About Me

Name:
Mike LaFerrara

Location:
New Jersey

Greetings and welcome to my blog. My name is Michael A. (Mike) LaFerrara. I sometimes use the pen or "screen" name "Mike Zemack" or "Zemack" in online activism such as posted comments on articles. Zemack stands for the first letters of the names of my six grandchildren. I was born in 1949 in New Jersey, U.S.A., where I still reside with my wife of 42 years. I have two daughters and two sons-in-law. The goal and purpose of my blog is the discussion of current or historical human events based from an Objectivist perspective. For a full discription of the purpose of this blog, see my Introduction. One final introductory note: I strongly recommend Philosophy, Who Needs it, which highlights the inescapable importance of philosophy in every individual's life. I can be reached at mal.atlas@comcast.net. Thanks, Mike LaFerrara.

My Complete Profile


    Of Special Interest
FIRM Healthcare Publications
ARC On Healthcare
Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis
ARC's Response to the Financial Crisis
The Financial Crisis: Causes and Possible Cures

    Influential Books
-ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
-AYN RAND'S NORMATIVE ETHICS...The Virtuous Egoist Tara Smith
-FREE MARKET REVOLUTION: How Ayn Rand's Ideas can End Big Government Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
LIBERAL FASCISM...The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg
-MARIA MONTESSORI: HER LIFE AND WORK-E.M. Standing
- MORAL MINORITY Brooke Allen
-REAGAN'S WAR Peter Schweizer
-SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: The All-Consuming Desire that turns the American Dream into a Nightmare Brian Tracy
-STATE OF FEAR Michael Crichton
-THE CAPITALIST MANIFESTO Andrew Bernstein
-THE FINANCIAL CRISIS AND THE FREE MARKET CURE John A. Allison
-THE FOUNTAINHEAD Ayn Rand
-THE OMINOUS PARALLELS...The Chaos of Pre-Hitler Germany...and The End of Freedom in America Leonard Peikoff
EXPLAINING POSTMODERNISM...Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault

    Recommended Reading
-Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh

-Health Care is not a Right by Leonard Peikoff

FAQ on Free Market Health Insurance

Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America

Principles of a Free Society

The Comprachicos

Why Individual Rights?

    Meaningful Quotes
-"I love getting older...I get to grow up and learn things." Madalyn, then 5 years old, Montessori student, and my grand-daughter

-"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." Francis Bacon

-"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Ronald Reagan

-"Thinking is hard work. If it weren't, more people would do it." Henry Ford

-"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries." Ayn Rand

Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Friday, April 18, 2014
"Equality of Opportunity": What it Really Means
“Equality of Opportunity” is on the lips of “liberals” and conservatives alike. What does the term mean?


To the Founding Fathers, “equality” meant before the law; meaning, the government protects every individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness equally and at all times. “Opportunity” meant political freedom; nothing else.


But today, “equality of opportunity” carries a completely different meaning. For example, let’s turn to a Gawker article written last year by Jim Cook, There’s a Simple Solution to the Public Schools Crisis: Let’s Ban Private Schools. Few people openly support legally banning private schools—yet—but Cook’s “solution” is instructive for what it says about “equality of opportunity.”


Public—i.e., government—schools, Cook notes, are beset with “stagnant or declining graduation rates, substandard educations, dilapidated schools, angry teachers, underserved students.”


These problems could be fixed by legally banning private schools, Cook rationalizes, because “Wealthy people tend to lobby effectively for their interests, and if their interests were to include adequate public funding for the schools their children attend,” we’d get better public schools.


But this is just superficial wishful thinking. More fundamentally, Cook believes “there’s also a moral argument for banning private education. . . .


Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth. Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn't be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally.


Cook is not primarily motivated by the prospect of people lifting themselves up, but of tearing the best achievers down. In the name of equalizing “life-outcome” “opportunities” for all children, Cook callously demands the sacrifice of superior private schools for the sake of what he readily acknowledges are failing government schools. He demands the government violate the rights (and opportunity) of educators to establish private schools; the rights (and opportunity) of parents to pursue for their children the best schools that, in the parents’ judgment, educators have to offer; and the rights (and opportunity) of both educators and parents to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage.


This is what “equality of opportunity,” in today’s usage, looks like in action. Since life opportunities vary from person to person—e.g., the family a child is born into—the only way to equalize opportunity is to violate the rights and obliterate the opportunities of those who are “advantaged”—i.e., those who excel.

“Equality of opportunity” has morphed into an economic term; the flip side of the socialist coin labeled “equality of outcome.” To secure our liberty and rights—and prevent Cook-like education schemes from gaining political traction in the future—Americans must reject any government attempt to equalize economic opportunity, and demand that it return to its sole legitimate function of protecting the only kind of equality that is just and moral—equality before the law.


Related Reading:

Egalitarian Call to Abolish Schools is Morally Obscene and Economically Absurd

The Problem for Government School Apologists; American Ideals

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Arctic vs. Antarctic: A Tale of Two Polar Ice Caps
In response to an editorial that implied that the polar ice caps are melting due to global warming, I posted a link to a National Geographic article that reported that the Antarctic ice sheet has grown to the largest ever recorded. In reply, a [perhaps] disappointed correspondent said to me: "You conveniently forgot to mention that the report also stated that the increase was in contrast to the Arctic cap which has been shrinking."

Here was my reply:

Nate: I didn't "conveniently forget." My purpose was to provide balance. Arctic late-summer sea ice is contracting because, well, it's a sea. Water temperatures are higher than land, so it doesn't take much atmospheric warming to melt sea ice, since sea ice is close to the freezing mark. (The atmosphere has warmed less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, right after the end of the Little Ice Age. Half of that warming occurred before major CO2 increases.)

The antarctic is a land mass, and thus much colder. A warming Earth feeds the growth of land ice sheets, because warmer air holds more moisture, which means more ice-sheet building snows in colder regions. There could be other reasons for Antarctic ice growth, as the article suggests. But the point is, this development was totally unexpected by the so-called "scientific consensus." We'd been told that the ice caps (plural) would melt. Not true, so why should we believe the other hysterical "consensus" catastrophes?


This is really beside the point, though. The real catastrophe is the unprecedented assault on the reliable, economical industrial-scale energy mainly provided now (and for the foreseeable future) by fossil fuels that our human lives depend on.


Related Reading:

Growing Antarctic Ice Sheet Belies "Melting Polar Caps" Hysteria

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Stamato vs. the Koch Brothers: Campaign Finance and the First Amendment
In the comments section of the article Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous by Rutgers faculty member Linda Stamato, I had several engagements with other correspondents. The main point of contention was the issue of campaign finance, or money in politics. 

The comments of other correspondents are block-quoted below, followed by my posted replies (in blue), and follow-up comments (in standard black):

ulyintewksbury wrote:

Dark money rules. It is the new paradigm in politics.

"Dark money?" Private money is only "dark" to state supremacists that oppose dissent.

A classic inversion perpetrated by statists is to characterize any unregulated or little regulated (i.e., free) element of the private sector as "dark," "shadowy," "below the radar"; something sinister that escapes the light of government control; a "loophole" in the fabric of society.

Spudwrench offered his own version of campaign finance reform:

Limiting donations to "persons" with a Social Security Number would be a good start.

So you would forbid associations of 2 or more persons from cooperatively engaging in free speech? The First Amendment also covers freedom of association (assembly). Your suggestion would mean that individuals forfeit their free speech rights as soon as they join with others—right along with their right to petition their government. This would greatly diminish the individual citizen's voice, and— in a country of 320 million people—probably spell the end of representative government. It would eviscerate the First Amendment, which you should re-read. And just to stop people from voicing their opinions in the public square. Very dangerous.

The First Amendment reads, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

HAL9 replied to me:

I do believe that you have supported Citizens United and the more recent campaign finance US Supreme Court decisions/


I'm not sure whether HAL9 though he had a "gotcha," or just sought clarification of my views. But I welcomed the chance to clarify:


HAL9: I fully support Citizens United. That was a major victory for free speech, as it involved the rights of private citizens to spend their own money on independent advocacy.

I'm undecided on the issue of direct contributions to political campaigns. However, I do believe the reaction to the recent SCOTUS [McCutcheon] decision was overblown. It left intact limits to individual candidates and disclosure requirements. The decision merely ended the limit on how many candidates a person can contribute to.


As Chief Justice Roberts reasonably wrote, “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

Smugwump also chimed in on campaign finance reform:

We need a constitutional amendment that gives congress the power to regulate campaign spending.

Translation: "We need a constitutional amendment that gives politicians the power to silence their own critics."

Immediately preceding that statement, Smugwump said, "McCain-feingold got overturned because it violated the first amendment. And rightfully so. Of course unions and corporations have their rights protected by the bill of rights." I chose to ignore the blatant contradiction.

BrotherParvus:

They [the rich] are buying legislation that favors their business interests, often at the expense of the majority of citizens. How is this even defensible in a representative democracy?

"How is this even defensible in a representative democracy?"

Precisely because America has become a "representative democracy." If America were a constitutional republic limited to protecting individual rights equally and at all times, as it was originally intended, no one would be able to buy legislation that favors their interests, because the government wouldn't have the power to favor some interests over others.


James Madison understood that the secret to checking the power of special interests lie in checking the power of government. He wrote: 

"In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expence of another. 5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism."

Madison believed that wealth should be acquired and maintained by one's private productiveness, rather than rely on government favoritism ("an unmerited, accumulation of riches"). That's how I interpret "the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property. . ." 

Finally, 63 and out:

Money is not speech. Koch speaks no louder than me. If that is what you think our forefathers had in mind you're sadly mistaken.

63 and out: Money is the means to exercising free speech. Without spending money, there would be no newspapers, TV, Radio, books, or any other media forum—and no NJ.com, which enables you to state that "money is not speech." Any restrictions on the spending of money is a restriction on freedom of speech. First Amendment rights are inextricably linked to property rights.

63 and out's comeback:

So, You really ARE saying free speech is purchased?

No, but the means is.

Folks like 63 and out apparently believe that free speech begins and ends with the actual physical voice, as if the First Amendment merely sanctions a shouting match—with the loudest voice winning—and no means of reaching a wider audience allowed. They might respond; but some money can be allowed, but only with strict limits, which would mean that Congress would have the power to control the public debate—and to silence its critics.

Related Reading:

Ideas, Not Money, Matters in Political Campaigns

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Monday, April 14, 2014
Why Are Anti-Capitalists so Obsessed with Mandatory Campaign Finance "Disclosure"?
In the comments section of the article Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous by Rutgers faculty member Linda Stamato, the issue of disclosure requirements for those who finance political or issue advocacy was a central theme. 

In regards to that, correspondent TMoor commented:

The Koch brothers have been publicly linked to the Committee for Our Children's Future, a secretive Super PAC that spent nearly $8,000,000.00 on "issue advocacy" during the last election cycle in New Jersey. The value of free speech is greatly diminished if it is difficult to identify the speaker, particularly when those behind the curtain are spending huge amounts of money to get their message out.

I replied:

"The value of free speech is greatly diminished if it is difficult to identify the speaker. . ."

How so? The identity of the speaker is only relevant to ad hominem types. To any thinking person with something to say, the substance of the message is all that matters. Private citizens have a fundamental right to their anonymity, if they so choose.


Stamato responded here:

Of course private citizens have every right to be anonymous but it is also the case that what some, let's say in advocacy pieces that are obscured as objective information, knowing who wrote, who sponsored, etc., let's us in on why these things are appearing... Can't hurt to know that, can it? And, if information is so critically important to share, why not say from whence the information comes?

It seems that some people's anonymity rights are more equal than others. What kind of "right" is consistent with granting Congress the power to selectively violate that right? There are no "buts" about rights, so long as the rights of others are not violated. 

To make sense of Stamato's comment, let's consider her own column. From the get-go, Stamato's main concern is on who said it, not what is said. Early in the article, Stamato states that "They [the Kochs] do their best to keep their cover [but] the extent of the Koch reach is at least partially revealed in tax filings." Her search of these tax filings reveals that "In 2012, some 200 or so donors managed to cough up $250 million" for the Koch's "Freedom Partners," a "clearinghouse" that funds "their organizations of choice." We find out later the identities of some of these organizations:

They underwrite a huge network of foundations, think tanks and political front groups, including their own political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, and their brothers-in-arms at the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

The common denominator uniting these groups is that they advocate, more or less, free markets, individual liberty, and limited, rights-protecting government. Considering Stamato's hate-drenched smear piece and its ilk, can anyone blame the donors for desiring anonymity? Imagine if Stamato had the identities of those 200 anonymous donors. What would she do with that "critical information?" I think this column answers that question. The smear against the Koch brothers would not be possible if she couldn't uncover their identities from tax filings. Her column, as written, could not happen. Instead, she might actually have to deal with the free market intellectuals and the actual substance of their arguments. 

The Koch brothers, of course, do not choose anonymity—and they pay the Left's price. But Charles Koch understands what he's up against. In a Wall Street Journal piece, he wrote:


Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.

What it boils down to is: Those who demand disclosure, which they euphemistically call "transparency," are more interested in ad hominem—to personally attack the speaker rather than answer what the speaker says—than intellectual combat on the battleground of ideas. Why? The answer is quite transparent: If you don't have a counter-argument to your opponents' ideas, all that's left is ad hominem.

Related Reading:

I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society—Charles Koch

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Linda Stamato Smears (and Fears?) the Koch Brothers
Linda Stamato, a Rutgers University faculty member, penned an op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger titled Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous

Keep in mind, as you read her article, that the author's target is two private citizens engaging in public advocacy with their own money. The Koch brothers are two industrial billionaires who fight for right wing causes, though perhaps not always causes of the Right, properly defined. They are a favorite target of the political Left in the same way as George Soros is of conservatives. They are the quintessential product of a society that protects free speech and dissent.

But you would think they were "enemies of the state" as understood by totalitarian regimes.

Part 1 of Stamato's article is a listing of what she terms "The extent of the Koch reach." This includes their business enterprises and funding of conservative/libertarian activist groups and think tanks. The Koch brothers breathtaking crime; their "focus on remaking America into a land of unfettered, unregulated capitalism." I suppose Stamato expects to elicit a breathless GASP from her readers, but all I could summon up was a "so what?"

"The extent of the Koch reach" turns out to be their ability to effectively advocate their views to a wide audience—the power of the pen. That so many Americans subscribe to Koch ideas has Stamato in a tizzy. "The Koch brothers," she writes, "are . . . affecting elections and thwarting governance. . ." GASP! I left these comments:

So? Isn't "affecting elections" what representative self-government is all about? And when have the Koch brothers ever advocated "thwarting governance?" Thwarting those who would use government power to thwart liberty, for sure. Would you also accuse activists who SUPPORT the regulatory welfare state of "affecting elections and thwarting governance?" Or, do statists not want to have to answer only to citizen[s] that don't acquiesce to their governance ambitions? 

The extent of the regulatory state's reach, which by its very nature is unconstrained by any principles of individual rights, is its ability to initiate force against private citizens—the power of the gun. What is that next to the pen? Who is the real threat? To the citizens, it is the state. To the state and their apologists, it is apparently the Koch brothers. After all, the Koch brothers. . .


are hurting human beings by seeking to deprive them of unemployment benefits, a fair wage, collective bargaining rights, food stamps and insurance coverage — not to mention by compromising the safety and health of their environment.

I don't know enough about the Koch brothers to know if they are genuine advocates of laissez-faire capitalism. I doubt it, given that such advocates outside of Objectivists are virtually non-existent. More than likely, they favor some kind of "safety net." In any event, Stamato doesn't provide any evidence of her claim. In regard to those programs, the only people being deprived are employers of their rights to decide how much to pay their employees, to choose whether or not to collectively bargain with a union, or not to provide health insurance; workers forced into unions against their will; and taxpayers forced to fund food stamps and insurance subsidies.

Moving on to the next section, DISASTERS WAITING TO HAPPEN, Stamato describes 3 industrial accidents, which she blames on the Koch brothers alleged success at "limiting regulation"—this, in an era of rampaging regulations. OSHA, you see, failed to "adequately regulate" a Texas fertilizer plant that blew up, killing several workers, because it wasn't adequately funded—this, in a era of rampaging budget deficits. 

You get the picture. We're dealing with a smear piece. You can read the rest of Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous, if you like.

I left these comments

The big lie perpetrated here is that these industrial accidents happened because of "unfettered, unregulated capitalism." Where does one see anything close to "unfettered, unregulated capitalism?" In fact, these disasters happened in a heavily fettered, highly regulated mixed economy. Where is the blame on the regulators that already permeate the economy? All Stamato can do is insinuate that these accidents "may" have been prevented if only there were yet more regulations.

"Special interests, money and politicians for sale?" They are products of a mixed economy. The more power government gains over the lives and business of its citizens, the more the citizens are incentivized to influence the policies of the government that regulates and taxes them. Under unregulated capitalism, because government has no power to regulate commerce and dispense economic favors, there is no incentive to influence government policy-making, and thus no special interests. Yet, Stamato's solution to the mixed economy, special interest free-for-all is to shred the First Amendment by "regulating" (i.e., stifling) the citizens' ability to participate in and influence their own government.


Human beings, including regulators, are not infallible or omniscient. Sometimes they are even criminally negligent. Accidents and disasters will happen. There is no magic regulatory bullet. Today, the regulatory state is bigger than ever. Where's the nirvana? Government's job is to punish wrongdoing and force the responsible company to pay restitution and other appropriate penalties. Isolated accidents should not be an excuse to punish the innocent with more regulations.


Stamato condemns "a misplaced faith in unfettered free enterprise." Then what about the blind faith in state supremacist ideology; the omnipotent state? If the freedom of capitalism is so bad, how about the un-freedom of statist regimes? If the author insists on blaming isolated industrial disasters on "unfettered" capitalism, then she must also recognize the horrors of unfettered government—the tens of millions slaughtered, hundreds of millions enslaved and impoverished, the concentration camps, the censorship, and all-pervasive fear perpetrated by Nazi, communist, fascist, Islamist, and sundry other authoritarian regimes. In the end, the choice will come down to the liberty of unfettered capitalism or the horrors of unfettered government.


We need a government strong enough to protect our individual rights, but not so strong as to violate them with impunity, as we have now. Thanks, Koch brothers, for exercising your First Amendment rights, with your own money, to help get the case for liberty out there. We need it, as the statists' drive for ever-wider government powers is insatiable. Here's hoping you'll never be targeted and shackled by government censors.


The author responded:


It's not the size of "the state" as much as the scope and effectiveness. And, my point is not to limit free speech, not by a long shot, but to make that speech--and its efforts to influence, in this case, regulation to ensure health and safety--transparent.

Scope and effectiveness, at what, to what end, with what limits? Apparently, none.  "Regulation to ensure health and safety" is so broad as to encompass any area of our lives that regulators desire. In your article, you mention, as proper functions of the state, "environmental regulation, . . . the threat of climate change; . . . taxes, trade unions and President Obama’s health care reforms. . . unemployment benefits, a fair wage, collective bargaining rights, food stamps and insurance coverage, . . . the safety and health of their environment. . . . public education, social programs, worker salaries"—all of which involve, in one way or another, rights-violating government action. There's a lot more there than objective anti-pollution or industrial liability laws. The scope of government's coercive reach over our lives and wealth is indeed broad, and getting broader.

Stamato concludes with a classic Leftist straw man—that the Koch brothers are anti-government—and a call for more government controls. 

I am sympathetic to the Koch brothers' cause, although I'm sure there are areas of disagreement. But that is beside the point.

What I detected in this article is a whiff of panic in Stamato's over-heated rhetoric. Why must statists smear the Koch brothers? In the end, the Koch brothers are simply exercising their First Amendment rights with their own money. They are merely advocating their pro-freedom, anti-statist (not anti-government) ideals. Their "crime" is that they are effective in their ability to convince people of the rightness of their ideas. Perhaps this—an effective counter-force to Leftist statism—is what Stamato fears.

Related Reading:

Obama's Pre-Emptive Strike

The Virtue of Extremism

I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society—Charles Koch

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Friday, April 11, 2014
How to Overcome Bigotry in a Free Society
50 years ago this week, the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law. It was a much-needed law that swept aside legalized discrimination and segregation. But it contained a poison pill: It banned discrimination in the private sector. Though motivated by the very best of intentions, this bitter pill launched an assault on one of our most fundamental freedoms; one enshrined in the First Amendment—the freedom of association.

Anti-discrimination laws aimed at the private sector are immoral because they violate basic individual rights to freely act on one's own judgement regarding one's contractual associations with others. I have made this point often. 

True, some forms of discrimination are unforgivably irrational, unjust, and bigoted. But rights don't guarantee that every actor will be rational or fair. Rights, to be rights, must be absolute within a certain context: They must protect all related actions that do not violate the rights of others; meaning, that do not involve the initiation of force or fraud against others. In a free society, rights are not conditional on what government considers "rational" or "fair." Consequently, laws like Title 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids private "places of public accommodation" from discriminating against persons based on race, color, religion, or national origin, should be repealed because they violate rights.

So, without such laws, how does one overcome such irrational or bigoted behavior as racial discrimination in a free society? By exercising one's individual rights. Economic boycotts and competition, non-disruptive peaceful protests, freedom of speech and press, and social pressure and ostracization are all powerful weapons in the hands of free people living under a consistently right-protecting government. Should those fail to alter the bigot's behavior, one can simply ignore the discriminator, agree to disagree, and go one's separate way. In a free society where government protects everyone's rights equally and at all times, private discrimination violates no one's rights and threatens no one.

Keep in mind that, historically, discrimination drew its power to do harm from legal sanctions and/or mandates, such as Jim Crow laws and the separate-but-equal doctrine, which legally enforced racial segregation at all levels of government, especially at the state and local level in the South.

This is not to say that the fight is easy. It isn't and wasn't. Racism and bigotry were socially entrenched in many quarters of American society. But violating rights in the name of justice is a contradiction in terms and of reality.

When people are free, irrationality can not long stand up against morally certain rationality, reason, and logic. Irrationality is fundamentally impotent, because to be irrational is to contradict the facts of reality. If a businessman refuses to serve a certain racial segment of the population, he is reducing his customer base, hurting his business and thus his livelihood. There could also be many harmful secondary consequences. Other potential customers, revolted by the businessman's bigotry, may refuse to patronize his business, further shrinking his customer base. He may also lose out on quality employees, for the same reason. Finally, his irrationality invites competition from someone eager to scoop up his lost customers. And this is to say nothing about public protests and/or organized boycotts highlighting his ignorant behavior. How many people would walk past demonstrators carrying signs highlighting the business owner's discriminatory policies? In short, irrational discrimination is thoroughly unselfish because it is economically harmful to the discriminator himself.

It is often assumed that political acts like the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were instrumental in turning the tide against racial discrimination and segregation. But this assumption is backwards, reversing cause and effect. In fact, it was social pressure that turned the cultural tide, which then turned the political tide. Those Acts could not have happened in a vacuum, because politics does not move in a social vacuum. Politics, in fact, is a reflection, or consequence, not a driver, of social trends. Politics never leads. It follows. The 1964 Civil Rights Act—much of which was good—passed congress with more than 80% Republican and around 2/3 Democrat support. That kind of overwhelming political consensus could not have happened without overwhelming public support.

In other words, the country was already moving strongly against the segregationists and discriminationists. Indeed, significant victories had already been scored against these evils long before the unfortunate Title 2 passed into law. Let's take a look at a couple of prominent examples of this trend, and how social activism and the exercise of individual rights played a role—before the politics of 1960s civil rights legislation.

Jackie Robinson and the Dodger organization broke the color barrier without threatening our freedom - i.e., without governmental coercion such as anti-discrimination laws - and we’re all better off for his heroism. Segregation was soon swept away throughout baseball, even though bigotry lingered in the hearts of many baseball professionals long after the color barrier was broken. That is the way free people fight private injustice. Attacking the rights to hold and live by one’s own ideas, freedom of association and disassociation, and property rights is the road to tyranny. Those rights must be protected for all people, or all lose them.

Robinson, and later Larry Doby—as hard as it was for them—at least didn't have to face laws specifically forcing segregation on Major League baseball. Now let's take a look at another heroic American who did have to confront enforced segregation laws—and won anyway.

Rosa Parks challenged segregation sanctioned and enforced by law in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. After she refused to heed an order to vacate her seat for a white person issued by the driver of the bus she was a passenger on, "The bus driver then proceeded to call the police, who subsequently arrested Rosa." 

It is also important to note that the city of Montgomery had only one bus line - the city-owned one. No other bus lines were permitted. In other words, there was no chance for economic competition by non-segregated lines. It is also important to note that the city-owned monopoly was contractually operated by a private bus company that had already eliminated segregation on its own in response to public pressure (a boycott by blacks and their sympathizers). The Associated Press, via The Montgomery Advertiser, said in reporting on the ensuing court challenge seeking "an injunction to stop the city and state from enforcing ... anti-race mixing laws":


    Montgomery City Lines, Inc., a privately owned carrier which operates the city's only bus service, has already abandoned segregation for its part. Its drivers have been ordered to refrain from separating white and Negro passengers.
    The City of Montgomery has asked Circuit Judge Walter B. Jones in circuit court for an injunction to compel the bus company to rescind the integration order.

So here we have a private company - whether on principle, economic necessity, or both - taking voluntary action to end an injustice, and the government whose constitutionally mandated job it is to protect its right to do so acting to legally force it to act against its own rational judgement.

Parks private protest touched off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was very successful, "severely damaging the bus transit company's finances, until the city repealed its law requiring segregation on public buses following the US Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that it was unconstitutional."

Here is proof that public pressure and non-violent, non-rights violating private action can score significant victories, even when the law is stacked against them in the form of legally-enforced segregation and legally enforced monopoly. This is further proof of how injustice is essentially powerless against concerted moral action, until and unless it is backed by force, i.e., law. To top it off, we further see here that private cultural trends against segregation and racism drives legal changes, not the other way around. Remember that we are dealing here with the seminal private action that ignited the mid twentieth century civil rights movement - a movement that led to the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Some would argue that anti-discrimination laws aimed at the private sector helped to accelerate the end of overt discrimination. This may be true, but at a heavy cost to the innocent: E.g., the Title IX assault on men's college sports; the destruction of lending standards as a leading genesis of the housing bubble, financial meltdown, and Great Recession (Sowell, pp 101–121); the reliance of statistics, which rank just below "damned lies," to "prove" discrimination, which spawned predatory lawsuits and the blatantly racist "Affirmative Action" quotas; and the current controversy over gay marriage vs. religious freedom

The use of statistics to "prove" discrimination is particularly pernicious. Few people today practice overt discrimination. Bigots rarely openly admit, let alone advertise, their bigotry, with good reason; it's embarrassing and socially self-destructive. So in the absence of signs announcing, "No Irish allowed" or "No blacks allowed," where are the crusaders against discrimination to turn? After all, no one can read another person's mind. While overt discrimination, at least the racial or gender kind, is rarely if ever practiced today, there is no doubt that bigotry still lurks in the hearts of some people. Enter statistical analysis. 

But, stats tell you nothing about a person's or an institution's intentions. Stats tell you nothing about what factors lead to a particular statistical breakdown. Are fewer blacks than whites approved for home mortgages because of discrimination against blacks? Or is it simply that fewer blacks have the required down payment or income levels? These questions don't stop the crusaders. They use statistics to "paint with a broad brush," and seek remedies to fix discrimination, whether or not it actually exists. This injustice would not be a significant problem if not for anti-private discrimination laws, which do not specify what actually constitutes discrimination. The result; innocent victims galore. 

The bottom line is that laws violating freedom of association and contract must go.

To those who favor laws banning private discrimination, I say: Stop violating the rights of others. You only undercut your own moral legitimacy. Ignorance and bigotry do not deserve the exalted social status that Title 2, Title IX, and similar laws grant them. Ignorance and bigotry can not stand the light of reason in a free, rights-protecting society.  Instead, uphold the basic principle of equal protection of individual rights under the law, and then use your rights to fight back legitimately against private injustice, in the public arena of activism and rational persuasion. You'll be surprised how effective that is.

Related Reading:

Does rescinding laws banning private discrimination make a moral statement in support of bigotry?

Are "Diversity Maps" a Precursor to Forced Neighborhood Integration?

Protecting Rights vs. Sanctioning Action

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Thursday, April 10, 2014
On Gay Marriage, the Courts Did Their Job in New Jersey
In the end, no legislation or voter referendum was needed to recognize the inalienable rights of gays to marry in New Jersey.

I left these comments on an article by the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Tom Moran: 

For those of us who advocate liberty, the political trends have generally been going the wrong way, especially in the last couple of decades. The decision by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey, effectively upheld—by way of denying a stay on Judge Jacobson's ruling—by the state Supreme Court, is a welcome exception. 

Though the courts have been majorly complicit in eroding the constitution and individual rights in America, in this gay marriage case they did exactly the right thing. It's a travesty that it took so long, but a proper understanding of individual rights and the role of government would have cleared this up long ago.

Individual rights are moral principles sanctioning the individual's freedom to act in pursuit of his values in a social context, so long as his actions don't infringe on the same rights of others. Rights are not established by legislative or voter fiat. Rights, properly understood, are inalienable; meaning, no legislature or electoral faction may infringe on those rights. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, the constitution's philosophic blueprint, the government's sole purpose is to protect individual rights equally and at all times. The purpose of the constitution is to limit the power of the government to its proper function of protecting individual rights. The courts' proper function is as guardian of the constitution, which means it must invalidate any laws that violate individual rights (and thus the constitution).

Individual rights include the right to freedom of contract among consenting adults of sound mind, so long as the contract doesn't involve the actual or intended violation of the rights of others. Freedom of contract is logically derived from the inalienable right to freedom of association. From a legal perspective, marriage is strictly a contractual matter. Religion has nothing to do with it. A gay marriage contract violates no one else's rights. Therefor, adult gay men and women have an inalienable right, protected by the constitution, to forge marriage contracts. One of the government's jobs as rights-protector is to recognize and enforce contracts, including marriage contracts regardless of gender. For gays, the government didn't protect their rights, so the courts properly stepped in. 

Regrettably, the NJ Superior Court did not ground its decision to legalize gay marriage in an unequivocal defense of individual rights. Rather, it overturned NJ's ban on gay marriage on narrower grounds, equal protection under the law and federal statutes.  Nonetheless, the NJ court decision is a victory for individual rights and thus something for liberty advocates to celebrate.

Related Reading:

New Jersey Court Rightly Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage and Individual Rights

Should a “homosexual contract” be called something other than marriage?

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