October 27, 2010 6:22 pm ET - by Jamison Foser
During last night's Maine congressional debate, Republican candidate Dean Scontras argued against bans on workplace discrimination:
"I understand the modern workforce. That people who go into the workforce, if you do not hire somebody, whether it's race, creed, color, ethnicity, sexual preference, the business suffers as a result. I've seen it happen way too many times, where that person will go right next door and get the job and be rewarded for their work. The free market works because bad decisions like that are penalized. We don't need Washington DC telling the free market what to do. If you don't hire somebody because you don't like them, you're penalized for it."
Let's count the ways in which that is an absurd position, shall we?
First, the idea that businesses should be free to discriminate on the basis of race pretty much went out of fashion in the 1960s, and with good reason. After months of trying to pass himself off as an Olympia Snowe Republican, Scontras now sounds more like George Wallace.
Second, just moments earlier, Scontras had declared, "I've never been opposed to gay rights." But he thinks a business should be able to fire, or refuse to hire, an employee simply for being gay. I wonder how anyone got the idea he opposes gay rights?
Third, Scontras tells the victims of discrimination they should just "go right next door" and get a different job. Maybe Scontras has been too busy reinventing himself to notice this, but there aren't any jobs next door. The economy is struggling. Jobs are scarce. But Dean Scontras says that if your boss is discriminating against you because of your race or religion or sexual preference, you should just go get another job. Easy!
Fourth, Scontras accidentally debunked his own naive faith in the free market. He says that "we don't need" the government to prevent businesses from discriminating against women, gays, and racial minorities, because the free market takes care of that by penalizing discriminatory businesses. But Scontras also says he's personally witnessed ("way too many times") people being discriminated against by businesses. So, obviously, by Dean Scontras' own account, the free market doesn't prevent such discrimination. (Unless, of course, Scontras was lying about having frequently witnessed discrimination. But what kind of person would tell a lie in order to argue in favor of businesses having the right to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, and sexual preference?)
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