Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yogis and Their Boo Boo Defense

While Texans worry about the economy, the expansion of government, and an endless parade of proposals to separate us from our money, the state will soon eliminate one source of concern to many of us--yoga instructors. The Chronicle reports that the Texas Workforce Commission has been sending letters to yoga studios threatening them with $50,000 fines.
"We send letters to schools that we think are teaching someone to have a profession," said Ann Hatchitt, the commission's spokeswoman. "All we're doing is seeing that yoga schools are all either exempt, or if they're charging students enough money to make a career, than they need to be monitored."
The article doesn't explain why some schools are exempt and some are not, but does state that an exemption is available if a school doesn't offer marketing or business classes and charges less than $500. Apparently, the state wants to have the final say if you want to teach someone how to operate a business.

It is bad enough that entrepreneurs need government permission to pursue a livelihood. But when the state admits that its rules are non-objective, the door is thrown open to the arbitrary decrees of bureaucrats:
[T]he commission must follow its interpretation of the law, according to Hatchitt.
Any law that is open to interpretation is by that fact non-objective. Whose interpretation? By what standard? The yoga studio owner is considered guilty and is subjected to the hassle and expense of fighting a massive state bureaucracy for the "crime" of running a yoga studio.

The state's proper purpose is the protection of individual rights, not forcing entrepreneurs to grovel for permission to earn a living. The state should be protecting our right to act according to our own rational judgment, not placing arbitrary restrictions on business owners.

The yogis aren't doing themselves any favors. Albina Rippy, owner of a studio in Houston, told the paper:
I don't think it's fair when others like martial arts centers and fitness facilities don't have to pay a fee to operate.
In other words, if other training facilities had to pay a fee then it would be acceptable to force yoga studios to do so. Or, selective slavery is simply unacceptable, but wholesale slavery will be tolerated. This is not the way to "defend" one's rights.

The yogis aren't opposed to the violation of individual rights via government regulation. They just don't want to be the victims. But they would be wise to learn from Martin Niemöller, a pastor in Nazi Germany:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

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