Economics Will Always Lose Out To Political Expediency

Economics usually loses to what passes for political expediency.

Interfering in the right of private businesses to conduct their affairs in their own way is a perversion of the free market system. It seems you cannot call yourself “business friendly” and then take away the decision process from businesses.

The biggest example of this is the government ban on requiring poof of vaccination on cruise ships. Both Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbot of Florida and Texas respectively have signed executive orders banning cruise lines from having such a requirement. Yet both governors claim to be pro-business.

In both states, the cruise companies have refused to comply with the orders. The courts will probably side with the companies ultimately. What I cannot understand is how can two supposedly free market proponents now want to dictate to business how to conduct their affairs.

Democrats are accused of being anti-business all the time. In some instances, their prescriptions are just that. Blue state governors are more inclined to place restrictions on business than their red state colleagues. In this instance, I believe because it is related to Covid, politics supersedes economics.

Most people would believe that the government has an interest in keeping the public safe during a public health crisis. The problem with our response to Covid is that we are not in a sprint but a marathon. This leaves everyone leery of the continued fight. There has been a demonization of public health that has resulted in politics dictating outcomes. This is a recipe for what we have today which is an explosion of COVID cases in Florida and Texas.

Both DeSantis and to a lesser extent Abbott need to be re-elected governor in 2022 to run for president in 2024. They are trying to accomplish their goals by not just appealing to their core voters but by making sure that each one of their supporters go to the polls. In these cases, whether the courts uphold the bans are immaterial to the political fortunes of DeSantis and Abbott. It is in the fight that they win regardless of the verdict.

Florida and Texas are the two states that are being decimated by the virus. The principles of market capitalism and public safety are being sacrificed. This has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with retaining power for its own sake.

What better way to do so than by playing into people’s fears? Masks are bad, vaccinations are bad and businesses that want any of this are taking away your freedom. The problem with that train of thought is that the governors through their actions decide what constitute a diminution of freedom.

I am not proposing DeSantis or Abbott issue any new mandates or lockdowns. I just want the principles of the market to decide. That is what Governor Noem has done in South Dakota by not becoming involved in dictating to business regarding masks or vaccines.

Private businesses have the right under free market capitalism to set the standards for whom and under what conditions people/customers can enter their businesses. There are constitutional restraints on who you can bar from your business. Requiring a mask or proof of a medical vaccine by businesses are not infringing on a constitutionally protected right.

Florida and to a lesser extent Texas are hubs for the cruise industry. Being a governor of a state requires you do everything possible to support the state industries. Business does not want to limit the number of customers. If the cruise industry is instituting a policy, it must be to satisfy those buying its service.

A recent poll conducted by the University of South Florida showed that only 24% of Floridians believe that cruise lines should not be allowed to have a vaccine mandate. 43% think that it should be mandatory to be vaccinated to take a cruise and 33% that it should be left up to the individual cruise lines. Those numbers would suggest that politically most Floridians would be on the side of the cruise industry.

The market can decide about vaccine mandates on ships or at any private business. Under our system, no governor has the authority to dictate to their state’s businesses in this matter. It is a loser for the politician, the markets, and ultimately the people.

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manger in New York City.