Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Peter Schiff a Racist?

Get this, Business Insider is running a piece arguing that Peter Schiff is a racist. Gary Anderson write at BI:
Peter Schiff once said, and I paraphrase:

Employers should be able to discriminate based on race.
It is time to cut to the chase with regard to Schiff, Libertarianism, and racism. The libertarians will say, "Well, I want other people to hire based on race, but I would never do that". So their argument is that they aren't racist because they choose not to be. However, it is clear that this is a ploy, a scam if you will.
Anderson then goes on to paint with a broader brush:
It is a scam because fostering racism is racism. If you set up racist policies you are fostering racism. Most normal people understand that, but Libertarians are far from normal. I have discussed the racism of Rand Paul and of Murray Rothbard. There is a pattern emerging here
Of course, Anderson's charge is absurd. How does he justify it? This way:
The logic of the Libertarians is what places them into the box of fostering racism. The logic is that it is somehow immoral for a government to force relationships in the public sector. They cannot see the difference between public and private relationships. Making voluntary relationships in public institutionalizes racism.

If the government does what Schiff wants, a big company like Walmart or Target or some other company could start the ball rolling towards the exclusion based upon race. Racism is a fire that is dangerous and deadly. That Schiff and the Libertarians cannot see this shows something lacking in their character.
First objection, how the hell are Walmart and Target public institutions? Last I looked, they are private companies providing products in mutual exchange.

Second, in our private lives, we all discriminate against people. It may be against ugly people, dumb people, people we don't know very long, people that have bad breath, obnoxious people, rude people, interventionists, Keynesians etc. In a world of non-discrimination, you would just show up at a restaurant and be seated with the person that came in just before you. Hey, everybody is equal, right?

Some people discriminate based on sound reasons, others for reasons that don't seem to make a lot of sense to me, but if their discrimination practices cause them to miss out knowing some very interesting people, that's their loss. Same thing if it is a loss for an employer. Except for people like Gary Anderson, who try to impose their values on others, I don't discriminate against many. Anderson has no business telling me who I can and can't associate with. I think I would be miserable if I was forced to have a lunch with this guy. He should mind his own damn business.


  1. Well I'm completely shocked that a two-bit operation like BI has shit writers.

  2. I am tired of these so-called intellectuals writing elaborate pieces filled with baseless, broad brush attacks. When you boil down articles like the one by Anderson you are left with one veiled argument. It goes like this. The government shall control all things and if you believe differently you are a [insert negative label here]. People should have no freedom to be a fool. The government will mandate all behavior and no acts of non-compliance will go unpunished. Of course, these arguments are horrendously lazy. They are living proof that collectivism is, indeed, slavery.

  3. As Tom Woods would say: "Zoommbbiieess!!"

    The racism card against Libertarians is desperate demagoguery at best. Useless attacks by the trolling shill Gary Anderson. If you're familiar with the BI boards you're familiar with his smear attempts and backwards logic ad nauseaum.

  4. Jeff Tucker had a small post on "equality" on last week. I wanted to reply on the "progressive" logical paradox of fostering both "equality" and "diversity."

  5. I took a quick scroll through the comments. Here's a real gem from Commissar Anderson (emphasis mine):

    "Gary Anderson (URL) on Oct 31, 10:42 AM said:
    @David Umstattd: I am for forcing people not to be racist. Eventually their children will choose not to be racist in most cases.

    The point of Peter's statement seems to have sailed right over his head.

  6. Does Anderson think the government should lock people up for cheating on their spouses? If not, he is a cheater and is fostering infidelity. What a jerk.

  7. lmao at the thought of "Schiff the racist Jew".

    Call me racially insensitive...but I think it's funny as hell.

    Being Italian I've always gotten along well with Jews, I think it was due to the history of ostracism in the early 1900's here in the's was a weird kind of "scapegoats bond" over the shared experienced of being hated for religion and immigrant by some protestant sheeple.

    In the end you do what all people do, deal with it and move on...make money with people that want to make money with you even if they have an inclination towards stupidity in the case of those that hate you for genetic reasons.

  8. In a free world -- which ours is not! -- we would have the freedom to associate or not associate with whomever we wanted, for whatever reason, rational or irrational. And individuals would have the right to trade or not trade one's property or wealth with whomever one wished, for whatever reason.

    Believe it or not, statists, the free market would actually weed out the racist-discriminators. If Walmart on Main Street were deliberately not hiring people based on race, and rejected a most qualified applicant based on race while hiring a lesser qualified applicant, the competitor store across the street who doesn't practice racist hiring policies will grab that Walmart-rejected job applicant, who will do a better job for that competitor, and thus make more money and profits for that competitor. Meanwhile, that loser Walmart store will be replaced by a liquor store, because I need a drink after all this.

  9. Yes, let us have this debate about “racism”.

    Of course, it’s not racist to subject poor black people to confiscatory tax rates, hordes of gangbangers created by the drug war and marvelous city services. Like what happened to this poor woman who’s been searching for her father for months only to learn he’s been in the Detroit morgue the entire time:

    Sgt. Eren Stephens, Detroit Police Department spokeswoman, said the officer with Blevins' case did what he could, given his work load. Gunter said the officer returned her calls once, telling her to hire a private investigator.

    Further, due to concerns about discrimination lawsuits, regulations and tax rates, it’s virtually impossible for people to voluntary form a multi-block association with private schools, close off the entire area to strangers (with fences if necessary) and vet all people in advance who might want to live in the area, with the idea of banning druggies and thugs.

    But see, the “progressives” really really care about poor and black people and that’s why we must pay taxes and why we have ubiquitous lawsuits against discrimination.

  10. Employers should be able to discriminate. Period. Employees should be able to discriminate. Period.

    Anything else requires coercive intervention from an outsider. Why are people like Anderson so terrified of letting others make their own choices and associations?

    In his vain attempt to marginalize 'racists' all he ends up doing is inferring that his perceived victims of discrimination are too weak to make their own choices and too weak to be free without he and his ilk.

    Try telling that to their faces, Anderson, instead of cowering behind the bogeyman word 'racist'.

  11. Business Insider is like NPR's Marketplace. It hates business and views the market as a government program.

  12. @ Anonymous 11:39 AM

    was thinking the same thing... Same goes for calling Ron Paul an anti-semite... He avidly reads and follows works of Mises and Rothbard, both jewish.

  13. Maybe somebody should let this guy in on a little secret: libertarians are individualists. The fact that libertarians are individualists would automatically preclude collectivist ideas such as racism; it's kinda hard to hate a group if you don't see humanity as separate groups. Sheesh! Where do they get these guys?

  14. There are three main layers of dumb to what Anderson is saying as far as I can see

    1. It's absolutely obvious that if believing someone has the freedom to do X is the moral equivalent of personally doing X then morality itself is an impossibility. The only way you could shield yourself from the condemnation of Anderson's strange contribution to moral philosophy is by adopting an all encompassing totalitarianism that admitted man of no liberty whatsoever, and I cant think of a view much more immoral than that.

    2. Anderson calls himself a racist without realising it. I mean, is Anderson proposing that we enact laws that forbid the thinking of racist thoughts, and if he isnt, isnt he a racist by the terms of his own argument?

    3. He is thrashing around casting weird racial aspersions in support of a status quo which is racially discriminatory by design. Any business in America that utilises truly race neutral hiring practices runs the risk of being hauled before a court on disparate impact grounds and being forced to start discriminating on race with force of law. Anyone who takes economics seriously has to conclude that the introduction of truly liberal employment laws would see a net decrease in racist hiring decisions. Anderson probably isn't interested because the racism it would most impact is the politically useless kind. You cant make someone a pariah by suggesting they have a prejudice against white males after all.

  15. Does anybody except the dumbest of simple-minded idiots ever listen to the race card garbage anymore?

  16. Until someone opens a cotton plantation and wants to have black people working on it involuntarily for room and board only, or perhaps them having separate bathrooms for whites and non-whites, calling them "racist" is as fatuous as calling them a "douche bag".

  17. Anon@1:29 PM,

    No, fortunately not.

    Unfortunately, it still has its "drawing power" politically and this is where the argument has to be attacked to expose its fallacies IMO.

    Great to see some very good comments on this subject by so many too.

  18. Anderson isn't anti-racism, he's just anti-capitalism.

    That's why he's only attacking (alleged) racist capitalist/employer types, but not racist employees, friends, spouses, neighbors, non-employer customer types.

    He's hiding behind the racism card in order to justify his desire for more government control over the means of production.

    His sorry excuses for arguments are getting absolutely clobbered by the responses. It's hilarious watching him squirm.

  19. Actually, I don't like non-whites very much. Come to think of it I don't like whites very much either, not to mention gays, lesbians, Amish, Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Fundamentalist Christians, men, women, cows, pigs, chickens, goats, fish, assorted crustaceans, worms, and insects. Then there's bankers, lawyers, doctors, salesmen, politicians, painters, writers, bloggers, people who work for the government and people who don't... Let's see have I left anyone out?

    On the other hand, I appear to be stuck here with you clowns and have to make the best of it I can. So, I love you just the way you are. Don't change anything 'cause it would ruin everything and not be near as entertaining. Peace and Love, brothers...

    The final thing I don't like very much is people who sign their posts Anonymous.


    Anonymous ;-)

  20. @Anonymous 3.09

    Bingo. Except I don't even think enough about most people to hate them. I want to avoid them. They are nothing but trouble most of the time. One hand in your pocket, the other sticking a knife in your ribs.

    The guy meant to talk about institutional racism. Unfortunately, his emotions got the better of his analytical ability. So he vented artlessly. What's new. That's the MSM.

    By omitting empire from the discussion Peter was, implicitly, condoning it.

    Empire is mercantilism and war. Theft and killing.

    The ideology of theft and killing is clearly immoral.

    Schiff could probably teach Cornel West, a professor of comparative religion, a thing or two about economics. But West could teach Schiff more than a thing or two, just as important, if not more, about the history of Peter's ideological alliances.

    They really do need to go out and get some coffee together.

  21. Schiff's "debate" with Cornell West on the Anderson Cooper show brought this on:

  22. Racism is wrong, therefore the government must use force, and the threat of naked violence, to ensure that all employers use race as a basis for hiring employees...

    Only in government would this seem to make sense. Almost.

  23. Mr. Wenzel, this is par for the course when it comes to the Gary Anderson fellow. See his four other articles on Mises, Rothbard, etc. linked at the bottom of the article. He is either clueless or evil.

  24. Ughh. You should see the arguments that Gary Anderson is making in the comments section. Here's a good one, he says that once you open a business that trades with the public, that business is not longer a private entity, rather it is a public entity. The guy is an egalitarian collectivist. Shoot, he even refuses to use a lowercase "l" when typing libertarian. That should be an immediate red flag that he sees the world and humanity in groups rather than individuals. Basically, he is framing his arguments utilizing the intellectual roots of racism, but he doesn't even realize that he's doing it. He's blind.

  25. That whole article is a zombie attack if ever I saw one: www.­interviewwithazo­mbie.­com

  26. The charge of racism without specific instances is the "politically correct" (i.e. read Fabian social democrat) charge against libertarians and individualists now.

    What's interesting is that it is an "institutional" charge more than an "individual" charge, although sometimes (i.e. see Wolf Blitzer's recent attack on Ron Paul r.e. the old newsletters.[See here - MP3"]) . The trouble is that the Progressives / Fabians / Corporatists (all really the same thing) are the prime defenders and extenders of the institutions of institutionalised racism. To point this out reveals their extreme sensitivity on the matter.

    These socialists like to say libertarians are racist because they oppose formal anti-discrimination machinery and prefer free association and letting individuals decide. Their criticism is a "nudge nudge wink wink" language implying that libertarians want to return to "the bad old days" of Jim Crow etc.

    They need to be called out on it. The bad old days were mainly bad because government was enforcing and encouraging discrimination - explicitly through Jim Crow etc but also implicitly by encouraging monopolistic practices and enforcing pro-union policies that had the secondary and "possibly unintentional" (but at least unspoken) side effect of forcing minorities out. In some ways the not-explicitly-racist forms of government intervention were worse. Back in the early sixties, Milton Friedman used to say that the most anti-black law on the statute books was the minimum wage law. He may have been exaggerating but he wasn't exaggerating by much.

    There is a huge quantity of empirical information that shows the damage minimum wage laws do to minority economic opportunities as well as a a growing body of research showing ((see here- PDF)) competition reduces the incentives for discrimination. Socialists turn a deliberate blind eye to these. Maybe free marketeers need to go on the offensive and start calling the Fabians racist.

    In practice most of the machinery of institutionalised racism remains in place - it is called the corporate state - even if the formally and explicitly racist stuff has been removed and chump change anti-discrimination bureaus established that work on civil service hours. A competitive marketplace is an anti-discrimination mechanism that works 24 x 7 and you don't need to be a friend of bureaucrat to make it work in your favor.

    The Fabian / Progressive / Corporatist campaign against racism is "lipstick on a pig." They retain, maintain and extend the institutional base of institutional racism whilst making a song and dance about anti-discrimination bureaucrats, PR campaigns and intellectually dubious education campaigns.

    And don't ask about the war on drugs!!

  27. @earth that was

    Actually, it's much worse than that.

    Race politics was actually introduced through foundation activism as a way to split up labor by dividing whites and blacks.

    Notice how Peter Schiff faced off with black OWS protestors and a black professor. That's the way these things are spun.

    So instead of the people versus the bankers, it becomes (rich) white versus (poor) black..and suddenly, bingo, any encroachment on the state becomes ipso facto a roll-back of the civil rights act.

    That then slides over the differences between statist and non-statist solutions, nuances of economics and finance, and goes right back to more tribal feelings, which, I'm sorry, libertarians have just as much as anyone else, although, admirably, they try to base their positions on more rational considerations.

    There is a lot of positioning in these things.
    I've watched these sorts of side-shows for nearly two decades now and they are not accidental. Emphatically not.

  28. Lila, I actually saw that face off between Peter Schiff and Cornel West. Boy, was that uncomfortable or what? You essentially had two extremely loud proponents with regard to left/right politics arguing over the social organization of the market and the state, they even brought their own flavors of revisionist history along for the ride.

    I like Schiff and I have respect for him even though I don't think of him as Austro-libertarian (my own opinion). West? Well let's just say that I think that he and his ideology perpetuates much of what he despises in society today and leave it at that.

    What I will say is that in that particular debate I was rooting for Schiff, but found his arguments to be just as lacking in specificity and mass appeal as that of West. Somebody not knowledgeable of political philosophy and/or economics (or, the divisions thereof) would come out of that debate thinking that Schiff is a rich Wall Street thug (the enemy) and West is a humble man of the people (the good guy). The deeper content of what they are saying is completely lost on most. From this you get rich vs poor, black vs. white, taxpayers vs tax-consumers, etc. It really is unnerving to be able to see it clearly while at the same time knowing the inevitable clouded result.

    I don't know many Austro-libertarians that would say that "it is the rich that make your current lives possible." No, we understand that it is the cooperation of individuals at all levels of the economy that makes all of society and humanity possible. Where we draw the line is with regard to the laws and ethics pertaining to private property and the use of force, much of which is derived from the (classical) liberal tradition of natural rights and natural law (i.e. based upon reason).

  29. @Joseph Fetz

    100 percent right. I actually thought I'd dislike Cornel West and found him likeable.

    But neither he nor Schiff had much time to develop arguments and so neither presented their views in any depth. Both sides of course declared victory on their respective websites.

    These set ups are INTENDED to do that - reinforce each side and polarize.

    In my first book I described this in some detail. There are specific techniques involved and anyone who goes on these shows is plain dumb, if the object is to convert anyone or do anything from an evangelical point of view. Lamb is the best for that.

    If you want more name recognition for selling books, go ahead, but don't kid yourself you're part of the solution. You're part of the problem, with apologies to Mr. Schiff.

    He wants to present the case for capitalism?
    Here's how.

    In the first place, go find the smartest guy you can think of on the opposite side, who is an economist.

    Otherwise, it's not a fair fight and it looks unfair. When I watched Schiff with the crowd, my head agreed with him, but my heart felt for those people. Their very inarticulateness trumped anything he could say.
    You could hear the misery and anger. And he sounded smart but with a tin ear - the subtext came of as "these marbles are mine, mine, all mine; go buy your own"

    Point two.
    Go on Brian Lamb or Charlie Rose and tell them precisely why some idea or proposal fails (like Wenzel just did with Cain's tax proposal).

    Then be sure to lay out your specific proposal, however radical, and tell them in detail how it affects businesses and how it will pan out for the ordinary man.

    If you can't do that, don't do it, is my opinion.

    Wenzel's podcasts will do far more good than that sort of thing.

  30. What many are not aware is that racism is permitted by many States - it's called "right to work". When running my business in a "right to work" State, the advice provided by my attorney was never to document the reason I terminate an employee because I can be sued based on my decision. However, the State does not require a valid reason for termination - you simply say "today is your last day" - and leave it at that. I can fire someone for any reason in these States and no cause is required. I like this about those States a lot, even though I no longer run my business but instead am an employee. It's freedom to run a business according to my desires, not the desires of the State.

    I can say exactly what a Libertarian would - I'm not racist nor would I make hiring/firing decisions based on race, but it should be permitted. I prefer we all have a choice rather than the Gov't dictate how I should live my life, teach my kids, feel about those around me, manage my finances, or run my business.

  31. "Wenzel's podcasts will do far more good than that sort of thing."

    I certainly hope that they will.

    I completely understand your feelings with regard to Schiff's debate with West, as well as his "I am the 1%" video. While I have a deep intellectual sense of what he (Schiff) is trying to convey, it just comes off as being a straight prick. While the right-wingers will certainly eat this up (after all, it is the supply side of the curve that makes the world go round), I cannot go along for that ride.

    People forget that the entire system is integral to society, from the top to the bottom. One should not favor a particular sector or section of the economic system, rather they should realize that each is merely a part of the system itself, that each part is not more or less important than the other. All are inextricably linked and dependent upon the others. Most importantly, that none of this would at all be possible without the cooperation of individuals.

  32. I like it when these folks gives them less and less credibility. I think Obama's election was actually very helpful in this...No one with a brain takes these charges seriously anymore, and they just help the cause of truth in the end. When people laugh at morons like know WE have won.

  33. @ Lila Rajiva

    I think you are very correct in your assessment of Mr. Schiff. I like the man, I agree with almost all of his ideas, but he needs to find a more effective way of communicating, especially with people who are so uneducated and inarticulate as some of the OWS with whom he spoke.

    Here are some difficult facts: Cornel West is likely a sincere believer who has honestly accepted the entire "Business will kill us unless the government protects us" story which we all heard in public school. Mr. West has achieved success in his field and acclaim from his fellows for his work in promulgating that myth. He does not see the holes in it, and being an honest man, he will never change his mind unless he undergoes a long -- and I mean five or ten years -- process of restructuring his ideas. The same can be said for the various people speaking from the OWS crowd with Mr. Schiff. They have been deeply indoctrinated with the "government will save us" myth and cannot be won over by any sort of quick debate. It will take years.

    The best approach -- for the present -- is to concentrate on what ideas both sides have in common and on goals with which both sides agree. Neither Schiff nor West would approve of starting violence; point out to West that government coercion really is violence. Neither Schiff not the OWS crowd support fraud. Point out that the Wall Street bankers engaged in fraud with the help of government, not in spite of it.

    Most of all, don't make it a debate about policy, should we do this, should we pass that law, etc. Make it a discussion about ethics, about what happens when people do unethical or dishonest things, about what happens when people initiate force, about who owns their own lives and labor. Unless the argument is made from first principles and is allowed to go on over a period of years, we will continue to see name calling of "racist,homophobe, heartless, etc."

    This is NOT a debate. This is NOT a debate. This NOT a debate.

    This is a discussion among family. This is a meeting of brothers and sisters and we are trying to persuade them that a world of freedom and charity is possible.

  34. I love it!

    In a very real sense throughout these posts the argument was made for why educational freedom of choice is so important.

  35. @Jason,

    Very well said. You might be right about discussions about specific policy being a bad idea.

    And I agree hundred percent with criminality in the markets and focusing on that..but then you get to policy prescriptions.

    Maybe it should be kept general to the level of the state is violent and so on..

    But I think that concedes the notion that libertarianism has no real world application.
    Even if you're going to be against the state, you will be forced to focus on which parts of the state are the most dangerous.

    If you focus on antiwar, that's one good place, but you're unlikely to make any change.

    That change will likely be brought about by the rest of the world, not America.

    And by reality. By bankruptcy

  36. "We won't tolerate your INTOLERANCE!" LoL

  37. A point rarely made about racism is that it is harmless. If I don't want to associate with some people because of their genetic attributes, I do them now harm at all. Actually, since that would make me an idiot, I'm doing them a favor by avoiding them. It is coercion that is harmful. When it is motivated by racism (Jim Crow laws) it is no more ugly than when it is motivated by busy-body social engineering as promoted by the Gary Anderson fool mentioned here.