Let them be jerks! Deregulating the Heinous.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

Imagine you’ve just left your local mom and pop hardware store and mom or pop treated you like an idiot because you didn’t know the difference between a ball peen versus a claw hammer. It happens all the time, right? We get bad service everywhere these days, and that’s part of life. How do we react to it? We don’t frequent that store again unless we absolutely have to.

Dick's Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It's their thing.
Dick’s Last Resort. The only restaurant famous for being rude. It’s their thing.

So what actually transpires in this example? You have, in effect, fired that particular store. They work for you for a fee to make a living, and you’ve decided that you no longer wish them to do so. We often consider the firing of an employee a bad or immoral act if the person has committed no crime, but is this hypocrisy? Many of the same people who make such criticisms are the same people who lambaste a company for bad service, vowing never to return, to their friends.

So I want to go out on a bit of a blue-sky limb here with a unique proposal. There should be no regulations in the marketplace unless they fall under two basic parameters:

  • Laws that protect a corporation from violating a persons rights: These would be regulations against practices like dumping toxic waste; stealing intellectual property, patents, etc.; or laws preventing practices that risk the lives of patrons and employees alike not disclosed at the outset. For instance, people who change light bulbs on radio towers or people taking sky-diving lessons are certainly at risk, but they knew that before they agreed to do business together, not afterwards.
  • Laws that preserve competitive capitalism. Regulations such as anti-collusion and antitrust laws that ensure the marketplace remains competitive.

At first, this seems innocent enough, but when I outline what this potentially entails, you may think senility has overcome me. However, hear me out before you dismiss this off the cuff.

Laws that prevent discrimination, harassment, or any other behaviors commonly considered immoral may seem like the right thing to do, but as with any such laws they have unintended consequences.

One issue is that they mask a business owner’s true character, which may be one that you might avoid if they were allowed to be themselves. In doing so, we are affording a person you wouldn’t dream of doing business with greater success than they would get otherwise.

One look at the train wreck known as Amy’s Baking Company and their ensuing media meltdown after Gordon Ramsay had to walk away for the first time in the 100-episode history of Kitchen Nightmares is all it takes to see what free press, word of mouth, and social media can do to right a wronged marketplace of bottom feeders like this couple, and it’s happening without government intervention.

Imagine the New Black Panthers wanted to open up a “African-American Only” restaurant. Obviously I would not be allowed in, but would I want to? Even if the food is great, if the owners and customers are vehemently racist and really don’t like white people, then so be it. I think it’s morally wrong, but the government’s duty isn’t to legislate morality, it’s there to protect my rights—period. I’ll take my business elsewhere just like anyone else who would find this practice offensive.

Just as I never liked Augusta National‘s outdated racist/sexist policies of old, I never felt it was anyone’s right to dictate to them otherwise at the point of a gun, which is ultimately what government regulations are if taken to their ultimate conclusion.

But look what happened with Augusta. The press and people chastised them for being this way, and they eventually got sick of being hated by those of us who actually have a moral compass, and softened their stance accordingly. But to this day, and I know to some this is sacrilege, but if offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance of playing Augusta or TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, I choose the latter without batting an eye—I doubt Augusta cares though. Freedom dictates Augusta and Sawgrass both be allowed to exist as they wish and fight for market share without government getting involved.

TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole
TPC Sawgrass 17th Hole

Going back to Amy’s Baking Company, it was revealed during the show that the owner was not paying his servers the tips they had earned. He was pocketing it himself because he said he was doing much of the work, which was clearly debatable. To Gordon Ramsay’s credit, he announced this to the restaurant, and patrons were none too pleased. At this point, I have little doubt that many of them, as well as the employees and potential future employees and patrons, will never return to this little fascist bistro.

But what if there were laws preventing this? (Actually, I suspect that maybe there are and they just aren’t complying)

Why let the government hide an entrepreneur’s true nature just because it feels right? I want to know what kind of person I’m doing business with, and these morality laws hide that; making me an uninformed consumer in the process. If that business owner hates me because of my race, sex, or religious philosophy, I don’t want to do business with them. So I want them  free to show me who they really are so that I may choose to stay or go.

People often lose sight of what a business is—an investment property owned by an entrepreneur. Just as you wouldn’t want the government prohibiting you from enjoying a stogie in your car, the government shouldn’t be dictating whether the owner of a business can allow people to smoke there. If it were a restaurant and you liked the food, but not the smoke, you can carry out, eat outside, or find another restaurant. You can also suggest to the owner that you may not patron their establishment so long as they allow people to smoke, and let them decide how they wish to proceed. But you, and by virtue of the phrase, “We The People,” the government, have no right dictating to a business owner how they should run their business.US Constitution

So when it comes to business, let them be the jerks that they are, then let the market sort it out accordingly.


4 thoughts on “Let them be jerks! Deregulating the Heinous.”

  1. Thank you! What a great post, and what a perfectly relevant example.

    You basically took the words out of my mouth – I want to know if the company I’m considering working for or doing business with has offensive values. In many cases, we have no idea if we can really trust companies because they can always just hide behind nondiscrimination laws (which doesn’t mean they don’t in fact discriminate). It is my personal opinion that many large companies which tout their supposed love of diversity are in fact staffed by homophobes and sexists who find subtle ways of working their bigotry into the company’s operations (especially on a local level where small-town values may be very backwards). It saddens me that people don’t really know which companies they can work for and safely come out of the closet.

    Of course as you pointed out the same goes for other worker rights issues (like servers getting their tips).

    Go free markets.

  2. I know this post is from last year, but I think it’s very relevant to some recent events where we’ve had gay couples suing businesses that refuse to serve at their weddings… and winning the lawsuits. I think your viewpoint is spot on.

    It’s amazing to see the “reasoning” behind people’s arguments on this issue. I asked one person point-blank, “Do you believe that a person should be forced, under threat of lawsuit, to do something against his religious beliefs, just because he owns a business?” The answers run something like, “Well, *I* would have just baked the cake for them…” (So what? Therefore everyone else should be forced to do exactly what you would do?) Or, “Isn’t he the owner of a business that is open to the public?” (And isn’t he first and foremost a human being with religious freedom?) “Well, the gay couple was simply exercising their right to sue for damages. Don’t they have the freedom to sue?” (Of course, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to win.)

    Great minds must think alike, because you brought up some points that I was already making before reading your blog: (1) You can’t legislate morality — that also applies to legislating against bigotry. (2) If we knew the true character of business owners, we could more easily punish the jerks by refusing to patronize them.

    Look, I’m all about treating LGBTs with respect and dignity just like every other human being. But that goes for religious folks too. I think it’s disgraceful that the government uses its power to force a citizen to do something that they believe is essentially spitting in God’s face, or else lose their property (monetary damages) or even their livelihood (their business). I realize not all of the states allow for this to happen, but this kind of thing shouldn’t fly anywhere in a free country. If the public thinks a business is bigoted, then they are free to boycott the business. I don’t know why this concept is so difficult for people to grasp.

    Sorry for the rant!

    1. Thanks for the comment Carrie, I’m glad you like it. It’s a shame people don’t understand that freedom means freedom, not freedom as long as it doesn’t offend someone.

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