TEXAS VIEW: Who’s socialist now? What happened to capitalism?

THE POINT: Business, not government, best knows how to safeguard workers, customers.

If one needs evidence of how upside-down our times are, consider the spectacle Americans witness daily where elected officials seeking to score political points work not toward the “general welfare” cited in the U.S. Constitution, not toward the sanctity of life pressed by the Bible, but toward putting the public in greater peril. Latest example: Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who again betrays the very socialist characteristics that he and other Republicans so often attribute to Democrats.

Bowing to the whims of a radicalized Republican Party of Texas in a state where 69,000 of our friends, co-workers and neighbors have died of COVID-19, Abbott played socialist tyrant last week, ordering that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer.” In short, he demands that businesses cease protecting via private vaccine mandates their own employees — and thus risk company efficiency, productivity and viability.

We acknowledge debate over government-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations. But Abbott is trashing the formerly Republican principle that businesses should be free of burdensome government regulations that interfere with a vibrant capitalist society. Many businesses on their own are mandating vaccinations because they want environments where employees are significantly protected against spread of a highly contagious, potentially disabling virus.

Such workplace mandates are good business, especially when undertaken by savvy business owners and proprietors, not the almighty, omnipotent state.

Yes, some argue against company-imposed vaccinations including the decision of local hospitals to mandate vaccinations of staffs and contract labor. Yet these business-place decisions are primarily undertaken not only to protect a valuable workforce so often stretched thin but also to reduce the possibility of unvaccinated employees infecting innocent customers who should be able to enter a business confident they won’t walk out with COVID-19.

For all but the blind, it’s obvious what’s going on. We marvel at the pace with which the Republican Party continues to place on the funeral pyre its conservative tenets, one by one. Abbott’s order is clearly issued in his dread of Allen West, 2022 primary election challenger and right-wing rabble-rouser lately hospitalized with COVID-19, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, likely rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and now busy undermining public safety throughout the Sunshine State.

And if the lives of Abbott’s constituents must be placed on the pyre for his political ambitions, so be it.

As one Democratic wag quipped, it’s a curious strategy indeed that seems bent on bumping off many of the Republican Party’s own disciples. The “Don’t tread on me” crowd should be irate, but they’re no longer interested in the preservation of capitalism but rather in a form of absolute individual freedom that sacrifices everybody and his or her dog. For those of us who grew up in Republican environments where personal freedom was neatly balanced with the public good, one increasingly wonders if the Republican Party can rally from the socialist malignancy that now infects it.

Waco Tribune