Back to Goldwaterism

Rand Paul thinks that forbidding private racial discrimination is contrary to free-market principles.

Rand Paul comes out against the public accommodations provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

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.

Of course, that logic would apply equally well to private employment discrimination, or private discrimination in rental housing.

Actually, I believe Paul when he says he’s not a racist. (His father, and some of his voters, not so much.) But Paul is a completely consistent libertarian: consistent to, and past, the point of lunacy. Let’s hear all the Republican politicians who are so happy to align themselves with the Tea Party explain whether they agree with Rand Paul about allowing private discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and disability. It’s not an incomprehensible position, but it is – or ought to be – well outside the mainstream of public discourse.

Footnote Paul also thinks that Sarah Palin is “absolutely” qualified to be President. Sorry, but I think he’s absolutely out of his mind. And so do most voters.

The civil rights stuff is at the end of the tape.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

52 thoughts on “Back to Goldwaterism”

  1. No, government is merely the foundation of all rights claims you get to enforce against people you can't personally beat up.

  2. "Jim Crow was maintained by massive violations of libertarian principles." I totally agree with this, and this is why Rand Paul's answer is so wrong, even on principle: it's not as if proponents of Jim Crow were libertarian in their adoption and implementation — relying on libertarian principles when the CRA was passed as a basis for opposing it was, for most people, completely pretextual, because Jim Crow wasn't just the sum of thousands and millions of freely wrought choices. What they really wanted was to dictate everyone's choices. I mean, just for one example (though it's a public one): my locally elected school board decided to desegregate after the Brown decision, so the state abolished locally elected school boards and appointed one that would maintain segregation instead. Many businesses went along with Jim Crow because they were too afraid not to. What sane business man spends twice as much as he needs to on plumbing and waiting rooms, or turns away perfectly nice paying customers? (That was the economics uber alles argument and you see how well that worked in practice.) These people might have been cowards but they certainly weren't exercising libertarian freedoms. I think even a moderately libertarian society can only exist when most people really are willing to live and let live with other people's choices. Where a large majority of people not only exercise their own choice but, in effect, are prepared to punish others for exercising a contrary choice, you just have tyranny of the majority by some other means, and when you add active state participation and enforcement, you basically have Jim Crow.

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