Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The New Prohibition

 There is an article over at Reason magazine that talks about business during a pandemic.

It appears that government-imposed restrictions on travel, business, and social contact don't become more palatable with age. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to simmer, the one competency that officials have consistently displayed is in tightening the screws, using the licenses and permissions they require as enforcement tools. For people tired of being bossed around, the obvious response is to carry on without the government's imprimatur—and they're doing so in droves. It's an attitude likely to live on long after the crisis has passed.

Earlier this week, I talked about a Denham Springs restaurant who is doing business in direct violation of government orders to shut down.  And business is booming.

Belle and I were talking about his the other day.  Belle is an RN and understands why the health department has to inspect restaurants.  I'm a libertarian, and don't want government involved in very many human decisions. So, there is a natural tension between the two belief systems.

Government at all levels is using the business license as a cudgel to enforce compliance.It's happening in Louisiana and it's happening in Texas, and I suspect that it is happening all over the US.  But, government forgets that the last great prohibition spawned, in great degree, the rise of organized crime in the US.

That the rebellion among Texas taverns is alive and well is obvious from a desperate-sounding open letter issued last week by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). "Recently we have spoken with business owners who tell us they don't intend to follow the orders," wrote A. Bentley Nettles, the commission's executive director. "When a business tells TABC it doesn't intend to follow these orders, you leave the agency with no option but to revoke your license and shut you down."

The regulators may pull the license, but whether the business shuts down is a matter of claim.  It may simply go underground, like the speakeasys of the 1920s.  It's one thing to tell people that they can't do something, it's another thing entirely whether they do it or not. Governing against human nature is always a bad idea.

Lest we forget, there was another group of Americans who penned these words in a document that celebrated our independence.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Let reedom Ring.

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