Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Military Protects Our Borders. Defending Freedom is up to We, the People--as Individuals

American soldiers killed in action certainly deserve our gratitude and honor. But not for the usually recited reason. 

Memorial Day once again featured the mantra that soldiers died defending our freedom and individual rights. One popular song even includes the phrase, “At least I know I’m free, and I won't forget the ones who died who gave that right to me.” Yet today the news is full of horror stories of business owners being fined and shut down, their livelihoods stripped away, price controls imposed, even their customers arrested, for defying orders by political leaders wielding “emergency” powers. Where’s the military? 

In the last 100 years, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers died on the battlefield. In that same 100 years, our general freedom, especially economic freedom, has steadily eroded due to the growth of the regulatory welfare state. While our First Amendment freedoms have fared somewhat better, they today face withering attacks on multiple fronts, as are the governmental checks and balances put in place by the Founders to protect us from tyranny due to concentration of government power. Where was the military?

The fact is, contrary to Memorial Day propaganda, the military’s job is to protect our borders, not our freedom. The fight to establish, maintain, and defend freedom is a philosophical, not a military, fight. It is fought with words and ideas, not guns and tanks. It is fought within, not outside, our borders. It is fought among the civilian, not military, population. The fight for freedom requires, not military combat, but mind-to-mind combat. The Founding generation’s defeat of the British Army, heroic as that was, did not secure our rights. Our rights were secured afterward, on the battlefield of political philosophy and constitutional law. That battlefield—the one of ideas, not arms—is where our Founders took the first and most crucial steps toward fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence, the creation of a government “to secure these rights, drawing their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The enemies of freedom exist not only in foreign dictatorships, but among us right here in America. The military has done a fine job of protecting us from foreign enemies. We, the people of the United States, have done poorly in our job of protecting our rights. By the design of some, the neglect and complacence of others, and ignorance of many, we have granted our government more and more power to restrict our individual rights. We must abandon our false sense of security that we can rely on the military to preserve and restore our liberty. The U.S. military has given us a virtually impenetrable forcefield to live behind. It is entirely up to we, as individual citizens, to secure and restore our freedom and make our rights inalienable.

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A New Textbook of Americanism
— edited by Jonathan Hoenig

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Steve Politi’s Cold Collectivist Attack on Two NJ Gym Businessmen Points to Broader Danger to Our Liberty

Ion Smith and Frank Trumbetti are owners of one of New Jersey's “non-essential” businesses ordered closed in mid March by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. After waiting more than two months for permission to reopen, a period in which myriad “essential” businesses continued to operate, Smith decided to reopen his Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, despite Murphy’s continuing shutdown order. 

As a result, the owners were ticketed multiple times by police enforcing the governor’s orders, and one customer was arrested for refusing to give his name to police. Ultimately, the gym was shut down by the state.

In a NJ Star-Ledger front page op-ed, Sorry, that defiant N.J. gym owner is not a hero -- he’s part of the problem, Steve Politi (NJ Advance Media for went on the attack against these two businessmen:

About a month into the pandemic, a friend of mine made the perfect observation about human nature during this crisis: We won’t all get infected by the coronavirus, but we’ve all been exposed.
That, luckily, includes thousands of people who have been exposed as kind, generous and community minded. People like the newspaper deliveryman bringing people their groceries for free, or the pizzeria owner who took out a line of credit to keep paying his employees, or the teenager who is delivering hot meals to overworked funeral home directors.
I hope we’ll remember that, for the most part, humanity came together during this awful time in our history. People are taking care of each other. People are good.
But there are some who have been exposed in a bad way. The guy in your town who refuses to wear a mask. The woman yelling at the poor restaurant employees in those viral videos. The “patriots” bringing their assault rifles into state capitol buildings.
And now, the South Jersey gym owner trying to pass himself off as a champion for small businesses -- the one who declared yesterday that he has “no doubt that we’re on the right side of this” -- goes onto that list.
Ian Smith is no hero. 

Politi goes on to pay lip service to the plights of “Small businesses and individuals in this state [who] are being absolutely strangled,” as Smith put it. “This doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for Smith and people like him,” Politi claims; this, after putting Smith “onto that list” of irresponsible jerks—and then belittling Smith’s efforts to maximize safety:  

Smith tried to assure everyone that he was taking precautions, that he rearranged the gym equipment to provide more social distancing and that his staff was “stepping up” cleaning efforts. That’s all well and good, and maybe there will be a time when those measures will be good enough for all fitness centers to open.

That isn’t Smith’s decision to make.

Actually, it is Smith’s decision to make. It’s his employees’ decisions to make. It’s his customers’ decisions to make. It is each of us, as free individuals, to decide, as long as we are not sick, whether or not to take the risk. It is not Politi’s decision. It is not Murphy’s decision--not after all this time, not when the risks and necessary safety procedures have become well known and established. Driving is risky, too. We don’t ban driving. We establish traffic laws to minimize the risks, ticket or remove drivers who violate those rules of the road, and then leave people free to go about their travel as long as they follow the rules, each according to his own rational assessment of the risks within the context of all of his other values. 

Government’s role in a pandemic is essentially no different. We all know the “social distancing” rules. Is it proper for the government to set voluntary standards in a pandemic? I believe yes. And the government should make available all relevant knowledge as it becomes known. Then it is up to people to be free to make their own choices. Yes, the government can and should hold people who are sick with COVID-19, and know it, accountable. People who are sick should be placed on mandatory quarantine. People should be required to get tested when possible. The proper purpose of government is to secure our individual rights. Just as it is a violation of rights to punch someone in the nose, so it is a violation to knowingly and deliberately infect another with a dangerous infectious disease. Such people should be prosecuted for assault.

But individual rights are not Politi’s concern, so he doesn’t even factor in individual rights. In reply to a Facebook comment by Frank Trumbetti, the other co-owner of Atilis Gym, “We truly believe that if we don’t do this, in the end, we will have zero rights and no say in what happens,” Politi lectured “He might want to read up on how a democracy works next time he’s on the treadmill.” [my emphasis]

Politi does seem to know “how a democracy works.” But he might want to read up on how the American concept of government works. The primacy of liberty rights, not voting, is the foundation of Americanism. We do not live in a majority rule--i.e., mob rule--nation. Democracy holds that there are no inalienable individual rights; that a political official can dictate anything, as long as he is elected. A constitutionally limited republic, the American concept, holds that individual rights supersede, and are protected from, any electoral outcome. Democracy is a manifestation of totalitarianism. Politi provides concrete proof of this truth. He says Murphy’s emergency actions are “how a democracy works.” He’s absolutely right: authoritarianism is precisely “how a democracy works.” But that is not how America’s government is supposed to work. 

And what is the root of totalitarianism? Politi is brutally clear:

Ian Smith is no hero. Don’t buy into that malarkey, and be thankful that the dozens of supporters gathered outside of his Bellmawr gym are in a minority that, frankly, is getting far too much attention. He isn’t just putting his customers at risk by defying a state order to keep non-essential business closed.

He is sending an awful message that personal needs -- his business, and therefore, your business -- are above the greater good.

There you have it. Rights, such as customers themselves making their own risk assessments, are “malarkey” and contrary to the “greater good.” What is “the greater good”? The good of the collective--of society, a majority? A collective is only a number of individuals. Which individuals get to determine the greater good? Steve Politi? Phil Murphy? If so, why is Politi’s, or Murphy’s, or their supporters’ “good” any greater than Smith’s or Trumbetti’s or, for that matter, their customer’s good? 

Collectivism is one of mankind’s darkest evils. Collectivism is the moral escape hatch to justify a blank check for the coercive power to run roughshod over others’ lives, liberties, or property. There’s no escaping the logic of the collectivist premise: If the “greater good” takes precedence over the individual, then that means that some people’s good--personal needs or business--takes precedence over other people’s good, which means that whoever happens to work themselves into a position as the collective’s political leader gets to define the “greater good” and thus gets to determine whose good (or interests) is to be forcibly sacrificed. Don’t buy the malarkey that Murphy is protecting the “greater good.” If he wanted to do that, he would be guided by the principle of inalienable individual rights, a principle that belongs to collectivism’s antipode, individualism. Murphy is dictating on behalf of some people’s good at the expense of other people’s good.

By what right? It is just this kind of power, the political power to enforce some people’s interests at the expense of other people’s interests, that the American individualist principles of inalienable individual rights and equal protection of the law is designed to prevent. The owners of Atilis Gym and their willing customers and willing employees (if any) are violating no one’s rights. 

But even for those who believe the gym should stay closed, it is still a fact and principle of justice that securing individual rights, not democracy, is the proper fundamental American standard of evaluation. Science must inform. But so must economics, ethics, and political philosophy--a nation’s fundamental values. It is not the executive order of any elected politician. It is not the opinion of any influential newspaper columnist. It is not the majority. But individual rights is the fundamental standard of evaluation in America. Whenever government officials act to restrict our freedom, it is up to them to justify the restrictions to the governed, not the other way around. Emergency powers are not open-ended grants to political leaders to do whatever they dictate to whomever they choose to dictate to. Emergency powers, even though liberty is restricted in the short term, must be just powers; that is, powers geared toward protecting individual rights, not violating rights. All political decisions and all law grows from that premise. That’s the American concept of government. 

By resorting to the collectivist justification, Politi is acknowledging that he doesn’t understand, or care, about America’s governing principles, and doesn’t respect individual rights--and that he is a media lapdog for the collectivist-in-chief, Governor Phil Murphy.

It is increasingly clear that Murphy’s agenda is much deeper than containing the pandemic. It is about advancing the reactionary premise of collectivism in the culture and commandeering greater power to the government. A broad rebellion involving Democrats and Republicans, labor and business is gathering steam against Murphy’s tactics. Murphy doesn’t care

When “asked if he’s gone too far and should be getting approval from lawmakers for his decisions," Murphy shot back “I would say emphatically: It takes a village.” 

When “Some counties and business associations have offered their own recommendations and timelines for reopening, Murphy, though, claiming it’s ultimately his administration’s call, replied “I’m very happy to see folks thinking this through at a tactical level, but we move as one state.”

My emphasis: The “one state” and the “village” turns out to be Phil Murphy, and only Phil Murphy. That’s the only way collectivism can work--through a central dictator.

My beef with Politi is not his opposition to the actions of Atilis Gym. My beef is with his basic premises; viz. His trivializing and demonizing of freedom and rights that motivates the owners. However mistaken one believes the actions of Smith and Trumbetti, standing up for one’s inalienable individual rights, including the right to earn a living, against political authority should strike a cord with anyone calling themselves American. That is quintessentially American, and Politi takes the opposite side. Collectivism precedes socialist tyranny. If you want to know why freedom is eroding in America, examine Politi’s premises closely. He points to the fundamental battle that will determine America’s future--collectivism vs. individualism. “Democracy”; “the greater good”; “one state”; it “takes a village”. Politi and Murphy speak the language of tyranny. Think of that the next time you hear that mindless mantra, “We’re all in this together.”

Politi asks, “What if every small business owner decided that he or she wanted to take the same stand as Smith?” “I know the answer,” Politi lectures, “Thousands of more people would get infected, and therefore, the already horrifying death toll would grow even higher."

But if avoiding death is the standard, then should we shut down driving, flying, boating, participatory sports, construction? If the “village” locked all of us down and attached tracking ankle bracelets to us all, the murder rate would probably drop. Lives would be saved. If death is the only concern, life can’t go on for billions of people. But, as two major European leaders bluntly acknowledged to their citizens, “the world needs to adapt to live with the coronavirus and cannot wait to be saved by the development of a vaccine.” This means leaving people free. People will get sick. A small percentage will die. But they will anyway. The virus has no cure and no vaccine. It’s going to run its course no matter what. Avoiding death should not be a rationalization for undermining freedom through collectivism.

A pandemic is a tough nut to crack, in terms of figuring out the proper extent of government involvement. But it is in situations like this that loyalty to the right philosophical principles is most needed. Kudos to Smith and Trumbetti and their supporters for standing up for their rights. Yes, they are heroes. Every time any American stands up for his moral right to attend to his own personal needs, his business, his interests, he stands up for the rights of all Americans.We may disagree on details, but as Americans there is no greater good than the individual, and especially the individual’s right to earn a living.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

A Memorial Day Tribute

Throughout history, armies have fought to protect kings, theocrats, and other kinds of dictators from their own people. They fought for imperialistic conquest and/or plunder, or even to satisfy the “honor” of some sundry rulers—militaries usually manned by average people who rarely had anything to gain from the military adventures.

America’s military is unique. It fights to protect the borders of a country established by a set of ideas…the most radical set of ideas in man’s history. America is the first and only country founded explicitly and philosophically on the principle that an individual’s life is his to live, by unalienable right. America is the first and only country founded on the explicit principle that the government exists as servant for and by permission of the people, with the solemn duty to protect those rights; or, as Ronald Reagan put it in his first inaugural address:

As established in the Declaration of Independence, individual  rights come before government—rights being understood as guarantees to freedom of action to pursue personal advancement, not automatic claims on economic rewards that others must be forced to provide. Then, as stated in the document that initiated the United States of America as a politically autonomous entity, the Declaration states, "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." That is America. Even the British Empire from which America won independence, then the freest society the world had ever known, was based on the premise that "rights" are privileges granted by the Crown. Englishmen were subjects, not truly free.

Sadly, the knowledge of what this country stands for is steadily slipping away…and along with it, our rights. Fortunately, we’re still free to speak out. So the best way to honor the military fighter who died in the line of duty, for those of us who still retain that knowledge, is to remind our fellow Americans in any small way that we can about America’s unique, noble, and radical Founding ideals.

We can still prevent “the other way around”. But we must rediscover the knowledge of, and think about, what it means to be an American. So, let us reflect on what really made this country possible.

This Memorial Day weekend, we will hear a lot about the “sacrifices” made by those who served and died defending America.

It is said that this nation, our freedom, and our way of life, are a gift bestowed upon us by the grace of the “sacrifices” of the Founding Fathers and the fighters of America’s wars from the Revolutionary War on. A gift? Yes. But, was it a sacrificial gift? Is it even possible that so magnificent an achievement – the United States of America – could be the product of sacrifice? As the closing words of this country’s Founding philosophical document – the Declaration of Independence – attest, the Founding Fathers risked everything to make their ideals a reality:

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Some point to those words, and bestow on the signatories of that document the “honor” of having sacrificed for us, the "future generations." Nothing can be further from the truth. Sacrifice--properly understood--is the giving up, rather than the achievement, of values. America was achieved.

What is any human being’s highest attribute and value? It is his mind and his independent judgment. To use one’s mind – to think – is an exclusively personal, individualistic, self-motivated, self-chosen, selfish effort. All else in a person's life is a consequence of the use, or lack of use, of his mind – for better or for worse. One’s convictions about what one believes is right, one’s passionate concern for ideas, is the product of the independent use of one’s mind. The man who places nothing above the judgment of his own mind, even at the risk of his own physical well-being, is not engaging in self-sacrifice. To fight for one’s own fundamental beliefs is the noblest, most egoistic endeavor one can strive for. Integrity is not selfless. It is not sacrificial.

The Founders were thinkers and fighters. They were egoists, in the noblest sense, which is the only valid sense. They believed in a world, not as it was, but as it could be and should be. They took action – pledging their “sacred honor” at great risk to their personal wealth and physical well-being – to that end. They would accept no substitute. They would take no middle road. They would not compromise. They would succeed or perish.

Such was the extraordinary character of the Founders of this nation.

To call the achievement of the Founders a sacrifice is to say that they did not deem the ideals set forth in the Declaration as worthy of their fighting for; that the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and not to any collective and not to any ruler was less of a value to them than what they pledged in defense of it; that they did what they did anyway without personal conviction or passion; that the Declaration of Independence is a fraud. To say that America was born out of sacrifice is a grave injustice and, in fact, a logical impossibility.

World history produced a steady parade of human sacrifices, and the overwhelming result was a steady stream of blood, tears,and tyranny. The Founders stood up not merely to the British Crown, but to the whole brutal sacrificial history of mankind to turn the most radical set of political ideas ever conceived into history’s greatest nation. It is no accident that the United States of America was born at the apex of the philosophical movement that introduced the concept of the Rights of Man to his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, the Enlightenment.

Only the most extraordinary men of the most ferocious personal strength and courage could have so uncompromisingly upheld, against overwhelming odds and hostility and personal risk, so passionate a belief in their own independently held convictions so as to have established the American Founding. The American Revolution was history’s brightest demonstration of the rationally selfish pursuit of a noble goal by any group of people, ever. It was a monumental human testament to the dedication these men had to their cause – the refusal to live any longer under any social condition except full, genuine freedom, and to "pledge eternal hostility against every form of tyranny."

The highest tribute I can pay to those Americans who died in the line of military duty, on this Memorial Day, is not that they selflessly sacrificed for their country. Self-sacrifice is not a virtue in my value system. It is an insult, because that would mean that their country and what it stands for was irrelevant to them; that they had no personal, selfish interest in it; that they were not passionate about their service; that they were indifferent toward America's enemies; that it made no difference to them whether they returned to live in freedom or to live in slavery.

This, of course, is not the case. That is not Why a Free Man Fights.

Freedom is thoroughly egoistic, because it leaves all individuals free to pursue their own goals, values, and happiness—by inalienable right and with the full protection of his government. It follows that to fight for a free nation is thoroughly egoistic. If American soldiers fight for their freedom, then the highest tribute I can pay to those who perished in that cause is to say that they were cut from the mold of the Founding Fathers; that they did not set out to die for their country but rather that they set out to fight, at great personal risk, for the only values under which they desired to live—that radical set of ideals that is the United States of America.

A military, of course, is not the first line of defense for freedom, nor an unmitigated good. As stated at the outset, militaries fight to protect borders—more often than not borders of unfree countries. Not so America’s military, which does protect a free nation’s borders. America has not faced an existential threat to its sovereignty in 30 years, and has not fought a war to protect its borders since the 1940s. Today, thankfully, America is militarily untouchable. The technological supremacy of our military power could instantly crush any power around the world that dared pose a threat to our borders.

Yet today, nearly three decades after the fall of the Soviet Communist menace—the last true existential threat to America—we are less free than we were then, thanks to the growth of the regulatory welfare state. Our freedom, once protected by our Constitution, has actually been eroding for a century--and now faces it's greatest-ever internal threat, the rise of the reactionary Democratic Socialism, the so-called "New Socialists."

The fight for freedom based on individual rights is fundamentally a philosophical fight. Today, America’s military might is greater than ever before, and yet freedom is at its lowest ebb since the end of the Civil War. If America continues losing the knowledge of what freedom is, where it comes from, and why we deserve it as an inalienable right, all of that incredible military power won’t save us. If We the People, each as sovereign individuals—we who have allowed a regulatory welfare state to grow into the monstrosity it has become—want to honor the military that protects us from foreign enemies, we must come to grips with this simple, observable fact: The primary threat to Americans’ freedom today is not external—any foreign power that threatens America as a sovereign nation will be crushed like a bug in short order. The primary threat to America today is internal, in the form of the ideas of collectivism, statism and democratic socialism eroding the ideals of individualism, capitalism, and constitutional republicanism. It is not enough to put some number of years into a military career. It is not enough to pay taxes to support the military. We must fight with words and pen for our freedom every day.

This is not to diminish the role of the U.S. military; only to put it in proper perspective. We can’t win the internal philosophical battle against the enemies of freedom without keeping the external enemies of freedom at bay. We need our military, and it is fitting that we recognize American soldiers lost in battle. It is fitting not just because of the importance of the military, but as a reminder that “war is hell”; that the cost of war to actual living human beings is horrendous; and that Americans should never be pushed into battle for altruistic causes or with rules of engagement that hamper their ability to protect themselves and win as quickly as possible, as has too often been the case over the past century (think “making the world safe for democracy,” or the “domino theory,” or the “forward strategy for freedom”). If we deployed our military more to actually defend our borders and less as the world’s policeman and do-gooder, we’d have fewer dead soldiers to memorialize.

With the full context understood, in memoriam of those who perished fighting in defense of a nation founded on and defined by individual freedom, and to all of America’s service men and women past and present:

Kudos for your service in defense of a nation based on American ideals, for your desire to live in freedom, and for your fierce determination to—I hope—accept no substitute. It’s only fitting to recognize the service of persons who lost their lives in the defense of the values that they, and all true Americans’, hold in common.

Happy Memorial Day! Enjoy it. Live it. That’s the best way to memorialize them.
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Monday, May 18, 2020

New Jersey’s Political Attack on Takeout Food Delivery Service Providers

In N.J. lawmakers may limit Grubhub and other restaurant delivery fees during pandemic, Samantha Marcus (NJ Advance Media for reported on May 12, 2020:

Lawmakers will consider a bill Tuesday capping the fees delivery services like Grubhub and Uber Eats can charge restaurants, for whom takeout and delivery are their only lifeline during this public health crisis.

The bill (S2437) would permit these third-party sites that coordinate takeout and delivery services to charge eateries no more than 20% of the cost of an individual online order and no more than 10% when that third-party company isn’t actually making the delivery.

“While some companies have provided meaningful support to the restaurant community, other companies offering third-party food takeout or delivery services may charge restaurants a service fee exceeding 30% of the order price, thereby compounding the current financial strain on restaurants,” the bill says. The caps would remain effective during any state of emergency longer than seven days and would supersede any local caps already in place.

There is a lot of rationalization going on. Aside from the statement in the bill cited above, which complains of “financial strain on restaurants,” Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who already “issued an executive order barring companies like DoorDash and Postmates from charging more than 10%,” says:

“For all their hard work to stay afloat and achieve profitability, these third-party fees are hindering local restaurants’ chances of survival which is simply unfair and unethical amid this health and economic crisis,” Fulop said in a statement. “Many of the restaurants have had to make a shift to relying solely on delivery and takeout under the circumstances, and this cap is our latest effort to identify any available options to provide relief to our local businesses.”

Don’t even ask where a mayor gets the power to issue such an order.

Food delivery companies have stepped up to enhance the restaurants’ “lifeline”--takeout business. Now they’re being attacked. 

If the cost of the fees of third-party delivery services are uneconomical for restaurants, why do they use them? Because on balance, the benefit outweighs the cost. But it’s pointless to point out the economic harm of price controls. Politicians who want to wield bully power against private citizens believe they are above any law. If a private restaurant owner pulled a gun on a service provider, demanding lower fees under threat of robbing him of $10,000 or $20,000, the restaurant owner would be charged with a crime. Yet, that’s precisely what these politicians are doing--acting as criminals. The penalty for charging prices not to the liking of the politicians is $10 to $20 thousand. These penalties are legalized extortion. Fulop has unimaginable nerve charging these private delivery companies with “unfair and unethical” behavior. Unless fraud is involved--and no wrongdoing has been alleged--the shoe is on the other foot. It is unethical to coercively interfere in the private voluntary contract terms between restaurants and delivery companies. It is doubly unethical, because it is tyrannical, for politicians to use the legal machinery of the state--the gun power--to impose their arbitrary price terms on private companies.

I suspect that there is a huge element of cronyism going on. In our mixed economy, it is not uncommon for businesses to lobby politicians for special favors at the expense of competitors or against trading partners whose terms they don’t like. Laws such as S2437 don’t happen in a vacuum. I have no doubt that legislators have been inundated with complaints from some restaurateurs. If that is the case, shame on them.

The right to free trade--that is, to trade in the absence of force--is fundamental to a free society. And the absence of forcible interference extends to the government, whose job it is to protect individual rights. If equal protection of the law means anything, then that protection extends to all individuals, including business owners. Free trade depends on the sanctity of contract. This law, which as of this writing has not been enacted but has passed a key Senate committee by a bipartisan 12-0 vote, is economically destructive, and immoral because it violates individual rights to freedom of association, which includes the right to voluntary contract on mutually agreed terms.

If America were truly a capitalist nation, this immoral act of powerlust would not happen. Essentially, capitalism involves the separation of economics and state. To fight for capitalism means to fight for justice. Fighting against laws such as this is what it means to fight for the separation of economics and state. A pandemic is no excuse for this law. The constitution is designed to restrain the government from violating individual rights. The fees these restaurants and delivery companies mutually agree to violate no one’s rights. The constitution does not get suspended in a pandemic. Article I, Section 10, Clause I says that “No State shall . . . pass . . .  any Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” Legislators, mayors, et al should honor it, pandemic or not.

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