For businesses in lockdown areas, pain is a harsh teacher about Big Government
A San Francisco business-owner who was on the verge of finally being able to re-open a salon emailed me to express her outrage that the San Francisco Board of Public Health had abruptly imposed a whole new raft of requirements that prevent her re-opening. My correspondent is a committed Democrat and fervently anti-Trump, but her email ended with a real cry from the heart. She's sick of having the city use the virus to push her around and destroy her business. While I am genuinely sorry for her, I used the occasion of her email to suggest to her that this is a problem inherent in progressive Democrat governance. The following is what I wrote to her:
You have my deep and sincere sympathy for what you're experiencing.
I know you're not for Trump, but give me a minute to make my pitch. What you're experiencing is the Democrats' belief that government through experts creates bureaucracies that know better than you do about what's important to you. In a nutshell, that's the progressive Democrats' prime selling point and has been since Woodrow Wilson: we're the experts, and we know better. Most of the time, though, bureaucrats don't know better.
I've long felt that we need most government regulations only when people cannot easily or reasonably acquire important information on their own. For example, in San Francisco, it's useful to have building codes for earthquake safety, along with inspections. I would have no idea whether my contractor was building something that could collapse with the first little shake.
In the same way, I like having minimum standards for surgeons — again, this is because I have no way of knowing if the surgeon is good or not until it's too late.
But did you know that flower-arrangers in Louisiana need to be licensed? Most of us can tell if a florist is good, and there's no danger if he's bad. The market will quickly correct things if the florist is creating something no one wants to buy.
Here's the deal about Trump, whether or not you like him. (I find him amusing, like an old-time Borscht Belt comic.) He believes in you — you, the citizen; you, the entrepreneur; you, the small business–owner. He thinks you know best what's right for you, your business, and your community.
As one of my favorite old-time English novelists would say, Trump believes in "few rules, but unbreakable." Instead of a million laws and regulations that either break people or that people break, he wants a leaner government that gives people freedom while avoiding chaos.
Two more things: I know from living most of my life in the Bay Area that the two make-or-break issues for most people are abortion and climate change. Regarding the former, I grew up pro-abortion. I'm very troubled, though, by the fact that Planned Parenthood sets up shop in black communities, places in which there are often more babies aborted than born.
I can't help feeling that part of the problem in the inner cities with black-on-black murder is that the culture of abortion tells these young people that they are disposable. There is a lack of reverence for life that's troubling. That lack of reverence, combined with the Democrats' obsession with abortion, makes me feel as if the Democrats have become a death cult. We aim for death when we should choose life.
And regarding climate change, again, Trump believes that you and other concerned people will do better through personal action and innovation than will the bureaucrats who will make crazy, economy- and lifestyle-destroying regulations while handing your money to favored corporations. As you've seen in California with the power outages, wind and solar are not ready for prime time. And lastly, remember that, even though Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, America has exceeded the metrics without coercion.
I know that nothing I wrote will change your mind. You'd have a fragile mind if I caused you to have an instant epiphany. I hope, though, that what I wrote makes you think outside the San Francisco construct. For half my life, like most San Franciscans, I lived solely in the NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, New Yorker intellectual realm. Looking outside it was mind-blowing.
Best of luck with your business and your fight against City Hall. Remember, you're right, but they don't care about you. They care about themselves. We all do. The great thing about free-market capitalism is that it harnesses that instinct. Combine that individual drive for success with core values that force us to recognize the worth of each individual, and you end with a pretty darn good system.
PS: You might find interesting Dave Rubin's summary of his political journey.