Freedom, Property Rights, and Refusing Service

“Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I’m halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God….I could be eating a slow learner.” – Lynda Montgomery

I will not be frequenting McDain’s restaurant in Pittsburgh any time soon. It’s not just that I live 4 hours from Pittsburgh, but rather that I have kids under the age of 6. You see, McDain’s has recently announced that it will not allow children under the age of 6.

I’m OK with this.

I don’t own McDain’s restaurant. McDain’s is a private enterprise. McDain’s can decide who it wants to serve for whatever reason it chooses. That’s freedom. That’s what you get when people have property rights. (Remember, property rights extend from the fact that your life and time are yours. You may freely use them to be productive and accumulate property – thus the property is a direct result of life and liberty and accrues its status as a “right” from the first two.)

To be sure there are former patrons who will visit no longer (the ones with young kids, I imagine). There are other patrons who will find the restaurant more appealing, now that it will be quieter. Will this impact business? It almost surely will. For better or worse? That’s McDain’s problem to deal with. In a free market, you rise and fall on the weight of your own decisions and your own efforts. Freedom has its consequences.

Yes, I realize that this has broad reaching extensions. It’s easy enough to say that a restaurant should have the freedom to set its own smoking policy. If you don’t want second-hand smoke, then go somewhere else. Business will rise and fall based on whether they bring in customers.

What gets uglier is saying that restaurants can deny service to whomever for whatever. Is it “fair” or “just” or “moral” or “good”? Maybe not, but freedom has its consequences, including limits on what level of morality the government can enforce.

If you violate the rights of another (life, liberty, property) then the government should and ought to put a stop to it. Other than that, the government and the laws are the wrong place to have a debate on morality.

So carry on McDain’s. We wish you well. OK, we actually don’t care that much – but wish you well for no other reason than that failure would invite rejoicing from the do-gooders.

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One Response to Freedom, Property Rights, and Refusing Service

  1. Michelle says:

    That’s interesting. I recently read a similar article about a restaurant here in NC that posted an English only sign in their window. The owner said he was having trouble communicating with non English speaking customers. His business, according to the article, tripled. But even if it had not, it’s like you said–it’s his place of business and he has the freedom to serve or not serve who he chooses. Ain’t that America?

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