By Mike Tront – Support Mike on Patreon
If you haven’t seen the movie “Inglourious Basterds,” it’s by far Quentin Tarantino‘s best work. It follows a group of Jewish allied fighters during WWII behind German lines, constantly ambushing and killing as many Nazis as possible. In one powerful scene, after another successful ambush on an enemy unit, a few enemies are left alive and given the option of giving intel on the whereabouts of another unit, or dying. After one soldier proudly refuses the offer, he gruesomely dies for his country. The last soldier promptly gives the Basterds the information they want.
But the powerful part of the scene happened when Brad Pitt’s character asks the now free soldier what he’s going to do with his uniform after the war. “Burn it!” he proclaims. Pitt doesn’t like that answer. He explains once the uniform is gone, no one will know he is a Nazi, and he likes his Nazis out in the open right where he can see them. He then uses his knife to carve a large Swastika in his forehead. For the rest of his life everyone will know he is a Nazi.
So how does this relate to today? Well, this is exactly how I view bigoted people and businesses. I like them right out in the open for the world to see. Individually, it’s pretty easy. Once you start talking to someone, a bigoted person will tend to show their true nature. You can then decide for yourself if this is the kind of person you’d like to associate with or not.
With businesses it becomes harder. Why? Because it’s against the law for a business to be bigoted against a certain race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. On the surface, as libertarians, this isn’t all bad. We believe everyone has the same rights and justice is blind. It was a terrible time in the U.S. when segregation was the law of the land.
But the fact is, segregation only existed because it was the LAW. In a free society, segregated businesses just can’t compete. Why do you think it had to become a law in the first place? Because without government forcing segregation, it is very hard to stay in business if you want to be segregated or bigoted.
The cost of being a bigoted business in a free market would be so great, in fact, that it would be virtually impossible to stay open.
Obviously losing customers is a huge cost. Not just from the people they are intentionally refusing to serve, but also from people who will refuse to support a bigoted business. But that’s just the beginning of the losses, as it definitely wouldn’t be free to enforce their bigotry!
Bigoted business would have to hire more security. Just having a sign that says “No Jews” isn’t enough. They’d need someone at the door enforcing that sign. When it’s the government law, the owner just has to call the police and let the taxpayers pay for the enforcement. Not so in a free market. You’re responsible for your own security.
Now you have to find a security company that’s willing to enforce whatever ban you’re instituting. How many security companies are willing to take the risk of guarding and enforcing a bigoted business? They’d charge you more than the average company I’m sure. Not just because of the added risk of confrontation, but also such a security company likely wouldn’t get much other business once they’re known for supporting bigots. Not to mention this company couldn’t hire anyone from the group this business is trying to keep away!
How about insurance? How many insurance companies want to be in bed with bigoted companies? Even if you found one, the cost would be huge since so few companies would be willing to compete in the field of insuring bigots! Being an openly bigoted business, they are risking possible vandalism and property damage from angry people and protesters. This would all also add to the cost of insurance.
Libertarians tend to focus on property rights when it comes to discrimination. Because of this they often have to concede the fact that in a free market, some forms of business discrimination could take place. This is one of the prices of freedom, we correctly say. Predictably, this tends to drive away many potential friends and allies who happen to belong to groups that have a history of being discriminated against by government agencies. Ironically, however, many who belong to these groups often clamor for MORE government. Plus all this gives fodder for pundits, mostly liberal, to claim that libertarians are racist, sexist, etc, etc.
However, this is not true. We know that a free market keeps these bigots out of business. Right now, we have a system that forces bigoted business owners to serve the people they hate, thus making these bigots wealthy and keeping them in business!
My question is: if we really want to eliminate the influence of bigoted people in society, why is the government keeping them in business?
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