In a recent executive order, Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned “any entity,” including private businesses and individuals, from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
This decision comes as a complete 180 from Abbott’s 2021 policy banning the government from enforcing COVID-19 mandates, which explicitly permitted private businesses to enforce their own rules. The governor said at the time, “Private businesses don’t need government running their business.”
It’s easy to see why many people who are sick of COVID mandates may want to support his most recent executive order, but that would be a mistake. Yes, in 2020 and 2021, the government violated all of our rights (life, liberty, and property) through mask and vaccine mandates, business lockdowns, and “shelter in place” orders with legal consequences such as fines or prison time for not complying. Yet, while many have since recognized that these rules were misguided, some people need clarification on why they were unwarranted.
The policy wasn’t wrong because it came from a certain political party since the morality of a policy is independent of who proposes it. It’s also not simply because these policies failed to be effective. It doesn’t matter whether the policies were effective or not because the real issue is that they exceed the role of government.
The proper role of government is to protect our rights (life, liberty, and property) so we can decide what’s best for our lives as individuals. It has no business making those decisions for us.
For some people, masking, taking the vaccine, and staying at home or working remotely was the best decision for them and taking care of their health. However, it was not the best for everyone. Some people became very sick after taking the vaccine. Others couldn’t find employment or lost entire businesses due to government lockdowns.
Violating their rights prevented them from weighing their options and making the decisions needed to live their lives.
This is why Abbott should not ban anyone from privately implementing mandates today.
He was correct when he said, “Private businesses don’t need government running their business.” They knew how to run their companies then, and they do now, so they should be allowed to set their own policies and decide who they want to employ and serve.
Some may believe these businesses have the right to do so but still think it’s irrational to do so or that these employers don’t care about the welfare of their employees by punishing them for their medical decisions. That’s perfectly fine, and they have every right to punish those businesses’ decisions with boycotts.
Why would you want to work for an employer you don’t believe wants what’s best for their employees? Why would you shop at a store whose values are directly opposed to yours? Why would you agree to contribute to the success of a company that you don’t respect?
Meanwhile, plenty of businesses disagree with mask and vaccine policies, where you could happily shop, work, and contribute to their success. Plus, businesses can face financial consequences when they enforce policies or express views not supported by their consumer base, as we have seen recently with the protests of companies like Bud Light and Target.
In the end, government involvement in the lives of private citizens is the problem, not the solution. People who support individual rights need to call out Abbott for doing the exact thing we criticized in 2020—so we don’t open the door for more government mandates in the future.