Haycraft: Opinions about mandates are ‘oversimplified’


Mr. Paul Buchness’ piece resonates with a sentiment that many individuals share: a concern for the erosion of personal freedoms by government mandates (“Why we should all be against government mandates"). However, the argument lacks depth and accountability, and fails to recognize the complexities inherent in modern governance. It frankly sounds very selfish and individualist.

His assertion that mandates strip away freedoms without providing substantial benefits for citizens oversimplifies the role of regulation in a functioning society. Mandates, when implemented judiciously and with consideration for the common good, serve to protect individuals and promote collective well-being. For example, safe waste management regulations help protect waterways and air quality — two commodities that are shared by everyone. The notion that mandates should only be enacted if they can be quantifiably proven to improve individual lives in a “real, factual, unbiased manner” is overly reductionist and ignores the intricate interplay between policy, societal health and progress.

His criticism of electric vehicle mandates exemplifies this oversimplification. While it is true that such mandates may impose initial costs on consumers and industries, they also serve broader objectives, such as reducing carbon emissions, mitigating climate change (something we should all be very concerned about and that, ironically, does have tons of empirical data ignored by a large subset of the population) and fostering technological innovation. By framing the issue solely in terms of personal inconvenience and financial burden, Mr. Buchness neglects the long-term benefits that a transition to electric vehicles can bring to both individuals and society as a whole. I’m sure that, once upon a time, folks were reluctant to adopt electric lightbulbs in place of their oil lanterns.

Further, his concerns about the practicality of electric vehicles for industries like trucking overlook ongoing efforts to expand charging infrastructure and develop more efficient transportation solutions. The challenges posed by transitioning to electric vehicles are not insurmountable obstacles but opportunities for innovation and adaptation, much like the transition from horse and buggy to motorized vehicles presented.

The assertion that mandates, such as mask wearing and vaccination, have led to worker shortages is misleading. While it is true that these measures have prompted debates and resistance in some quarters, their primary objective is to safeguard public health and prevent the spread of contagious diseases. By prioritizing individual autonomy over collective well-being, you undermine the fundamental principles of public health and social responsibility.

Finally, his call to “vote freedom takers out of office” reflects a simplistic understanding of democratic governance. In a pluralistic society, political decisions must balance competing interests and priorities, including individual liberties, public safety and the common good. This is why we have laws. This is the very fabric of society. Vilifying elected officials who advocate for measures aimed at protecting public health and promoting social equity undermines the democratic process and perpetuates division and polarization.

In conclusion, while Mr. Buchness’ concerns about government overreach and the erosion of personal freedoms are valid, his Opinion fails to engage with the nuanced realities of governance and public policy. True progress requires thoughtful dialogue, evidence-based decision making and a willingness to prioritize the common good over narrow self-interests.

Jeffrey Haycraft


Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at civiltalk@iniusa.org.

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