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Does Gutting Racist Public Sentiment Trump Property Rights?

I’m generally in agreement with SayUncle and Tam on this matter of people accusing Rand Paul of racism. But I also recognize that standing on the opposite side of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is a loser of a political stance. It’s not going to win you much among the population, and it helps opponents of the GOP paint it as “that kind of party” (even though Republicans voted for CRA ’64 in greater percentages than Dems). Part of the reason is that we’re not quite past the Jim Crow era enough for people to forgive and forget, but I do think that time is fast coming.

I’m going to forgive previous generations for believing the driving a stake through the heart of Jim Crow, and the public culture it spawned, was worth pissing on property rights for a bit. I believe it was worth it. But Jim Crow is gone. It’s not that racism is, but I think we’re fast approaching a point where disdain for racism will be a strong enough incentive to discourage any racist business practices among proprietors of public accommodations. At some point we could allow property rights to re-assert itself. Let social shame deal with the miscreants and keep the Government out of those kinds of affairs.

UPDATE: Great post on this subject by Randy Barnett here.

17 Responses to “Does Gutting Racist Public Sentiment Trump Property Rights?”

  1. Guav says:

    Unfortunately, the GOP IS that kind of a party now–Where the two parties were in the ’60s is just not useful for discerning where they are now. Southern racists (who tended to be Democrats back then), pissed that a Democratic president pushed the CRA, defected to the Republican party and have remained there ever since. That’s why the GOP is strongest in the south, and also why blacks stopped voting Republican right around then.

  2. Arnie says:

    Rand is right! The Constitution forbids Congress any power to regulate private intrastate business activities especially in regard to their personal choices. The 14A only forbids government discriminatory practices, not those of private citizens or their businesses.
    Sebastian is right, that as far as the national government is concerned, freedom must trump decency. It is up to State and local governments to establish local standards of acceptable activity (e.g., liquor sales, strip bars, etc.), and the free market will take care of socially undesirable practices (e.g., if people are disgusted with a whites-only restaurant, they are free to refuse to patronize it and thereby run it out of business). This is not an issue for the Federal Government, and we risk our liberty when we let the central government exceed its constitutional limits and dictate the rules for private local business activities.
    Let freedom reign!

  3. Mark Alger says:

    Was it also worth the destruction of the black family, the setting back of black social and economic gains for two generations, and the creation of agenda-driven, spoils-financed, grievance-minded group politics?

    Just askin’. ‘Cause, you know, there’s no DIRECT connection, but it’s funny the one(s) followed the other.

    M

  4. MicroBalrog says:

    Uh.

    Rand has only opposed a small portion of the act. Anybody who listens to him knows that. This in itself makes it a technical issue most voters won’t care much about either way.

    Besides: When you have a 25% lead, you can afford this sort of blunder.

  5. I would note that as late as 1993 a bunch of black guys were basically ignored at a Denny’s in Maryland. It wasn’t intended as a test case–it just turned into one. Two groups of Secret Service agents were in town providing security for President Clinton. One group was black. One was white. The blacks were seated first. The whites came in after, were served, and were out of there, and the blacks were still waiting. Being Secret Service agents, I think we can guess how both groups were dressed–and I’m sure the black guys didn’t have their underwear showing.

    When black guys in business suits get treated that way, I’m afraid that we aren’t quite there yet. I’ve written a piece for PajamasMedia about this, because I’m very conflicted about CRA64. Remember that the government (at all levels) actively REQUIRED businesses to discriminate for a long time. Perhaps it is rough justice to have such a law to try and unravel the mess.

  6. BadIdeaGuy says:

    Not to discount what Clayton said because I think there still are racist individuals, but my wife worked for years as a waitress during high school, college, and grad school (and I wish she’d wait tables now to pay her loan payments…). She does not have a racist bone in her body, but has said (as have other friends) that Black people generally gave terrible tips.

    It’s anecdotal, but if you’re conditioned to believe that you’re going to get a lousy tip, you’ll be less motivated to perform.

  7. Guav says:

    I don’t doubt that it’s true, but which came first, the chicken or the egg? Iit works both ways: assuming you’re going to get a bad tip based on the race of the guests, thus being less motivated to perform because you think you know what’s going to happen, you give less than stellar service and get a correspondingly shitty tip.

    If the group of black secret service agents were prepared to leave a healthy tip when they sat down, they sure as hell were not prepared to do so after being ignored.

    So they leave a crappy tip, having had their views of whites as racists confirmed, and the waitress has their views of black guests confirmed.

    The difference is that it’s the server’s job to provide good service regardless of the tip they think they might get, because there is no way to know how the guest is going to tip. The best way to ensure you’ll get a low tip is to act like you don’t want to be serving the guests.

  8. Alpheus says:

    “The difference is that it’s the server’s job to provide good service regardless of the tip they think they might get, because there is no way to know how the guest is going to tip.”

    Of course, if there’s a problem with getting service because of a low reputation for tips, a good way to get around this is to give higher tips! (This would generally only work if you personally have a reputation for giving small tips–because servers remember regulars–or if you belong to a class of people who have a reputation of giving small tips.)

    On another blog on this topic, someone pointed out that there was financial incentive to opening your services to those who would otherwise be discriminated against, and then someone countered by saying that those who would wish to were often prohibited from doing so–and used this as a reason why libertarianism wouldn’t work. It just occurred to me, though, that this doesn’t prove that libertarianism doesn’t work: it just proves that libertarianism needs to be allowed to work! Whether people are prohibited outright from allowing blacks into their restaurants, or are scared into prohibitions by mobs and threats of violence, the result is NOT a result of libertarianism.

  9. Guav says:

    Of course, if there’s a problem with getting service because of a low reputation for tips, a good way to get around this is to give higher tips!

    Except tipping occurs after the service, not before. So if a waitress, convinced that she is going to get a bad tip—which she cannot be sure of ahead of time—gives substandard service to a group of black Secret Service agents, you’re suggesting that they should give her a high tip despite that? Bullshit.

    This is how it works: You give good service—because that is your job—and hope that the guests tip accordingly. They may or may not, regardless of their race. But regardless, if you don’t do your job well, you have no right to complain that you weren’t tipped well.

    Do black people get bad service because they tip poorly, or do they tip poorly because they get bad service?

  10. Guav says:

    Whether people are prohibited outright from allowing blacks into their restaurants, or are scared into prohibitions by mobs and threats of violence, the result is NOT a result of libertarianism.

    True. However, prohibiting blacks in your restaurant simply because you “hate niggers” WOULD be a result of libertarianism, no?

  11. Alpheus says:

    “Except tipping occurs after the service, not before. So if a waitress, convinced that she is going to get a bad tip—which she cannot be sure of ahead of time—gives substandard service to a group of black Secret Service agents, you’re suggesting that they should give her a high tip despite that? Bullshit.”

    As I stated before, you need to have a bad reputation in the first place in order for such a strategy to work–and if you’re a member of a group that has a bad reputation, this would only work if either the entire group decides to do this, or you frequent a given place enough that you could transcend your group’s stereotype.

    That is, the strategy has a potential to work because tips *aren’t* just given after service: they are given *before* you visit the restaurant again. Assuming, of course, that you aren’t put off by the lousy treatment, and never go to that restaurant again…in which case, if you give a generous tip, it would be “revenge by kindness”.

    As for myself: I have two rambunctious young daughters, so when I take them to a restaurant that expects tips, I tend to give a larger tip than expected, to make up for the mess that my daughters create–and I do this largely without paying attention to what service I received. Theoretically, this would result in a reputation that precedes me, but in practice, I don’t eat out enough for that to happen :-).

    “True. However, prohibiting blacks in your restaurant simply because you “hate niggers” WOULD be a result of libertarianism, no?”

    Yes, it would be libertarianism, but if others would be left alone, there will be other options, because as one person put it, “a black person’s money is just as green as a white person’s”. It’s when those options are prevented, either by law or by mob, that it becomes a severe problem.

    I have a racist father-in-law, for example, who as a locksmith would service blacks. He could go into all sorts of seedy neighborhoods because he was the only locksmith who would be willing to go into those neighborhoods–and as a result, he had a reputation that protected him somewhat from the crime that happens in those neighborhoods. And he did this because he needed the money! (This is an example of transcending both racial and geographical discrimination.)

    This was also made possible because my father-in-law was able to provide these services without fear of being lynched, despite living in Texas at the time.

  12. Alpheus says:

    “Do black people get bad service because they tip poorly, or do they tip poorly because they get bad service?”

    Both: this is a classic example of a “chicken or the egg” problem. Does Linux have poor manufacturer driver support because few people use Linux, or do few people use Linux because it’s so difficult to get drivers to work?

    This is a *very* tricky problem to overcome! In the case of Linux, the strategy has been to write their own device drivers, and the strategy works, somewhat.

  13. Guav says:

    We both seem to agree that it’s a circular, self-perpetuating phenomena—but you’re still placing the responsibility for change upon the restaurant guests, rather than the server, where it actually belongs, since it is their JOB to provide good service, but tips are optional (and should be based on the service one receives).

    As far as the chicken or the egg issue, I have a theory:

    I find it pretty hard to believe that in the 60’s, when restaurants were desegregated against the will of the white owners (and white employees, and white customers) that the black people exercising their right to eat with everyone else got very good service. I think it’s pretty likely that they were served poorly and with disdain—after all, legislation doesn’t change attitudes—and perhaps they didn’t think they should tip for the privilege of being treated like shit.

    I think it’s the most plausible explanation to explain the cultural phenomenon of black people tipping poorly, unless you have a better one.

  14. Alpheus says:

    I’m not placing responsibility on the guests, so much as I’m saying that guests have options for seeking reform too. To go back to a previous example, if I were a roudy, regular customer that always left a mess and no tip, in order to change my reputation (and get good service again), I would have to start leaving large tips. If I undeservedly have such a reputation, I could attempt to change things by leaving large tips as well…not to say that such actions will work, but then, what *is* guaranteed to work?!? Certainly not passing more and more laws!

    Going back to the Linux analogy, I’ve expected HP to support Linux, because they say they do. I’ve purchased two HP printers, and expected them to work with Linux out of the box. I’ve had to struggle with both of them.

    Now, one could argue that it’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide drivers for their hardware. If they don’t, however, that doesn’t leave us completely powerless! We could write our own drivers, and we could patronize those companies that provide such drivers.

    As for myself, I’m not sure I’ll patronize HP. They claim to support Linux, but they don’t seem to put the same amount of effort into their Linux drivers that they do for their Windows ones. At a minimum, they should make sure that all their hardware will work seamlessly with Linux!

  15. Guav says:

    Yes, in your extremely specific example, that particular customer could indeed change how they were perceived by their regular servers, and probably improve the service they receive over time. I’m just not sure that’s all that relevant to the much broader issue we’re discussing—people act as individuals, not as a group, so suggesting that black people as a group should all of a sudden just start leaving good tips regardless of the service they receive is not a realistic solution (nor is it, do I think, all that fair to expect).

    As a Mac user, I’m not really following your Linux/HP/drivers analogy—I just turn on my computer and it works :)

  16. Alpheus says:

    My example *is* extremely specific; but then again, groups are always composed of individuals. As I stated before, the “give a larger tip than deserved” strategy would only work if you are willing (and able) to be a regular at a certain restaurant, or if you convince the members of your group to participate in paying higher tips as well.

    I’m not saying it’s easy…but it’s still an option.

    I’ve heard a story about someone’s grandfather who overcame prejudice against the Irish, one job at a time, by finding work somewhere, and then, after several weeks of working at that position, saying “I can no longer work here, but I know someone who can”, and then sending a family member or a friend who needed the work over to that position.

    Such a strategy takes a lot of patience to implement, and you might never see any progress in your lifetime. But it *can* work, and it’s a lot more friendly than trying to force “acceptance”.

    As for being a Linux user: I put up with Linux because I don’t have the money to pay for anything better (or worse, as the case may be). But the few times I’ve encountered Apple things, I haven’t really liked them. As it is, I’d like to design my own operating system, but I also wish I had the time to do so!

  17. Guav says:

    I don’t see how that story is an example of overcoming prejudice against the Irish–obviously the employers were already willing to employ Irishmen, or they’d not have hired the grandfather in the first place, and he’d have been in no position to pass his job onto another family member.

    I’m not trying to start a Mac vs Linux thing, I’m just saying that I don’t really understand your analogy, is all :)

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