Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Discrimination and the market

Stephen Harper's mentor Tom Flanagan, taking time off from slagging the First Nations, has decided to target Canada's human rights commissions.

Shorter Flanagan:
"We don't need no legislation, we don't need no thought control."
I find myself wondering how a professor at a respectable university can get away with such a farrago of lies and half-truths, but no doubt tenure helps. Or maybe there's something in Calgary's drinking water.

Just check this out, for starters:

Both federal and provincial commissions are suffering blowback from their unsuccessful attempts to muzzle media gadflies Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant.

This has to be the single silliest sentence ever written about Canadian human rights commissions, and that bloviating narcissist Ezra Levant, as I need not remind readers, has set quite the benchmark in this respect. "Unsuccessful attempts to muzzle?" Muzzling might have been the aim of the complainants, but (I hope I'm not misremembering) didn't the various commissions and tribunals throw out the complaints? Every last cotton-picking one of them? And Mark Steyn, bless his cold-spirited Islamophobic heart, wasn't a respondent in any of them.

But Flanagan is merely warming to his task, which is to propose the Ausrottung of all human rights commissions, letting the market alone decide the discrimination question. "[I]ssues of prejudice and discrimination are far too complex," intones the Professor, "to be resolved by human-rights sloganeering."

Ah, yes, the market, that panacea for all human ills. It's expensive to discriminate, says the Professor. Non-discriminating employers get to choose from a larger labour pool; restaurants that discriminate make less money; racist landlords end up with empty apartments. So much for anti-Semitic "gentlemen's agreements" and restricted hotels, "No Irish Need Apply," "No Coloureds," and all of those other apparent figments of our historical imagination. Discrimination in the private sector, he says, is "self-liquidating," something that will come as news to the many successful complainants before any of our human rights tribunals, and I'm not talking about the "hate speech" provisions, either.

Yes, there was indeed discrimination in the past, the Professor concedes, and he offers us quite a selective list of examples, all instances of abuses by Big Gummint using "the coercive monopoly of the state." Hence (don't look down--we're taking quite a leap here) the government setting up institutions to counter discrimination in the private sector, he says, is a case of the fox guarding the henhouse. Only the public sector, he says, should be regulated in this way--assuming that anything is left of it if he and his prime ministerial protégé have their way.

Expensive to discriminate?
To give just one obvious counter-example, abolishing the commission-enforced "duty to accommodate," which levels the employment playing field for those with disabilities, would be out the window and down the street as soon as the ink on the repeal legislation was dry. It can cost money to accommodate, even if not so much as many believe. If employers didn't have to accommodate, most of them wouldn't. And, since Ezra Levant was mentioned, let me note that his own attitudes in this respect, and those of his wretched hangers-on, adumbrate the fate of the disabled under Flanagan's cure-all free enterprise regime.

Of course, it's actually cheap, not expensive, to discriminate. Whites-only landlords never had any difficulty finding tenants. Restaurateurs, movie-house proprietors and the construction trades thrived in the past despite explicitly racist practices. Whites-only nightclubs in Calgary are doing very nicely right now. Private enterprise didn't liquidate those practices--the government did, pushed by activists on the ground. And it clearly has more work to do.

But now there's pushback--indeed, there always has been, but in the midst of a deep recession it's becoming mainstream once again. No, you won't find people like Tom Flanagan openly defending crude discrimination per se, setting aside his assimilationist approach to Native Canadians. But, like the Speech Warriors™ going to bat for Nazis and homophobes, he's quite happy to enable it--all the while making the absurdly false claim that the unfettered market will eliminate it. Nope, Tom. Never has. Never will.

No comments: