Lost Incomes

The issue today is ethical not economic. If the government demands that businesses close, and that “non-essential” people stay isolated, it has deprived them of their livelihood. Urging people to stay home is one thing. Demanding that they stay home is a very different matter.

A libertarian would be shocked by this heavy-handed exercise of authoritarian rule. The Chinese government might be able to do this, but in America?

Are not millions of working people, now deprived of their livelihood, justified in demanding full compensation for their lost incomes?

When government regulations deny an individual the use of her “property” through some regulation, her lost income must be paid to her (fair compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution).

Wouldn’t a libertarian be angered that the Congress was debating whether or not—and how much—to offer in relief? If the government causes an income loss, of course the government must make those individuals “whole.”

But wait…government “hand-outs”? Libertarians hate that as well. These are vexing times, aren’t they?

Dr. Daniel Bromley can be contact at dbromley@wisc.edu.

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