One classic case that the multitude of those on the left love to use against free market capitalism is the case of discrimination. Without government to intervene and force businesses to serve whoever comes to them without bias or prejudice, businesses will obviously discriminate against all kinds of people left and right. If we were to allow them to do this, there would be entire groups of people who simply wouldn’t be provided basic services that millions of other Americans enjoy every day and take for granted.
Today’s most popular example of this is the case of the Christian baker and the gay couple wanting a wedding cake. If there is no government that makes laws against discrimination of gay couples, so the argument goes, they won’t be able to have a happy wedding with a cake just like straight couples enjoy.
Even the Libertarian nominee for President, Gary Johnson, seems to yield to this idea as he defended his stance during the Libertarian Presidential Forum on the Stossel show in April. Gary recently doubled down on his claims in an interview with Red Alert Politics, stating that people who use religious liberty as an excuse to discriminate would open up a “black hole” of all kinds of discrimination in businesses.
Capitalism may be great, but it clearly can’t have the solution to end discrimination – many claim. Unfortunately for them, this argument is utterly destroyed in a photography case in Virginia.
According to 13 News Now (WVEC), a photographer would not accept taking a picture of a young girl diagnosed with Down Syndrome, so a Virginia photographer, Stephanie Smith, made the decision to do something about it. Not with a petition or a protest or by lobbying lawmakers to pass legislation against this, but by offering free photo shoots for children with special needs, as shown in the below video:
What many think of a small yet kind act of a woman just paying it forward, this also illustrates the beauty of free market capitalism and the freedom of choice in a market place. It wasn’t government that stomped out bigotry. There were no laws passed to ensure special needs children were not discriminated against. In fact, it is because of the freedom to discriminate that countless children now have a smile on their face and feel beautiful.
Capitalism provided that there be options for these children. Because of no government red tape, no single person or business had a monopoly on photography. While this allowed one lady to freely discriminate, the more important lesson to take away is that it allowed not only Ms. Smith the freedom to take action, but also the families to choose something better for themselves and the kids. Because of competition and choice, the freedom to discriminate may exist, but that is a far cry to suggest that capitalism protects, or even encourages people to do so. The cry to ban discrimination is emotion-driven, but doesn’t stand well against logic, reason, or the law of economics.
What is left out of the argument when pushing for anti-discrimination laws is the naturally good human element in individuals coupled with the law of supply and demand. Very few in today’s society likes a bigot, thus the demand for a discrimination free environment in either services or the work place is high. Couple this with the supply of other, more inclusive service being very high and what you have is an economy where it pays to be good to your fellow man. If you aren’t, your competition will be.
This is exactly the case in Virginia. The freedom to discriminate ironically lead to much happier families and a satisfied photographer who can sleep well knowing she did the right thing. This also would be the case with the Christian baker and the gay couple wanting a wedding cake. If they are in a situation where the only baker in the area is the one who wouldn’t serve them, that is a failure of the government for imposing too much red tape, not of the market place.
In a truly free market economy, being good to your fellow man is, in fact, good for business.
Only when government thinks it can fix a problem with more intervention, more rules, and more red tape can a few form a virtual monopoly on their industry. Then they can easily get away with treating workers poorly or discriminating against those they are serving.
The free market is in fact a truly beautiful thing that brings out the absolute best in humanity. In order for it to do that, however, you must be also provided the freedom to be the worst. True capitalism can filter out and separate the good from the bad, ensuring the good is rewarded and that the bad doesn’t last long. As long as government thinks it knows best, our problems with discrimination will continue to arise. With the case in Virginia though, the market somehow always finds a way to win in the end, and give us all a little smile to get through the day.