Wednesday, September 08, 2010

THE TRUE BELIEVERS. Libertarians are still fighting the Battle of Rand Paul. Over at Reason, Damon W. Root waves an article by Forbes' Richard Epstein, telling us that Jim Crow was too the fault of Big Gummint, as racism could not possibly exist in a truly free market. Epstein reads in a new book that even as late as the early 20th Century black folk had to be smuggled into the North from the South, and asserts:
Why the clandestine activities? Answer: because helping African-Americans leave the Old South was an illegal activity under state law.
No citation given -- which is weird, because this is big news to me. For one thing, how could any state prevent blacks from leaving "the Old South"? Would they let them relocate from Mississippi to Louisiana, but not to Missouri, or to parts of the South that were insufficiently Old?

Maybe Epstein is saving the explanation for a follow-up. Or maybe he means that many Southern African-Americans couldn't leave home because they owed their souls to the company store, via the widespread debt peonage system that kept many blacks shackled post-slavery -- in which case, no wonder he didn't explain it better. (Though maybe Nick Gillespie would have proposed that the poor sharecroppers could have been liberated by the opening of a Starbucks in their neighborhood.)

Maybe I'm so mistrustful of Epstein because of the way he also suggests that blacks may have been discouraged from moving by the machinations of local utility companies. This theory also exempts the free market from any racist activities, Epstein says, because "in 1915, all services were monopolistically supplied," so "the politics of exclusion thus dominates the economics of open competition." Again, no citations nor evidence of any kind are offered, but Epstein just knows that "it is likely that the full history of Jim Crow will show that control of public utilities fostered racial and economic discrimination in the Old South." This fellow I've never met sure asks me to take a lot on faith!

You really want to tell them, get over it -- Rand Paul finally decided to just pretend he didn't believe this horseshit, why can't you? No one will ever call you on it except liberals, and no one cares what they think. But they can't let it go -- they're obsessed. In their labs they diligently reconstruct the history of the civil rights movement as libertarian fanfic, so that future generations will know that segregation, lynching, and second-class citizenship were finally defeated by deregulation and the Austrian School, despite the meddling interference of Martin Luther King and other statists.

UPDATE. In comments, Fats Durston explains Epstein's confusion: "It wasn't a true Scotsm--er, market!"


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