In a free market – an economy not controlled by politicians – every individual would be free to do whatever they wanted, as long as they didn’t physically harm a person or damage or steal their property (murder, rape, auto theft, etc.) Without government officials distorting the economy, any person would be free to market their product or service to whomever they wanted. Technically, this would mean that discrimination would be legal. ‘Discrimination’ has become associated with evil and bigotry. This behavior is extremely common, though. In fact, we are all probably guilty of discriminating against many individuals.
If you investigate the dating history of each individual in the US, you would likely find that nearly everybody has a preference for a prospective partner. The same might be true for business partners and customers. When you choose to drink coffee from Starbucks, you are essentially discriminating against the Dunkin Donuts franchise. When you buy a Ford, you are punishing Chevrolet! When you use Facebook to target Ravens fans to sell products from your ‘Purple & Gold’ online store, you are discriminating against the great fans that comprise ‘Patriot Nation’ and you are insulting the Seahawks’ 12th man! When you vote for the Democratic candidates down the entire ballot, you are essentially discriminating against the Republican and Libertarian parties and their candidates and voters. It may sound silly, but ‘discrimination’ is inherent in every choice made by every individual. In order to abolish all discrimination, all choices would have to be abolished.
I am guilty of discrimination, as well. Among the women I’ve been involved with during my dating years, I’ve never been with a Texan. Technically, this means that I discriminate against the beautiful women of the Lone Star State. How dare I be so distasteful and bigoted! When I utilize Facebook’s advertisement system, I often target specific cohorts and I sometimes exclude certain demographics. I often target pro-freedom Facebook users when I ‘boost’ my articles and videos regarding low taxes, school choice, and deregulation. Facebook users who support anti-gun groups like ‘Moms Demand Action’ do not want to see ads for my article explaining the importance of the 2nd amendment, so I often exclude them. Could you honestly say that you’ve never chosen to target any cohort or individual over another?
Though Donald Trump and Ben Carson campaigned as free market conservatives who supported small government and free markets, the president and his HUD secretary are now using a horrific, anti-freedom federal law to distort the housing market. As is the case with many of Trump’s programs, he seems to be continuing a practice employed by the Obama administration.
On Friday, August 17th, the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a complaint against Facebook. As reported by Politico, HUD and the DOJ are claiming that Facebook has violated the Fair Housing Act by allowing property management companies and/or landlords to target ads to specific types of people, a marketing strategy that seems to be utilized by nearly every company on Facebook (including The Liberty Block).
Though it may sound unethical, it turns out that some people prefer to lease their apartments to individuals of a certain cohort. Imagine that you own an apartment building with 50 units and you’ve had 200 different tenants since you bought the building. If you’ve found that certain types of people are often delinquent on their rent payments and make a lot of noise and fight with neighbors, shouldn’t you have the freedom to advertise to the bad cohort less than the other cohorts? We aren’t even discussing whether it should be legal to refuse to rent to a certain person (in a free market, it would be legal for anyone to refuse any business deal). The DOJ and HUD are contending that people should be forced by law to advertise to all cohorts equally. Think about how fascist that is.
From the complaints and the lawsuits by the ‘housing groups’ against Facebook, it seems that the transgressions involved landlords preferring not to advertise their rental properties to the Facebook news feeds of disabled people, parents of high school students, African Americans, Jews, members of some Latin American countries, and possibly to other groups. As I mention in nearly every political debate, there is a very important distinction between what ought to be considered ‘good behavior’ and what ought to be a crime. As a member of one of these groups, I might feel offended that companies do not have any interest in renting their apartments to my cohort. I would consider these companies to be guilty of ‘bad behavior’. However, their marketing practices should not be considered a crime. Put simply, the ‘Fair Housing Act’ should not exist. I do not believe that any person should be forced by law enforcement to do business with every type of person in existence. Furthermore, I do not trust politicians with the power to decide which practices are prosecuted as ‘criminal discrimination’.
Ironically, many on the political left and the political right support both discrimination and anti-discrimination laws when it suits their own beliefs. Those on the right are happy that the SCOTUS has (sort of) vindicated the baker who refused to bake a custom cake for a gay couple’s wedding. In direct contrast to their support for freedom of association in the gay cake case, conservatives are furious that social media sites prioritize left-wing stories and accounts over their right-wing counterparts. PragerU, a conservative YouTube channel is suing YouTube for restricting their videos. Many conservatives in Congress condemned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and many have implied that they would support federal laws to prevent this discrimination from happening again. It seems that the entire political left was furious when the Colorado baker refused to bake a specialized cake for the wedding between two men. At the same time, leftist goliaths, Facebook and Google have been illegally supporting left-wing articles and sites.
As usual, libertarians support consistent freedom of association. I reiterate the libertarian ideology: Unless there is theft or physical harm involved, no politicians should send law enforcement after anyone for any behavior. Libertarians believe that any baker should have the freedom to bake and sell cakes for whomever he wants. We believe that any (non-government) website, including social media sites, should be free to do anything they want. If this results in The Liberty Block being removed from Facebook, so be it. We will NEVER support any law that empowers politicians to control even more of our behavior than they currently do.
Understanding that the nature of politicians is to be power-hungry, corrupt, incompetent, and evil, how many politicians would you trust to control our economy?