COVID Governments And Social Harmony
Sun, 11/22/2020 – 13:15
Authored by Joakim Book via The American Institute for Economic Research,
As if our societies didn’t have enough conflicts, we have added a new beautiful way of pitting one person against another: COVID-restrictions. Instead of clamping down with the mighty force of government on some innocent behavior, politicians have outsourced the enforcement of their rules to shop-owners or workers at cafés and restaurants. All over, consumers are pitted against producers (or other consumers) in a way that’s almost entirely absent from regular market life.
It’s strange how quickly it happened and how rarely we notice.
Supermarkets are crowded ‒ not inside, as their capacity is strictly limited, but outside as annoyed shoppers have to wait to pick up their groceries. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom rightfully got ridiculed for insisting that people wear masks in between bites when eating at restaurants. The other day I observed two friends incomprehensibly yelling at one another, unable to hear the muffled words coming through the other’s mask. Recipe for disaster, if I ever saw one.
Occupancy and capacity limits are in play everywhere. States across America limit gatherings, how many guests that commercial places may admit, how many people from different households may meet each other at the same time. Ostensibly to combat a terrifying virus, but it doesn’t take too much conspiratorial leanings to consider that there might be a bigger play in action.
On a daily basis I now encounter conflicts between people that stem from Covid regulations ‒ conflicts that governments have engineered and political talking heads have exacerbated. Guidelines, regulations, bans, and soft rules ‒ faulty as they may be ‒ have people up in arms.
In a free society these everyday interactions are harmonious: I want you to attend my shop, and you may want some of my wares. If you find something you like, at a price you find acceptable, we can both be happy. Patrons of a restaurant are hungry, and its staff gladly supply them with food. While we may quibble about the details, incentives are well-aligned here: seller and buyer both want business transactions of mutual gain to take place.
This is what liberty-minded scholars like Ludwig von Mises meant when they talked about markets leading to social harmony.
The introduction of government changes this. Now we …read more