Blogs > Liberty and Power > Media Bias Against Hoppe?

Mar 12, 2007 12:15 am

Media Bias Against Hoppe?

Is there a media bias against "Old Right" issues like the right to discriminate in the Las Vegas Review Journal? Is it part of a new effort directed by the often criticizedSouthern Poverty Law Center to find hate groups somehow, somewhere to fight against? Libertarians, such as Thomas DiLorenzo (who is on top of their list), as well as the Mises Institute itself, often discuss matters such as inequality and anti-egalitarianism in the process of defining the meaning of liberty, and it is not unusual for this to occur. As Walter Williams, a libertarian economist and columnist explains

Discrimination is simply the act of choice...Our lives are spent discriminating for or against one thing or another. In other words, choice requires discrimination. When we modify the term with race, sex, height, weight or age, we merely specify the choice criteria.

Imagine how... impossible, life would be if discrimination were outlawed. Imagine engaging in just about any activity where we couldn't discriminate by race, sex, height, weight, age, mannerisms, college selection, looks or ability; it would turn into a carnival.

I've sometimes asked students if they believe in equal opportunity in employment. Invariably, they answer yes. Then I ask them, when they graduate, whether they plan to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them. Most often they answer no; they plan to discriminate against certain employers. Then I ask them, if they're not going to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them, what's fair about requiring an employer to give them an equal opportunity to be hired?

Sometimes students will argue that certain forms of discrimination are OK but it's racial discrimination that's truly offensive.

That's when I confess my own history of racial discrimination. In the late 1950s, whilst selecting a lifelong mate, even though white, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Japanese women might have been just as qualified as a mate, I gave them no chance whatsoever. It appears that most Americans act identically by racially discriminating in setting up marriage contracts.

According to the 1992 Census Bureau, only 2.2 percent of Americans are married to people other than their own race or ethnicity.

You say, "All right, Williams, discrimination in marriage doesn't have the impact on society that other forms of discrimination have."

You're wrong again. When there is assortive (non-random) mate selection, it heightens whatever group differences exist in the population. For instance, higher IQ individuals tend toward mates with high IQs. High-income people tend to mate with other high-income people.

It's the same with education. To the extent there is a racial correlation between these characteristics, racial discrimination in mate selection exaggerates the differences in the society's intelligence and income distribution. There would be greater equality if there weren't this kind of discrimination in mate selection.

In other words, if high-IQ people were forced to select low-IQ mates, high-income people forced to select low-income mates, and highly educated people forced to select lowly educated mates, there would be greater social equality. While there would be greater social equality, the divorce rate would soar since gross dissimilarities would make for conflict.

Common sense suggests that not all discrimination should be eliminated, so the question is, what kind of discrimination should be permitted? I'm guessing the answer depends on one's values for freedom of association, keeping in mind freedom of association implies freedom not to associate.

Lawrence Mower of the Review-Journal in his article today, "Researchers tied to hate groups get invitations" begins with:

An organization headed by a prominent University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor has invited four researchers with ties to hate groups to speak at a May conference in Turkey. [my emphasis]
and continues
"to express viewpoints that some civil rights organizations call"academic racism."" [again, my emphasis]
and concludes
"Anti-discrimination groups have criticized or condemned the speakers for their views on eugenics, or the study of genetic differences between the races." [my emphasis]
One would think from the hue and cry that peoples the world over were going to protest the conference. Actually, however, it is only one person that Mower contacted, Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, who has given him the desired answer to the speakers by lumping them with two nonmembers and non-speakers, Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, and Jean Phillippe Rushton, president of the Pioneer Fund, "are the movers and shakers ... in this world" of academic racism.

The conference itself, is the upcoming second annual Property and Freedom Society's Annual Conference in Turkey in May. Of the six different segments of the conference, only one focuses on anti-egalitarianism and inequality,"The Inequality of Man and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations," and, judging from the list of the other segments' topics, probably the least controversial or interesting. From what I can see of the speakers' c.v.'s, they are, save, perhaps for Yuri Maltsev, experts in understanding inequality. However, Maltsev's background as an international economist will, no doubt, provide him with invaluable insights.

After contacting the local ADL, an author of a book on"scientific racism" and an author of another book on eugenics, Mower is then convinced of the horror of that 1/6 of the program, effectively condemning the entire Conference as somehow racist and provided expected hints connecting all sorts of evils with Hoppe, including the dispute in 2005 between Hoppe and a student unable to understand time preference, mentioned numerous times in the article in an attempt to suggest that Hoppe was wrong in the dispute.

I still remember growing up in Richmond, Indiana as a kid and learning that the town just a ways down the road, German Town, had to change its name to Libertyville, because of the fear by the citizenry that they would not be thought sufficiently patriotic or American after the war. Not all germans (or Austrians) are Nazis, nor are libertarians or anti-egalitarians.

Just a thought.
Just Ken
CLASSical Liberalism

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More Comments:

Anthony Gregory - 3/19/2007

I thought the argument was not over whether high time preference was normatively bad, but whether homosexuals were more likely to have a high time preference -- a more empirical matter.

Steven Horwitz - 3/17/2007

Hoppe deserves everything he gets for inviting folks like that to that conference. Of course, being one of them, he deserves it even more.

Funny how people who defend to the death the right of association and disassociation on the basis of voluntary action get their panties in a wad when other people criticize their choices and try to convince others to disassociate with them.

And libertarians wonder why we never seem to be able to convince people to take us seriously. Sigh.

Jason T. Kuznicki - 3/13/2007

You know as well as I do that this was not a "dispute... between Hoppe and a student unable to understand time preference."

It was Hoppe, not the student, who misunderstood the value-neutral concept of time preference, using it as a vehicle for some pretty unflattering stereotypes. The error was his.

Now, whether the university should have disciplined him or not -- That's another question. I signed the petition in favor of Hoppe's academic freedom, and I cheerfully defend his right to be wrong, just as I would for a Marxist. But Hoppe failed the Austrians by making the idea of time preference into something that it is not, a weapon for cheap attacks on gays. The student had it right; time preference is no such thing.

Roderick T. Long - 3/12/2007

While I'm no fan of the SPLC, ADL, et al. and their hair-trigger reactions (I remember back in the 90s when they stigmatised a gun rights activist as a white supremacist only to find out later that he was black!), I think Walter Williams' treatment of "discrimination" as mere innocent "selection" is guilty of, as Ayn Rand would put it, "context-dropping." If just a handful of people discriminated on racial or sexual etc. grounds it would be merely an odd personal eccentricity, just as if I insisted on hiring only red-haired left-handed Unitarians in my workplace. But when a particular form of discrimination is widespread, it becomes like the bars of Marilyn Frye's birdcage, and in such a case to discriminate is to contribute to a social institution that systematically harms people and constrains their life options -- which isn't a rights-violation (and so shouldn't be illegal), but it's still immoral, and something against which social pressure may legitimately be mobilised.