On October 11th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order stating “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer.” The Governor was responding to President Biden’s OSHA order that compels all businesses with 100 or more employees to require the COVID-19 vaccine or fund weekly COVID-19 testing for all unvaccinated employees.
Governor Abbott tweeted:
I issued an Executive Order prohibiting vaccine mandates by ANY entity in Texas.
I also added the issue to the Special Session agenda.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced. pic.twitter.com/8hHHLyebCk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 11, 2021
Subsequently calling on the Texas legislature to pass a law to the same effect.
In Reason Magazine, Jacob Sullum explains that Abbott’s order is ‘just as objectionable’ as the President’s pending federal rule. Viewing both the COVID-19 pandemic and government response, through the lens of reality, how things exist now, not how things ought to be, this comes off as self-evidently untrue. Like many who understand that free-market capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty in the last 150 years than any other force in human history, and as a person who could be described as a ‘property rights absolutist,’ I recoil at the thought of any governor, or politician for that matter, ordering anyone to do anything but drawing moral or ethical equivalency between overreach from the federal government, and a governor attempting to shield his constituents from said overreach, fails to describe the moment the nation finds itself in.
The Biden White House made it clear that they are attempting to create two classes of citizens, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. There are examples of governments attempting to create this new class structure across the West. This week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bragged that her nation will become a two-tier society between the vaxxed and un-vaxxed.
It is difficult, after governors on both sides of the political aisle imposed unconstitutional restrictions on their citizens over the last 18 months, to fault Greg Abbott, a self-described conservative, for attempting to conserve the good old days when all Texans were eligible for employment regardless of their personal medical decisions. From deficit spending to the expansion of the welfare state, Republicans have consistently either lied or fallen short on their promises to protect and promote free markets, so this is not a blanket defense of the GOP, by any means, but Biden and Abbott’s executive orders are different in kind. The former is an aggressive—one could argue, vindictive—example of government overreach and the latter is a governor standing in the breach for the millions of Texans who made a personal medical decision that the federal government disagrees with.
There are also practical reasons why Abbott’s mandate ban makes sense, between increasing inflation rates, a supply chain crisis, and quarter 3’s abysmal 2% GDP growth rate, many, including National Review’s Jim Geraghty, are asking the question that should be on all of our minds; just how far away from a recession are we? Abbott has every incentive to keep as many Texans employed as possible, a politically advantageous move, and a hedge against a future economic downturn.
COVID-19 cases are declining nationwide, and there does not seem to be any fiscal sanity coming from Washington anytime soon, considering the multi-trillion-dollar spending packages being discussed by Congress. States that protect their workers now may reap the benefits in the coming months and years.
I wish no president ordered Americans to do things they disapprove of, I wish Abbott’s order wasn’t necessary. Shoot, I wish the Detroit Tigers were in the World Series, but, unfortunately, that isn’t the reality we live in. We can advocate for free-market principles without falling into both-sides-ism during a pivotal moment when Americans must choose between individual liberty and the fundamental restructuring of the American economy.
Brady Leonard is a musician, political strategist, and podcaster based in Toledo, Ohio. The No Gimmicks Podcast airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1pm EST, wherever podcasts are found. Follow him on Twitter @bradyleonard