May 24, 2020 Reading Time: 4 minutes

I wanted to celebrate the opening day of breweries in Connecticut. But it was hardly that. Open means freedom of association and commerce. We are nowhere near that point. 

You had to have reservations for a particular time slot, because they are only allowed a fractional capacity. You can only stay an hour and a half. Beer can only be sold in plastic cups and servers can’t touch the thing after you have touched it. You must bus your own table. You have to sit outside. 

The mask mandate remains as confusing as ever: you have to put them on when you walk up the ramp to the beer garden but then you can take them off, unless you are the server in which case you have to scream your menu items through a cotton fabric and it comes out like a big muffle anyway. Health theater. 

All of this is mandated by the government, as part of the slow-go opening, as if the politicians passing these mandates have any clue about risk, the power to control and direct a virus with precision, or any knowledge of this virus or viruses in general. 

It’s all a crazy kabuki dance that everyone is going through, businesses and customers alike, even though it should be completely obvious to one and all by now that for the demographic of your typical brewery patron, this is hardly a disease at all. 

We know vastly more about COVID-19 than we did early on, and the more we know the more preposterous is the entire lockdown, which is probably why the media-fueled fear mongering is rising and not falling during the opening. (To be sure, even if COVID-19 had turned out to be the bubonic plague, I still reject the idea that there is any excuse to violate human rights.)

Back to my brewery trip. My sense of dread about this outing quickly turned to happiness. There was a food truck. They were serving burgers. On the way in, I ordered one for me and each of my friends. They were delivered to the porch where we were seated. It tasted like the greatest meal I had in my life. It was astonishing. The food truck people were so incredibly happy to be selling, serving, making money, making people satisfied. Their typical tips this day were 50%. Rightly so! 

It was the same at the brewery. Yes, the owner and servers were wearing masks, as mandated by the government. Still, you could almost see the smiles through them. They were practically yelling with delight to be back working, back in business, back serving the public. They were all hopping around like rabbits, even though the place was forcibly doing a fraction of its normal business. It was like two-plus months of pent-up energy pouring out all at once. 

It was immediately obvious to me that these people have a vocation. They have dreams. They are meant to do this. It is a deep passion that burns within. They were wickedly and cruelly stopped from doing what they set out to do and robbed of two months of profits and two months of happiness in serving others. More importantly, their dreams of a secure legal environment to do business were crushed. 

Finally with the opening, it was back – in a very truncated form but back nonetheless. You could just feel the energy and joy on the porch. It was a reminder to me that great entrepreneurs at every level of society possess a passion akin to great intellectuals, priests, or scientists. They believe that they are doing what they were born to do. 

This country was founded to allow them to make their dreams come true. How and why we came to the place in which they were shut down coast to coast is a scandal for the ages. 

Still, what I sensed here was a desire to move on. Don’t look back. Don’t seek justice. Don’t kvetch about whatever the hell just happened in the spring of 2020. Let’s just get on with business. Now. 

A worry has haunted me during this lockdown concerning capital formation in the future. Why would anyone invest in anything if government can just shut it down on any pretext? Viruses, even new ones, even deadly ones, will always be with us, so does this mean that lockdowns and the pillaging of enterprises will be with us too? In that case, we face a very grim future. 

But being out and about curbs my pessimism. The opening is taking place not because of government or the howling media; it is happening despite their objections and due only to massive public pressure. Sure, the polls are ambiguous; they always are on controversial topics. 

What matters is the underlying passion for freedom that has been shown by the commercial community and average people, including the protestors in every town in America. People have been betrayed by their leaders; the passion to make matters right is boiling up all over the country. You see it in every Twitter feed of every governor. You detect it in conversations. You see it on the beaches, which are blessedly full. America is so over this. 

What of capital formation in the future? It will undoubtedly be harmed. However: the passion and energy of the business community will not be so easily discouraged. It can overcome the threats, the bureaucrats, the political cowardice that led to lockdown, and even the legal ambiguity of the executive orders that brought it about. 

The same passion will now seek absolute assurances that nothing like this will ever happen in our lifetime. There will be curbs on the powers that made this possible. They will be written in stone. Mixing the metaphor, they will hang over the political class like the Sword of Damocles. Changes in law can only go so far; the public must demand that their governments stop this. And if the public demands absolute assurances, and kicks out of office anyone who fails to promise “never again,” there is no reason for American entrepreneurs to be worried. The worst-possible thing has happened, and yet most have survived. Those who haven’t will find other ways forward. 

American business owners and those who work to service the public via commerce cannot and will not let their dreams be stolen by a pathetic political class and a savagely ignorant media apparatus that understands not the first thing either about viruses or commerce, and cares nothing for people’s rights. This country is about realizing material and spiritual dreams. That means freedom as a first principle – a principle that can never be thrown away no matter the excuse of the moment. 

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research from 2017 to 2021.

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