Dear Friend of Liberty,
The past fifteen months have shown New Yorkers tyranny at its worst: rule by executive fiat, businesses forced to join Governor Cuomo’s goon squad or risk losing their licenses, restrictions on peaceful assembly, free association, interstate travel and religious freedom. In short, brazen advancement of the government’s narrative that we, literally, can’t live without them.
Today is the day that Governor Cuomo has decided, finally, to “follow the science” and fall in line with the CDC, decreeing that vaccinated individuals shall be allowed to unmask themselves indoors. Many businesses, like WalMart, Target, Costco and Trader Joe’s, have fallen in line with that guidance, but have wisely decided to go with the honor system and to not ask for proof of vaccination. Whose business is it, really? (Answer: no one’s.) Some businesses, as private property owners, have either decided to keep requiring masks for all customers, or to ask for proof of vaccination. Consumers should choose accordingly where to shop. (Sorry, Whole Foods.)
So, what motivates the retailers in the former category to mind their own business? Is this an attempt to stay out of privacy’s legal morass? Is it out of genuine respect for people’s privacy? Seeing as less than half of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, and vaccinations have slowed to a crawl, even as they open up age groups approved for vaccinations, are these businesses trying to avoid further alienating half of their customers? Is it, after all this time, an implicit challenge to government overreach? Or is it a more muted acknowledgement that the country needs to get back to normalcy and let people make decisions for themselves regarding risk? Most likely, it’s a combination of all these things.
Also today, Cuomo’s Henchman to the West, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, announced that the county has no plans to enforce a “Papers, please” regime. “It would be impossible for us to do that, we just can’t enforce it for every grocery store, every movie theater, every bar, every restaurant.” Has the government finally recognized the limits of its ability to enforce its baseless edicts? Or have businesses like Athletes Unleashed and a coalition of nearly one hundred restaurants in Western New York handed Mr. Poloncarz a series of stinging legal defeats that indicate the people, and courts, have had enough? Other county executives, boards of supervisors, health departments should, for once, follow Mr. Poloncarz’s lead and stand down.
We will keep our fingers crossed that a small local outbreak doesn’t lead to another lockdown, or to a more widespread forced adoption of Mr. Cuomo’s vaccine passport, the so-called “Excelsior Pass”. We expect that Mr. Cuomo will find that politically inexpedient. Despite the recent and opportunistic loosening of restrictions put forth by Mr. Cuomo, the investigation into his deception and ruinous management of this state’s response to the pandemic must be completed in a timely manner, and the Governor subsequently impeached.
Breathe free, my friends. Breathe free.
Chair, Libertarian Party of New York