Stuart Dickson commented on my previous item:
All services and products become "public" when they are offered for sale. As such they must comply with the many laws of the land. Those laws include the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.As a libertarian I don't agree that goods and services somehow become "public" when offered for sale. The function of the state should not extend beyond the prevention of the initiation of force or fraud. People should be free to offer services on whatever terms they like. Of course, we don't live in a libertarian society and one should comply with the present laws. It seems to be the case here that the sex discrimination laws apply to matters relating to employment but not to the provision of services and that's why Mr Forrest hasn't faced prosecution. In these circumstances it is disturbing that VisitScotland - a taxpayer-funded body - has in effect unilaterally decided that the law should be different. A private tourist body would be fully within its rights to make judgments of this sort but surely not one supposedly acting on behalf of us all.
In his new book Stanford University Senior Fellow Thomas Sowell writes:
Politics and the market are both ways of getting some people to respond to other people's desires. Consumers choosing which goods to spend their money on have often been analogized to voters deciding which candidates to elect to public office. However, the two processes are profoundly different. Not only do individuals invest very different amounts of time and thought in making economic versus political decisions, those decisions are inherently different in themselves. Voters decide whether to vote for one candidate or another but they decide how much of what kinds of food, clothing, shelter, etc., to purchase. In short, political decisions tend to be categorical, while economic decisions tend to be incremental.I agree. When the state makes the provision of goods and service "public" then it's usually a case of either/or - a "categorical" rule, to use Sowell's terminology. No doubt the law will now be changed to force Mr Forrest to accept gays in his guesthouse, just as a few decades ago allowing gays to share a double room would probably have been illegal. If we leave these decisions to the market we get an "incremental" outcome. Some guesthouses would bar gays, some would be solely for gays and the vast majority would probably not make any rule whatsoever. Incidentally, the same principles happily resolve the so-called problem of smoking in so-called "public" places.
Incremental decisions can be more fine-tuned than deciding which candidate's whole package of principles and practices comes closest to meeting your own desires.