Vaccination is not a Libertarian Issue
by Ethan Glover, Tue, Feb 10, 2015 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018
"How would a libertarian society deal with vaccinations?"
When presented with this question, the asker requested to assume that vaccinations are always good. But he also asked how a libertarian society would incentivize people to take vaccinations for the good of all. Even if it is harmful to the individual.
I'm not going to talk about my opinions on the current measles outbreak nonsense, which is no different from any other year. Instead, the point of bringing this up is the attitude people take when they ask questions about libertarianism. And even more alarming, how those who try to answer these questions approach them.
Many libertarians, including Penn Jillette (Ep. 153), answers the issue with a bumper sticker slogan. Penn says that businesses would only deal with people who have vaccination records. This is a blanket answer that requires no thinking at all.
It seems that when some people learn the "answers" to common questions about a free society they get lazy. They stop thinking and give canned responses to anything that comes up. It's embarrassing.
No business wants to check your medical, criminal, and financial history for every small sale. I've made the point before. You can get by with the worst of reputations because most businesses don't care. So long as you pay.
Reputation and constant privacy invasions aren't good enough. Companies aren't willing to pay for or subject their customers to tracking that don't benefit the company.
That said, vaccinations aren't a problem.
The MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) is not a legal requirement. Childcare centers, kindergartens, and middle schools act like they are.
"Requirements" vary state-by-state but they all offer vaccination exemptions.
The current laws in the United States are already libertarian when it comes to vaccinations. The state may waste a lot of stolen money on advertising and bad research. But on the base level, there is nothing non-libertarian about the current way of doing things.
Schools pressure you to get your kids vaccinated; you can opt-out. Doctors pressure you to get your kids vaccinated; you can say no. Society pressures you to get your kids vaccinated, you can ignore them.
When people get vaccinations for themselves and their kids, they do it for their sake. Not for some generalized half-science called "herd immunity."
Vaccinations? What about the roads? That's a legitimate question.
Roads may be simple, but it's an actual issue considering the government has a monopoly on them. But incentivizing vaccinations? What's the problem now? Why would you ask that? Why would you think about libertarians when the issue of vaccinations comes up?
Vaccination rates are not a problem. There is no "epidemic." No law is going to increase vaccination rates. The only result would be "jack-booted thugs" ripping children away from good families. Only to put those children into the hands of abusive state-run childcare.
The real issue here is how people stretch the meaning of everything a tiny bit "political" to use it as an "Aha!" moment to condemn those who don't believe the same thing they do. Instead of recognizing the fact that they already agree, people want to bicker over imaginary utopias.
The arguments on each side in the vaccination debate have nothing to do with the issue. Instead, statists are blowing up the issue to make it more extreme than it is. Libertarians are too busy trying to repeat lines they read in a Rothbard book to realize that the problem doesn't exist.
Libertarianism, as a philosophy, isn't some far off utopian land that only exists in books. A society that can't exist unless it matches the descriptions in the text written by the scholars in the Mises Tower.
On the same note, the burden of proof that others place on libertarians at every opportunity has become asinine. People against libertarianism attack it without considering the context of what they're attacking. And libertarians don't seem to notice they're defending themselves against a straw man in every case.
Where libertarians ideas have are active, they've worked. But those ideas never have a libertarian label. Marijuana legalization in Colorado didn't happen because of libertarians. It was a democratic push that made it happen.
It doesn't matter whose "responsible" for good policy. You can be cynical and say that a broken clock is right at least twice a day. Or, you can celebrate good policy and use it as an opportunity to start a conversation with other people of different beliefs.
That's what I think is missing. Conversation and friendly intermingling. Too often, I see people looking at libertarianism as a far off imaginary place that is only fun to think and blog about.
The reason people think about it in that way is because of the "in the cloud" theoretical thinking. The kind of thinking people apply to libertarianism without taking a single glance at reality.
Libertarianism exists; it's all around you. Believe me, there is no question you could come up with that doesn't have a real libertarian answer. Stop trying to destroy it with todays popular "issue."
If you're not asking questions to learn or out of genuine curiosity, you're wasting valuable time. Time that the person you're asking could spend with people who care about the issues in the world.
There is a significant difference between asking why tax is violence and how libertarians would deal with vaccinations. One is a new pilot asking the captain about standard procedure before takeoff. The other is a little girl asking how planes work.
Aerodynamics, jet propulsion, division of labor… fucking magic? Get back in your seat and get out of the way. This isn't a game.
You're welcome to learn to fly and join us. But learn to recognize when you're wasting time and when you're adding to the discussion. Nobody wants to see your new dolly, nor do they have the time to answer your questions about which imaginary tea she might like.