When I saw the press release that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was passing a law that banned businesses from requiring vaccination against COVID-19, I knew a line had been crossed.

Here was a governor who is a Republican, a Conservative, and has been generally credited with guiding his state through the COVID pandemic as well as anybody in the country (and better than most) while fighting what most of us perceived to be overreach by the federal government and President Joe Biden. And now he appeared to become the very thing he had been fighting against.

Because either you believe that government should stay out of private enterprise, or you don’t.

So DeSantis fought against the federal government’s attempts to mandate that private businesses require their employees be vaccinated, only to turn around and mandate that private businesses were prohibited from establishing their own standards when it comes to vaccination?

What in the name of Milton Friedman is going on here?

In a capitalistic, free-market economy, two things should be predominant: a private employer must be free to run his own business as he sees fit, and employees must be free to decide if they are willing to work under the employers’ conditions.

A government that mandates a privately owned business to require vaccinations, and a governor that mandates that a privately owned business cannot require vaccinations, are two sides of the same coin. In both situations, government intrudes into the private sector. Most business owners don’t want government at any level telling them what they can’t do any more than they want government telling them what they have to do.

Either way, it’s government telling a private employer how to run his business.

The fact that the government has, at times, established laws pertaining to things like minimum wage, working hours, and working conditions should not translate into giving government carte blanche to make rules for private employers any time an election occurs and a new administration takes office.

But just as President Biden’s administration said it would issue fines of $13,600 per violation for employers who did not require vaccination, now DeSantis’ press release says that in Florida, “Private Employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are prohibited,” and “Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined.” It goes on to say “small businesses (99 employees or less) will face $10,000 per employee violation’’ and “[m]edium and big businesses will face $50,000 per employee violation.”

(As an aside, DeSantis also included “exceptions” for various reasons, which makes no sense: why would anyone need an exception in a law that says no one can be required to be vaccinated?)

In a battle between the feds and the state, seems to me that it’s private business owners who lose.

And the party that is supposed to support individual liberty, limited government, free-market capitalism is suddenly into restricting individual entrepreneurs, expanding government, and further restricting the free market.

Which is really no surprise. Even here in Alabama, after the 2018 election Republicans declared that Alabama was seeing one of the most conservative governments in its history, and yet since then, that ‘’conservative” legislature has raised taxes, increased spending to record levels, and sought new revenue streams. Alabama’s Republicans are looking an awful lot like the Democrats of the past, which suggests that maybe the only thing that changed in Alabama politics over the last 50 years was the letter – ‘D’ became ‘R’ – by the name.

As philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said (and every time I write “Friedrich Nietzsche” I can’t help but think of the movie Blazing Saddles), “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster … for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

In other words, the moment you adopt the tactics you have been so against, you’ve lost the battle and the rest is just, as someone once said, “suffering and historical opera.”

Or, as the old cartoon character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Ray Melick is Editor in Chief of 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