A Little Discrimination Never Hurt Anyone

Discrimination carries with it a certain connotation.  It is nearly understood universally as a bad thing.  For example, a blog I read daily commented on a nail salon which–as a business practice–charges men $1 or more for the same services provided to women.  A man has apparently had enough of the “discrimination” and has filed a $200K lawsuit for his “humiliation”.  Ultimately, I view this as an issue of freedom.  But the question is, should businesses be permitted to discriminate against certain segments of the population for arbitrary reasons?

I firmly believe business should be permitted to discriminate against whoever they wish, for whatever reason they wish. Businesses ought to have the freedom to refuse service or arbitrarily set higher or lower prices at their pleasure.

Before I continue, let me elaborate.  I believe this freedom applies to services rendered, not cost of commodities.  For example, I believe the salon in question ought to be permitted to charge an inflated fee for providing services for their male clients.  I do not believe they ought to be permitted to charge an inflated price for nail polish, files, or other products.  Another example, a violin teacher ought to be allowed to charge more for violin lessons for either boys or girls, but not for the cost of the violin or sheet music.  And a grocery store should not be allowed to charge differently for milk, eggs, or bread, but could be permitted to charge differently for bringing your purchase to your car and loading it for you.

Though I believe businesses ought to be allowed to discriminate for services provided, that should not to be understood as my endorsing discrimination as morally good.  Discrimination of this kind is wrong, but should remain legal as a matter of freedom.  Freedom to run your business as you best see fit.  Issues like this work themselves out in the free market.

I would not give a salon (or any business; bars with ladies night special pricing, I’m looking in your direction!) that practices this kind of discrimination my business.  I would also encourage people I know to do the same.  This is how the free market works.  Eventually word gets out and the business either provides equitable pricing, or they potentially suffer the economic consequences.

Something to keep in mind, Rosa Parks did not file a lawsuit, and neither did the college freshmen who were refused service at a Woolworth lunch counter.  Businesses who practice discrimination are eventually shamed into equitable business practice.

This is a matter of freedom.  Businesses and individuals should be allowed to do business with whoever they wish, and to refuse to do business with whoever they wish.  People are free to be foolish.  If they believe alienating a segment of the population is the best business model, that will eventually bear out on the bottom line.  Every discriminating business will at some point have a “Rosa Parks” moment, and sometimes that’s what it takes for the light to go on.


  1. Dan Trabue says:

    Hi John: I’m writing to invite you to comment on my latest post, which is an open question to my more conservative fellow Christians. In short: Is God’s grace sufficient? If you don’t want to “litter” your post with off topic invitation such as this one, feel free to delete it, with my apologies.

  2. Dan Trabue says:

    My apologies.

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