I am surprised by your stance given your usual firm faith in the market to eventually correct most situations. I share your faith in that market to a certain extent. I certainly think the market is far better at ironing out problems than state commissars given the right to micro manage interaction between private citizens, or interfering in how a private citizen can run a business.
Well, let’s drill down on that a bit.
Every free marketer knows that one of the big gaping holes in the notion that free markets are self-corrective is the monopoly. When monopolies are permitted, self-correction ceases to function.
This is essentially what occured in the US Deep South. There may have been a dozen diners in town, but if all of them agreed to act together and not serve African Americans, then social harm occurred. They were acting as if they were a monopoly. When you consider that schools were doing the same, even more social harm.
Milton Friedman lists two other areas where the government must act in a regulatory fashion, because free market principles will either fail to operate, or take so long to operate that social or economic harm occurs.
The first is not relevant to this case, but he mentions that the government needs to act as a “Bureau of Standards” in situations where a lack of standards creates economic chaos. The example he gives is that of railroad gauges; it seems when track was being laid like crazy all of the the US in the mid-1800’s, there were a multitude of gauges used and thus a multitude of different railroad engines and cars for those gauges. It would have take decades for the market to determine the winners and losers here, impeding economic progress; so the government stepped in and picked the current gauge as the national standards, and all fell into line behind that standard.
The second, which IS germane, is acknowledging that there are certain social ills that corporations can create for which there are no self-correcting market signals. The example given is environmental pollution and the Love Canal. It;s simply cheaper to NOT clean up after yourself, when it comes to manufacturing by products, and if the private citizens are not the customers for those products (iow, they are sold business-to-business) there will never be a pricing signal to tell the company they need to be better stewards.
In the case of race-based discrimination, there is indeed social ill being caused (no shortage in history of social unrest caused by economic inequity) and sans any sort of market signal to fix the matter, OR when observation shows that the market signalling is very slow………there’s room for a free marketer such as I to invite the government in to fix the matter.
I can think of one good example from your own history of the market being used to defeat discrimination. Back when black people were forced to sit on the back of the bus and they finally decided to boycott the bus companies. The result of that was that the bus companies began to lose a lot of money and they soon began to relent.
But it is against the law to discriminate against people because of their beliefs. What do you say to them?
I feed them, and stand on the Constitution if my customers object.