My Durham neighbors Katherine T. Bartlett and Mitu Gulati have just posted an exciting -- and I'd add controversial -- paper called "We do we allow customer discrimination?" Cribbing now from their abstract:
Customers discriminate. They discriminate in whom they buy from, how much they are willing to pay for what they buy, and how they evaluate those with whom they do business—among other things. Anti-discrimination norms in contemporary U.S. society are strong, as reflected by legal constraints on discrimination by employers, providers of public accommodation and so on. But there seems to be an exemption for customers. Why?
One of their proposals might require bundling of purchases as a response to discrimination (such as requiring the purchase of tickets to women's sports teams at the same time customers purchase tickets to men's sports teams.). This leads me to ask if this is really more about redistribution of wealth than about prohibiting/punishing customer discrimination. And if that is the case, perhaps we should just redistribute property outright? A second thought here -- and this likely the only time in my life I have found myself in agreement with Robert Bork; savor this because the moment is unlikely to recur -- but I think we allow customer discrimination because of the core ideology in our country that permits individuals to make choices about how to spend money, whom to associate with, and in what ways.