Freedom of association and law and economics
lesl at UDEL.EDU
Wed Nov 1 10:48:03 PST 2000
there is an element not being considered here. An employer willing and
even mildly interested in hiring members of a discriminated against
group may hesitate to do so because long-time and highly valued
employees (especially in a small business) may have credibly threatened
to quit if the boss makes them wrok next to "those" people. And of
course unions for years coercively kept out members of minority groups.
but also some employers may care more about their misguided sense of
what they are upholding than htey care about profits.
Sanford Levinson wrote:
> Let me suggest the following hypothesis (for which I have no empirical
> 1) To the extent that a business is engaged in producing a tangible
> product pretty much insulated from the mass market (e.g., car radios to be
> installed by GM, Ford, etc., at the factory)), then imperatives of
> maximizing returns by seeking the best, most efficient work force would cut
> against discrimination, which, by definition, requires the business to
> reject the most qualified worker because of irrelevant criteria like race,
> sex, national origin, etc. The task then becomes explaining the
> discrimination that *does* occur.
> 2) To the extent that a business in engaged in selling goods or services
> to a mass public, it will be tempted to engage in "rational" discrimination
> if it "reads" the mass public as itself bigoted and less likely to buy
> sandwiches if, for example, members of the majority have to sit next to
> someone they deem objectionable. It is certainly widely believed, for
> example, that Rich's Department Store in Atlanta was afraid to voluntarily
> desegregate for fear that their white customers would desert them (and,
> presumably, black customers were not sufficiently wealthy to make up for
> this loss of business). Thus the owners of Rich's avidly supported the
> Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it removed (or, at least, significantly
> diminished) this particular competitive threat.
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