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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 174-175 of W.H. Hutt’s 1964 volume, The Economics of the Colour Bar:

Unchecked state power (or the private use of coercive power tolerated by the state) tends deliberately or unintendedly, patently or deviously, to repress minorities or politically weak groups.  Thus the effective colour bars which have denied economic opportunities and condemned non-whites to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” have all been created in response to demands for state intervention by most political parties (although in some of the most blatant cases, to pressures from those who claimed to be “syndicalists,” or “Marxists”).  Of course, the extension of state control need not necessarily involve discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, caste or creed; yet in practice it does seem always to discriminate against the politically weak; and by reason of history, the non-whites have (so far) usually fallen into this class.

DBx: Although in the book quoted here Hutt wrote chiefly about apartheid South Africa, much of Hutt’s analysis applies with little or no adjustment to the United States – especially, but not only, to Jim Crow United States.  It cannot be too often pointed out – because it is too often forgotten or ignored or never learned – that apartheid and Jim Crow were legislative policies.  The unjust discrimination, the denial of opportunity, the suppression, and the cruelty of apartheid and of Jim Crow were not the results of market forces; they were the results of government suppression of market forces.

Although such suppression is today less likely than in the past to be racially motivated, many of the consequences of such suppression today have disproportionately harmful impacts on racial minorities.  The minimum wage, of course, remains Exhibit A.  But also policies such as occupational licensing, land-use restrictions, and government-run schooling inflict disproportionate harm on racial minorities and others who can least afford to be be victimized by the state.


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