Every Business Is Essential – an AFA Initiative to Defend Economic Freedom

 In EBIE, Economic Freedom

Every business is essential.

If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be a business.

At any given moment, whatever business is open is an essential part of the engine that underlies the free market element of capitalism that creates wealth, prosperity, opportunity.

Yes, even the eyebrow threading salon down the street might not seem essential to you, but it is to its owner who took a risk in starting a small business, to their employees who rely on that paycheck to buy whatever they themselves deem essential, to their suppliers, to the transportation of those supplies, to the landlord who rents them their space, the web designer, the ads they may run, the sign guy, the whole constellation of other businesses that create the web of industry, commerce and free flow of capital to provide any kind of product or service as long as people want it.  Yes, eyebrow threading.  That salon you might not care about matters to a lot of people. Of course it matters to their patrons; if it didn’t, they’d have shut their doors.  It’s the patrons, it’s consumers, it’s you and I, who decide what is and isn’t essential.

Nobody else.

Politicians have no right to decide what is and isn’t essential.  They can decide within government agencies what is or isn’t essential, certainly – one hopes they do – but they have no right to pick and choose what areas of the private sector are essential, and what are not.

The engine of capitalism – the markets made by we the consumers – requires all elements to participate.  Whatever there is demand for, nobody ought get in the way of supplying it, at least within the realm of what is legal. 

But never, ever, should a business or sector be evaluated according to its “essential-ness.” Never.

America is built on creativity, on addressing needs, on adapting and adjusting and evolving and inventing and creating as conditions demand and permit. That is who we are. One of our strengths is an empowerment of a uniquely dynamic small business tier to our economy, a tier that is indispensable to the flourishing of the economy as a whole, as a means of meeting demand, and as a means for the potential prosperity of individuals as they take risks, innovate, compete successfully and flourish.  As President Coolidge had noted, “The business of America is business.”

Everybody is a winner when the economic engine is allowed to crank along.

And everybody is a loser when it’s not.

Government deciding what is and isn’t essential is a gigantic wrench in the engine of our economy, of our democracy, of our nation’s underpinnings as a whole.

The statistics resulting in large part from these decisions are staggering.  Forty-three percent of small businesses are on the brink of permanent shuttering. This article suggests the number may be closer to 66% .   It’s likely we’ll see 3 million jobs lost by the summer.  The effects are deep and devastating.

It goes against our freedom of free enterprise, our economic freedom, and the right to our self-determination.

And it can not be permitted.

Capitalism – the ability to engage in free enterprise – has always proven to be fundamentally far more beneficial to all than its opposite: state-controlled markets and enterprises. 

Friedrich Hayek and Thomas Sowell make the point that economic freedom is inextricably tied to other freedoms.  Margaret Thatcher was clear on this in her speech in  her “Freedom, Economic Liberty and the Rule of Law” speech in 1996:

You could not have, in fact, political freedom unless you have economic liberty—in other words, free enterprise—because wealth is not created by government, it is created by the talent and enterprise of individuals in an atmosphere of freedom. They build up the wealth. From that wealth, if we take modestly, we are able to look after the people who need to be looked after. We are able to provide good education. We are able properly to defend our country and it is, of course, the government’s task also to keep the finances of the country sound.

When government steps in to discriminate among sectors in the economy based on its personal, highly subjective and arbitrary notion of what is “essential,” that is an untenable violation of our economic freedom.

The American Freedom Alliance is taking a stand for economic freedom by asking elected officials and those seeking election to sign a pledge that they take as a fundamental truth that all businesses are essential, and to oppose all efforts and legislation that might designate any business as non-essential.

In this way we hope to prevent any future cripplings of this great nation’s economy with arbitrary, personal, irrational choices about what is and isn’t essential.

Not even during a pandemic.

The only relevant aspect regarding a business’s operations is whether or not that business can comply with the recommendations for safe operation during a medical pandemic.  That’s it.  Not regarding whether some bureaucrat decides what is essential, but whether a business can comply with safety recommendations or ordinances, as, for example, restaurants have always had to do.

Right now, grocery stores, pharmacies, drive-through restaurants, gun stores, liquor stores and others all must comply with various regulations to operate:  limiting the number of patrons; ensuring “social distancing” in lines; wearing of masks; plexiglass or some other kind of barrier between cashier or employee and customer, and various other measures.

If those businesses can operate under those conditions, it stands to reason that any business that can similarly comply ought to be able to be open.  And given that those who work at these “essential” businesses don’t seem to be “dropping like flies” as the furor would indicate, clearly those measures seem sufficient.  If the cashiers at Albertson’s are managing quite well through all this, why would we expect that the nice lady at the dry cleaners wouldn’t do so as well? 

A business might not choose to open, it might not choose to decide to comply, and it may not be able to, but every business most assuredly ought to be given the option.

Movie theatres could limit the number of patrons at a given time, and be seated as far away from one another as they are in daily White House press briefings.

Playgrounds can be opened with a means for reserving a time slot; same with beaches, parks, museums, etc.  Each of these enterprises is crucial to the functioning of our society; each has value in one way or another.

There is always a way to keep the engine of commerce humming, as long as government doesn’t choose to simply turn the switch to “OFF.”

And pandemic or no pandemic, no government agency or individual has a right to turn that switch off, to discriminate in this way, or to mandate what items within a store can be sold or not.  

AFA’s “Every Business is Essential” pledge is a vital means to ensure that this engine keeps humming, and to prevent that switch from being turned off. 

And it’s important to consider this:  the fact that these closures have been made in such a capricious and inconsistent manner and are leading to a cascade of business failures will have a chilling effect on potential entrepreneurs for the foreseeable future.  Investment in new businesses only happens when the economic ground is fertile for entrepreneurship, and what this episode has just demonstrated is that the ground is anything but fertile.  The pledge is a means of re-establishing confidence that government won’t again pull the rug out from businesses again.

This is a non-partisan undertaking, and reveals simply who does and who doesn’t believe in free enterprise.  Just that simple.  Signatories to the pledge will be acknowledged, and will be given an “Every Business is Essential” seal they can use on their materials indicating their stance in support of free markets and free enterprise.

The pledge is for elected officials and candidates, but we are asking anybody to sign support for the initiative.  Click here to sign your support and we’ll include your name on the website.

If the goal is, as is claimed, to stem the spread of infection, then public health-driven operating guidelines are sufficient to that purpose, and all the rest is overreach that is as dangerous to Americans as the virus.

Specific health and safety requirements are the only measures needed to stem the virus, not the destruction of the economy.

Every business is  essential. 

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