Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Teach a government to issue permits to drink and fish and it will never go hungry


Owen Robinson made a recent trip to Minnesota right in the middle of the “Dry Season” and made an important discovery:

Perhaps the most curious lesson I took away from many of my Minnesotan friends was that the government shutdown was, for the most part, no big deal. This runs counter to the hysterical news stories I had been reading in the news, so it got my attention. Other than a few inconveniences, however, nobody seemed to notice the government shutdown.

Some folks wanted to go to state parks to get away and couldn’t do it because of the shutdown. They just re-scheduled or found some other activity to do. Some folks needed to get a license renewed, but just had to wait it out. The most upset people were those who had come to Minnesota to fish and couldn’t get a fishing license. Even then, it was just an irritation.

Where the government shutdown had its most detrimental impact was for businesses. The most visible manifestation of this was in the sale of alcohol. While we heard on the news that Miller-Coors had trouble getting a permit to sell in Minnesota, what was less well known was that many Minnesota bars ran out of alcohol to sell because the state wasn’t there to reissue permits required for bars and restaurants to purchase alcohol for resale.

This does bring up a curious question that I wish had been litigated: can the government require a government-issued permit if it is unable to provide it? In the case of alcohol sales in Minnesota, the fact that the government was unavailable to issue permits that it required for the purchase of alcohol resulted in an effective alcohol ban. Had the shutdown continued for a long time, Minnesota would have been effectively under prohibition again despite the fact that the representatives of the people never enacted such a ban. Such a state of events would be, in my opinion, unconscionable since the effect would have been the usurping of representative government.

It is curious that Minnesota managed to keep the enforcement of permits active while the issuing of the same permits was shutdown. It speaks to their priorities.

The lesson for Minnesota is a lesson that each of us should take to heart. The more power we give our government, the more dependent we become. When Minnesotans gave their government the power to require and issue fishing and alcohol permits, they also gave their government the power to deny those permits. So when their government failed to pass a budget and shut down, it had a direct impact on the lives of Minnesotans who wanted permission from their government to drink or fish. If they hadn’t allowed their government to control their lives to such an extent, then the government shutdown wouldn’t have had any practical effect on people’s lives.

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