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Vaccine Mandates and the Pretense of Knowledge

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At the airport this week, it was more than sad to see a mother trying to get her seemingly two-year old daughter to put on a mask. The daughter was frustrated, obviously confused, and crying. The mother didn’t know what to do, but there are federal rules…..Some would call them child abuse.

The crying, confused child over masks brought to mind the bigger debate of the moment about vaccinations. It’s estimated that a majority of adult Americans have been vaccinated against the virus, but there are holdouts. Presumably for a variety of reasons that don’t need to be listed here.

Whatever the reasons for the unvaccinated remaining that way months into the mass vaccination process, wise minds in the political and scientific class should encourage the right of individuals to refrain, even if they disagree with the holdouts. They should do so because they crave knowledge. Free people making choices without any force are crucial in the face of a spreading virus. Sadly, this truth has been forgotten from Day One of the virus panic.

Going back to March of 2020, it was completely forgotten by the political class that freedom is decidedly more than a singular virtue. In reality, free people produce crucial information.

Applied to the coronavirus, the logical answer with the gain of knowledge top of mind was for politicians to leave people alone. Some were going to quarantine in total, some were going to wear masks everywhere while avoiding all human contact, others were going to be out in public and in public businesses with masks dangling off of one ear as much as possible given their need to socialize sans cloth covering their mouths, and still others (likely the younger among us) were going to hit every party and bar they could.

Similarly, private businesses were in some instances going to shut down altogether, shut down partially, not at all, and many ways in between. What’s important is that varying actions in response to the virus were going to produce voluminous information about how it really spreads, along with the behavior and level of business openness most associated with spread. Human action was going to teach us about the behavior most associated with good health outcomes, while lockdowns based on highly limited information were going to blind us.

All of this must be considered in light of all the vitriol being directed toward the unvaccinated. Supposedly they’re selfish for not helping others by getting the shot. Aren’t we all in this together? Actually, we’re not. America is not a collective; rather it’s a collection of people who largely descend from individuals who risked everything in order to get away from collectives. If the unvaccinated worry the vaccinated, or the ill, the vaccinated and ill shouldn’t force their fear on those who choose not to be vaccinated. They should just stay home. The selfish ones are those who demand that others do as they’ve done.

Just the same, if a private business of any kind chooses to require proof of vaccine in order to enter, then so be it. Freedom cuts both ways. What business owners do on their property should not be the business of government either way. Notable here is that restaurant mogul Danny Meyer is requiring patrons to be vaccinated. He didn’t need a law. The same Meyer banned smoking in his New York restaurants long before Mayor Bloomberg instituted a broad decree. Meyer didn’t need a law in the 1990s either. Freedom works, and freedom often leads.

After which, some who are passionate about full societal vaccination just can’t believe others haven’t done as they’ve done. At the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow wrote in disdainful fashion recently that “there are Americans who are determined to prove they are right, even if it puts them on the wrong side of a eulogy.”  In other words, Blow believes the unvaccinated are in the process of committing suicide.

Ok, but if he’s right, why the need for forced vaccination from the Commanding Heights? If it’s really true that getting a shot is the difference between living and dying, all coercion from politicians is wholly superfluous. Those in denial will get the vaccination because they want to live. No command-and-control is required. And those that don’t? The reality is that humans drink, drug, and commit deathly dangerous acts all the time. In a free society, we can’t force people to live. Also, we learn what’s bad for our health from those freely living without regard to their health. Freedom is healthy.

Which brings us back to skepticism about getting the vaccination. For the longest time Blow’s New York Times has reported that nearly half of U.S. deaths related to the virus were associated with nursing homes. One assumes this is true, but even if not, it may explain – in addition to already achieved natural immunity – the reluctance on the part of many adults about vaccinating against what, in a death sense, is largely associated with the very old and very sick.

Yet Blow says the vaccine skeptics are risking death. Which is why he should want freedom from forced vaccination. Indeed, the only way for the skeptics to shed their skepticism is for what the Times has long been reported to not be true. Of course, the only way to prove it’s not true is for free people to make their own decisions about whether or not to get the vaccination.

Yes, free people once again produce crucial information. And if it proves true that a failure to vaccinate is the path to hospitalization and death, rest assured that broad societal vaccination will soon enough be a reasonable aim.  

Reprinted from RealClearMarkets

Author

  • John Tamny, Senior Scholar at Brownstone institute, is an economist and author. He is the editor of RealClearMarkets and Vice President at FreedomWorks.


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