How the Profit Motive Makes Discrimination Less than Otherwise
By David Henderson
Because I have a cottage at Minaki, Ontario and am originally from Manitoba, I’m on a newly formed members-only Facebook group of Manitobans with cottages in northwestern Ontario. (I confessed to the organizer that I’m now a Californian and he said that was alright.)
Why such a group? Because Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, has taken measures against freedom of movement that make my governor, Governor Newsom, look positively libertarian by comparison. Ontario has its own provincial police force, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). Ford has set up road blocks to stop people entering Ontario from Quebec in the east and Manitoba in the west. The OPP asks people with Manitoba license plates the purpose of their visit and often turns them away, even if they say, and show evidence that, they are doing needed maintenance on their cottages. And evidence of vaccination? Fuggedaboutit.
Probably thousands of Manitobans have cottages in and around Minaki and Kenora. The Canadian summer is short. So people typically want to start their season with some maintenance and setup on the Victoria Day weekend (people now call it “May long”), the weekend before the Memorial Day weekend, and start going more and more in June. Most Manitobans now cannot do so. Robbing Canadians of their summer cottage time is a very big deal.
So this group has gotten together and had conversations like “I got through the border by telling the cops this;” “Hmm, that didn’t work for me;” “Were you hauling lumber in a truck? That might help.”
There was a different conversation on the site today. The organizer asked people to name retail stores and other businesses in northwestern Ontario that welcomed of people with Manitoba license plates. After a short pause, many people gave many examples.
One funny one: “The owner of the [deleted by DRH] even posted on her personal page that she was organizing a group to go steal the Ontario sign and move it east of Kenora.”
I told my wife, who’s from New Jersey, about this this morning. My wife is not an economist but she’s lived with one for 39 years. She said, “Of course they would be welcoming. These stores depend on Manitobans. They would be crazy to turn them away.” There’s Gary Becker’s The Economics of Discrimination in three sentences.
I did point out, however, one example of a store that was the opposite of welcoming. Here’s what one of the commenters said:
LCBO in Keewatin have been asking people for there postal code prior to shopping… Under the guise of a survey. When you don’t have a Ont. Postal code they tell you you’re not welcome here.
Does anyone know what LCBO stands for? And who runs it? Gary Becker strikes again.
For the short version of Becker’s thesis that’s longer than 3 sentences, see Linda Gorman, “Discrimination” in David R. Henderson, ed. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. It explains the behavior of those for-profit stores and of the LCBO.
Note: The above picture if of my dock, taken in 2013. I hope it’s still there.