The Morals and Rights Issues Regarding Vaccines
Phil Osborn August 9, 2015
See also: http://www.sb277.org/
I suppose I should be happy. More to do to set the world straight, right? Except that this one is a doozy, a potentially Sisyphean task, tail-eating and self-referential like I can hardly believe. Unfortunately, it may also be morally impossible to defer, delay or ignore, in the hopes that someone else will come up with a fix or that other problems such as the impending (some century soon) Yosemite eruption will overshadow it.
Briefly - use the links, please, the problem is that the state, via CA SB 277 is imposing vaccinations on all children in any form of face to face schooling. Home schoolers are apparently exempt, altho "why" is a mystery, as some parents have more than one school-age kids. Special ed kids involved in special needs instruction programs also appear to be exempt, due to the lack of physical contact between kids, one presumes.
The differences between pre-SB 277 and post (starting January 1st, 2016) are that the moral exemptions are severely curtailed and the list of required vaccines is apparently much longer than previously and subject to additions on the fly as specified by a State bureaucracy.
There are several threads of opposition to SB 277, including scientific, moral, and religious elements.
Just to establish context on how I found out about this: I attended the Libertarian Party of Orange County monthly business meeting, which is open to the public and usually draws a handful of activists who are there to do the business involved with being a bona fide political party - or oddballs like me with our own agendas, such as taking over a radio station for the common good (see http://philosborn.joeuser.com/article/467974/The_Strategy_Room).
The "Oddballs" this time were a crew of six or eight objectors to SB 277, with a petition and as many spiels as people, dovetailing around their attempt to defeat or delay under consideration the bill for mandatory universal vaccinations. I don't recall seeing any of these people before at an LP meeting - or elsewhere - but my memory for faces and names is lousy. My impression is that they were there for that one purpose, not generically libertarian activism. What they accomplished at the business meeting was to be made the next official presenters for the main OCLP meeting this Tuesday, August 11 (http://www.meetup.com/The-Orange-County-Libertarian-Meetup/)
Why this is relevant to the LP: It runs the risk of getting the LP labeled as a fringe party. Facts or not, the vaccination issues cross party affiliations and set peaceful people in political alliances at war.
The main problem: Who is the expert that everyone trusts to tell us the truth about vaccination? Some people trust the state medical establishment implicitly, despite all the SNAFUs over the past century+. Other people take the pragmatic approach; who else has any real credibility and how do I verify that? They naturally default to trusting the state, albeit reluctantly holding their noses. They are also open to alternatives, but only with hard evidence, which is rare. Other people reject anything from the medical establishment as a probable lie, in the service of big Pharma, corporate medical, the Illuminati, whatever. They then typically fall prey to the snake-oil salesmen, often with bad medical - and financial - outcomes. The less certain and factually justified an opinion, the shriller the voices supporting it.
The snake oil salesmen are real and pervasive, and some of them seem to have attached themselves to the anti-vaccine cause. The pro-state medical people have naturally pointed this out to discredit their opposition. Anyone attached to these people is tarred with the same brush, including potentially the LP.
How does this issue relate to libertarianism? The knee-jerk reaction is "these are MY children." Oh. So, they're "property?" If your "property" is not prevented from destroying my property, then you are responsible for the damages... right? So if your kid finds the handgun in the back drawer and shoots my kid - just playing, just WHO is responsible? Or if your teenage hacker writes a nasty wifi virus just to show how boss he is, and it causes $millions of dollars in losses, then WHO is responsible for compensation? Property involves the responsibility to control those little externalities.
Take infectious diseases... Something like 90% of the native Americans were wiped out by common diseases that the invading Europeans were resistant to, having had the equivalent of vaccinations passed from mother to fetus or to infant via milk. The entire huge mound-building civilization that traded up and down the Mississippi was wiped off the map in a matter of a decade or so.
These are not "theoretical" moral issues. Germs are real and people are the major vector for most infectious diseases. If you are sick with such an infectious disease, and then pass it on via irresponsible contact with other people, then aren't you responsible for damages?
Which suggests a shortcut to a solution: With other behavior that imposes risks on others, such as driving a car, we demand insurance - or other proof of financial responsibility - to cover possible accidents. We know the actuarial odds for diseases. Simply impose a fee or proof of infection insurance. Those who think it is worth it can reject the vaccines while the insurance will compensate the victims of the next outbreak...
- I'm finding more and more advantages to the financial responsibility angle. Why should I or my (theoretical) kids have to pay the cost of getting sick or dying, just so that vaccine-opposing parents can impose the risks on both their own and other kids. It's simply not valid to claim that everyone's opinion has the same worth. We got to the moon and Mars by making sure that decisions were NOT just opinions, and we eradicated smallpox - and almost did in polio, until the yahoos of ISIL undid the final efforts. That's why the insurance idea answers all the basic issues. Insurance companies are simply selling the results of good judgments as to risk, not trying to push any agenda. They are as neutral as it gets. Want to forgo vaccines? Pay the cost of the risk you generate, based on objective actuarial tables.