Sutherland Institute’s Latest Tool – Using Government To Strip Freedoms

Posted By on November 5, 2012

I was more than a little shocked this morning to read a post by the Sutherland Institute favoring a law in the city of Highland which bans businesses from opening on Sunday. Sutherland may be showing ultimate hypocrisy as the self-proclaimed guardians of freedom.

It never ceases to amaze me when “small government,” “personal freedom,” and “free-market” conservatives attempt to use the government they so abhor to enforce their own codes of morality, and restrict the freedoms of citizens and business.

In this case, the argument is over Proposition 6 in Highland City. Those in favor of the Proposition want to eliminate a law which forces all businesses to close their doors on Sunday. Those in the anti-Proposition category are in favor of keeping the law in place.

The Sutherland Institute makes a rather bizarre argument in their post, claiming that the side of “freedom” is actually the side of the anti-Prop 6 group. To make their case, Sutherland uses the example of employees not having the freedom to take Sunday off to attend church services, they also mention businesses not having the freedom to close on Sundays because of national management requirements (I’m assuming they’re referencing a chain-type store, such as a restaurant chain which has a local franchise but still must take directions from corporate).

What Sutherland fails to miss in their fervent desire to come up with anti-freedom examples is the most critical element of freedom itself: choice. An employee is not having their freedom encroached upon by being told he must work on Sunday – he chooses to work for a company which is open through the weekend, and is told before he takes such a job that working Sundays may be a requirement. If someone doesn’t want to work on a Sunday, they are never forced to do so. They can work for a different company which chooses not to have their doors open on a Sunday, they can quit their current job… no one ever forces them to do anything.

The same issue of choice applies to the franchise owner. They knowingly chose to open a franchise of a company that requires Sunday operations. They were not forced to open that franchise, they could have instead chosen to go with a different chain business which closes on the weekends or opened a business of their own instead.

Conversely, what IS a clear violation of freedom is how the law reads currently. A government forcibly dictating the terms of operation to a local business is precisely what these conservatives claim to be against. A small mom and pop store is not allowed to choose whether they would like to open their doors on a Sunday, the government has chosen for them. A single mother cannot choose to work more hours on the weekend to make sure she can meet her bills, the government has taken that option away from her.

The point Sutherland Institute seems to once again miss, is that freedom is choice. The ability to make decisions for yourself. Should a business that wants to close on Sunday be allowed to? Of course. Should a business be allowed to open on Sunday if it so chooses? Of course!

Highland City’s current law, taking away all choice (ie.. freedom) from local businesses and employees, is a monstrous governmental intrusion on the privates lives, and the private market. Removing the restrictions places no undue burden on any business owner or employee, it simply provides for options – and most importantly, for choice.

About The Author

Eric Ethington has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Eric’s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Public Eye magazine. He’s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. Follow him on Twitter @EricEthington

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