Friday, April 24, 2020

Quickies: The Lockdown Lever

     The rising sentiment among common Americans is that this “stay at home” BS has gone too far and must end forthwith. Yet it’s not ending. Not all the enforcement power in the world could keep Americans confined to our homes, were we to decide that we’d had enough. Yet we’re doing so. Why?

     Some of it is probably fear. “The experts” – you know, those guys who’ve been wrong about absolutely everything from the start of this mess – continue to preach fear. Quite a lot of our countrymen have probably been affected by those preachments, at least to the extend of muttering “better safe than sorry” to themselves. In effect, they’re quarantining themselves.

     But there’s a more baleful influence at work, and it might have a greater part of the responsibility for our ongoing paralysis: licensure and business regulation.

     I’ve written before about the essentially totalitarian nature of licensure. Business regulation – the institution of conditions under which a business must do its business or be shut down by the State – is another facet to that evil jewel. There are fewer businesses than there are Americans – and those businesses’ owners and managers are aware of what the State could do to them should they step out of line.

     So our employers – and remember, the Fortune 3000 employ half of all working Americans – are afraid to reopen at the risk of the State’s wrath. But without the reopening and normal functioning of those businesses, where would most of us be going when we leave our homes? By far the greater part of our moving about is for occupational purposes!

     This applies even to “essential” businesses that are “permitted” to operate during the lockdown. Note how sharply their staffs-on-hand have been reduced. Many won’t even allow customers into their physical stores; rather, the customer must call ahead and accept “curbside delivery,” regardless of his preferences or his desire to survey the available alternatives. I’d bet the rent money that agents of the State are watching them for compliance to their decrees.

     The apostles of State licensure and regulation have always claimed that it’s for “the safety of the public.” They’ve always contended that mere registration and certification – i.e., promulgated safety standards and an easily accessed list of which businesses comply and which conspicuously do not, with no enforcement – would be “insufficient.” If that chant hasn’t grown strained yet, something has gone wrong with Americans’ hearing. We used to bridle at being told that we don’t know our own best interests, that the heavy hand of the State must confine us – and occasionally punish us – “for your own good.”

     And here we are.

1 comment:

Paul Bonneau said...

It's natural, in the face of disease (ignoring for the moment the question of lethality) to want to stay at home. The state mandates to do so are simply convenient excuses for people doing what people would want to do anyway. But of course, there are obvious limits to this, as the wine and crackers run out, and you need money to pay for more. So, it's just as natural for people eventually to get fed up and restless. The ruling thugs will soon find that they had better drop their decrees or be ignored. They hate being ignored - it makes them feel unneeded.

As to business regulation:
"Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions, and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads."
-- Henry David Thoreau