Beverly Garside

Small Businesses Only the Government Can Save

     Objectivist ideology consistently paints government as the enemy of business. The Right readily adopts this plank of objectivist philosophhy, writing a political playbook where small business failures are exclusively the result of excessive taxes and government regulations.  Popular reality TV shows like "Bar Rescue" and others that feature hosts who reform the outrageous deficiencies of salons and other small businesses disabuse us daily of such simplistic scape goats. After all, we've all visited such businesses, probably only once. But there is evidence that for some industries, government is not only not the problem, it is the solution, the only force capable of preventing the collapse of an entire industry.
     The industry in question is fishing.  And there is no better illustration of its situation than Maryland's crab crisis. Some Maryland crabbers initially opposed the idea of the State setting catch quotas. Play the tired old chorus about the tyrannical government here. But the facts are that government planning and restrictions are the only thing that can save Maryland's crab industry. If Annapolis were to heed the calls of the Right to stay out of a businessman's right to run his own business, and abandon the complex problem of blue crab depopulation, we would lose a lot more than the blue crabs in the Bay after the crabbers trapped the last one. We would lose our historical fishing communities. Bankrupt crabbers would lose their waterfront homes and the local businesses that support them would also go belly up. Big capital would move into our traditional, blue collar waterfront communities with hotels and tourist resorts. The crabbers would lose their livelihoods and their communities and Maryland would lose a treasured part of its heritage.
     Thank goodness for the government. Thank goodness we pay taxes so that marine biologists and economists can work out a program for the state's crabbing industry. Thank goodness the government can impose rules upon individual businessmen. 
     The objectivist republic in I and You does not have such powers. How do you think it fares?

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