Human Events Blog

Resolving our differences

A number of left-leaning celebrities, including Nathan Fillion of Firefly and several subsequent productions, became very angry at the Wendy’s restaurant chain for daring to defy ObamaCare by cutting employee hours.  “I just boycotted Wendy’s,” Fillion declared on Twitter.  “And broke up with Wendy.  Via tweet.”

It was quickly pointed out to the jackboot squad that hours were being cut by one Wendy’s franchisee, not the corporation.  And even if it had been a directive from the corporation, the immediate effect of a boycott would be even more hours cut from employee schedules.  Furthermore, it’s odd to castigate an enterprise owned by free American citizens for taking lawful action in response to an onerous government regulation, which unquestionably provides them with financial incentives for reducing employee hours.  The people second-guessing these ObamaCare employment decisions generally have no experience actually running the type of business in question.

The most poignant response to Fillion (who rose to fame playing a character who rebelled against an oppressive government that sought to “improve” everyone’s lives by controlling them) came from Twitter user Chris McKenzie, who said simply, “I wish I was free to break up with ObamaCare.”

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?  The growth of the State infuses all of our lives with compulsive force.  We are surrounded by mandates and penalties.  Even when lawful resistance is offered – and not all of the businesses cutting hours to escape from ObamaCare see themselves as the “resistance” – a penumbra of will is extended around the law.  You’re not supposed to do anything our Great Leaders wouldn’t want you to do… even if they haven’t gotten around to making it illegal yet.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, it was declared that “government is the one thing we all do together.”  Conservatives saw this as either chilling or childishly naive.  In the current environment, American government is more accurately described as a tool some of us employ to force others to do things.  But in truth, government was mean to be only one part of the orderly and productive system we would use to resolve our differences.

We’ll always have differences, about everything from government policies, to our personal habits, to the way we manage our family affairs.  In a free society, the resolution of those differences generally involves constructive activities: competition and persuasion.  New ideas are formulated and tested.  Superior approaches attract voluntary participation.  The unworkable fails, creating an opportunity for something better.  Competition can be fierce, but it’s far more elegant than bureaucrats issuing decrees, and deploying increasing levels of force against the nominally private citizens who are expected to make it all work, somehow.

When the sphere of government control extends, and everything becomes politicized, competition is replaced by conflict.  Debate is a test of reason, but conflict invariably boils down to a contest of will.  Such contests are not usually pleasant.  Victory comes through attrition, and breaking the morale of the enemy.  Among other absurdities, when everything from the purchase of health insurance to the staffing of small business enterprises has become a political matter, we are left with Hollywood stars declaring war on hamburger restaurants over their imperfect obedience to the State.

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