory anti-discrimination law has come to trump a host of federal constitutional rights, including speech, association, and religious free exercise. It’s not too much to say that the Constitution’s Faustian accommodation of slavery is today consuming the Constitution itself.

Such is the wrath of the crowd that wants our every act to be circumscribed by law—their law, of course.

Consider simply the freedom of association right. That liberty in a free society ensures the right of private parties to associate, as against third parties, and the right not to associate as well—that is, the right to discriminate for any reason, good or bad, or no reason at all. The exceptions at common law were for monopolies and common carriers. And if you held your business as “open to the public” you generally had to honor that, though you still could negotiate over services.

Slavery, of course, was a flat-out violation of freedom of association—indeed, it was the very essence of forced association. But Jim Crow was little better since it amounted to forced dis-association.  It was finally ended, legally, by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But that Act prohibited not simply public but private discrimination as well in a range of contexts and on a range of grounds, both of which have expanded over the years. The prohibition of private discrimination may have been helpful in breaking the back of institutionalized racism in the South, but its legacy has brought us to today’s decision, where florists, bakers, caterers, and even religious organizations can be forced to participate in events that offend their religious beliefs.

Court’s haven’t yet compelled pastors to officiate at ceremonies that are inconsistent with their beliefs, but we have heard calls for eliminating the tax-exempt status of their institutions. Such is the wrath of the crowd that wants our every act to be circumscribed by law—their law, of course. And they’re prepared, as here, to force their association on unwilling parties even when there are plenty of other businesses anxious to serve them. As I concluded a Wall Street Journal piece on this subject a while ago:

No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.

Amen.

A version of this article was first published by The Cato Institute.

Source: Make the Bouquet… Or Else! | Roger Pilon

 

There are larger questions here than can be considered in a single blog post, though the author touches on it. How long before pastors are compelled to officiate at same-sex ceremonies in violation of the clear commands of the Bible the pastor claims to believe? Can a doctor be forced to provide an abortion when he is morally opposed to abortion? Must Muslim restaurants sell pork and alcohol … and why would this exemption be any different than baking a wedding cake or making a floral arrangement for a same-sex couple? Lela

Must a Jew Bake a Nazi Cake? | Jeffrey A. Tucker   3 comments

At the first-ever nationally televised debate between candidates for the Libertarian Party, the subject turned to a fundamental issue: the freedom not to associate. The subject concerned anti-discrimination law, particularly as it affects religion.

Image result for image of a nazi cakeGary Johnson was asked whether he, as president, would retain laws that prohibit discrimination based on religion. He said he would, especially given the current political climate in this country. There’s so much anger out there, he said, that he would be concerned about Muslims being denied access to basic utilities, for example.

Opponent Austin Petersen immediately seized on this compromise of principle. People must have the freedom to associate or disassociate based on whatever criterion. If they do not, he said, a Jewish baker would be forced to bake a cake for Nazis. Johnson agreed that non-discrimination would imply exactly that.

It was the best moment of the debate, and it sparked a thousand Reddit and Facebook discussions.

Who is right?

One objection is that this hypothetical is wholly unlikely in any case. Why would a Nazi demand such a thing from a Jew? If the Jewish baker really refused a Nazi, could he actually expect to be prosecuted for doing so?

However unlikely this scenario would be in the United States today, it is not entirely ahistorical. In the early years of the rise of the Nazis, party members demanded boycotts of Jewish businesses. This was part of their propaganda to whip up the public into scapegoating Jews for all the sufferings of the German people. Over time, public antagonism intensified to more direct forms of attacks and exclusions, from lootings, pogroms, ghettoization, concentration camps, and finally gas chambers.

A Slippery Slope?

Supporters of anti-discrimination law cite this as a case in point. If you let people refuse service based on a religious criterion (or race, sex, disability, and so on) you create a slippery slope. What starts as a bigoted choice ends in more violent modes of exclusion. Yes, this can lead to weird results such as forbidding a black-owned hotel from barring a Klan member, and a Jewish baker forced to service to a Nazi based on religion. But this is a small price to pay, they say, for a more generalized atmosphere of tolerance.

Let’s consult the great economist Ludwig von Mises, a Jew himself, who was actually present in interwar Vienna and personally affected by the rise of anti-Semitism. It kept him from obtaining a position at the city’s great university, and it eventually drove him out of his beloved Austria. Eventually arriving in the United States, he wrote what might be considered the most anti-Nazi book ever: Omnipotent Government (1944). It opposed Nazi racism and anti-Semitism but also the entire Nazi economic policy that itself was rooted in a form of legal discrimination of some producers over others.

Choice and Coercion

Where did Mises stand on the issue of discrimination? He distinguished two kinds: that extending from choice and that imposed by law. He favored the former and opposed the latter. He went even further. He said that a policy that forces people against their will creates the very conditions that lead to legal discrimination. In his view, even speaking as someone victimized by invidious discrimination, it is better to retain freedom than build a bureaucracy that overrides human choice.

“In an unhampered market society there is no legal discrimination against anybody,” he wrote. “Everyone has the right to obtain the place within the social system in which he can successfully work and make a living. The consumer is free to discriminate, provided that he is ready to pay the cost.”

What might this principle imply?

A Czech or a Pole may prefer to buy at higher cost in a shop owned by a Slav instead of buying cheaper and better in a shop owned by a German. An anti-Semite may forego being cured of an ugly disease by the employment of the ‘Jewish’ drug Salvarsan and have recourse to a less efficacious remedy. In this arbitrary power consists what economists call consumer’s sovereignty.

These choices are up to the consumer, and, presumably, the producer too.

In a world in which people have grasped the meaning of a market society, and therefore advocate a consumer’s policy, there is no legal discrimination against Jews. Whoever dislikes the Jews may in such a world avoid patronizing Jewish shopkeepers, doctors, and lawyers.

And yet, if you have a social movement that is just dead-set against a certain group, and pushes a strategy of boycotts and exclusions, does it eventually end in harming people in devastating ways? So long as markets are working, Mises says the answer is no.

Many decades of intensive anti-Semitic propaganda did not succeed in preventing German “Aryans” from buying in shops owned by Jews, from consulting Jewish doctors and lawyers, and from reading books by Jewish authors. They did not patronize the Jews unawares—’Aryan’ competitors were careful to tell them again and again that these people were Jews. Whoever wanted to get rid of his Jewish competitors could not rely on an alleged hatred of Jews; he was under the necessity of asking for legal discrimination against them.

Mises is arguing, in other words, that voluntary discrimination tends not to create permanent disabilities for groups. It might be wrong. It might be ugly. It might be intended to create harm. But so long as the market is working, exclusion does not work over the long run. The benefits of the division of labor are too great, and the costs of pervasive discrimination are too high, to make it worth it.

As Mises wrote elsewhere:

The market does not directly prevent anybody from arbitrarily inflicting harm on his fellow citizens; it only puts a penalty upon such conduct. The shopkeeper is free to be rude to his customers provided he is ready to bear the consequences. The consumers are free to boycott a purveyor provided they are ready to pay the costs. What impels every man to the utmost exertion in the service of his fellow men and curbs innate tendencies toward arbitrariness and malice is, in the market, not compulsion and coercion on the part of gardeess, hangmen, and penal courts; it is self-interest.

Power Will Be Used

What’s more, argues Mises, society needs a market society that includes a full range of freedom to choose precisely to prevent political violence against groups. Nazi economic policy punished importers against domestic producers, large stores against shopkeepers, large-scale industry against startups, and so on. The machinery was already in place legally to punish Jewish businesses against non-Jewish businesses.

Sacrificing principle for the sake of marginalized groups is short-sighted. If you accept the infringement of human rights as an acceptable political weapon, that weapon will eventually be turned on the very people you want to help. As Dan Sanchez has written, “Authoritarian restriction is a game much better suited for the mighty than for the marginalized.”

Commerce has a tendency to break down barriers, not create them. In fact, this is why Jim Crow laws came into existence, to interrupt the integrationist tendencies of the marketplace. Here is the hidden history of a range of government interventions, from zoning to labor laws to even the welfare state itself. The ruling class has always resented and resisted the market’s tendency to break down entrenched status and gradually erode tribal bias.

Indeed, commerce is the greatest fighter against bigotry and hate that humankind has ever seen. And it is precisely for this reason that a movement rooted in hate must necessarily turn to politics to get its way.

The real danger is not human choice but a regime that overrides it. The market is rooted in choice, which also means the right to discriminate. But so long as the state stays out of it, the discriminatory intent can’t last.

The freedom to choose implies the freedom to decline any particular choice on any grounds.

What about the Johnson scenario of a public utility that denies service to a Muslim community? One can easily imagine a private power generation company using that as an opportunity for profit.

As for the Nazis, they will just have to find someone else to bake their cakes.

Source: Must a Jew Bake a Nazi Cake? | Jeffrey A. Tucker

Alaskan Fights for Liberty   Leave a comment

John Sturgeon encountered the typical federal government attitude that Alaska belongs to the federal government … not just the federal lands, but the state lands as well. Like so many of us, it made him angry. He decided to do something about it and now he’s before the Supreme Court. This coincides with our local newspaper finally returning to local ownership resulting in a change in editorial policy. I included the editorial in its entirety, but I also provided a link to an Atlantic article that manages to deal with the issue sanely … as apposed to the rest of the liberal press, like Outside magazine. If you want to understand why Americans have taken over a National Park Service building in Oregon, this is one example. If this case is decided wrongly, Alaskans will no longer be able to use the rivers of the state to get anywhere without federal permission. In a state where 80% of the communities are not connected to a road system, that could be devastating. Lela

 

http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/editorials/alaskans-rights-deserve-protection-u-s-supreme-court-should-side/article_bf9acb88-bf28-11e5-ab1e-637e6b7e3889.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/a-constitutional-right-to-hovercraft/410176/

http://www.outsideonline.com/2041426/who-controls-alaskas-waterways

News-Miner opinion: Today in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that will resonate thousands of miles beyond the nation’s capital. The case of John Sturgeon v. National Parks Service and Department of Interior, being argued this week, could have big impacts on state residents’ ability to traverse waterways within Alaska. While the incident in question isn’t particularly notable — a disagreement over use of a hovercraft on a river flowing through a national park — the precedent it sets will be. It will provide a legal answer to the question of who has authority over navigable waters within the parks: the state or the federal government?

It’s a question Mr. Sturgeon and many Alaskans thought was settled. The relevant passage in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act reads as follows:

“Only those lands within the boundaries of any conservation system unit which are public lands (as such term is defined in this Act) shall be deemed to be included as a portion of such unit. No lands which, before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, are conveyed to the State, to any Native Corporation, or to any private party shall be subject to the regulations applicable solely to public lands within such units.”

Mr. Sturgeon, through his attorneys, makes a straightforward case. Based on established law, submerged lands under navigable waterways (in Mr. Sturgeon’s case, the Nation River) belong to the state, so state law is in force for those transiting them. As ANILCA states, state and private lands within the boundaries of the federal areas created by the act are not to be governed by the federal rules applying to the land surrounding them. If federal law were to apply on the waterways, the ability of Alaskans to access much of the land within the state — a land mass greater in size than the state of California — could be greatly curtailed. This is of particular concern for Alaska Native corporations with holdings adjoining such lands. Federal rule changes limiting transportation on waterways could isolate parcels and greatly hinder development, subsistence hunting and fishing or other uses for their land, directly contravening the stated purposes both of ANILCA and ANCSA.

The phrase “federal overreach” has been lobbed by state leaders and Alaska’s congressional delegation so often and loudly it has lost its meaning in some cases. But in the Sturgeon case, there’s no other way to describe what’s happening. In the language of ANILCA, Congress’ intent was clear. The law sought to strike a balance between protecting federal lands that would be governed under national laws and regulations and protecting the rights of Alaskans to use, traverse and transit private holdings and those of the state. By attempting to expand the jurisdiction of federal agencies, the agencies Mr. Sturgeon has sued are significantly endangering Alaskans’ rights in that regard.

Those with an interest in the balance of federal and state power should hope Mr. Sturgeon prevails and the rights of Alaskans to travel on state waterways are protected.

Common Sense on Self-Defense.   Leave a comment

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