Again, I’m not taking a position on the issue of whether laissez-faire is sufficient to solve the problem of widespread private discrimination. I’m just saying I’m not satisfied by the argument that it is. But on the other hand, Jonathan Rowe’s correspondent says
How long would it be in a laissez-faire, market driven system, free from government interference before the first Black waitress was hired to serve at a South Carolina drug store food counter? We’d still be waiting.
I don’t think that’s entirely fair, either. For one thing, the nineteenth century showed some surprising advances for blacks in the absence of widespread government intervention. Hiram Revels, the first black Senator, was chosen in 1870, representing Mississippi. There was certainly nothing like equality, but the barriers were coming down under a system approaching laissez-faire. In the twentieth century, protests such as economic boycotts—entirely consistent with laissez-faire—were wielded to great effect in many southern cities. So I think it’s an exaggeration to say we’d still be waiting. Maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t.