Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.

By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2013 at 08:20 AM EDT

Ok, Libertarian friends – where do you stand on this?

I’ve used things like building codes, workplace safety, and similar topics before to frame the discussion of why we need government, but here’s one of best and most thorny conflicts in that debate for you… Vaccination is one of those really difficult subjects that pit personal freedoms against societal requirements. This article in Scientific American spurred me to ask the question.

The basic conflict begins with your right over your own body. While nothing could possibly be more personally your own than your body? Clearly if we stop the discussion there, the idea that anyone could compel you to change your body in some way would be one of the grossest violations of your person imaginable.

The problem is that we don’t live in isolation. Our society, with cities that reach up to 27,000 people per square mile, cannot keep disease at bay unless a very high percentage of people are vaccinated. At some point, your clear personal right to not be compelled to alter your body with a vaccine is in direct conflict with my right to not be put at risk because you refuse to take part in a protection mechanism that requires your participation. If more than a very small percentage of people refuse to take part in vaccination programs, the programs don’t work. We know that vaccines are not 100% effective for every person. They work because they are effective enough for most people, so that the disease cannot spread through society.

Making the conflict of rights worse, however, is that that some small percentage of people may be actually harmed by a vaccine, while another small percentage of people does not need it because they will already have been naturally immune to the disease. Both the risk and the natural immunity have been grossly overstated in recent years by people fighting this fight on both sides, however a tiny percentage of these special cases do exist on both sides. We have no practical way to know if you are one of those people.

The real corker on top of all this is that to be effective, these vaccination programs require that the choice be made for someone else who is not yet capable of making it – the most vulnerable, most innocent, and most beloved part of our societies. We have to decide about this risk for our children.

Does the right of a parent to make a decision that our best science tells us probably – but not definitely - puts the child at increased risk, though indirect and far from immediate, of severe and permanent disability or even death supersede the right of the child not to be put at risk, even if that risk is also extremely tiny and further adds to the risk of every other member of society in its own small and abstract way?

Where stand you, my Libertarian friends?

Personally, I believe that you do have the right to decide not to vaccinate your child; however we as a society have the right to bar you from putting others at risk by saying you may not be allowed to attend public school, private summer camp, or whatever other activities our science tells us spread the risk you’ve decided to take onto the rest of us.


There are  - loading -  comments....

You already answered the question...By Nathan T. Freeman on 06/05/2013 at 01:46 PM EDT
You just phrase it wrong. "I believe that you do have the right to decide not
to vaccinate your child; however we as a society have the right to bar you from
putting others at risk by saying you may not be allowed to attend public
school, private summer camp, or whatever..."

"Society" doesn't have to bar your kids from participating. Any private camp
could just say "we only accept attendees with proof of vaccinations." Done.

In fact, that's the answer in all the scenarios. "For the protection of our
other guests, this theater/shopping mall/restaurant/arena/stadium/whatever does
not admit unvaccinated patrons." If there is sufficient cause to do this, the
market will provide the disincentive to avoid vaccinations.

Wouldn't medical insurance and doctor's visits be cheaper if you'd been
vaccinated as well? "Well, Mr Pollack, we see from your records that your wife
and your youngest daughter have not received a small pox vaccination. That's
going to add 30% to your premiums and increase your deductible. Or we can
vaccinate them free of charge within the first month of your coverage."
re: You already answered the question...By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2013 at 06:06 PM EDT
Of course a business can say that (at least most of us agree on that. I
suppose some would claim discrimination).

I was going to question about public schools though - but I don't think you
believe in those. The same with public transportation. Could you be required
to show proof of immunization to enter an airport or train station?
re: You already answered the question...By Nathan T. Freeman on 06/05/2013 at 06:37 PM EDT
In a free society people can interact or not interact with whoever they want
to. You would be no more forced to congregate or engage in economic
transactions than you are currently forced into arranged marriages.

And to be clear, it's not that I don't *believe* in public schools. They
obviously exist. I went to them for 11 years.

It's that I put the Non-Aggression Principle at the center of all moral human
interactions. If it involves the initiation of force, it's wrong. The intent
doesn't matter. The outcome doesn't matter. Things that are labelled "public"
today really mean "paid for by aggression and controlled through aggression."
So given that use of public, I accept that all "public goods" are the result of
evil actions and therefore shouldn't exist.

Anything that made available to other people through voluntary interaction is
fine. And if there are malls, airports, trains, schools, whatever that want to
limit their services to people with proof of vaccination, that's fine. They
aren't aggressing against anyone by withholding a transaction, just as I'm not
aggressing against you by choosing not by your snow blower.
re: You already answered the question...By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2013 at 06:45 PM EDT
And that definition of aggression and force is where we most decidedly part
company. I think it best to stop here, based on past discussions.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Toby Samples on 06/05/2013 at 08:23 PM EDT
Interesting discussion. basically I must say that I agree with Nathan's
comments, I would add that many insurance providers are beginning to do as he
was suggesting, and they should from a liability perspective. As far as public
areas (Schools, court houses and such) go, I think we as a voting people are
the "business owners" in that situation and therefore it should be decided by
local vote, not by a federal or state mandate.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2013 at 08:52 PM EDT
Um, quick civics lesson -- anything that comes from a federal or state mandate
is, effectively, us voting on it. It's as close to direct democracy as we can
reasonably get. There's no way to have half a billion people vote line by line
on everything all the time.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Dwight Wilbanks on 06/05/2013 at 10:14 PM EDT
>> There's no way to have half a billion people vote line by line on everything
all the time.

I think you have misunderstood some of the advances in technology over the last
couple decades. It's also closer to a third of a billion people, not that that
matters. There are no technical reasons why we can go from a democratic
republic to a straight democracy. But, I don't think it's necessary to have
every single item addressed by the public, but, if the public could overrule
the congress what a beautiful thing we would have.

We had an issue awhile back related to guns where society had a 90% approval
rating for a bill that didn't pass. That sort of thing would go away.

What if a member of society could submit a bill. If that bill gets enough
support, it goes to a vote from the public. If it gets even more support, it
goes to special election. Similar to the online petitions we have now, but,
with verified identity and actual power.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/05/2013 at 10:39 PM EDT
We're a long way from any kind of electronic voting system I have real
confidence in. I know it can be done, and in fact have some idea how it can be
done, but I don't see a real will to do it right out there.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Toby Samples on 06/06/2013 at 09:00 AM EDT
I understand the logistical nightmare of trying to do a referendum on all
issues. My point is we should keep keep these kind of laws to be specific to
the town or area, so one public school could have one ruling and others could
have another ruling. It would not have to be referendum style vote, it could
be city legislation such as zoning laws and statuates typically are now. I
don't think I have the right to tell someone in Portland Maine how their school
should be run since I am not in the cultural context of that region.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/06/2013 at 10:23 AM EDT
Here in New England, school decisions are very much local decisions. Most
school funding is done through town property taxes, and most "districts" are
either just that town or a few nearby small towns. Generally, what to spend,
what to build, and details on curriculum and staffing are made for a population
of under 15000 people -- one set of schools divided by grade level (e.g. lower
grades, middle school, high school).
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Nathan T. Freeman on 06/08/2013 at 10:35 AM EDT
"...anything that comes from a federal or state mandate is, effectively, us
voting on it."

So that's why Congress has a 9% approval rating? Because we voted to blow up
women and children in Pakistan with Hellfire missiles and we voted to have the
NSA track every phone call in the US and we voted to have the Federal Reserve
lose 97% of the value of the currency over the last 100 years.

These actions express the will of the people. Okay, got it. We're pretty
sadistic, I guess.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Nathan T. Freeman on 06/08/2013 at 10:31 AM EDT
If local voting on small scale is better, why not just carry the process to its
logical conclusion and have voting units of 1? You could be able to decide
whether to spend your personal municipality's budget on a steak dinner or a
bunch of beach balls or a ski vacation or a home entertainment system, and you
could have hundreds or even thousands of referendums a day.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/08/2013 at 11:57 AM EDT
Nathan, we've had this debate too many times. I've had to block you on
facebook. You are welcome to your extreme opinions, but they are not welcome
here. I've said it more subtly before, and I'm asking you nicely for the last
time to stop right now.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Anonymous on 06/09/2013 at 03:57 PM EDT
"I believe that you do have the right to decide not to vaccinate your child;
however we as a society have the right to bar you from putting others at risk
by saying you may not be allowed to attend public school, private summer camp,
or whatever other activities our science tells us spread the risk youu2019ve
decided to take onto the rest of us."

I think if you would then refund that portion of taxes to those who don't want
to vaccinate their children, you would find a surprisingly large number of
people, including libertarians, with no problems to your approach.

Don't lose sight of that fact, however, that the pivotal point in this debate
is that of trading liberties for supposed security.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/09/2013 at 04:37 PM EDT
Taxes don't work that way. The idea that you can "opt out" of things just
because the expressed decisions of society (as represented by our votes, both
direct and secondhand via elected representatives) don't go your way, is
fundamentally flawed. You are a part of this society, benefiting from it as a
whole. Part of that is agreeing to abide by decisions that don't go your way.

If you'd like to opt out, you'll need to choose a place without significant
government. I'd suggest Somalia.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Anonymous on 06/10/2013 at 01:50 PM EDT
Sure, taxes don't work that way. But if we're speaking hypotheticals it's a
valid possibility.

Somalia? Thanks, but I'm not an anarcho-capitalist, and I'm definitely not
going to count a country with a decade-or-two of no-central-government as a
representative example of what a libertarian state is like. I am far more
curious to see what the first Seasteading island cities end up like.

"Our best science" has been wrong in the past as well. In Europe right now
there is a large investigation underway that is pointing to recent vaccinations
causing large numbers of problems in developing children across multiple
countries.

I believe that Nathan is correct in the founding belief of libertarians being
the NAP. If a commune, co-op, city, etc. wanted to say "to live here you must
(1) pay taxes, (2) go to our school, (3) and be vaccinated", that's totally
100% OK.

If, however, you subscribe to this line of thinking: "Um, quick civics lesson
-- anything that comes from a federal or state mandate is, effectively, us
voting on it. It's as close to direct democracy as we can reasonably get" then
I don't think there can be any resolution between your line of thought and the
libertarian point of view. But it sounds somehow like you're convinced that
we've obviously voted as a majority for the Patriot Act, the latest Verizon
scandal, too-big-to-fail banks, and the new prism fiasco.

There's no reason a city/county/state couldn't vote to tie together
vaccinations with public schooling and tax collection/refunds. There are plenty
of vaccinations that *do* work solo with a single person becoming immune to
said disease.

So we're back to the question of trading liberties for security. Some will
always trade more for a perceived increase in security. Others don't believe it
is worth it at all (anarcho-caps, for example.) Most libertarians would fall
in between.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/10/2013 at 03:45 PM EDT
Well, exactly so. We --DID-- vote for those bad things, albeit indirectly, by
failing to properly exercise the controls we do have. Now, it's our
responsibility to vote to get rid of them -- and where they are illegal or
unconstitutional, to take the appropriate action.

HOWEVER - as much as I truly despise the Patriot Act (or much of it anyway) -
it has so far been upheld as constitutional, and it was voted in within the
boundaries we've set up. Sadly, it is the law of the land and I have no right
to simply ignore it.

Good example.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/10/2013 at 04:01 PM EDT
By the way, posting on this site requires an email address. We don't show
it, but it does get used to identify users. I've kept your posts rather than
deleting them because they add positively to the discussion, but generally
speaking, I delete posts where people won't own up to writing them.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Magerman on 06/10/2013 at 04:06 PM EDT
'In Europe right now there is a large investigation underway that is pointing
to recent vaccinations causing large numbers of problems in developing children
across multiple countries.'

Could you state your sources please? Media have been criminally negligent in
portraying the facts incorrectly (probably because journalists tend not to have
a scientific background). You need to look at scientific journals, proper
statistics, proper studies. The case for vaccines is a no-brainer.

If you are referring to the MMR debacle, I recommend Ben Oldacre's book 'Bad
Science'. The tragedy of the MMR Vaccine, which led too many parents to refuse
vaccinations, which lead to measles (measles!) outbreaks, which lead to deaths
and severe mental incapacitations, is well recorded.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/10/2013 at 04:10 PM EDT
Also, RE: immunization -- I am aware of only a SINGLE study showing what you
describe, done many years ago and long since repudiated even by it's author as
a fake.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Magerman on 06/10/2013 at 04:00 PM EDT
It's a public health issue. In my opinion, vaccines should be mandatory.

As a father of two small children, I get immediately angry at parents who
befuddely refuse to vaccinate their children. The argument I receive is always
the same 'it's my body/child, I should decide'. The problem is that for herd
immunity to work, as you correctly say, a very high percentage must be
vaccinated. If the percentage of vaccinated people falls below a threshhold,
you start having conditions where epidemics start, as witness the outbreaks of
measles in the UK. You do not mention is that a small percentage of the
population *cannot* be vaccinated - these are the very old, the very young, and
the immunocompromised. One *actively* endangers these high-risk persons by
making the apparently personal choice of not taking a vaccine. It's selfishness
which is all too often based on ignorance.

Mandatory. Vaccination.

On the other hand, I wouldn't dare imposing restrictions on any substance which
only affect you. Alcohol? Drugs? Cigarettes? Fill your boots, it's your own
health. But vaccines? Not personal.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Kevin Balvin on 06/26/2013 at 07:32 PM EDT
Great Blog Andrew!

This is very interesting topic, I believe that the least trustworthy
institution (Government) should have zero ability to tell me what I should and
should not give my child for immunizations. First off how many times has the
Government lied to us or "science" has been wrong? lets see Iraq and WMD's?
Gulf of Tonkin? The 1970's "Global Cooling"? Earth was the center of the
universe? Earth is flat? It goes on and on and on. We know barely half of a
percent of anything about the world / universe we live in. So why should we
believe ALL of what they are saying (CDC).
Secondly who are producing these vaccines?? Oh big pharmaceutical companies. So
is it at ALL possible for the government and these big pharma conglomerates be
in collusion together??? Its happened before.
And lastly how safe are these vaccines? Why are the reports of poisons in the
vaccines being ignored? Why are the terrible side effects of these drugs not
being told and fully explained to the parents? Sorry but im not sold on these
new and dangerously important vaccines.
Just look at the Autism rate it's now 1 in every 50 children (NY-Times)
What is causing this increased rate? Vaccines? Food we are eating? Chemicals we
are exposed to?
Sorry the less vaccines the better. If they have a proven track record like
small pox, sure got it. New and untested, not in my child!
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Andrew Pollack on 06/26/2013 at 08:01 PM EDT
Thanks, Kevin. Cool that you found my little soap box.

I totally get the "don't trust government" thing. Government needs to be
watched, and closely. However, when you say "least trustworthy" I lose you.
It stuns me with disbelief that anyone cal be completely cynical about
government but then trust corporations as they've got anyone's best interests
at heart. I trust government slightly more than corporations which put in
about the same level of trust as convicted child molesters.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Kevin Balvin on 06/27/2013 at 12:43 AM EDT
Oh NO I don't trust the corporations either. Both are liars and cheats.
Government I believe is less trustworthy and more dangerous because they have
the power.
Corporations want to make money period, and if that means not telling the truth
or dumping a shit ton of money into a certain (PAC) then their going to do that
and hang the consumer out to dry. Look at the California power outages about
ten? Years ago, where they purporsly reduced power output and intentionally
caused power outages so the speculators could jack the price of electricity sky
high.
These are all worst case and mostly true statements but bottom line is that the
Govt. and the Corps. are not looking out for our best interest. It is the job
of us as small communities to look out for each other.
re: A conflict or rights: My question to my Libertarian friends about vaccination.By Anonymous on 01/03/2016 at 06:36 PM EST
I was reading up on the recent news involving the CDC whistleblower and
remembered this discussion. In case you haven't heard about it, this video
summarizes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGOtDVilkUc


Other Recent Stories...

  1. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism?Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? I read a really insightful post a couple of days ago that suggested the use of social network funding sites like “Go Fund Me” and “Kickstarter” have come about and gained popularity in part because the existing economy in no longer serving its purpose for anyone who isn’t already wealthy. Have the traditional ways to get new ventures funded become closed to all but a few who aren’t already connected to them and so onerous as to make ...... 
  2. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertisingAn increasing number of websites are now detecting when users have ad-blocking enabled, and refuse to show content unless you "whitelist" their site (disable your ad-blocking for them). I think that is a fair decision on their part, it's how they pay for the site. However, if you want me (and many others) to white list your site, there are some rules you should follow. If you violate these rules, I won't whitelist your site, I'll just find content elsewhere. 1. The total space taken up by advertisements ...... 
  3. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction[] “The Expanse” is a new science fiction series being broadcast onthe Syfy channelthis winter. It’s closely based on a series of books by author James S. A. Corey beginning with “Leviathan Wakes”. There are 5 books in the “Expanse” series so far. If you’re a fan of the novels you’ll appreciate how closely the books are followed.TIP: The first five episodes are already available on Syfy.com. If you’re having trouble getting into the characters and plot, use those to get up to speed.The worlds created for ...... 
  4. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  5. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  6. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  7. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
  8. 03/17/2015A review of British Airways Premium Economy Service – How to destroy customer goodwill all at once 
  9. 02/26/2015There's a bug in how @TextToTime() and @ToTime() process date strings related to international standards and browser settings. 
  10. 01/21/2015Delivering two new presentations at Developer Camp (EntwicklerCamp) 2015 in Germany 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.