The recent media hype about “equality” with respect to bathrooms and gender has spurred a larger conversation about equality and the limits of discrimination. I’ve always wondered why it is that the politicians and business leaders like to couch this equality issue in economic terms. Consider this excerpt from an interview with Doug Burgum, candidate for Governor of North Dakota, on the impact of state legislation that would forbid discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation:
Currently, North Dakota has over 23,000 job openings. From an economic impact, filling these jobs would be like adding another large city to our state. Every policy the legislature is considering should be viewed through a lens of supporting workforce development in the state. After decades of watching the majority of our North Dakota University System graduates leave the state, we are now in new territory. We are not producing enough graduates to fill all the open positions in the state. We need population growth by both retention and net in-migration to fulfill our enviable growth needs. The aged 18-35 year old demographic is particularly attuned to the social climate of our cities and state. Any laws we have that discriminate against or limit the rights of any citizens based on gender orientation create a barrier for recruiting and retaining talent in our state.
Let’s put aside the disingenuity of using the impossible ideal of zero percent unemployment (an undesirable and impossible condition).
Let’s focus on the core fallacy Burgum uses—one shared by all the advocates of his position. Namely, the fallacy is that unless a law bans transgender discrimination, then the silence of the law assures 100% discrimination. Of course, Burgum then argues that there are economic advantages to preventing such discrimination. Stated differently, there is an economic disadvantage to allowing discrimination.
But if that is truly the case, then why would the law be necessary? If it is truly the case that economic advantage flows from extending special protections to the transgendered, then no business would indulge that discrimination without incurring an economic loss.
And what of those businesses that chose to incur that price? If you favor non-discrimination, wouldn’t you prefer that those who discriminate pay some kind of price to do so? Wouldn’t you prefer to gain a competitive advantage over your bigoted economic rivals? OF COURSE you would.
The only logically consistent position for the advocates of transgender (indeed all such LGBT) protections then is that they actually expect to have a disadvantage in the marketplace. Because they expect that people will prefer not to patronize a business with transgendered employees, their indulgence of the “equality” scam is really an effort to remove the competitive advantage a business rival may have from their “discrimination” against transgendered employees.
Consider the case of Hooters. What if you wanted to start a restaurant that also had the mediocre food I’m told Hooters has, but you resented the competitive advantage Hooters had in selling its food using attractive females? Why, let’s end discrimination against less attractive, less female, employees! With Hooters’ business model disrupted, you can sell you own mediocre food on a level playing field. Or something closer to level.
The point of the Hooters example is that a business can gain competitive advantage (or reduce the advantage of a rival) using the power of the government’s “equality” legislation.
Which means that the business lobby and its powerful interest groups really care about minimizing competition, and they want the government to protect them. Which is just about always the case in every circumstance.
The granting of special protections to the transgendered is therefore just time-honored rent-seeking in a newer, more fashionable guise. That, and elites wanting to force to people to adhere to a code that they themselves may not consider binding.