Does Liberty Matter?
Either liberty matters, or it doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways, no matter what actions Governor Abbott or any local elected official takes or allows to be taken.
We have repeatedly heard the Governor say that local governments cannot enforce a requirement that individuals wear masks. Apparently though, local governments have cracked the riddle in the Governor’s executive orders that will allow them to punish a business that refuses to enforce the loss of liberty the Governor says he supports.
That’s right. We now have a totally new law enforcement strategy. While the local law will require people to wear the mask, the people will remain immune to a government penalty if they choose to not comply. Enforcement responsibility will be levied on business owners. Business owners will become a de-facto law enforcement arm, but the only tool they will have to enforce the mask requirement is to refuse to sell to their customers and to kick them out of their store. Won’t that be a real boost to our struggling economy?
In one fell swoop the Governor has managed to turn the rule of law, the role of government, individual liberty, and the free market on its head.
After the Shelly Luther fiasco where a citizen was arrested by a local government under the provisions the Governor made possible, the Governor was not about to be the culprit that directly required citizens to wear masks. Instead, he claims he authorized the city mayors and county judges to do it—they just couldn’t enforce it directly on the people. Instead he allowed the local governments to throw business owners under the bus by putting the responsibility for violating liberty on them. Thus, the statement by Governor Greg Abbott:
“Government cannot require individuals to wear masks.
However, pursuant to my plan, local governments can
require stores and businesses to require masks.”
Now granted, if the wearing of masks was left to the free market wherein business had the choice of making a business decision as to whether or not they would require their patrons to wear a mask, it would clearly be a free markets choice. (Like 30.06 signs)
But that is not the case.
This means that business owners who allow a patron in their shop or office without a mask, will be subject to an unlimited number of fines that can be as much as $10,000 dollars per offense. These are the same businesses that the Governor recently declared non-essential and ordered shut down for months.
And, if someone is caught in their store without a mask, the business owner is the person who must pay the fine or go to jail. Like I said before, bizarre, convoluted, and confusing.
It gets even worse. With this plan, the state has handed local elected officials a tool by which, and with impunity, they can pick winners and losers in their local jurisdiction. It is the perfect opportunity for some to exact revenge on business owners, who may be their competitor or supported their opponent in previous elections. This is not a real good principle of liberty.
Texas has now gone full circle from a dictatorship to a republic, to a sovereign American State. Now it appears that as long as we allow the Governor’s actions under the Disaster Management Act, we are expected to live as if we have a monarchy.
Until March 2, 1836 Texas was a dictatorship under Santa Anna. We all remember the valiant fight for freedom embodied at the Alamo that lead to a free and independent Republic. On December 29, 1845 Texas became the 28th American state. Our citizens have always stepped up to fight for freedom around the world. Who knew the flame of Texas Liberty would be extinguished, by the stroke of a pen, without a shot fired?
Any elected official that is willing to take away our liberties should, at the very least, be willing to take responsibility for their actions without putting it on the backs of businesses.
Local governments should heed the sage advice that “just because you can, does not mean that you should.”