View Full Version : Property Rights: Question about private companies being able to discriminate

12-20-2011, 01:57 AM
Although irrelevant in terms of realistically happening at anytime in the near future, I have a question about the part of the Civil Rights Act where most libertarians including Dr. Paul would've rather seen not there. At this time, I still agree that private businesses should be able to discriminate against because it's their private property, and likely doing so would be a bad business move anyways...but I just saw an article on CNN that made me ponder a question that would likely be a rebuttal that someone would give, and I can't think of a good reply to it.

(The full article if you want to read, but not necessary) http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/19/travel/us-airlines-imams-suit/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Two Muslim religious leaders just sued Delta because this past May they claim they were discriminated against and not allowed to fly based on the way they looked. They wearing traditional Muslim attire, including religious garb and headgear. The two were headed from Memphis to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend a conference on anti-Muslim bigotry. While the airplane was still at the gate, the suit said an airline agent came onto the plane and once again asked the men to produce their photo identification. They say they complied willingly and were cleared again.

But "moments after the plane began to taxi the runway and prepare for takeoff, defendants' pilot announced that the plane had to go back to the gate. Once the pilot returned the plane to the gate, defendants' pilot ordered both plaintiffs to get their bags and immediately leave the airplane," the complaint said. The suit claims the pilot would not allow them on the plane and then refused to give a reason.

Now, as I understand it, ideally libertarians would like to allow Delta, a private company to allow anyone on their plane that they see fit, and in another case I thought of, even charge more for overweight people taking up two seats, etc. Now, given the current state of paranoia led by FOX, it seems like the majority of Americans would love an airline that wouldn't allow Muslims on. This is essentially tyranny of the majority. This is the case where it's actually a beneficial business practice, despite the horrid reasons. So what is the answer - another plane catering only to Muslims would enter the market?... lol....

What would be the libertarian response?

12-20-2011, 02:45 AM
I am not a Muslim also I am not a libertarian but am responding anyways; and if, when I research this event, I find your rendition factual Delta can expect to lose my business. Also, I am not alone in this sentiment. Furthermore, there are enough Muslims and people like me in this country that other airlines would surely forgo such ignorance for profit, not necessarily a "Muslim only one". Although, should we take the example of a minority of one... well there would not be much recourse then, but the propaganda doesn't blare incessant the dangers of a minority of one as it does the Muslim boogeyman. Also, this behavior on the part of Delta is a symptom not a cause; as a rational human being I might seek to address the cause, rather than like the reactionary who bunches panties over symptoms (See Newt Gingrich's squishy face, it resembles a bunched panty in'it?). The question is. "What is the cause?" the answer is "ignorance". Ignorance of what? Perhaps of interventionist blow-back, perhaps of propaganda, perhaps that pilot is just a piss-poor example of humanity, most likely the cause can be found in a variety of places; but common to ignorance at all levels and facets is the potential for it to be alleviated, and/or replaced, by honest debate. Please alleviate my ignorance if I slaughtered grammar anywhere above. A contractual society would do much to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Had the plaintiffs signed a contract with Delta in advance to flying (which they may have by buying and accepting the ticket) and Delta retroactively decided to leave, unfulfilled, certain measures of that contract (one flight from point x to point z) then in a libertarian society those men would be entitled to compensation from Delta on the grounds that Delta breached their mutually agreed to contract. For more on contracts, check out Rousseau.

12-20-2011, 12:28 PM
^bump. Seems to be a good question that people are reading but don't have an answer to, maybe because there isn't a legitimate answer to defend the position. :(

12-20-2011, 12:39 PM
There isn't a utopian answer to this. You have to choose between two relatively bad choices. Morally, it's always best to err on the side of freedom. There is also the utilitarian argument about security and airfare prices. Each will dictate the success of the business model chosen by any airline.

Will some people get hurt by some airlines? Probably. At least for a little while until the public turns on them.

But the alternative is that everybody gets hurt by every airline.

If you are allowed to choose which airline to fly, then why isn't an equal partner in the transaction - the airline, allowed to decide which customers they want to sell their tickets to?

12-20-2011, 03:11 PM
There is a reddit thread blowing up right now, mostly in favor of Paul it seems. http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/njvgo/i_am_voting_for_ron_paul_not_because_i_agree_with/

But someone commented that they learned about his position on the last part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I said "Yes, I agree with him 100%. It's the same as if you support free speech - it doesn't necessarily mean you support everything that free people choose to do with that free speech."

Reply was "Except that your free speech doesn't infringe on other peoples' rights or harm them in any way. Letting states decide the rights of minorities is essentially tyranny of the majority."

They say "THIS is why I hate libertarians. 'Civil Rights Act is unnecessary because discrimination is economically inefficient. The free market will eradicate segregation.'


and "Basic economics say that the free market is a system of efficiency not equality. That is to say morals are oy brought into it when it affects how much money they are making. Hell, what you are arguing is that defending someone's right to oppress a minority or remove someone's rights on the state level. Even now the private sector is showing how much it cares about our rights by passing a CENSORSHIP bill through Congress.

Also it isn't the epitome of efficiency, otherwise there would be no market failures and the need for government to put systems in place to prevent them from happening again. And market failures take a damn long time to readjust."

Your thoughts?...

12-20-2011, 03:18 PM
The Delta pilot, as the official representative of a private company has the right as a property manager to determine who will be allowed on that property. Delta has a right to fire him, deduct from his pay, or otherwise discipline him if they think he acted out of accordance with their business standards. The plaintiffs have a right to demand their money back + make a civil claim for some extra for the inconvenience of a last minute forced cancellation of their flight plans. If I was delta, and I thought this would hurt my bottom line, I would refund the plaintiff's money, pay them a small amount for the inconvenience, give them free upgrades to first class on their next Delta flight, and at a minimum charge those extra expenditures to the pilot to be deducted from his pay. I would explain to him in writing why he was getting his wages garnished, and that he would be officially on notice that another such incidence would result in termination. He could of course quit, solving my problems even faster.

All in all, I don't see where any government regulation is needed.

12-20-2011, 05:37 PM
"Basic economics say that the free market is a system of efficiency not equality. That is to say morals are oy brought into it when it affects how much money they are making. That is just incorrect on its face. The free market is the ONLY moral system because it violates no one's rights. It comes down to negative vs. positive rights. If you believe that positive rights exist, then you haven't done enough thinking. Because in order to confer positive rights, you have to violate someone's negative rights. You don't have a right to be served by anyone because that would mean they don't have a right to refuse you. And if I don't have the right to refuse you, then I am a slave to you. If I do refuse you, I may have offended you, my business reputation may be at risk, I have lost a potential buyer, but I haven't invaded your rights. This is a proper moral structure. I'd suggest reading Locke.

As for market failures, there is no such thing in a truly free market. Yes, some businesses fail, but the overall market is aided by that failure. It failed for a reason. Usually because not enough people valued the product. But we don't have a free market. Now the failures are hidden until the companies are too big to fail. At that point, the failure falls on the taxpayer. This is the result of government - not the free market. I'd suggest reading Bastiat.

The Gold Standard
12-20-2011, 09:56 PM
The private company should be allowed to serve who they want to. Customers should be allowed to boycott them, and spread the word about their behavior as long as they are factually correct when they do it.