William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

If I Must Sell, You Must Buy

America is a communist country.

America is a communist country.

Note that this is from Jim Fedako.

If I were a business owner, must I sell to you? If you answer yes, you must balance that requirement with your obligation to buy from me.

All trade is bilateral. Well, to be more exact, and since we live in a country where a nebby1 uncle named Sam interferes in many trades, it is better to state that all free trade is bilateral.

In a modern economy, money facilitates exchange. So, typically, a good or service is exchanged for money, with both sides of the trade benefiting a priori. Of course, one side could end up regretting the trade, but such is life when passions are fleeting.

To better understand the ethics involved in trade, and to address the proposition that opened this article, let’s consider an actual market—a local farmers market—to represent the mental construct termed the free market.

On the sidewalk surrounding a small town square, various farmers set up inward-facing stalls to sell that which they reap. In some cases, stalls offer unique goods. But, for the most part, each stall has the same fresh fruits and vegetables, along with similarly sweet smelling baked goods. Milling about in the center of the square are customers, moving from stall to stall, looking for that which will satisfy their wants and desires.

Farmers size up customers and customers size up farmers. And they all size up each other, with farmers sizing up farmers and customers sizing up customers. Ears strain to hear the deals being done. And any bargain offered to one will likely be requested by those next in line or in the vicinity.

Behaviors, appearances, tones, etc., are assessed by everyone on both sides of the stalls. The farmer who is too gruff with a low bidder will likely find the line in front of his stall become shorter. And the disheveled farmer whose stall is disorganized and dirty will likely see few customers willing to pay a market price.

In addition, customers who come across as savvy and smart will likely realize a better bargain than those appearing new and naive.

According to the current view, once the farmer opens his stall, he is required to sell to whoever approaches and offers the market price. To even suggest this may be wrong is to invite the wrath and invectives from feigned intellectuals and their sycophants.

Regardless, let’s take a look.

Suppose a farmer from Pittsburgh despises folks from Cleveland—he is, in the vernacular of the day, a Cleveland hater. Yet, he must serve folks seemingly resplendent in their Browns attire, no exceptions. However, should the farmer billboard the Steelers logo on his chest, any Browns fan spiteful of his team’s losing record could opt for the next stall—he is not forced to buy from him who is forced to sell.

Seeing a little imbalance here?

In a bilateral exchange, even those where money sits on one side of the deal, there is no ethical difference between the two participants. To make a claim that the farmer must sell since, if he does not sell, the customer goes wanting for goods is no different from making the opposite claim: the customer must buy since, if he does not buy, the farmer goes wanting for cash, as well as all that cash provides (the ability to pay utility bills, the doctor, the dentist, etc.).

Since farmers at the market are few relative to customers, the envy of the majority holds sway. The man with the harvest, no matter how hard he hoed and hauled, is deemed a public good and subject to the vagaries of society. This is enforced by Uncle Sam, whose insistence in intervening collapses the construct of a free market into coerced trilateral exchanges2, with coercion in one direction only.

To support coercion with respect to the seller without demanding the same from the buyer is to advocate for a system that thieves the property and labor of one to benefit another. However, to support completely coerced exchanges is to advocate for total state slavery.

Since the balancing of coercion violates the ethics of self and property, as does coercion in one direction, the only valid solution is for the nebby uncle to mind its own business and allow Steelers fans and Browns fans to associate and trade, or not associate and not trade, as desired.

Jim Fedako (send him email) is a business analyst and homeschooling father of seven who lives in Lewis Center, OH.

—————————————————————

1For those from the Pittsburgh area, nebby requires no definition. For the remainder, you can determine the definition in context or head over to Pittsburgh for lunch at Primanti’s and ask the counter guy to provide it.

2Where the state is the third party in the exchange.

53 Comments

  1. I’d say the government has now corrected the imbalance by forcing people to buy “insurance”.

    Of course, our betters also forbid people to sell, too.

  2. Nebby noser! I’m headed home from dahntahn to warsh the clothes and run the sweeper.

  3. I think there are still questions.
    Would Mr. Fedako suggest that the operator of the market may also ethically decide who gets to enter, either as seller or buyer, on either individual or class basis? How about other transactions? Is a hospital ethically obliged to provide care to all? May an individual doctor turn away Steelers fans? Catholics? Does need (i.e. urgency of care) decide anything in this case?
    How about state-chartered corporations given limited liability? May the licensor (the state) ethically require the corporation to serve all comers in return for that protection?

  4. Nate West,

    When you’re picking up the room with the sweeper watch out for gumbans.

  5. This blog essay was an excruciatingly simpleminded “analysis” (if “analysis” as that term is commonly understood can even apply here).

    Laws governing trade are a tangled interrelated mess of interlocking factors, of which individual buyer & seller freedoms to choose, or not, is only one part.

    Issues such as anti-competitive practices such as collusion, price-fixing, bundling/tying arrangements (if you buy this product you can only buy those optional add-on features from approved vendors), dumping (I’ll sell below cost there to put those competitors out of business while benefitting from collusion here to overcharge a captive customer base having no options), etc.

    Considerations such as oligopoly/monopoly abuses are extreme examples — and if simple considerations such as proposed here were allowed unrestricted play that is what would result…as history shows. One needs to consider the lessons-learned from history.

    One basic principle of any society is that for it to function well, ALL members must be able to get along amicably. In a free society like that envisioned with the U.S. Constitution, sacrosanct & enumerated rights (e.g. free press, free speech, etc.) still have limitations. There are always inevitable trade-offs. To be credible, it is not any particular trade-off that necessarily matters in an analysis–at that level of focus most if not all will look bad–it’s the aggregate effect of all such trade-offs that matter.

    All that aside, the author gives away some of his curious perspective:

    “farmers at the market are few relative to customers, the envy of the majority holds sway. …the harvest…is deemed a public good and subject to the vagaries of society. This is enforced by Uncle Sam, whose insistence in intervening collapses the construct of a free market into coerced trilateral exchanges, with coercion in one direction only.”

    “should the farmer billboard the Steelers logo on his chest, any Browns fan spiteful of his team’s losing record could opt for the next stall—he is not forced to buy from HIM WHO IS FORCED TO SELL.”

    That is utter BS. Basic principles of supply & demand hold sway — and no farmer is “forced to sell” by the government; if there’s a problem with this then the author needs to point out where the government, as opposed to the market (the aggregate effects of the citizens) establishes artificial prices. There are to significant degree matters of choices & initiative on both sides of a transaction. If some buyers are repulsed by a seller’s wardrobe, or unpleasant presentation, and go elsewhere — it’s not incumbent on the state to mandate some shop & buy there anyway — but this is what is implied! The seller can choose to present his/her goods in an enticing manner, or not & ditto for the quality of the goods.

    RE: “To support coercion with respect to the seller without demanding the same from the buyer is to advocate for a system that thieves the property and labor of one to benefit another”

    INSANE. If a seller chooses to sell at a market rate, what difference does who the customer is make?

    What we have in this essay is extraordinarily highly selective cherry-picking & presentation of values with the plainly apparent desire to put the sellers in enough control they can dictate who gets, or is deprived, of goods. What a convenient way of suppressing, or driving out, those deemed undesirable (because with few farmers/sellers to the numerous customers that is precisely the advantage they assume when allowed to operate arbitrarily & capriciously)… That may be good from the perspective of a group sharing those values, but such discrimination has no place in a so-called “free society.”

    That aside, as a narrowly-focused philosophical essay it does a good job to the very limited extent it goes–but by ignoring lessons-learned from history it shows its irrelevance to real-world activities.

  6. I am by no means a free market fundamentalist, but this post gets the balance exactly right.

  7. Ken: How can you say no farmer is forced to sell by the government? Unless you’re saying if you don’t like the way the government dictates to whom you sell, stop selling altogether? Otherwise, the government most certainly does dictate to whom you sell and it says everyone on the liberal side shall be served and those on the other side–who cares?

  8. What we have in this essay is extraordinarily highly selective cherry-picking & presentation of values with the plainly apparent desire to put the sellers in enough control they can dictate who gets, or is deprived, of goods. What a convenient way of suppressing, or driving out, those deemed undesirable (because with few farmers/sellers to the numerous customers that is precisely the advantage they assume when allowed to operate arbitrarily & capriciously)

    Isn’t this a “simpleminded ‘analysis'”? Can’t you predict the reply of a free-market proponent? Wouldn’t those willing to sell to the undesirables receive a greater market share than your cabal of hypothetical bigots? If history tells us anything, its that powerful governments have committed genocide, but we have yet to see a pogrom perpetrated by competing free-market capitalists in anything but a strained analogical sense within a largely fictitious Marxist historical narrative.

    That may be good from the perspective of a group sharing those values, but such discrimination has no place in a so-called “free society

    That may be true, but the author doesn’t apply the principle monodirectionally. He insists the buyers have the same responsibilities, whatever they may be. If a desirable must sell to an undesirable without preferential treatment, then the undesirable must, by extension, buy from a desirable without preference for his fellow downtrodden. The directed racism of our modern era is absurd. It’s like fighting a fire with a flamethrower.

  9. Ken,

    This blog essay was an excruciatingly simpleminded “analysis” (if “analysis” as that term is commonly understood can even apply here).
    Laws governing trade are a tangled interrelated mess of interlocking factors, of which individual buyer & seller freedoms to choose, or not, is only one part.

    What entity created the mess? You obviously agree that the buyer (the one with the cash in the exchange) has a preexisting claim over the seller (the one with the product of service). And you desire government to enforce that claim. Hence the mess.

    Issues such as anti-competitive practices such as collusion, price-fixing, bundling/tying arrangements (if you buy this product you can only buy those optional add-on features from approved vendors), dumping (I’ll sell below cost there to put those competitors out of business while benefitting from collusion here to overcharge a captive customer base having no options), etc.

    Please. What is ethically wrong with the above? And, how would you ever be able to identify where an ethic was violated? In a free market, competition is allowed. By the way, and this applies to the below, read a little more than what the mainstream spoon feeds you.
    Considerations such as oligopoly/monopoly abuses are extreme examples — and if simple considerations such as proposed here were allowed unrestricted play that is what would result…as history shows. One needs to consider the lessons-learned from history. Which lessons? Not the oligopoly/ monopoly nonsense – they are both products of government intervention (look up the history of monopolies). Keep in mind those laws exist to benefit certain producers over others.
    One basic principle of any society is that for it to function well, ALL members must be able to get along amicably.
    ALL members? Amicably? Really? Did you actually make that excruciatingly simpleminded claim?
    In a free society like that envisioned with the U.S. Constitution, sacrosanct & enumerated rights (e.g. free press, free speech, etc.) still have limitations. There are always inevitable trade-offs. To be credible, it is not any particular trade-off that necessarily matters in an analysis–at that level of focus most if not all will look bad–it’s the aggregate effect of all such trade-offs that matter.
    Aggregate effects? And who is justified is establishing the standard? Some agency subject to regulatory capture I assume.
    All that aside, the author gives away some of his curious perspective:
    “farmers at the market are few relative to customers, the envy of the majority holds sway. …the harvest…is deemed a public good and subject to the vagaries of society. This is enforced by Uncle Sam, whose insistence in intervening collapses the construct of a free market into coerced trilateral exchanges, with coercion in one direction only.”
    “should the farmer billboard the Steelers logo on his chest, any Browns fan spiteful of his team’s losing record could opt for the next stall—he is not forced to buy from HIM WHO IS FORCED TO SELL.”
    That is utter BS. Basic principles of supply & demand hold sway — and no farmer is “forced to sell” by the government; if there’s a problem with this then the author needs to point out where the government, as opposed to the market (the aggregate effects of the citizens) establishes artificial prices.
    The example is an illusion to the current decisions that do force sellers to sell. I would expect that you (as the analytical reader) could catch that. I guess I was wrong.
    There are to significant degree matters of choices & initiative on both sides of a transaction. If some buyers are repulsed by a seller’s wardrobe, or unpleasant presentation, and go elsewhere — it’s not incumbent on the state to mandate some shop & buy there anyway — but this is what is implied! The seller can choose to present his/her goods in an enticing manner, or not & ditto for the quality of the goods.
    RE: “To support coercion with respect to the seller without demanding the same from the buyer is to advocate for a system that thieves the property and labor of one to benefit another”
    INSANE. If a seller chooses to sell at a market rate, what difference does who the customer is make?
    Have you not read recent news? Is it NOT the case that folks must serve those who enter? Is that your claim?
    What we have in this essay is extraordinarily highly selective cherry-picking & presentation of values with the plainly apparent desire to put the sellers in enough control they can dictate who gets, or is deprived, of goods. What a convenient way of suppressing, or driving out, those deemed undesirable (because with few farmers/sellers to the numerous customers that is precisely the advantage they assume when allowed to operate arbitrarily & capriciously)… That may be good from the perspective of a group sharing those values, but such discrimination has no place in a so-called “free society.”
    But you definition of free society assumes forced actions defined by the likes of you. Very Derrida-esque. Or even Trotsky-esque. Though he would have called me a philistine. BTW: Reread what you wrote above. You actually defended my whole argument.
    That aside, as a narrowly-focused philosophical essay it does a good job to the very limited extent it goes–but by ignoring lessons-learned from history it shows its irrelevance to real-world activities.
    History? Real events? Please. Here is a task for you: open a store and try to exclude someone willing to pay the market price. Let me know how it turns out.

  10. “When you’re picking up the room with the sweeper watch out for gumbans.”

    What is this “picking up” yinz guys speak of? We red up the room back in Pittsburgh. And don’t get me started on the correct pronunciation of North Versailles. (North Verr-Sails)

    As for comments related to the essay at hand… Those with the power of force always have (and always will) demand a say in what is bought and sold. What’s the old saying… when buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators?

  11. Sylvain Allard

    March 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Jim,

    A few weeks ago you complained that I had read enough about classical economist. My answer would be that you don’t seem to understand what you have read, and I would say mainly Adam Smith.

    Adam Smith is often misquoted as an opponent of government interference in the market. The reality is mixed. He was against government interference in all matter that concerned international trade. But in what concerns internal trade, Smith described that government intervention as essential into creating a free market. Free market without any government intervention is chaos or anarchy. And an economy based on chaos and anarchy doesn’t work well. The government has to make rules that create some balance between the seller and the buyer. The government also has to pacify the population. The government has to create rule to determine who owns something. The government has to create a system of courts where different can be resolve without any violence.

    One of the obligation of a seller (by seller I mean someone that own or uses a place of business that is used to exchange good for money. I don’t mean the personal owner who is selling is own house or own car), is to recognize the value of the money that someone presents to him.

    A seller that refuses to sell someone something is actually saying that this person money has no value in is eye. If seller start refusing legal money than all the free market theory falls apart.

    This is why there are laws that forces owner of a business to sell even to someone he doesn’t like.

    As I have mentioned in a previous thread, what will someone do with what he buy is of no regard to the seller. This is why gun maker cannot be sued when someone is killed by their product (as long as the product was not defective). The argument provide by Briggs that one cannot participate doesn’t hold. If his argument was holding than the survivor of any gun victim could pursue the maker of the gun as a participant in the murder.

    There are several exceptions to that and they appear when they imply direct action by the seller forcing him to witness or perform something against is belief. For example, a surgeon could not be forced to perform an abortion against is belief, except in the case of saving the life of the mother. Just like an individual could not be forced to photograph a gay wedding (which imply direct participation), except that the case provided by Sheri in another thread had refused in the name of the company which doesn’t have religious belief or freedom. These freedoms can only be held by human, not by legal entities.

    Is there an obligation to buy? No, unless there was a promise or a contract. The only obligation of the buyer is to provide legal money to the seller.

  12. “According to the current view, once the farmer opens his stall, he is required to sell to whoever approaches and offers the market price.”

    Whoever is teaching this BS needs to stop. It is an ancient principal of US custom & law that vendors do not have to take all comers, there are very few countries which ever tried this and all of them have wound up giving up on the concept because it just doesn’t work. In the US such a rule would run afoul of the first amendment right of association (and right not to associate) and the 5th amendment eminent domain clause, not to mention how it screws up the whole concept of ownership and enjoyment of property. In most countries (including the US) the law even makes serving all comers illegal, try getting server inside a restaurant in bare feet while not wearing a shirt.

    What the US and most countries have done in instead create a regime of protected classes, those for which you cannot refuse to serve based on their membership in one of those classes. For instance, you cannot legally refuse to sell cigarettes to a black 12 y.o. because they are black, however you legally must refuse to sell cigarettes to a black 12 y.o. because they are 12 years old. There are a variety of rationales used to establish which reasons allow a seller to refuse to sell, which reasons require a seller to refuse & which reasons a seller is prohibited from using to refuse to sell but there is no such thing as a general principal that a seller is “required to sell to whoever approaches and offers the market price.” The rule is that no willing seller is forced to or prohibited from selling to any willing buyer, this doesn’t apply if the transaction falls under one of the many exceptions.

  13. Beggars can’t be choosers

  14. I’m looking forward to the day when restaurants have to serve barefoot, shirtless homeless people with their dogs. Should up the business. (The health hazard is just a mean, cruel law that discriminates against those who are hygiene-impaired. /s)

  15. Sylvain,

    Is there an concise, cohesive, cogent argument in there?

  16. Sylvain Allard

    March 13, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Jim,

    If you can’t understand the simple statement I made, then that explains why for you there is only your point of you and everything else is communism.

  17. Sylvain Allard

    March 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Sheri,

    The businesses have to serve those costumer if they go trough the drive through.

    A blind can bring his dog anywhere including restaurant, and can’t be denied access.

  18. Sylvain,

    And what was that simple point?

    By the way, I never asked you to read Adam Smith. Marx is the only classical economist I ever asked you to read. Get it?

  19. Sylvain: I did not write “a blind, homeless guy with a guide dog going through the drive-up”.

  20. I thought the law was to discouage social discrimination. By allowing the seller to discriminate you encourage animosity among the buyers. Isnt the seller in the same position when he buys from distributors of products he needs to make his product. Buying and selling are not discret events but a node on a chain.

  21. Nullius in Verba

    March 13, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    “Whoever is teaching this BS needs to stop. It is an ancient principal of US custom & law that vendors do not have to take all comers”

    Yes, that’s the pure libertarian position, and that’s more or less how it used to be. But it was found that vendors universally chose to discriminate between white and black customers, and in an effort to counterbalance this discriminatory attitude, the US introduced laws (particularly Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) that did indeed insist that if you offered your wares to the general public (a ‘public accommodation’), that you had to offer it to *all* of the public. They can’t refuse to sell to you because you’re black, gay, christian or republican. Not anymore.

    You could look on it as part of the penalty for having so recently supported racism and slavery. This is a consequence. Opposing it puts you on the same side as ex-Klansman Robert Byrd, which ought to give anyone pause for thought.

    Yes, you could arguably drop the law now that the need for it has passed – although of course advocates for gay and other alternative rights would argue that it is still the same principle as black and women’s rights. If it was right or wrong for that, it still is.

    While I would tend to agree with the libertarian position on principle, there is a ‘historical context’ to it in America that one also has to take into account.

  22. Nullius: Your argument assumes people will continue to discriminate unless forced to stop. Forcing them to stop does not stop the discrimination–it merely further increases the animosity because one is being forced into a behaviour they don’t believe in. Currently, this is being used to discriminate against anyone the government does not want around–conservatives, people who question climate change, anyone who dares say there are two sexes, etc. It’s also used to continue the racial hatred and the hatred of religion. Sure, it looks good to the oppressors, but what happens if the other side takes over and forces everyone to carry guns, has arranged marriages and separate facilities for male and female? I seriously doubt people would call that “socially enlightened”, but the fact is it’s exactly the same thing the left is doing now. In an ironic twist, the only way this usually ends is when the left finds out that they are not immune to the behaviour–such as Congress being spied on, forcing the left to support child marriage, marriage to animals, gun confiscation followed by military police arrival, etc. It’s always so cool when you’re the oppressor forcing people to do things your way. Not so cool when you’re forced to behave their way.

  23. Nullus,

    the ‘take all comers’ rule has not replaced the ‘allowed to discriminate’ rule. The current rule is “allowed to choose whether or not to sell or buy with exceptions”, one of those exceptions being that one is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. To create an exception to that overrides the fundamental right of an owner to control their property there must be a reason to create that exception, for instance the effects of racial discrimination can interfere with the free flow of commerce if some people cannot find a hotel to stay in or a restaurant to eat in and are thus hindered in short-stay traveling it has an effect on the flow of commerce because those people are unable to travel to sell or buy goods away from their home.

  24. Jim.

    “And what was that simple point?”

    Since I have to spell it for you. An obligation of selling doesn’t have to be followed by an obligation to buy.

    The benefice the seller get in selling is money. The benefice the buyers get in buying is in the good or service he get with the money he gave to the buyer.

    If the buyer refuses to sell then no one benefit, not the seller, not the buyer.

    Of course, there are some valid reason to refuse to sell. But discrimination is not one of them.

  25. Sylvain,

    “If the buyer refuses to sell then no one benefit, not the seller, not the buyer.

    Of course, there are some valid reason to refuse to sell. But discrimination is not one of them.”

    It does not matter whether the reason is valid, it only matters that it is the preference of at least one of the parties in the POTENTIAL transaction. Since the buyer typically has numerous sources available for the transaction it is very difficult to show any real damage from the poor choice of a particular seller in being biased and refusing the transaction.

    As this post points out, who is protecting the seller from the biased choices of the customer from rejecting the transaction?? We are ALL supposed to have the same protections. Unfortunately we do NOT and the MORONS keep making this ever more extreme in their claims of correcting past imbalances.

    The real balance is that the seller, refusing the transaction due to bias, loses business. Other sellers gain that business and in the end will probably out compete the biased seller. Even if this did not happen we USED TO HAVE states that handled their own affairs and we could pack up and go where they wanted our business.

  26. How far would you go? Was it right for Northern Irish Protestant businesses to refuse to employ Catholics on the grounds that Catholics were free to withhold labour from the aforesaid businesses?

    Were the British wrong to introduce the Fair Employment Commission to try and tackle discrimination? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segregation_in_Northern_Ireland

  27. Buying and selling are two sides of the same coin. If I buy food from you, I’m selling my money to you. If I sell food to you, I’m buying your money with my food. The reason why transactions happen in the first place is that each participant has a surplus of something and a deficit of something else, and they are trying to bridge that gap, according to their subjective preferences (scale of values). If I buy food, it is because I don’t have enough food. If you sell food, it is because you have food in excess.

    First principles, which should help in this discussion.

  28. Nullius in Verba

    March 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    “Nullius: Your argument assumes people will continue to discriminate unless forced to stop.”

    If 1950s-60s Americans had all granted equal rights to blacks and women without having to be forced to, you wouldn’t have this law and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. People *did* continue to discriminate until they were stopped.

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying this is the consequence of that particular bit of history. It *is* the law in America. It *is* an illiberal law, but people at the time preferred the illiberality to the racism – it was seen as the lesser evil. You can argue about whether it still is.

    “Currently, this is being used to discriminate against anyone the government does not want around–conservatives, people who question climate change, anyone who dares say there are two sexes, etc.”

    Yes, I agree. I’m personally a libertarian rather than a conservative, so my viewpoint is a bit different to either side. I’m tolerant of gays and other alternative ways of living, but I’m also tolerant of people who don’t like them, and want to say so. The ‘equal rights’ revolution, like so many revolutions, hasn’t ended inequality, but has just switched round who is on top and who is getting persecuted. However, I think it is quite difficult to argue against the intolerance inherent in political correctness while maintaining your right to be intolerant of, for example, gays. You can either advocate for a society in which *everyone* minds their own business and lets other people live as they like in peace to the maximum extent possible, i.e. libertarian, or you accept that in a society that enforces its standards on the people in it, that a lot of the time that will inevitably mean other people enforcing *their* standards on *you*. But most people prefer the sort of society where their own preferences are enforced on everyone else, and that’s not possible to do to everyone’s satisfaction when everyone has different preferences.

    So my view is that the cake seller was being needlessly obnoxious in refusing to sell a gay wedding cake – it does nobody any harm – but that prosecution/lawsuits are a grossly over-the-top reaction to mere rudeness. Both sides ought to just *grow up*. But I don’t suppose that will endear me to either side.

    I agree that it’s a dangerous precedent to set to prosecute people for expressing their opinions, and trading or not trading with who they choose. But I regard it as an inevitable consequence of the non-libertarian society. And given how generally unpopular the more purist libertarian principles and sentiments are in mainstream politics currently, I think that there’s a lot of truth in the saying that ‘people get the government they deserve’.

  29. Nellius: Your example is invalid. You cannot know that the discrimination would have continued indefinitely since it was forcibly stopped. Yes, they “did” discriminate, but that does not mean they would forever.
    (I would argue about whether the cure was worse than the disease in the case of racism. You know I would. 🙂 )

    Other than your example, I agree with you virtually completely. I do think both sides should just “grow up” and that we certainly are getting the government we deserve. All the litigation and “king of the mountain” bullying does no one good on any side.

  30. I’m confused. I thought the ended . But then I hear about people still all the time. Does this mean that passing laws doesn’t make people better?? Perhaps if we got to people when they are younger, and made them believe the correct things. We tried that… and some of them are still doing ! Maybe if we just put the in charge, who could tell everyone what to do and when to do it, we would all be happy and performing . But we tried that too, and people are still doing ! Maybe if we require that the come in for …

  31. Oh no! My comment had left and right brackets in it, and they all were wiped away by the blog software. Never mind then…

  32. Nullius in Verba

    March 14, 2014 at 10:10 am

    “You cannot know that the discrimination would have continued indefinitely since it was forcibly stopped.”

    Sure. But my example was pointing to the time *before* the ban, rather than the time after. Had they stopped five years previously…

    But it’s not worth fighting over. And I appreciate the agreement on the other points. 🙂

  33. Nullius in Verba

    March 14, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Nate,

    If you use the Firefox browser, there’s an add-in called ‘Lazarus’ that saves and can recover blog comments in case of incidents like this. I’ve found it very handy over the years.

  34. Sylvain Allard

    March 14, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    KuhnKat,

    A person might believe that the earth is flat or was created by god 6000 years ago, but it will not change the facts that the earth is a sphere and that it is billions of years old.

    A free market implies two things. 1) that the seller can actually sell what he want to sell. 2) that the costumer can acquire for his moneys worth. When someone refuse to sell something to a costumer, he is actually saying that this person money has no value.

    In refusing to sell to one person the seller can easily sell to someone else and still benefit from the good he had to sell. But the person who was refused services has actual damage since his money is not worth as much as the money of others. Even more when a good or service is only available by this seller.

    This is why gay sue people who refuse to provide them services, and this is why they win. It took the horror of WW2 for the world to realize the cost of discrimination. And it took the US 20 more years before acting in its own border.

  35. “Free market without any government intervention is chaos or anarchy.” Isn’t that a case of reductio ad absurdum? What about the chaos created by government meddling? They can’t predict the outcome of their policies. I’ll take the chaos associated with too much freedom, thank you.

    Anyway, the point behind forcing a seller to sell is about someone’s view of social justice and has nothing to do with how economies work. The government doesn’t even believe their own story here. Would the U.S government sell arms to Iran simply because Iran wanted to buy them? No. The government takes the moral high ground with embargoes all over the world to show the U.S government DOES NOT SUPPORT some action or form of government or dictator. Why aren’t sellers in the U.S allowed to embargo activities they don’t support? Textbook hypocrisy maybe?

  36. Paul W,

    “I’ll take the chaos associated with too much freedom, thank you.”

    There is place in the world where you can see the result of to much freedom. This place is Somalia. A country without any government, any law, any regulation. How do you think you would fare in such environment? Would it be better than in the US? To have any freedom you need a strong government that can pacify the country, and protect the weak against the strong, or any minority (individual) against the majority (community or group).

    Do you think that anyone who wanted it could start selling oil or produce steel in the late 19th century in the US. No. Because there were trust and that trust in absence of law could prevent any competition from taking any foothold.

    Even today competition can be harsh, there have been 5 pizzerias set in fire in a small town near where I live. Where is the free market in that? How does the victims get reparation? Once the culprit was arrested they were able to sue him to get some reparation.

    This the main argument of Adam Smith that there cannot be free market without the presence of a strong government and protective laws.

    The point behind forcing a seller to sell also comes from Adam Smith. For him for an economy to work the value of money must be respected (i.e. if someone wants to buy something in a place of business, the seller has to accept the trade (of course some laws may prevent the sell like selling alcohol to a minor, or 1 ton of fertilizer to a single costumer)).

    “Would the U.S government sell arms to Iran simply because Iran wanted to buy them? No”

    Really!!! Wasn’t that what Reagan did in the 80s, not considering the assault on the embassy!!! And the overthrow of Mosadegh in 1956 (a democratically elected president that committed the crime of nationalizing the oil field so the profit would go to the Iranian people instead of UK oil company.

    “Why aren’t sellers in the U.S allowed to embargo activities they don’t support?”

    Because this is discrimination.

  37. “Why aren’t sellers in the U.S allowed to embargo activities they don’t support?”

    Because this is discrimination.

    … and so is that.

  38. Sylvain,

    You are a collectivist, socialist, communist without an ounce of ethics. It’s all about you and the state against the (in the example above) the petite bourgeois.

  39. John,

    The issue is not the law — no one can claim the law is correct (ethical, etc.).

    The issue is how do you justify your assertion that the holder of cash has a preexisting claim over the seller of goods and services?

    Portraying the seller as evil continues to bring that ugly specter into (what should be) voluntary human actions. A cursory review of the 20th century provides a host of examples.

  40. Silvain –

    Sorry, I will choose economic freedom. Total freedom(absence of any government) is something different. You most definitely need the rule of law to protect property rights, etc. Freedom of trade requires the rule of law (tort in the case of fraud, etc and mediation when two parties cannot agree) but it does not require chronic regulation of parties who decide to trade with each other. It looks to me like you’re mixing two different concepts. Rule of law and economic freedom.

    So, the same government you complain sold arms to Iran under the Reagan administration you want regulating the trade between “free” people? Again and again, as was my point, the government doesn’t even buy what it tries to sell to the governed.

    Choosing not to sell to someone(embargo trade with them) is a no more higher degree of discrimination than choosing to buy from one person instead of the other based on the cleanliness of their clothes – the type of discrimination we engage in every day . What’s wrong with discrimination? Here’s the hypocrisy. If someone doesn’t sell something to a homosexual it’s unforgivable discrimination and the store will get picketed. If someone doesn’t sell wearing a pro-KKK shirt, they’ll get an award. Both cases are discrimination. The only option for me is to err on the side of allowing the most freedom – and that is to allow sellers to sell to whomever they please because no one will be able to define good vs. bad discrimination.

    BTW – thanks for responding to my response.

  41. “I think that there’s a lot of truth in the saying that ‘people get the government they deserve’.”

    I’d like to point that this statement implies that each of Sheri and Nullius personally deserve the government they each currently have got. No matter what course of action they take, they will continue to deserve the government they will have. Even if Obama morphs into a full blown Hitler who decides to bomb Sheri, the dying Sheri will still deserve the government Sheri has received.

    This makes no sense to me – at this point, the word “deserve” is just meaningless. There is no basis for applying logical reasoning to discuss the role and nature of government in a context where the Govt exists solely by virtue of “might makes right”.

    Not sure if that makes sense to either of you, but I need to go catch up with the more recent blog posts on this site now …

  42. anona: I did not mean “people” as individuals. I meant as a whole. “Deserve” was meant to say that when people stand by and do nothing as the government deteriorates and the society turns into one of takers, one should not be surprised when things go downhill. If Sheri did not vote for Obama and campaigned against him, then she may not deserve being “droned”, but did she do anything like constantly telling people that we were headed in a wrong direction? If so, she may not “deserve” being droned individually. Perhaps it makes more sense to say we get the government we work for and if we fail to work and maintain the government, bad things happen. There is a responsibility to maintain government. If you don’t like the word “deserves”, then let’s just say that no one should be surprised if Obama turns into Hitler and bad things happen, they should not be surprised if the economy collapses and if health care goes down the drain.

  43. Sylvain Allard

    March 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    “Rule of law and economic freedom.”

    Economic Freedom like total freedom is a mirage, a myth, an utopia. It never existed in any society and will never exist anywhere.

    Before the 1960s, segregation was permitted in the US (south). Segregation which really was the denying to blacks of any human dignity was at least as ridiculous a condition as slavery.

    Segregation meant that the 1$ for a black (a minority) didn’t have the same value than 1$ for a white (the majority). So yes, in cases like these the government has to establish rules that would give every individual in the society equal access to goods as long as they can afford it. WW2 has shown the horror of discrimination and it is something that should not be tolerated.

    Try to provide a single example where the individual freedom of a seller (BTW the seller is a company, not a person) is affected? (The right to discriminate is not a right (it does not exist).

    “So, the same government you complain sold arms…”

    Adam Smith believed that their shouldn’t be any law disturbing trade between nation. While the same government should make sure to provide an equilibrium within the market. This is why there are now anti-trust laws.

    In an ideal world there would be peace on earth, sadly it is not the case. Do you suggest that US company should be able to make business with Iran or North Korea? The people in a country are very different than international relation.

    Everything is wrong with discrimination. The sexual orientation, its political affiliation, its race, its religion should not affect the ability of someone to have access to goods or services. Unless you want to tell me that a moral non-human entity like a company should have more right than human being.

  44. Sylvain Allard

    March 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Jim,

    Again you see the world in black and white while there is a large gray area in between them.

    Do you like american football?

    Do you here many people complaining that they are socialist? Because they really. They share revenue between owners and between owners and players. There is even a minimum salary. The NFL is a very successful business why its model shouldn’t be applied throughout society.

  45. Actually, World War 2 clearly showed what happens when a maniac decides to impose his will on the world by picking one group of individuals and making them the enemy–kind of like the lack of tolerance for people who don’t believe homosexuals are “genetically” determined, who think sex is genetically determined, people who don’t understand why two 12-year-olds can have sex and perpetrator is not jailed “because children cannot give consent”, people who think socialism is morally bankrupt and amounts to legalized theft, etc are being treated. Discrimination is going to be there and how much you “tolerate” it depends on which side you’re on.
    Black segregate themselves still and shove race down everyone’s throat in a very, very angry evil and vindictive fashion. They use it as a bully pulpit. If Obama was white, he’s have face impeachment by now. So tell me how making people into untouchable bullies is such a utopia.
    Discrimination will exist no matter what the government does and the only reason the government gets involved is to get more power over a group. The current “heroes” of the blacks were actually horribly racist in the early 1900’s and did everything they could to prevent blacks from succeeding. Affirmative action was just reverse discrimination, excluding whites in the name of “equality”. The government needs to keep it’s nose and long reach out of this. It’s nothing but bullying and control.
    Discrimination ends only when people stop seeing color or whatever. That has to happen on it’s own. Laws don’t change anything. They just force people who hate each other to play nice in prescribed situation. People still discriminate all the time, law or not.

  46. “Economic Freedom like total freedom is a mirage, a myth, an utopia. It never existed in any society and will never exist anywhere.”

    I certainly agree we need limited government. My point is we should remain as free as possible. I’m glad to read you think utopia is unachievable. Couldn’t agree more. Now maybe we can quit trying passing these laws to try to stop discrimination and promote equality. Reaching total equality and a world with no discrimination is a mirage, a myth an utopia that never has existed and never will. We waste time and resources trying to get there.

    “Do you suggest that US company should be able to make business with Iran or North Korea?”
    Sure. And I’m saying a company shouldn’t have to do business with Iran or North Korea if they don’t want to.

    Everything is not wrong with discrimination. I suspect you and I both have engaged in discrimination at least a half dozen times since this blog entry was written. We discriminate in favor of our families, loved ones, preferences in a wide range of products and probably against those we think have different ideologies that us. I doubt either of us will lose much sleep over these great wrongs we’ve committed.

    I was reading some stuff about the beginning of the Bank of America. Used to be called Bank of Italy and they primarily served immigrants from Italy in particular because they were an ethnic group that felt it was important to pay their loans back. Kind of an interesting story. I don’t think it was bad discrimination in that case, Italian immigrants had an advantage over other ethnic groups. That seems like good business and a reward to a group that took debt more serious than other groups. Certainly gay bars focused on catering to one group of people and I don’t think anyone feels that discrimination is bad.

    There are differences between peoples of various groups whether we want to admit it or not. Why is it always bad to acknowledge that? I’m from flyover country where the enlightened from both coasts think we’re a bunch of bumpkins. Where’s my flyover country equality laws? Bumpkins are people too.

  47. Primanti Bros. is outstanding. All of yuns should check it out.

  48. Sylvain: Because football is VOLUNTARY. So are Isreali kibbutz (which I always found fascinating). You can go start your own little commune, share everything and I’m a-okay with that. It becomes a problem when you force participation, as in stealing the working people’s money for taxes to give to people who don’t work. See, in football, if you fail to perform, you get kicked out of the commune (or off the island, however you want to see it). In voluntary socialism, people work or the socialism fails miserably. It never works to take from those who produce and give to those who do not.

  49. “Primanti Bros. is outstanding. All of yuns should check it out.”

    I recommend splitting a sandwich with someone. Very filling indeed.

  50. I don’t think many are still readying comments on this post, but:

    I think much of the conversation about making the seller sell to any buyer smacks of elitism. Yeah, make farmer sell his roots all comers. Make the baker sell his cake, too.

    Where are the people insisting that advertising agencies take job from the John Birch Society? That lawyers take cases from anyone with the money?

    Architects? Directors? Statisticians?

  51. Sylvain Allard

    March 16, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Hitler rose to power by picking on a minority of society (Jews, handicapped and gay). In a period of economic turmoil, blaming a minority of people can be very popular and populist. In claiming that minorities were inferior he justified discrimination against them. What he was saying was very popular among the majority white German population.

    If is message had not been so popular among the white male population he would never have gained the support to become the leader of the government.

    Yes there are two kind of discrimination (positive and negative). Negative affect directly the individual by preventing them access to something that is accessible to anyone else making this individual a second class citizen.

    In economic it is the difference between the right of a moral person (which only exist through laws (any company or place of business)) and a human being.

    For example, Joe’s bakery may be own by Joe Anyname but they are not the same person. Joe Anyname is a human being. Joe’s Bakery is a moral person, a legal creation. It has no body, no soul, no spirit.

    In an ideal world there would be no need for laws against negative discrimination. Sadly laws like the Bill of Right, Civil right acts, the 19th amendment, are required because those who control power don’t want to give it easily.

  52. Well, if you seriously see a business as a “moral person”, that says volumes about your complete lack of humanity. And by your analogy, Hitler’s ovens, if incorporated as a business would have been a “moral person” as defined by law. I’m finished with this discussion–there’s no answer to such insanity. If you don’t understand that using “moral” as being defined by law–and really, you just argued that businesses that did discriminate were MORAL at the time because by law, they were allowed to discriminate LEGALLY–results in complete contradictions, there’s no ability to discuss here. You are arguing segregation is moral and not moral based on the laws of day. So all we need to do to change morals is write new laws. Yeah…this would be why native alaskans are dying in a village because an insane woman says they can’t build a road and she has the legal authority to say so. So, according to you, we can morally kill people by denying them services legally to save ducks. The laws of the business (government) created that “moral person” and that “moral person” says people are okay to kill, ducks are not. I am incredulous–I had no idea so many contradictory ideas could exist in one person. (Of course Hitler picked a minority. Only an idiot woudl try to garner support for a world takeover using the majority as the target.)

  53. Sylvain Allard

    March 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    A moral person is the legal term for companies. It has nothing to do with the morality or lack of, of their actions. Moral person only implies that a company can own things, sue someone, or be sued by someone. With the citizen united case the court recently gave it the freedom of speech in politic.

    No matter of the laws. negative discrimination is wrong because it stigmatize a small number of the population. Look at what happens in Russia where gay get beaten and when the police arrives they are the one arrested. The law is a free pass on russian to attack a minority.

    Are you in favor of the XL pipeline? Are you okay with the idea that they should have the right to expatriate people as they wish. This is the right that the Nebraska congress gave to the company. They have the same right in Texas where a family was offered $7k for their land (maybe not all of it but still) so the pipeline can pass and they now cannot be assured or buy insurance that the water supply will not be contaminated. After they refused the $7k offer their land was seized buy the court and the pipeline has now been built.

    http://www.texasobserver.org/pipeline-companies-seize-land-in-texas-at-will/

    This is the kind of government that the Tea Party put in power. This is what the Koch brothers want.

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