Texas Governor Greg Abbot, in an April 27 executive order concerning coronavirus, declared: “Individuals are encouraged to wear appropriate face coverings, but no jurisdiction can impose a civil or criminal penalty for failure to wear a face covering.” This executive order provision stopped in their tracks local governments that sought to enforce mask mandates as part of their coronavirus crackdowns.
Because of his stand against mask mandates, Abbott gained praise for defending liberty. But, on Wednesday, Abbot turned his back on liberty when, in a KWTX-TV of Waco, Texas interview, he endorsed local governments ordering stores and other businesses to require people at the businesses to wear masks.
Abbott said in the interview:
We want to make sure that individual liberty is not infringed upon by government, and, hence, government cannot require individuals to wear masks. However, pursuant to my plan, local governments can require stores and businesses to require masks.
It infringes on the liberty of people at stores and other businesses if a government imposes a mask mandate on them through the intermediary of businesses just the same as it infringes on these people’s liberty if the government imposes the mandate on them directly.
Also, the owners or stores and other businesses are people. Their liberty is important, just like their customers’ and employees’ liberty. Mandating that businesses mandate people wear masks violates the liberty of those business owners. You would think a Republican governor of Texas would understand this.
Governments threatening stores and other businesses with punishment is a more sure way of making individuals wear masks than is governments threatening customers and employees with punishment. Many businesses, fearing punishment, will task their employees with being enforcers, directing them to watch customers and fellow employees for failure to wear masks, to bark out orders about masks, and to kick out people who do not comply. Many owners on site at small businesses will take these actions themselves. A business that does not routinely enforce mask mandates a local government places on it can become an easy target for enforcement measures.
In contrast, when governments impose mask mandates on individual customers and employees, businesses are not given so much incentive to act as enforcers. Instead, the enforcement role is left much more to police who will see individuals’ violations much less.
Given the green light from Abbott, local governments across Texas are rushing to mandate that stores and other businesses impose mask mandates on people at the businesses’ premises.
Some protection of liberty from the governor was nice while it lasted. Now, after it has become more clear that coronavirus is much less of a threat to most people than proclaimed early-on by people in government and media, and after many independent experts and organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) have argued that healthy people going about their daily activities are better off not wearing masks, Abbott has caved on defending people’s liberty not to wear masks. Further, Abbott has failed to even have the decency to admit he has caved.
Abbott is out saying he is protecting liberty when he is in fact being a menace to liberty. Pathetic.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.