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Beware Such Moves

Here’s a letter to The Federalist:


Tristan Justice applauds Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s “proactive approach” in signing legislation to override private companies’ business decisions (“DeSantis Goes On Offense With Big Tech Bill Amid Silicon Valley Malfeasance,” May 29). This applause is unwarranted.

Mr. DeSantis deserves much praise for refusing, unlike most governors, to fight Covid-19 by putting citizens of his state under lockdown. And Mr. DeSantis’s – and Mr. Justice’s – exasperation over Facebook’s and other tech-companies’ biased means of governing the content posted to their sites is understandable. I share it.

But the core reason for supporting Mr. DeSantis’s refusal to use lockdowns is a core reason to oppose his obstruction of the business decisions of private companies. That reason is the inestimable value of freedom from arbitrary dictates by the state. By supporting such regulation of business, Mr. DeSantis undermines his credibility as a champion of liberty.

Ironically, his practice of picking and choosing which liberties to defend and which to offend is every bit as biased and as unprincipled as is tech-companies’ practice of picking and choosing which kinds of expression to allow on, and which to remove from, their platforms. But because Mr. DeSantis, unlike any tech company, wields the power of government, his actions on this front are much less defensible.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030