RALEIGH – News broke this week that an employee at the cafeteria serving the state legislative complex in Raleigh has tested positive for the Wuhan Virus. The news was notable, not because another person had contracted the novel virus — at this point it has spread so widely that a single diagnosis isn’t necessarily newsworthy — but because the legislative cafeteria was still open for eat-in dining while the rest of North Carolina’s bar and restaurant owners have been banned from offering dine-in services.
From the Associated Press:
“[…] The unidentified worker was sent home March 26 after showing symptoms and received the positive test result Wednesday, Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble wrote to legislative staff. The cafeteria closed Wednesday indefinitely for cleaning. Employees working with the person have been asked to self-quarantine.
Snack bars at the building and at an adjoining office building were being cleaned and expected to reopen Thursday for takeout only, Coble wrote.
At the Legislative Building cafeteria, patrons had not been prevented from sitting down to eat, although very few had done so in recent days, as legislative activities have been curtailed dramatically. In contrast, Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 17 executive order barred dining inside restaurants statewide.
Coble said in an email that Cooper’s restriction didn’t apply to the legislature’s eateries, citing “separation of powers” between state government’s three branches. The legislative branch, for example, can set rules for its operations.
Regular government oversight committee meetings have been canceled at the legislative complex since mid-March, and workers have been allowed to telecommute. The General Assembly is supposed to convene April 28. […]”
Far be it from us to argue the legislature cannot set its own rules for operation; we believe that, as the most accountable branch of government, the legislature has the most leeway to set its rules of operations.
HOWEVER, this raises a very relevant question: If the honorable men and women serving in our state legislature can set their own rules of operation, contravening the statewide executive order, WHY, ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH, CAN THE PEOPLE NOT SET THEIR OWN RULES OF OPERATION?
WHY are bar and restaurant owners beholden to an executive order that effectively destroys their business, but when their representatives are free to ignore it because of ‘separation of powers’?
WHY has the ‘collective good’ suddenly supplanted ‘We The People’? Of individuals’ core rights to their own lives and property?
Collectivists will, of course, make plenty for arguments as to why the common good supersedes individual liberties. This is especially acute during a epidemic, in which the mere existence of every one single person makes them a suspect for endangering the collective public health.
Yet, this nation was founded on the principle of individualism; each person has unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. These weren’t mere preferences, but principles grounded in moral absolutes. As such, the power of the government, even in an emergency, to deny these rights in the name of collective health, is anathema to the American idea.
As the state and national economy craters due directly to government closure policies; as restaurant owners wonder if they’ll survive the governor’s shutdown policies; and, as We The People begin to realize that the ‘common good’ policies being forced upon us are more likely to impose common misery at least as far and wide as any virus; the legislature says, ‘No Thanks, we set our own rules of operation.’
We submit that the people should enjoy at least as much control over their lives and livelihoods as their representatives do over cafeteria operations, the Governor’s Decrees notwithstanding.