In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. identifies the government as the enemy of the rights and dignity of blacks. He was locked up for marching without a permit. King cites the injustices of the police and courts in particular. And he inspired a movement to raise public consciousness against state brutality, especially as it involved fire hoses, billy clubs, and jail cells.
Less obvious, however, had been the role of a more covert means of subjugation — forms of state coercion deeply embedded in the law and history of the United States. And they were offered as policies grounded in science and the scientific management of society.
Consider the minimum wage. How much does racism have to do with it? Far more than most people realize. A careful look at its history shows that the minimum wage was originally conceived as part of a eugenics strategy — an attempt to engineer a master race through public policy designed to cleanse the citizenry of undesirables. To that end, the state would have to bring about the isolation, sterilization, and extermination of nonprivileged populations.
The eugenics movement, as an application of the principle of the “planned society,” was deeply hostile to free markets.The eugenics movement — almost universally supported by the scholarly and popular press in the first decades of the 20th century — came about as a reaction to the dramatic demographic changes of the latter part of the 19th century. Incomes rose and lifetimes had expanded like never before in history. Such gains applied to all races and classes. Infant mortality collapsed. All of this was due to a massive expansion of markets, technology, and trade, and it changed the world. It meant a dramatic expansion of population among all groups. The great unwashed masses were living longer and reproducing faster.