My monthly “The Calling” column over at the Future of Freedom Foundation might be of interest to BHL readers.  I argue that libertarians should be part of the ongoing conversation on race in the US in the wake of the events in Ferguson.  We have a unique contribution to make because we are able to avoid the victim blaming engaged in by many conservatives, who put the problems of black communities solely on blacks themselves, while still .  Instead, we should be agreeing with our friends on the left that the primary cause of racial disparities are structural factors, even as we then argue that the structures in question are not those endemic to markets and capitalism, but the ways in which misguided intervention into markets tends to disproportionately harm the poor and non-white. Here’s a bit from it:

A libertarian approach to racial disparities should be structural in pointing to these institutional factors. From a social-scientific perspective, we should talk about how markets tend to penalize racist behavior by raising the costs, and how markets improve living standards for all, especially poor and lower-skilled workers. We might point to David Levy and Sandra Peart’s work on the origins of the reputation of economics as the “dismal science” to explain how classical-liberal defenders of markets have historically been on the side of what they call “analytical egalitarianism” and against the racism of the Romantics, who saw markets as destroying the racial hierarchies they favored. Markets, especially their exclusion of all forms of monopoly privilege, are racial equalizers.

We should also make great use of Public Choice theory to describe how public policy gets made. The theory of government intervention regarding rent-seeking and concentrated benefits/dispersed costs helps us to understand why those with resources are likely to persuade politicians to intervene in markets in self-serving ways that harm those with few resources. If it is true that whites have more wealth and power, why expect government intervention in markets to be a source of racial equality?

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