Self-Determination

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Articles
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Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech, also said that businesses are obligated to serve every customer. In his own words, “I don’t think anybody should have the right to just come in my house that I may privately own …. But now if I turn my house into a store — if I turn it into a department store, if I turn it into a lunch counter, or anything like that — then I have certain obligations to the public beyond my particular whims . . . If a business is in the public market, then it cannot deny access . . . [a business owner] should not have the freedom to choose his customers on the basis of race or religion.” As far as this goes, Martin Luther King was wrong. Business owners should absolutely have the freedom to refuse business to anyone they choose.

This claim is made entirely from the stance of freedom. Private businesses should be able to refuse doing business to whomever they wish. It is a private business, after all. It belongs to the business owner and no one else. Therefore, he can turn away every person who walks in the door for whatever reason, including a bias the owner may have against a certain race or religion. It may not always be pretty, but basically, that should be the way it goes. Having said that, there are very few business owners who would refuse business based on personal biases like race, but if they exist, they should not be compelled by the government to serve people they do not want to serve. If someone does not like a store owner’s policies, they can go to a different store that can meet their needs.

Now let us look at the fact that refusing business is unnatural for an establishment that exists solely for the purpose of making money, and if a business does turn away business, it probably has a very good reason. Most smaller businesses do not have the luxury of refusing to serve customers so again, if they do, it is most likely for a very good reason. Take for example the cake shop in Colorado which was asked to sell a cake for a gay wedding. The owner, Jack Phillips, refused. He declined because making a cake for a same-sex marriage went against his moral beliefs. It is obviously something that he feels strongly about. According to Phillips, “I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.” After being taken to court for this offense, the judge ruled that he had to serve gay couples. If he does not, he will face fines.

The problem with this is that when the government gets involved in your business and starts telling you what you can and cannot do, where does government intervention stop? If they can tell you who to serve, they can direct other policies as well as less important decisions, such as when the business should open and close. No. It is best that each business owner has control over his own business and that the government stays out of it completely. The market will decide who remains in business and who does not. At least that’s the way it looks through our eyes.

by Dink and John

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