Guest post by Anthony Coralluzzo
When I was about 11 or 12 years old I started playing representative basketball here in Melbourne. I was an excellent player. I trained as hard as was humanly possible, several hours a day, year after year. I was disciplined. I never missed training. I carried out the coach's instructions to the letter.
I even played against players who eventually went on to play in the NBA and other professional leagues, like Andrew Bogut.
I wanted to go that far too ... but there was a problem.
I was short for this game. Very short.
Only 5 foot 7 inches, in fact.
Although I played at a high level, I could never quite get to the very top grades. The 1st grade coaches wouldn't pick me. The players they did pick had similar levels of ability in things like ball handling, shooting percentages, speed, determination etc etc ... but they had one thing I didn't have ..... height.
In basketball ... all other things equal ... height counts for something.
When you get up to the highest levels, the acquired, practiced abilities tend to even out. As a coach, you can't afford to be giving up even the tiniest advantage to your opponent. It doesn't matter if that advantage is the unearned result of genetic factors that were endowed at a player's conception, as height is.
The average height of a professional basketball player is about 6 foot 6 inches. The average height of a point guard (the position I played) is 6 foot 2 inches. Only a handful of players my height or below, have ever played professional basketball. Hundreds of thousands have tried, as hard as anyone, but failed. The tiny handful that succeed usually have some freakishly rare ability, like a world record vertical leap, that compensates for the height issue and helps them stand out.
My acquired skills were as good as the other point guards, but my height meant I faded into the background. The 1st grade coaches didn't pick me. Indeed, I was DISCRIMINATED against, because of my height.
And you know what?
That was, absolutely, the RIGHT THING FOR THE COACHES TO DO.
They didn't coerce me. I was there of my own volition. In rejecting me, they provided honest feedback and furthered what is ultimately in the general interest, what is rational, and what the market demands. That is, to have the players most capable of winning and entertaining as the ones playing at the highest levels, and ultimately, the professional levels.
If my goal was to try to achieve something meaningful, or make a productive contribution to society, then clearly I was in need of another pathway. This feedback helped get me there, so I ought to be grateful for it. Just as a student should be grateful when his teacher honestly fails him. Perhaps he is not doing a subject that suits his talents. Perhaps he needs to try harder. Or perhaps he just isn't cut out for this particular style of schooling, and he would be better off going immediately into the workforce, and learning on the job.
There are some left-wing politicians and activists though, who think the principle of discrimination is immoral. They think government ought to step in when people discriminate and circumstances become "unfair". Government must protect people against discrimination, they say.
Under that logic, the government should have stepped in and forced a top-level basketball team to put me in their squad. After all, this is the way I was born. I can't help what height I am, right?
Similar thought processes underlie the philosophy of unionised teachers passing students who really should be failing. Or teachers themselves not being fired for poor performance. Similar thought processes also underlie the scourge that is the progressive income tax, where the more productive you are, the higher the rate you are taxed.
Similar thought processes also underlie corporate welfare. Things like government bank bailouts, the central banking system, and providing government-backed bank deposit insurance fall into this category. Instead of letting bad banks fail, the government props them up with taxpayers money, creating a massive moral hazard that encourages more bad behavior.
And let's not forget the billions of taxpayers money pumped into the black hole that is the Australian car industry. After all that money, the industry is STILL packing up and going overseas.
(((By the way ... if the current federal government really cared about protecting Australian manufacturing from foreign imports, then why on earth did they enact the reverse tariff that is the carbon tax, where domestic production becomes more expensive, and foreign imports relatively cheaper? In the basketball example, that would be the equivalent of the government artificially forcing someone to be shorter by cutting out pieces of their thigh bone, when they actually had the genetics to be taller in the first place.
We have the ability to manufacture in this country, we just need to get the government off our backs.
The reason we have lost manufacturing in Australia isn't the lack of corporate welfare and taxpayer subsidies, it is rather the fact that taxes are too high and regulations too burdensome. We put our businesses, especially our small businesses, at a disadvantage because foreign importers don't have the same regulatory burden.
Small business in particular simply doesn't have the overhead to comply with the tax and regulatory burden that Australian governments have placed upon them. This means that the economy trends more and more towards large, corporate, foreign monopolies and oligopolies.)))
"Discrimination" shouldn't be the evil word it has become. Forget what left-wing politicians and activists tell you. Discrimination in society is, overwhelmingly, a good thing.
Indeed discrimination is the KEY to CAPITALISM.
And ultimately, discrimination helps everyone, even the people who are discriminated against, because economic growth and efficiency provides society with the extra capital needed to solve these social problems and help the less fortunate.
We discriminate everyday, for example, in the products we buy. Under organic market conditions, cheap, good quality products will be purchased, and the people producing them will accumulate capital and grow their business. The reward of capital accumulation provides them the resources to build further on their successful formula, perhaps producing more useful and much needed products at an even cheaper price.
Expensive, poor quality products, however, will be discriminated against, and the people producing them will receive critical feedback that they ought to try their hand at something else.
Now, if the government were to step in and bail them out with taxpayers money, then you would have a situation where an expensive and inferior product is being produced that is supported with money that could otherwise be going into productively producing a similar but superior product.
By propping up failure, you are taking away resources that would otherwise go to creating further success. The consumer is hit several times, with the taxes to support the failing business, the expensive price, the inferior product, and being deprived of the better product.
Again, it is the basketball equivalent of cutting a player's thigh bones to make him shorter, with the surgery cost covered by taxpayers, and then, in addition, forcing professional teams to put that player in their squad, even though there are now better, taller options after his shortening surgery. People who then pay for tickets to watch basketball games are forced to pay for an inferior product which they themselves subsidised the production of through their taxes ... even before paying the ticket price.
Further, in being subsidised by the taxpayer, the people running the business are kept in a perpetual state of dependence and adolescence. The incentive to find your true place, and become a productive and/or valued member of the community, is lost. Like parents who provide everything to their teenage son, free of responsibility or charge, with no discipline or conditions, only for their son to hit 30, and still be unemployed and probably on drugs, with no family of his own, wholly dependent, completely unfulfilled, and fast on the way to depression and perhaps even suicide.
It doesn't matter how stupid or incapable you think you are, if you honestly try, you are not a burden. You have a right to life, and you live for a reason. You have meaning. Otherwise you wouldn't exist in the first place.
Honest competition and discrimination are critical parts of a free, capitalistic and pluralistic western society, held together by some fundamental principles like free markets, free speech, freedom of contract, rule of law, trial by jury, private property rights, and the right to life.
Let us consider some more challenging examples of discrimination in a free society .....
If a woman owns a gym, for example, and would like to make it women-only, then, as the property owner, it is her human right to discriminate against men in this way. The reason might be that she wants women to feel they are not being amorously gawked at. Or perhaps she is a feminist with an irrational hatred towards men. It doesn't matter what the reason is, she has a right to do with her rightfully-gained property what she likes. What this woman doesn't have the right to do though, is to go outside her property and commit violence against those who she wants to discriminate against.
Another example .....
If a religious institution, whose Church is their private property, wants to deny entry or employment to people who engage in certain voluntary sexual activities that the Church considers immoral, then that is their natural right. What the religious people cannot do is go outside their Church and commit violence against those people engaging in that kind of sexual activity.
Another example .....
If you own a jewellery shop and you want to prevent people entering the shop with face coverings, like bike helmets or Islamic burqas ... then that is absolutely your natural human right, as the property owner, to discriminate in that way.
Even in cases where the discrimination appears to be immoral, the same principle, based on the human right to control ones rightfully-gained private property, must apply .....
If a man owns a restaurant, and he puts up a sign saying "white people only", then, like the other cases, that is his natural right. BUT ... how do those of us who consider this to be immoral, deal with the situation and punish the shop owner in a way that is consistent with respecting private property and non-violence? Simple. We don't give him our business and we tell all of our friends not to give him their business either. By excluding so many people, and alienating so many others, his restaurant is likely to go broke. Hence, without anti-discrimination laws, racists are exposed and put out of business. Under the anti-discrimination laws in Australia, people are forced not to exclude on the basis of skin colour, hence racists remain silent about their beliefs for fear of going to prison, and they remain in business as a result.
Most of the time, the practical result doesn't square with the well-meaning intent of socialists, in passing a law.
Consider another case .....
If a taxi driver/owner has been robbed disproportionately by people of a certain immigrant group, and he feels the need to discriminate to protect his business, then as the property owner, it is his human right to do that. It is rational behavior that will allow his business to continue, and contribute to the economy.
In 99% of cases, discrimination is rational behavior that is required for a free and prosperous society with healthy economic growth. It shouldn't be the government's decision to decide when discrimination is justified and when it isn't. If discrimination is based on voluntary interactions with respect for private property rights, then, whether it is morally justified or not, the government has no business interfering and making laws against it.
If discrimination is unjustified, the best way to deal with it is through voluntary actions consistent with respect for free markets, free speech, freedom of contract, rule of law, trial by jury, private property rights, and the right to life.