FILE – In this May 22, 2013, customers enter and exit a Hobby Lobby store in Denver. The Supreme Court is poised to deliver its verdict in a case that weighs the religious rights of employers and the right of women to the birth control of their choice. Employers must cover contraception for women at no extra charge among a range of preventive benefits in employee health plans. Dozens of companies, including the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, claim religious objections to covering some or all contraceptives. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
“That’s what a government is for, gettin’ in a man’s way.”
That quote from the short-lived sci-fi series Firefly is just one of many sayings that tickles my libertarian sensibilities. The show is filthy with libertarian-minded quotes and that one is one of the more overlooked. Despite it being not nearly the most popular, it’s one that rings with much more meaning and truth that I doubt even the creators of the show understood.
The government often bills itself as the fount of opportunity, yet the government gives us the most opportunities when it removes itself from the equation. This is because a government is a system that naturally curbs the imperfections of man and allows us to work with them to form a society. As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, if man were perfect, we wouldn’t need government:
Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.
Paine went on to say that though a government is necessary, the one that governs the least is the one that governs the best. This is pretty evident given the fact that America’s freedoms have made it the most abundant, wealthy, and powerful country on the globe.
Yet authoritarians believe that if a little government is good then a lot must be better. This is never the case, and we can refer to the outcomes of countries that turn their government up to 11. What socialists countries are in operation right now look more like circles of hell.
They got that way because the populace believed that government was the key to paradise. It’s clearly not. A government is a body that creates rules for people that they must follow and when a government becomes abusive and overly large, it restricts the people in what they can do, say, or think.
This is a massive problem for many reasons. First and foremost is that every person living on the planet has a talent or a skill of some kind. That skill can flourish and benefit humanity or one of their ideas can serve as the soil for a revolutionary product that sends humanity into a new and better way of life.
Do you think that the iPhone would have been invented in Soviet Russia? They could hardly feed themselves. North Korea is still ages behind us in technology. Also, they’re starving too.
But even more importantly is the fact that when restrictions are at a high, self-reliance tends to go out the window. The people must rely on the government to provide what they need instead of being able to go out and get it themselves. This puts an unnecessary burden on the government that it can’t carry.
Case in point, I wrote earlier today about Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins’ knee-jerk order to make everyone who steps into various locations wear masks or else they could face trouble with the law. This is a horrible idea given that it’s very difficult to find masks in the city of Dallas.
I know this because I’ve tried to personally. Signs were put up at places like Walgreen and CVS at the front of the stores informing people that they didn’t have them. With Jenkins issuing that order that you couldn’t step into stores to by things you needed without a mask, the problem would have only gotten worse as Dallas county residents scrambled to find one so they could simply buy groceries.
Luckily, this order quickly got shut down by the Dallas County Commission and Jenkins got a slap on the wrist for his inability to make these decisions without first consulting the commission. However, an interesting point needs to be made here.
When the lockdown first began, the craft store Hobby Lobby stayed open after Jenkins issued the order for the county’s nonessential businesses to shut their doors. Hobby Lobby’s reasoning for staying open was solid: they sold the materials that you needed in order to make your own masks at home. As all medical supplies were being given to healthcare professionals to treat the oncoming pandemic, making your own masks would have eased fears and burdens on the local hospitals and medical supply shops.
Jenkins, however, didn’t see it that way, and immediately forced the closure of stores via the use of law enforcement. Fast forward to today, and Jenkins mask order that was shut down by vote of the Dallas County commission also included another vote to open Hobby Lobby so that people could make masks for themselves. Craft stores are now deemed essential.
While this is great, especially since an authoritarian got egg on his face, they should have been deemed essential from the get-go. Stores that promote the idea of DIY are, by their nature, an avenue of self-reliance and self-reliance is an effective method of easing the burden on both government and citizen.
The citizen makes his own solutions so the government doesn’t have to take the time and resources to make one for him, and very likely, do a very poor job of doing it anyway. Jenkins thought he was providing solutions, but in truth, his solutions don’t elevate, they restrict. He effectively stopped a host of problem-solving citizens from providing a solution to a problem.
It’s maddening if you think about it for too long. The free market had the solution to a major problem from the very beginning but the government didn’t allow it to step up to the plate. Thus, the government exacerbated a problem it was trying to solve.
Because that’s what a government is for…getting in a man’s way.
Always trust the free market and the people to solve the problem. The government should be the last thing you look to.