Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: 'The Case for Discrimination' by Walter Block

A San Francisco Review of Books original

Getting past the title of this book

Walter Block is perhaps the most important defender of Libertarianism and as such he divides the potential readership of his book into two groups – those who agree and those who loathe. But Block writes well and reading his concepts of topics such as the featured focus of this book – discrimination – offers insights we might not otherwise consider.

Example ‘DISCRIMINTATION IS EVERYWHERE – Everyone has heard about sex discrimination, racial discrimination, and age discrimination, but what about height discrimination or language discrimination? What about beard discrimination? Or discrimination against people who kneel in church? This section of the book shows that discrimination exists in obvious, and sometimes not-so-obvious, places. In short, discrimination is everywhere. Further, families come in all shapes and sizes, from single-parent households to traditional two-parent families, from blended families to extended families. But when government steps in, it brings along coercive elements that destroy the voluntary and beneficial nature of families.’ He then proceeds to present cases of discrimination that touch on free will liberties and personal rather than governmental or corporate influences.

Block takes his now well understood stance to examine the Economics of Discrimination, the very topical male-female earnings and equal pay legislation, and Feminism, se differences and sex discrimination, and finally Discrimination and the Law (‘When it comes to discrimination, government is often quick to act— for better or for worse. In some instances, government acts to end what it perceives as discrimination against women, minorities, people with alternate lifestyles, and others. However, in other instances, government itself engages in discrimination, such as when state universities discriminate against students with low test scores, when government programs offer job training for people in some industries but not others, or when the law mandates that members of certain groups be hired before members of other groups.’)

It is this manner of debate that makes reading Block, whether or not we agree with him, help us understand the universal picture – the rationale too few of us ever study. Block may not alter our convictions, but he at least informs us of alternative viewpoints – and that is always enlightening. Grady Harp, September 17

Note: The writer of this piece was provided with a review copy of ‘The Case for Discrimination.’

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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