Friday, August 23, 2013

Daniel Little — Friedman on racial discrimination


Daniel Little buries Milton Friedman's argument in Capitalism and Freedom on the free market as the antidote to racism.

Understanding Society
Friedman on racial discrimination
Daniel Little | Chancellor, University of Michigan at Dearborn

What's wrong with Friedman's argument is that it doesn't fit the evidence. 

Why it is wrong is more significant. It is wrong because the choice of methodological individualism rests on an implicit assumption of ontological individualism, which is an erroneous assumption as shown by life and social science. It is also rejected by long-standing tradition. Aristotle defined human being as social in Polítics, 1253 a 2.

23 comments:

Magpie said...

@Tom,

Let me ask you something in connection with all the current debate on mathematics and economics.

Friedman was an economist and a fairly pro-market one at that.

His conclusion "that racial discrimination in employment (...) is essentially impossible within a market economy" is obviously erroneous.

However, there is no reason to believe he reached that conclusion on the basis of a mathematical procedure, or that the use of a mathematical procedure would have made any difference in the final conclusion.

I'd say this example argues quite strongly against the idea that it is the excessive mathematization of mainstream economics that is responsible for its inaccuracies.

Further, Little's own conclusion:
"His analysis of racial discrimination is a striking example of the ways in which adherence to a theory can blind a person to the patent social realities around him or her".
Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Does it sound reasonable to you?

I ask because it appears the latest tendency is to see in such explanations a kind of conspiracy theory.

y said...

according to these demented religious fundamentalists the 'free market' is the antidote t absolutely every problem anywhere ever. No evidence required.

Bob Roddis said...

Daniel Little has the IQ of a turnip. It’s an embarrassment that he is not removed from office by the State of Michigan. He’s clearly unable (and/or unwilling) to discern the difference between voluntary interaction with property protections for property and bodies vs. government LAWS which forbid such protections (and those protections were clearly mandated by the 14th Amendment). Because voluntary interaction is so natural, the racists STATES found it necessary to enforce their idiotic segregation ideas BY FORCE with LAWS. As I’ve maintained for 40 years, no “progressive” can or will note this essential difference.

For example, let’s examine some of Kentucky’s Jim Crow LAWS, Kentucky having been a Union state and therefore on the side of the angels:

1912: Residential
Building permits for building Negro houses in white communities, or any portion of a community inhabited principally by white people, and vice versa prohibited. Penalty: violators fined from $50 to $2,000, "and the municipality shall have the right to cause said building to be removed and destroyed."

1914: Public Accommodation
All circuses, shows and tent exhibitions were required to provide two ticket offices with individual ticket sellers and two entrances to the performance for each race.

1915: Education
No white children were allowed to attend any graded common school for colored children and vice versa.

1918: Prisons
This law allowed the segregation of races in all municipal, parish, and state prisons.

1921: Education
This law called for separate public schools for the education of white and black children between the ages of six and eighteen.

1921: Housing
This prohibited African American and white families from living in the same home.

1928: Education
This gave separate textbooks for white and African American school children.

1928: Public Carrier
Separate but equal accommodations were required to be provided on all forms of public transportation.

1932: Residential
No person or businesses were allowed to rent an apartment in an apartment complex or other housing buildings to a person who differs in race from the other occupants.

1932: Miscegenation
All interracial marriages were outlawed. Invalidated interracial marriages if the parties went to another legal power where such marriages were legal. Marriages between African Americans and Native Americans were also prohibited.

1933: Public Accommodations
Establishment of segregated libraries for different races was authorized.

1934: Education
All schools were required to be racially segregated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jim_Crow_law_examples_by_State#Kentucky

That these laws were considered necessary was because absent the laws, people would naturally tend to associate and develop personal and commercial relationships.

y said...

According to bob if there hadn't been any racist laws then people wouldn't have been racist. In bob's imagination everything enacted by government comes mysteriously out of nowhere and has absolutely nothing to do with what anyone in the population wants. In bob's delusional imagination what everyone really wants is always the opposite of what the government does. So according to bob's infant-level logic, get rid of racist laws and people won't be racist, because the only thing that makes people racist is racist laws created by racist governments, as only the people in the government are racist and everyone else isn't.

Bob Roddis said...

I suspect certain people will always be racist. The problem that afflicts mankind is violence and assaultive behavior. "Progressives" (being terminally dishonest) find it necessary to call a regime that vigorously protects all humans from such violence regardless of color or ethnicity BY THE SAME TERM as a regime that continuously assaults people based upon color and ethnicity. In fact, the primary goal of "progressives" is to eradicate those protections for property and person in fact and to eradicate those distinctions in the language.

y said...

"call a regime that vigorously protects all humans from such violence regardless of color or ethnicity BY THE SAME TERM as a regime that continuously assaults people based upon color and ethnicity"

Where do they do that?

"the primary goal of "progressives" is to eradicate those protections for property and person"

What pathetic, ridiculous nonsense.

Try and demonstrate your claims instead of just repeating idiotic angry slogans.

Bob Roddis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Roddis said...

Where do they do that?

That's the theme of the instant Daniel Little article, oh smart one. Jim Crow laws = "The Free Market" claims Little. I just pointed out what a dishonest fraud that was.

Y, you are as sharp as a bowling ball.

Tom Hickey said...

magpie, all economic BS is not the result of duping the rubes by blinding them with math BS. Capitalism and Freedom is a book on political theory based on Friedman's Libertarian politics. The arguments he makes therein are philosophical rather than economic, so no math needed. Just sophistical reasoning, which all who debate MF recognized he was good at. I pointed out the error in reasoning having to do with the implicit assumption of ontological individuality.

Tom Hickey said...

In fact, the primary goal of "progressives" is to eradicate those protections for property and person in fact and to eradicate those distinctions in the language.

The art of governing lies in balancing and harmonizing various rights and responsibilities in terms of legal obligations that formalize social mores and preference so as to order a society under the rule of law. Law ratifies culture institutionally. Modern rule of law also places enforcement of the law under the governing body. These are political decisions that different societies take differently. There is no absolute standard in the modern world as there was in theocracies.

Matt Franko said...

Well Mag,

One mathematical issue that they are not getting is where we now can see that huge increase in their so-called "money supply" do not cause their so-called "inflation"...

Here is the math:

Some measures of "money supply" have increased by like 13,000% and prices have collapsed since the GFC...

Mike made the point in the Kernan post downthread where back in 2008 petrol was $150 and now is like $100 having been as low as $33 right after the GFC when their "money supply" went asymptotic...

So they ignore the math here completely... or what I believe is that they never understood the math in the first place...

Tom talks about "testing things"... well we are LIVING thru a "test period" right now as we speak and their theories are FAILING THE TEST...

They are too stupid to even realize this imo so they just babble on in their own false world of untruths and monetarism...

I stand back and look at this as a math person and literally cannot believe my own eyes...

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

"By applying V, velocity of circulation, that is turnover say per week or per year, to M, the stock of money used in transactions in a given market, we arrive at the flow of transactions in the market concerned.

So what? Neither M nor V is an independent causal factor determining or limiting the level of prices or of output but merely an element in the mechanism that relates one to another."

- Joan Robinson on the Quantity Theory of Money,

y said...

"That's the theme of the instant Daniel Little article, oh smart one. Jim Crow laws = "The Free Market"

Daniel Little doesn't say that Jim Crow laws = "The Free Market". That's just your misreading of the text.

He says:

"It is hard to square these observations with the rigid segregation and discrimination that were taking place at the same time in the Jim Crow South. For that matter, the facts of racial discrimination in housing and employment that have characterized American society since emancipation were perfectly visible in Friedman's own city of Chicago in 1962. So all Friedman needed to do was to look around him on Chicago's South Side."

You've already stated that "certain people will always be racist", so you agree that don't need racist state laws for people to be racist.

And the reality is that many people in the Jim Crow South were racists. They weren't "forced" to be racist by alien government laws that mysteriously came out of nowhere.

Little:

"What it suggests is that Friedman saw the social reality around him through the spectacles of an idealized form of pure market society, in which transactions occur between purely rational individuals and lead collectively to beneficent outcomes. But that was not the reality of the United States, then or now."

The reality in the Jim Crow South was that many people had a deep mistrust and hatred of others based on their race. They were not "purely rational individuals" in that sense. The Jim Crow laws were a official expression of a much more widespread culture of racial discrimination. And a culture of racial discrimination was also evident in Chicago at the very time that Friedman was writing.

The point is that Friedman's idealized beliefs simply ignored reality.

Magpie said...

@Tom

"The arguments he makes therein are philosophical rather than economic, so no math needed. Just sophistical reasoning, which all who debate MF recognized he was good at".

You realize, I suppose, that you are making my point precisely?

The problem is not necessarily mathematics, but deficient reasoning.

And when deficient reasoning acquires an egregious nature, the suspicion that the deficiencies are intentional starts to sound much more reasonable (as you yourself said is Friedman's case).

Magpie said...

@Tom,

Further to my previous comment.

Read Roddis' comments (actually, his timing is perfect to provide another real-life example)

Do you have any reason to believe Roddis used mathematics before writing his customary nonsense? Do you have any reason to believe he is actually capable of adding and subtracting?

Would it be any different if he were writing about economics?

Isn't it transparently obvious and evident this person is motivated by ideology, pure and simple?

F. Beard said...

Not one mention of the government-backed credit cartel engaging in redlining?!

Of course the banks have always discriminated in favor of the so-called creditworthy as if anyone is worthy of stolen purchasing power.

Tom Bergbusch said...

It is all very well to suggest optimistically that people naturally tend to associate and develop personal and commercial relationships. But it is impossible just to assume away power dynamics, between individuals and groups. It may be a mug's game to try to settle upon some teleological explanation of a particular social economy. I think that, as most MMTers seem to acknowledge, we live in a Hobbesian/Weberian world -- government/the Sovereign is the body with a monopoly over the means of coercion within a polity. Rothbardville is as much a convenient fiction as Friedman's "free market", or fascist or other racist narratives, each designed to confer control over government to a particular faction. That's all (except for some "useful idiots" aligned with each faction). As a non-American, it seems to me that the single great contribution of American political theory is that made by Alexander Hamilton in the federalist papers, when he argued that liberty was best assured by strong central government, since the competition of diverse interests in such a government promised to limit the power of special interests far more than any small parochial (in this case read anarcho-Austrian) authority. And, in fact, the public purpose can only be served by a Government which uses its currency-issuing power to transfer real resources from the private sector for public purposes. Don't know how Autrians can hope to deal with climate change...

Tom Hickey said...

Don't know how Autrians can hope to deal with climate change...

LIke they deal with all other knotty issues. Either denial of the problem, or claim that the free market is the optimal solution for all problems.

Matt Franko said...

Tom B.

"since the competition of diverse interests in such a government promised to limit the power of special interests far more than any small parochial (in this case read anarcho-Austrian) authority."

Very good application of the two words 'power' and 'authority' you come up with here imo... rsp,

Tom Bergbusch said...

@ Matt Franko:

Thanks. Your comment also made me go back and leaf through Harold Laski's Authority in the Modern State.

Made me worry once again about a communication challenge that MMT faces: on the one hand, MMT's description of the origins of money has the sovereign acting almost like a despot (I know this is purely a representation of the technical realities of money creation). On the other, MMTers seek to use tax driven money to provision the state for the public good. This is entirely consistent, but one can see how such acknowledgement of the nature of sovereignty might be of instinctive consternation to libertarians. Even though the facts are the facts.

Tom Hickey said...

As a non-American, it seems to me that the single great contribution of American political theory is that made by Alexander Hamilton in the federalist papers, when he argued that liberty was best assured by strong central government, since the competition of diverse interests in such a government promised to limit the power of special interests far more than any small parochial (in this case read anarcho-Austrian) authority. And, in fact, the public purpose can only be served by a Government which uses its currency-issuing power to transfer real resources from the private sector for public purposes.

Yes, and Hamilton made sure that the special interests that would be vying with each other thereby creating checks and balances on factional power, were all elite interests in republic rather than the popular democracy advocated by Tom Paine, or even the state interests advocated by Thomas Jefferson et al. This ensured a plutocracy of financial capital, industrial capital and agricultural capital vying for power and "balancing" each other's interests.

Tom Bergbusch said...

@Tom Hickey Very instructive comment -- as an outsider, I see that this account makes a lot of sense. But was that not the nature of the beast, as well? I mean, my take on the American Revolution (War of Independence) is that it was more about elite land speculators irate about the restrictions on westward expansion in the 1774 QC Act than a popular uprising. I am perhaps biased, as a Canadian, in feeling that the biggest danger to democracy was then, and are today, as with local elites in Canada's provinces, the state interests. I mean, it was no surprise that the slavers and their descendents presented their arguments in terms of states' rights. I am no fan of financial interests mind you, and agree that Paine had a lot to say.

Tom Hickey said...

There was a significant movement advocating popular democracy in the US at the time of the founding, mostly centered in Pennsylvania. Tom Paine was virtually alone among those recognized now as the founders in advocating for popular democracy, and the popular democracy movement was put down in the Whiskey Rebellion when President Washington personally lead a militia to put down the revolt. This ratified the power of central government wrt to populism. The Civil War decided it wrt states' rights. Thus, Presidents Washington and Lincoln solidified the centralized power of the US federal government through the use of violence.