Captain Obvious is a feature at Greenlee Gazette, where I get up on my soapbox and opine on issues that should be obvious but for some reason aren't.
The latest political firestorm is over Rand Paul's (and by extension Ron Paul's) ideas about the Civil Rights Act as it pertains to private businesses. Essentially, Paul is saying that the government has no right to tell private businesses that they have to be racially inclusive. While making abundantly clear that he himself is not a racist, he thinks businesses should be allowed to post "whites only" signs in their windows.
Like many Libertarian ideas, what he is saying makes sense. . .for about a minute. Then, if you start thinking about it, it falls apart. He's right, that if a business did such a thing, they'd face public scorn, and people would shun such businesses, and they'd succeed or fail for their actions. But the premise is wrong. Of course the government has a right to legislate what business can and cannot do.
To illustrate my point, here are some things that business cannot do under law:
- Sell cigarettes to underage customers.
- Sell alcohol without a license, or to underage customers.
- Sell unregistered handguns willy-nilly.
- Sell cocaine.
- Offer sex for money (except in certain counties in Nevada).
- Sell knockoffs of brand name merchandise.
I'm sure you can think of many other examples. One widespread prohibition for business in recent years is the regulation of smoking. Even here in Nevada, cigarettes cannot be smoked in any business that is not adults only. Even places like bars that serve food can't allow smoking, as somebody might have brought their kids in for some chicken wings. I thought at the time that the law was passed that it was wrong. That a private business should be allowed to permit smoking if they chose. But I was thinking like Rand Paul, and I too was wrong.