CPAC: How the free market takes care of racial discrimination without government help

By Roy Edroso
Friday, March 7, 2014 15:39 EDT
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We’ve been fans of alicublog writer Roy Edroso for years. Is there anyone who understands the angst of conservatives better than Roy? He’s our man on the ground at CPAC — Ed.

Dwayne Carson used to work for former North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes, and is currently working with former Congressman J.C. Watts on Insight, a minority empowerment non-profit “based on the principles of Smart Government, Free Enterprise and Personal Freedom,” their website says. But he’s at CPAC as Executive Director of the Center for American Racial Equality (CARE), a minority org which he says is about “personal freedom, economic opportunity and the free market. We want to put the decisions in your hands. You know best how to manage yourself, your business and your kids better than the government does.”

How is the government getting in the way of minorities? “Take Dodd-Frank,” says Carson. “Dodd-Frank was to make sure banks are regulated, and you find out that banks aren’t lending to these areas of need, so these people turn to access to capital, such as a payday loan. Now with CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] and Dodd-Frank, they’re trying to stop payday loans.”

Is that wrong? Payday loans are notoriously onerous. “I’ve actually taken out quite a few payday loans,” says Carson. “I’ve actually taken them out $100 at a time. My learned opponents say ‘that’s 400% APR, you’ll never pay that back,’ but the way I see it, that’s $15 for every $100 you spend. If you want to borrow $100 and I say sure, but in two weeks you have to give me $115, is that a bad deal?”

What if you miss the deadline and it goes up to $130? “Again, this goes back to choice,” said Carson. “Everything CARE is built on choice. You aren’t making it mandatory to those individuals go to the payday loans…”

Perhaps sensing my skepticism, Carson told me a story: “I knew a woman who “has two kids, she was beaten by her husband. He totally zeroed out her accounts. She was able to take out a payday loan and take her kids to a shelter. And she told me payday loans saved her life.”

OK, what about Title II of the Civil Rights Act? Should businesses be allowed to discriminate in the name of freedom? “They should be able to decide what or who they want,” said Carson. “If they don’t hire somebody because of their race, color, or creed, that organization will probably go out of business based on word of mouth alone.” What about if a business won’t serve people because of their race? “If they don’t serve people on that basis, some other organization is going to benefit from that. That’s the beauty of the free market. There’ll be another store or restaurant down the street that’ll say, ‘I will serve them. I Want their business.’ And the business that isn’t serving them will lose out.”

Carson is very concerned with the high unemployment rate among young black men (30 percent, he says), and when he sees the folks at the NAACP and other less free-market-seeming black organization, he says, “let’s have a conversation, let’s provide options and leave it to the individual to decide whether they want option A or option B.”

I saw this lady with a couple of kids and thought, sweet, a family at CPAC!

“Pardon me. Did you bring the whole family to CPAC?”

The woman looked slightly alarmed, but the taller of the two boys, Jedediah, stepped up very manly to see what I wanted. I explained my purpose. “You’re fine,” Jedediah said.

Where are y’all from? “Arkansas.” Where in Arkansas? “Northwest Arkansas.” Ever been to CPAC before? “No, first time.” They didn’t have a lot to say, yet they seemed poised, especially in front of a camera.

I got their names: Heidi Query and Jedediah and Justin Duggar. Not the same last name? “Oh, we’re not blood family,” laughed Heidi.

What brought you here? “We have a relative on the Family Research Council,” said Jedediah. And also, said Justin, they were there for “a book tour for our older sisters.” What’s the book called? “Growing Up Duggar.”

It finally clicked. “Not that Duggar?” “Yes,” said Jedediah.

Anyway, they liked all the speakers of course, though Jedediah made a point of saying they liked Rick Santorum. Nice folks.

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