On the occasion I am asked what I do for a living, I’ve developed a pithy answer which gives me immense pleasure and normally results in confused/annoyed looks and further questions.
“I’m in the free speech business.”
While it is rather vague for most, it does sum up my working life rather well. It also serves as a reminder of what my personal mission statement ought to be. Whether talking on radio or opining via this column, free speech is at the essence of my life work. In their great wisdom, our Founding Fathers understood free speech, along with the other freedoms found in our Bill of Rights, was a basic building block of any Republic designed to last the test of time. These individual rights, granted to us by God, are essential to liberty by acting as a protection against the slow creep of government control. Politicians (and by extension Government) naturally want to control broad aspects of our lives in the spirit of public safety, public health, or for the “greater good.” (Sound familiar?) It should be only out of absolute necessity or danger of imminent public harm that personal liberty is sacrificed at the altar of “greater good.”
Here is often the rub between government and man. When is it appropriate for government to protect people against their own bad decision-making?
The Christmas of my twelfth birthday, my Grandpa gave me the greatest gift ever: a Honda Cr80 dirt bike. After showing me the basics of riding, for better or worse, he left me to my own devices. For the most part, I kept it upright and on the road. A month or so later, I asked my Pa if I could ride my bike in a large field near our house.
Pa: “You can if you want, but I wouldn’t if I were you. That field sure has a lot of rocks in it.”
Me: “YAY! Thank you!”
Flash forward two hours later. I arrive back home, pushing the dented, broken bike with two skinned elbows and a busted lip. My Grandpa found all of this rather amusing. Frustrated with the situation, I blurted, “You said I could!”
Pa: “You see…I told you you could … I never said you should. You might want to learn the difference.”
I’m often surprised at the number of Americans who have difficulty understanding the basic difference between government and the private sector when it comes to the Constitution of the United States. I am similarly fascinated with how many Americans struggle with the difference between the ability to act in a certain way and the inappropriateness of doing so.
Currently, there is a robust and proper debate on how much authority the federal government has to force COVID vaccinations on the American people. For me, the constitutionality of a federal mandate hinges on a real and present danger to the general population. Unless that exists, the government has zero business inserting itself between a person and their doctor. It should be only in the most extreme of situational circumstances that the government even considers entangling itself with such a sacred relationship. Given the current track on COVID hospitalizations and deaths, we are just not there.
Several elected leaders, Governor Greg Abbott and Governor Ron DeSantis among them, recognize this federal overreach and have proposed or signed measures protecting individual liberty during the pandemic.
The federal government and the private sector, however, are two different things. Outside of laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (passed to protect certain traditionally marginalized classes of Americans), it is in no way a conservative proposition that government has the authority to dictate to businesses what they can or cannot require of their employees. While I disagree vehemently with any business choosing to require employee vaccinations, as a believer in small government, I defend their right to do it. Sadly, many of these woke companies will reap what they have sown in the free market. I predict this means employees will look elsewhere for a job, employers will respond appropriately, and all will shake out as the pandemic winds down.
Be careful wishing for a government with such control over privately run business that they can stop this natural cycle. When we, the people, give power to elected officials to solve any issue, no matter how noble and just, they tend to repurpose the power in ways unforeseen at the time. This always results in less freedom. Never more.
And as for private business … a word of caution. While it is your business and your right to run it the way you want … I’d be careful.
I’ve noticed this vaccine field looks full of rocks. I would hate for you to bust your lip for no reason.
Just because you can … doesn’t mean you should. I hope you know the difference.
Matt Murphy is co-host of ‘Matt and Val’, heard in Alabama each weekday morning from 6-10 on Talk 99.5. Everywhere at Talk995.com. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday in 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com