Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On The REAL Threat Against Blacks and Jews

The following email was forwarded to Prof. Walter Block via an acquaintance:
As you know, I have long believed we should repeal so-called “human rights” legislation that tramples on our true human rights like free expression, freedom of association, freedom on conscience and religion, and the ownership and enjoyment of one’s private property.

The first objection raised by the other side is “but then business owners can post a sign saying ‘we don’t serve Blacks’ or ‘Jews need not apply for employment’”.

What would be your answer(s) to this objection?

Dr. Block responds:

The power of this argument stems from the fallacious economic claim that if this occurred, then blacks and Jews would be economically harmed. I don’t say that the entire output of Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell is in refutation of this argument, but an awful lot of it is. I myself have contributed a bit to this literature, mainly around male female wage differences which is the same thing economically speaking (“We don’t hire women!”).

See below for a bibliography on this issue.

Let me put this in the simplest terms.

There are two groups of people, X’s and Y’s. The X’s are a big majority, the Y’s a small minority. Both have equal productivity, and hence wages, say, at $10 per hour are equal. There is no discrimination, initially. Then, the X’s start to discriminate. They say, don’t hire Y’s. The Y wage falls from $10 to $4, at least initially. But, remember, Y productivity (which determines wages) has not changed by one iota. At $4 per hour, hiring those Y’s are a gigantic profit opportunity. An employer (X or Y it matters not) who hires a Y makes $6 per hour off of him, while anyone employing an X makes zero, as he would, in equilibrium. That is why this boycott fails. Those who insist on hiring X’s go broke, out competed by both X’s and Y’s who hire the Y’s. Eventually, the Y wage creeps back up from $4 to the initial $10. This sort of discrimination is impotent to hurt its victims. Nor is there any interim period when the Y’s suffer, temporarily. I just go thru this process to show why boycotts fail. This is a contrary to fact conditional.

The REAL threat against blacks and Jews is far different: lynchings, Jim Crow, pogroms, holocuasts, etc.

Here’s the biblio:

Becker, 1957; Block, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2010, 2013; Block and Williams, 1981; Epstein, 1992; Herrnstein and Murray, 1994; Levin, 1982, 1984, 1987a, 1997b; Mattei, 2004; Rockwell, 2003; Rothbard, 1978; Sowell, 1975, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1994; Whitehead, Block and Hardin, 1999; Whitehead and Block, 2003; Williams, 1982a, 1982b, 2003.

Becker, Gary. 1957. The Economics of Discrimination, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

Block, Walter. 1992. "Discrimination: An Interdisciplinary Analysis," The Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, pp. 241-254. (14)

Block, Walter. 1994. "Sex Education" Cliches of Politics, Mark Spengler, ed., Irvington on Hudson, New York: Foundation for Economic Education, pp. 240-242

Block, Walter. 1998. “Compromising the Uncompromisable: Discrimination,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 57, No. 2, April, 1998, pp. 223-237.

Block, Walter E. 2010. The Case for Discrimination. Auburn, AL: The Mises Institute

Block, Walter and Walter E. Williams. 1981. "Male-Female Earnings Differentials: A Critical Reappraisal," The Journal of Labor Research, Vol. II, No. 2, Fall, pp. 385-388;

Epstein, Richard A. 1992. Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws, Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Herrnstein, Richard J., and Murray, Charles. 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
, New York: The Free Press

Levin, Michael. 1982. “Is Racial Discrimination Special?,” Policy Review, Vol. 22, Fall, pp. 85-95

Levin, Michael. 1984. "Comparable Worth: The Feminist Road to Socialism," Commentary, September.

Levin, Michael. 1987a. Feminism and Freedom, New York: Transaction Books.

Levin, Michael. 1997. Why Race Matters, Westport, CT: Praeger

Mattei, Eric. 2004. “Employment at Will.” April 28

Rockwell, Jr., Llewellyn H. 2003. “Discrimination and Freedom.” The Free Market. Vol. 21, No. 4, April;

Rothbard, Murray N. 1978. For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, New York: Macmillan

Sowell, Thomas. 1975. Race and Economics  New York: Longman

Sowell, Thomas. 1981. Ethnic America: A History, New York: Basic Books.

Sowell, Thomas. 1982. Weber and Bakke and the presuppositions of ‘Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity, Walter E. Block  and Michael Walker, eds., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.

Sowell, Thomas. 1983. The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective
. New York, Morrow.

Sowell, Thomas. 1994. Race and Culture: A World View. New York: Basic Book

Whitehead, Roy, Walter E. Block  and Lu Hardin. 1999. “Gender Equity in Athletics: Should We Adopt a Non-Discriminatory Model?” The University of Toledo Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, Winter, pp. 223-249;

Whitehead, Roy and Walter E. Block. 2002. “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Property Rights Perspective,” University of Utah Journal of Law and Family Studies, Vol. 4, pp.226-263;

Williams, Walter, E. 1982a. The State Against Blacks, New York, McGraw-Hill.

Williams, Walter. 1982b. "On Discrimination, Prejudice, Racial Income Differentials, and Affirmative Action," Discrimination, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity,y, Walter E. Block  and Michael Walker, eds., Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.

Williams, Walter E. 2003. "Discrimination: The Law vs. Morality," Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy Fall pp. 111-136;
p. 114

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business                   
Loyola University New Orleans

1 comment:

  1. Leave it to Walter to cut through the crap.
    But I would add that the REAL culprit in discrimination is the STATE. They are the only ones with the ability to FORCE compliance with discrimination (Jim Crow etc...)
    Try selling this obvious truth to the Southern Poverty Law Center hacks...