Lee Friday – March 12, 2021
The battle lines were drawn during the early days of the pandemic. On one side are those who support the government’s mandates, such as economic lockdowns, quarantine/isolation of healthy people, restricted access to medical treatment, social distancing, face masks, prohibitions of large gatherings, etc. On the other side are those who oppose these mandates.
Social tension will dissipate, and societal wellbeing can be greatly enhanced if these two camps can find common ground.
Politicians assure us that their mandates are based on the expert advice of the government’s health care bureaucrats – this is where the pro-mandate camp hangs its hat.
Overwhelming evidence from non-government experts suggests that mandates have been ill informed and counterproductive – this is where the anti-mandate camp hangs its hat.
Thus, we have been unable to find common ground in science, because each side accuses the other side of ignoring their science.
Is Freedom the Answer?
The anti-mandate camp says that covid mandates violate their freedom, but most of them do not promote freedom in other sectors of society.
The pro-mandate camp says that health is more important than freedom, but they don’t realize that freedom is the ultimate guardian of health.
Freedom provides the common ground that we seek, but this requires individuals in both camps to make a concerted effort to understand the implications of freedom, and the tremendous benefits it offers.
The Freedom Principle
Freedom means that each person is free to live their life as they choose, so long as they do not cause physical harm to other people, or to the property of other people. Thus, each person is free to associate, or not associate, with others – and to make exchanges (trade – buy, sell, etc.), or not make exchanges, with others.
For many decades, egregious violations of freedom have arisen from government regulations that create regulatory compliance costs which countless businesses cannot afford. The result is less competition for the large corporations that lobbied for the regulations because they can easily absorb these costs. Therefore, many small businesses are unable to compete, not because the entrepreneurs, managers, and workers are not good enough, but because they are compelled to obey authoritarian laws favoring large firms with more political influence. Consequently, many entrepreneurs are forced out of business, while many others are dissuaded from starting a business, exactly as the lobbyists intended.
When – at the behest of their corporate benefactors – the government eliminates competitors by denying them the freedom to compete, economic growth falls considerably. Less competition = less wealth creation, which is reflected in fewer jobs, lower incomes, and higher prices, for the 99%. This does not concern the 1%, whose objective is to grab a larger slice of the smaller economic pie.
Extensive research reveals that the 99% has been forced to sacrifice an enormous amount of prosperity to the 1%. A good benchmark for many countries is found in the US, where the cumulative effect of seven decades of government regulations has resulted in each household being legally denied the opportunity to increase their income by approximately $300,000 annually. As Lew Rockwell wrote:
… to regulate an economy as thoroughly as this one is today is to kill prosperity with a billion tiny cuts. … the real cost of the state is the prosperity we do not see, the jobs that don’t exist, the technologies to which we do not have access, the businesses that do not come into existence, and the bright future that is stolen from us. The state has looted us just as surely as a robber who enters our home at night and steals all that we love.
The propaganda used to justify regulations is that the government must protect consumers. This conveniently ignores the fact that in a marketplace of unfettered competition, profit-seeking firms who fail to satisfy consumers, will lose those customers to competitors producing superior products at lower prices. In other words, consumers benefit the most when they, not the government, have the freedom to pick the winners and losers. Thus, the pretense of consumer protection is a government smokescreen for the massive amount of wealth accumulated by the 1%, at the expense of the 99%.
Freedom Can be Our Common Ground
When we recognize the accomplishments of free people, we can easily perceive the destructive, anti-social effects of government intrusions into peoples’ lives.
The implications of freedom are profound. For many years, numerous studies have revealed a direct cause and effect relationship between high levels of freedom, and high levels of health and prosperity. Sadly, these studies also reveal that nations with the highest levels of freedom are nevertheless run by governments that still deny citizens the right to exercise various freedoms – which means that further increases in health and prosperity are sacrificed to imperious politicians and bureaucrats.
If the anti-mandate camp discovers the true meaning of freedom, they will see that they have been forbidden from acquiring an enormous amount of wealth due to the egregious activities of their government. This edification should stiffen their resolve in their fight for freedom.
The same edification might raise doubts within the pro-mandate camp, causing them to suspect that their government’s covid mandates might also be egregious, and they may question the government’s science.
With their economic blinders removed, the diametrically opposed viewpoints of the two camps might be reconciled. Moreover, they may find common ground in the realization that the government’s mandates and regulations cannot be enforced without the acquiescence of citizens. Thus, armed with the knowledge that unaccountable governments have denied them a great deal of wealth, they might be inclined – $300,000 annually, per household, is a huge incentive – to work together to promote the cause of freedom. If such a large group refuses to acquiesce, their prospects for success are pretty darn good.
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