Monday, May 24, 2010

Legal Permanence

The last email from contains the following. They are complaining about the libertarian position on business rights. Paul believes that it is not fair to force someone to associate with people he or she does not want to, just because that person is operating a business.

According to Paul, the market's free hand would eventually have forced most businesses to serve black people.
But Paul is badly in need of a history lesson. Even after Jim Crow laws were reversed, those businesses that actually served blacks were still subject to threats and outright violence - often sanctioned by local and state governments. The market would never have eliminated slavery, and it's not going to eliminate racism, either.

But, by their own description of the history, profit-seeking businesses wanted to serve all people equally, and were prevented from doing so by the power of the state. They make the Libertarian case themselves, obviously without realizing it. The government is the main problem.

Actually, they are partially right. Much of the business community wanted this legislation passed, because it gave them 'cover' for doing what they wanted to do anyway: serve all customers.

The Civil Rights Act is an example of a bit of legislation that was needed in its time, but is no longer necessary in its current form. We may need some version of it, but not the version we have now. It should be changed to fit modern times.

It is a mistake to make all laws permanent. This means that the legal code just keeps growing in size and complexity, slowly choking the country. I believe that all laws should be limited, say to ten years, so that it automatically expires unless renewed. That way, most of Congress's time would be spent arguing whether or not to renew old laws, and how to change them, so the total complexity of our laws would not grow as quickly.

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