By Bradley Harrington
“Liberty is always freedom from the government. It is the restriction of the government’s interference.” — Ludwig von Mises, “Liberty and Property,” 1958 —
The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, it appears, is now in the business of telling us which political candidates are “pro-business.” In a recent news release, here’s what the Chamber had to say on that topic:
“Reverse endorsements provide the business community the best way to identify business friendly candidates for office … The reverse endorsement process includes a survey of candidates … If a candidate’s response does not align with the business communities [sic] view, the candidate simply does not receive the Chamber’s reverse endorsement.” (“The Business of Politics,” Cheyenne Chamber, www.cheyennechamber.org/blog, Aug. 8.)
“The process,” the release continues, “identifies potential elected officials who clearly support a robust community, vital economic development principles and who believe in a strong business community … To qualify for a reverse endorsement respondents are required to answer the questions with a 90 percent alignment with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce’s mission for endorsement.”
Intensely curious as to the questions being asked of the candidates, I contacted the Chamber, and Director of Partner Relations Tonya Dove was gracious enough to send me a copy — the lists of which, she told me, were tailored for the particular races being run for.
The list I received was the question template for the Cheyenne City Council (13 questions); Laramie County Commission (14); State Legislature (10); Governor (12); and U.S. Congress (9) races. And, after review, I can say this much for sure: You won’t be finding any hard-core conservatives or libertarian-leaning candidates in the Chamber’s endorsements.
After all, with only nine to 14 questions being asked, and a “success” rate of 90 percent required, all it takes is one or two “wrong” answers to flunk … And, to get a flavor of the thrust of the questions, just consider a few examples:
On the city/county side: “Will you support utilizing [city/county] resources for a Minimum Revenue Guarantee for air service advancement?” And: “Will you champion use of [city/county] resources to advance community amenities?”
And, on the state/governor side: “Do you support continued funding for Air Service Enhancement in Wyoming?” And: “Do you support state funded business development programs?”
Well, any conservative/libertarian worth his or her salt would answer ALL of those questions in the negative, as they would consider neither “air service,” “community amenities” nor “business development programs” as functions of government, so … Bzzzzt! Thanks for playing!
But then comes the kicker question, asked of the congressional candidates: “Do you commit that you will not let ideology or party affiliation stand in the way of doing what’s right for Wyoming?”
How, just out of curiosity, does one determine what’s “right for Wyoming” without reference to either ethics or ideas? After all, isn’t that what an “ideological” process consists of?
And, in the absence of making connections between abstract principles and concrete practices, by what standard will we be guiding our choices and actions?
No standard at all, apparently — since any REAL standard, by definition, would be “ideological” in its nature. And how well, I can’t help but wonder, would such an “anti-ideological” approach ever work in the real world, where such connections have to be made by all of us hundreds of times a day?
But observe that the Chamber’s “anti-ideologists” don’t really expect you to function in the absence of ideological principles, they just want you to function according to theirs: That is, according to their vision of what THEY consider to be “vital economic development principles.” And their questions make it perfectly clear what such “principles” consist of: The theft of your private wealth through government taxation and the subsidization of what they — NOT consumers or the market — consider to be the proper dispensation of those looted funds.
Challenge that model, Dear Readers, and you’re in trouble at the Chamber. Indeed, it’s difficult to come to any other conclusion but that their questions were designed to root out any consistent advocates of liberty, capitalism and private property rights. To root them out and then cast them into the political abyss.
The final joke, however, is actually on the Chamber — since it’s only the advocates of liberty and property who can truly be considered as “pro-business.” After all, they’re the only ones who are serious about keeping their hands out of your pockets and off of your free-market choices, are they not?
Perhaps the “anti-ideologists” at the Chamber should remember, after all, what it is that “commerce” represents: Peaceful and VOLUNTARY market exchange.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on August 19, 2018. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.