Vaccines

Forget the Anti-Vaxxers: Libertarian Parenting Is Perfectly Healthy

Mandatory vaccination is just one issue. Generally, the state shouldn't play parent.

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Baby
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Politicians of all stripes have professed anti-scientific views on mandatory vaccinations at some point, or fraternized with dedicated anti-vaxxers. Hillary Clinton's good friend and advisor on medical issues is Dr. Mark Hyman, who literally wrote the book claiming the existence of a connection between vaccines and autism.

And yet when the vaccine issue roared back into the news cycle earlier this week, the form it took—for some strange reason—was that of another example of anti-science tendencies in the GOP. Why would the media take a case of bipartisan folly and use it as a moment to mock inarticulate Republicans, I wonder?

The GOP's libertarian wing is particularly impugned, according to The Washington Post:

If you thought that every GOP candidate would be rushing to pander to people's fears about big government forcing them to stick needles in their kids, you'd be wrong. In fact, the ones we've heard from so far have been clearly pro-vaccine. And this shows just where the limits of libertarianism within the Republican Party are. …

So the vaccine issue demonstrates that while nearly every Republican agrees with libertarian ideas on some issues, this doesn't necessarily reflect just an inviolable philosophical commitment to individual liberty. When being a libertarian means getting something they want without having to give up anything they like, they're happy to wave the anti-government flag. But if it means their kids might get sick because some people are dumb enough to take their medical advice from Jenny McCarthy, the needs of the many begin to look much more pressing than the delusions of the few.

To buy the above argument, you would have to accept that opposition to vaccination is a pressing libertarian issue. It's not. Some libertarians hold opinions about vaccines that clash with the facts, of course—as do some non-libertarian Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and crazy people of all affiliations. Noted non-libertarian (or possibly secret libertarian?) Barack Obama shared his concerns about vaccines causing autism during the 2008 campaign.

Now, it's true that libertarians are generally opposed to government-mandated things with a philosophical fervor that people of other ideologies are not. And so the idea of forcing people to be vaccinated is a bit vexing for many libertarians, not always because they are suspicious of vaccines but because they reject the government's right to make that call. Libertarians oppose government agents force-feeding kids their fruits and veggies, too! But since non-vaccinated people can make other people sick in a way that kids who have rejected their government-mandated veggies cannot, it's a bit trickier sorting out whose rights should trump whose, what level of state authority gets to make that call if any, whether dissenters should be ticketed, arrested, or merely denied public services, and so on. Reason's Ronald Bailey, for instance, favors "shunning and shaming" those who refuse vaccination.

My point is that the vaccine issue doesn't have much bearing on libertarianism as a philosophy. Republican Sen. Rand Paul might have made a thoughtless, incorrect remark about vaccination—one he quickly walked back after receiving his booster shot—but so have many, many other politicians at one time or another.

Making the extreme opposite case—that anti-vaccine hysteria is both foundational to libertarianism and a harbinger of of even scarier views—is The New Republic's Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, who writes with just maybe a hint of exaggeration that "to avoid a hellish death spiral of infectious disease and neglect, we would all do well to reject Paul and his cohort on the subject of child rearing." (Emphasis added, because what the fuck?) More from Bruenig:

When confronted with the question of whether or not discouraging vaccination is a threat to children's health, Paul launched into a meandering consideration of public health and liberty that concluded with the assertion that "the state doesn't own your children, parents own the children."

Paul's bizarre rendering of the parent-child relationship as unilateral ownership is not the most unhinged thing a well-regarded libertarian has ever said about children. In fact, libertarians exhibit a historical inability to adequately explain how parents should relate to their children, why parents are obligated (if at all) to care for their children, and whether or not moral nations should require that parents feed, clothe, and shelter their children within a libertarian frame.

For examples of other libertarians saying "unhinged" things about parenting, Bruenig cites Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, and Williamson Evers. In other words, two Rothbards and someone I've never heard of. (Checks Wikipedia.) Nevermind, make that three Rothbards. Fine.

Of course, if we are playing the game of picking three people at random and then using their crazier views as stand-ins for an entire philosophy, we could make any ideology look bad—even Bruenig's, which appears to be Christian socialism.

In any case, I reject her argument that libertarian parenting is horrifying. The alternative—parenting as principally the domain of the government—is what's horrifying. When the government thinks as a matter of policy that it knows how to take care of kids better than their own parents do, bad things happen. Browse the archive of Reason's Lenore Skenazy if you don't believe me. There you will find parents who were arrested for letting their kids enjoy some autonomy and play at the park, or hauled off to jail for trusting a perfectly safe kid to wait in the car while mom ran an errand, or shamed by agents of the state for being insufficiently paranoid that child molesters are lurking around every street corner. Consider the Meitivs. Or Debra Harrell.

Libertarian parenting provides an essential counterbalance to helicopter parenting—to the fear that kids are in constant danger. This fear is irrational and anti-scientific—we are living in the safest time in human history—but it's largely been codified into law, anyway.

I'm a libertarian, and I'm relatively untroubled by local governments mandating vaccinations one way or another. What does trouble me is the idea that parenting decisions should default to the state. This bothers me because we have a wealth of evidence suggesting that the state is a deluded and paranoid parent. When it comes to kids, mommy and daddy usually know better.

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  1. The political issue of mandating vaccines is one thing; the medical issue of getting kids vaccinated is another. I’m a libertarian, and my kids are vaccinated. As am I.

    1. Bingo

    2. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to separate the two issues. It’s almost like people have no principles and instead just try to legislate via their personal wish list.

      1. The principle is very simple; how parents raise their kids is no one’s business but theirs, within the limits of serious neglect or abuse. The only issue is does vaccination fall into that category. Is not vaccinating your kid the same thing as deciding to let them have a glass of wine or watch a lot of TV. If it is, then the state nor anyone else should have any say in it. If it is not, and if it is an act that has real externalities and affects other people, then the state should be able to regulate it.

        I think because the threat of communicable disease is real and ever present, it is the latter. Others disagree. Either way, it is no a question of principles but a question of how you see vaccines.

        1. It’s still a matter of principle in that there exists more than one possible remedy, and libertarians are less likely than others to want to go the “strap them to the table and do what’s good for society” route.

          Negligently spreading communicable diseases has been an issue of discussion in libertarian circles for as long as there’s been libertarians. Civil liability has been one proposed solution (which is easily taken to the reductio ad absurdum of suing your coworker for giving you a cold, but isn’t without merit). Public and private incentives, like those mentioned in this and previous articles, are another.

          As we’re fond of pointing out, every law and regulation ultimately carries a death sentence for non-compliance. With that in mind, the risk must be very grave to justify direct government intervention and forcible vaccination.

          1. There are two problems with using the tort system to solve this. First, tort litigation doesn’t prevent the harm. It just tries to compensate the victim. I don’t want to get sick in the first place. Only Libertarians would be dense enough to think “don’t worry about getting sick, if you do, you can sue the guy who got you sick” is any kind of a satisfactory answer to the concerns surrounding a disease outbreak.

            Second, it is virtually impossible in most cases to determine where you got sick and who gave it to you. The threat of law suit is really an empty threat and an empty promise.

            This should not be a hard issue. It is only hard if a you are a fanatic who is incapable of drawing distinctions and lines. If a disease is communicable and dangerous such that an outbreak is a real threat to public health, vaccination ought to be mandatory absent medical reasons that make it unsafe for a particular individual. That is really the whole issue here. It is not a political question. It is a medical one. Is the disease a threat, does the vaccine work. That is really all there is too it.

            1. There are two problems with using the tort system to solve this. First, tort litigation doesn’t prevent the harm. It just tries to compensate the victim.

              That’s not a “problem”, it’s rather the point. Giving the government a mandate to “prevent harm” leads to precisely the kind of precautionary principle-fueled regulatory fascism toward which we are presently spiraling as a society. Addressing harm only when it actually occurs is part and parcel with a constrained state.

              Second, it is virtually impossible in most cases to determine where you got sick and who gave it to you.

              That and the aforementioned abuse of the tort system for trivial concerns like a common cold are weaknesses in that argument, I agree.

              It is only hard if a you are a fanatic who is incapable of drawing distinctions and lines.

              I would argue that it’s only as easy as you make it out to be if you are an incomprehensibly pollyanish utilitarian who thinks that giving that type of broad mandate to the government will only ever be used in precisely the way you yourself would like to see it used. If taking the NAP seriously and contemplating what level of risk justifies potentially taking kids away from their parents, or worse, makes one a “fanatic who is incapable of drawing distinctions and lines”, I suppose I would ultimately rather wear that hat.

              1. “Giving the government a mandate to “prevent harm” leads to precisely the kind of precautionary principle-fueled regulatory fascism toward which we are presently spiraling as a society.”

                Fortunately, most people are sensible enough to realize that there are times when the government’s duty is to prevent harm.

                Political arguments are often overly simplistic about slipper slopes. In reality, the world is full of slippery slopes that do not get slid all the way down, and a society so afraid of slippery slopes that it avoids them is a society that cannot survive.

                1. There is no such thing as a society.

                  Governments only duty is to protect property and physical liberty of it’s citizens.

            2. If you fear unvaccinated people so much, tere is a simple libertarian solution to this. Simply don’t surround yourself with unvaccinated people. Send your children to a school where vaccines are required.

              You could even create a closed community where only vaccinated people are allowed to live.

              What you cannot do is force something on others just to make you save. Then we would also have to outlaw firearms since statistically, gunowners are a MUCH bigger threat to the people around them than unvaccinated people.

              Also the chance that measles are a threat to you is very low:

              The chance that someone close to you gets infected
              times
              The chance that a vaccinated person can get infected
              times
              The chance that the infection is dangerous to you (for 999/1000 persons it’s a harmles disease like the flu)

              Altogether, the chance that you die from measles in America is about the same as being killed by a falling coconut.
              Far too low to override bodily autonomy and physical liberty.

        2. well said.

          An additional nuance, if you please.

          My concern is not about the vaccines in hand, it’s about future ones.

          Once vaccines are mandated, the game changes. It becomes getting the vaccine you are selling on the approved list and therefore compulsory. At that point, we will see what we always see with govt…influence peddling, bribes and corruption.

          Mandating vaccines creates a captive customer base. That always leads to lobbying of favors which always breaks down any allegiance to truthfulness.

          In the end, mandating vaccines is bad for vaccine quality just as mandating health insurance is bad for insurance quality.

          1. +1 “No one could have seen this coming” mockery

        3. that’s simply a value statement. There is a percentage threat of danger by not vaccinating. there is a percentage threat of danger by owning a pool. there is a percentage threat of danger by letting your kids walk home. there is a percentage threat of danger in taking your kids on road trips- or letting them eat cake.

          It’s what percentage are you comfortable with- or what percentage are you comfortable letting other people be comfortable with.

          Anything like this, as a value judgement, is not the grounds to legislate.

      2. Roll that beautiful Bastiat quote!

        If you don’t want the state forcing people to do something, you obviously don’t want it done at all.

        1. Seriously. Plus, anyone advocating mandatory vaccination should also have to state their intended enforcement mechanism.

    3. That would have been probably the most perfect way to articulate the libertarian position on the issue for Paul. It’s too bad he doesn’t have you on staff.

    4. I really don’t think there are a lot of libertarians who don’t vaccinate. Most of the anti-vax crowd I’ve seen sits firmly, and quite far, over on the left side camp on every other issue. I could be wrong here, but I don’t think so.

      1. It’s politically split from what I’ve experienced.

      2. They’re pretty well distributed along political spectrum, actually, with self-identified Democrats making up 22%, the rest being Republicans and independents (both larger numbers).

        1. please cite. i was stating simple anecdote- but i would like to see your facts for reference.

          1. Google told me his source was Pew Research in about 20 seconds. As someone who has been paying a modicum of attention to this issue for more than a few years, I am not surprised to see people across the whole political spectrum buying into anti-vaccine nonsense. Ignorance & stupidity cross all party lines, imo…

            1. I really don’t think anyone is “anti” vaccine science. They are suspicious of the preservatives, monopolization of market, mission creep, precedent, etc. Anyone who trusts the drug companies, who have most kids on prescriptions, btw, and their captured regulatory agencies, is a complete fool.

              Plus, it’s measles. Big deal. Get some calamine lotion, and some ice cream.

      3. I am vaccinated, and personally I would also vaccinate my kids, but I strongly oppose forced vaccinations.

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  3. Vaccines are not a “parenting issue” in the same way most other parental decisions are because failure to get them can cause direct harm to other people. We shouldn’t tell parents how much supervision they should give their kids or what lessons they should teach them because those are private issues. They affect no one but the parents and their children. Vaccinations in contrast effect everyone.

    1. And if they resist? Are you ready to use force to ensure compliance?

      1. Then they can’t send their kids to school or take them to a public place.

        Do you object to telling parents they have to feed their kids and can’t starve them? If I decide that the science of diet is just a scam by Big Agriculture and feed my kid only brown rice, should the government tell me I can’t do that? If so, what happens when I resist? Can the government really tell me what I should feed my kid?

        You concerns apply to any government action no matter how justified. They really just beg the question. If you are bothered by making parents vaccinate their kids, fine. But admit that you don’t think doing so is very important or worth taking any action over, because that is the entire question.

        1. Your position assumes that vaccines carry no risk at all. See my response to your next comment below.

        2. If I decide that the science of diet is just a scam by Big Agriculture and feed my kid only brown rice, should the government tell me I can’t do that?

          Well, is it just a strongly-held personal belief, or a *religious* decision?

          1. Ha! I always love that distinction.

            1. It’s subtle; but one knows it when one sees it.

          2. My free exercise rights do not extend to murdering people.

            1. “No reasonable person would call that a *real* religion!”

              1. Take it up with the authors of the first amendment. They gave religion special protection. It gets protection other beliefs don’t. If you don’t like that, amend the Constitution. If you can’t do that, too fucking bad. You can’t read sections out of the document just because you don’t like them.

                1. If you don’t like that, amend the Constitution.

                  Which part of the Constitution gives the feds the authority to mandate vaccines?

        3. Starving a child leads to his certain death, whereas 99,99999% of unvaccinated people will be totally fine.

          Please don’t derail an interesting discussion with false comparisons.

          Not vaccinating your child is comparable to letting him walk home alone.

      2. “Are you ready to use force to ensure compliance?”

        Yes, because all government powers ultimately devolve to the use of force.

        Quarantines, by force if necessary, were around long before the founding of the US, but you don’t see any rhetoric or Constitutional writing against them, because they were and sometimes are the right thing to do.

        1. I am ok with quarantines if the people are ACTUALLY ill.

          You have no right to quarantine 10,000,000 people just because 1 or 2 of them may get ill sometime in the future.

    2. By that logic, we must first and foremost ban firearms.

      Statistically, gunowners are a MUCH bigger threat to the people around them than the unvaccinated.
      Orders of magnitude bigger.

      I don’t oppose gun ownership, I just want you to know where your line of thinking leads to.

  4. Politicians of all stripes have professed anti-scientific views…

    You know who else claimed his point of view was science?

    1. Mary Baker Eddy?

      1. -Patterson-Glover.

    2. Arlen Specter?

      1. Not a fan of the “Single Bullet Theory”, eh?

  5. God what horseshit. Perhaps they could invest a little time to actually learn and understand what libertarianism is, in principle and as applied in specific cases of government action.

    You know what else shouldn’t be mandated by the government: bicycle helmets and seat belt use. My kids, and I, always wear a helmet when we ride, and always use our seat belts even though the former makes me look ridiculous and the latter puts a nasty crease in my nicely ironed shirt. The government has no legitimate role to play in those actions & decisions.

    If parents make the decision that vaccination is not worth the risk, so be it. If other people, by way of their government, determine that un-vaccinated kids pose a risk their vaccinated kids then prohibiting them from public places, like schools, is a fair & legitimate thing to do. For christ sake, I can’t board my dog at the local kennel unless her shots are up to date.

    1. The argument for mandating seatbelts and helmets is similar to that for vaccinations. Accidents with injuries create “costs for society,” particularly when insurance is adequate or not carried at all. I think the mandated safety equipment is maybe a step further removed from the harm to others component than vaccinations, but it’s otherwise pretty much the same rationale.

    2. If parents make the decision that vaccination is not worth the risk, so be it.

      And when that decision results in their kid getting sick and making others sick, that is just okay?

      Libertarianism doesn’t stand for the right to endanger others. It also doesn’t stand for the freedom to harm others. Your freedoms stop the moment your actions harm someone else.

      1. As I asked before, are you ready to use the force of the state to ensure compliance?

        My own specific case with my son is an example. He carries 2 copies of the MHTFR genetic abnormality. This inhibits his capability to excrete toxins from his system including metals. As a result, he suffered for years with an acute case of aluminum poisoning from vaccines until we found a doctor who understood his condition and started treatment for it. Still, the effects of that poisoning will linger with him for the rest of his life.

        Medical treatment is personal and individual. Giving the government the power to mandate what you must inject yourself with or consume is a massive power.

        1. And I will tell you again, it is the same stupid beggin of the question. The answer is, of course, if the failure to vaccinate is harmful enough to other people. Whether it is or not is the entire question.

          And as far as your son goes, there are some kids who for whatever reason can’t safely be vaccinated. Even the strictest vaccination program would still make excetptions for people like your son.

          Your son is a great example of why people whose kids do not have a medical reason to vaccinate are wrong to do so and are harming others. If everyone who can safely be vaccinated is, your son and kids like him are not in danger of being sick even though they were not. But let every retard who likes RFK Jr not vaccinate their kid and your son is probably fucked and stands a good chance of getting sick.

          You of all people should be demanding this.

          1. Even the strictest vaccination program would still make exceptions for people like your son.

            I sincerely doubt that given that it took many, many doctors just to figure out that the condition even exists. It’s not even that uncommon, single copy mutations estimated at 6 to 14% of whites.

            The government hasn’t even updated the food pyramid. I have no confidence that they would ever properly design or moderate a vaccination program in the best interests of all, including those most at risk.

            1. At one time things like the mumps were endemic. Then they completely disappeared. How can you say the government can’t do this effectively or it won’t work when it clearly worked in the past?

              Do you think people stopped getting the mumps because of some other reason? Organic food? Good thoughts and prayer?

              1. As Mr. Soul pointed out above, once it becomes compulsory the risk of the program becoming corrupt increases exponentially.

                The controversy over the anthrax vaccine in the military should be evidence enough of that.

                1. Finally. The thought that I caught with my head IS the event of the season.

              2. Was the mumps vaccine mandatory? Honest question.

          2. The other people have no rights over scruffys son. If you fear he is dangerous, just shun him. Noone forces you to be close to unvaccinated people.
            There are many schools/ public places that require vaccines.

            It’s not his sons job to keep you save. If you feel threatened reduce your risk on your own.

        2. Your son wasn’t vaccinated by government mandate. MHTFR mutations are still poorly understood, but there are reports of adverse reactions to vaccines. Did you know your son had the mutation? Did the pediatrician? Perhaps the problem is lack of information about MHTFR. There’s an abundance of information about what happens when few people are immunized.

          We are lucky enough to live in a time & place where epidemic diseases have been pretty much eradicated by vaccinations. We have long known that a few people have serious adverse reactions to vaccines, but they are vastly outnumbered by those who would be adversely affected by diseases. No one is going to mandate vaccinating anyone who has a known risk of serious side effects. But, if people stop immunizing because somebody said something bad happened to somebody they heard about on the Internet, we’re going back to epidemics.

          Your personal story is tragic, but not a sound argument against universal vaccination, other than those with a known risk.

          1. You are perfectly free to get vaccinated yourself.
            You are perfectly free to avoid all unvaccinated people and go to places that only allow vaccinated people in. If you don’t do that, thats your problem.

            The other people DO NOT have any duty towards you.

      2. Being unvaccinated is no guarantee that you will become infected with a given disease, and being infected with a given disease is no guarantee that you will cause harm to others. And even if you did cause harm to others, libertarians generally prefer to deal with such harms in most other areas of life and law only when they actually arise rather than force mandates on the unwilling to prevent them. I suspect civil liability for negligence combined with the types of incentives discussed in this and previous articles would be more than sufficient to persuade most people to vaccinate their kids, as the vast majority already do.

        1. Can I sue anyone who transmits a cold or flu to me? Is that how a small-government society works? People forever getting court orders to swab coworkers’ throats? Or isn’t it just painfully obvious common sense that prevention can be not only more effective, but less intrusive?

          1. Reading the whole thread would at least prevent your retarded talking points from being completely redundant:

            https://reason.com/blog/2015/02…..nt_5071825

            1. As we’re fond of pointing out, every law and regulation ultimately carries a death sentence for non-compliance.

              This kind of nonsense is why you get into absurdities like suing people for giving you a cold. This is patently untrue. It’s stupid hyperbole meant to reinforce the singular thought informing all of your political views, that government, and nothing else, is the source of all evil. I bet you’d rather have a government than a smallpox pandemic.

              It is not a hallmark of thoughtfulness to require every idea you have to conform to the demands of a single, stuck-in-place philosophical axiom. When your worldview starts to break down, say because the concept of communicable disease simply can’t fit into it, you reform your worldview. That’s what thoughtful people do.

              1. The government isn’t the “source of all evil”. There’s also people who worship the government.

                They’re the people who tell the Gestapo which way the Jew ran.

                1. Henry Ford, one of history’s greatest individual achievers and capitalists, was so much a Nazi that he literally inspired Hitler. Therefore all of capitalism is evil and should be minimized.

                  1. When you say “literally”…

              2. This is patently untrue.

                No, it isn’t. Ultimately, the threat of force up to and including death underwrites every single rule and regulation of government at every level. Government has a monopoly on force. Without it, government couldn’t function. Most people’s self preservation instincts are good enough that they will never push non-compliance to that point. But the potential still exists for even the most minor of infractions. If you get a traffic ticket, don’t pay it, ignore your summons, and refuse to comply with the agents of the state when they come to put you in a cage, you are risking the possibility of death. Enough layers of non-compliance in every. single. instance. ultimately lead to the same outcome.

                It is not a hallmark of thoughtfulness to require every idea you have to conform to the demands of a single, stuck-in-place philosophical axiom.

                Write that on your mirror in magic marker so it’s the first thing you see every morning.

                When your worldview starts to break down, say because the concept of communicable disease simply can’t fit into it, you reform your worldview.

                Thankfully, I have no such problem.

                1. No, it isn’t. Ultimately, the threat of force up to and including death underwrites every single rule and regulation of government at every level.

                  No it doesn’t. Under no circumstance are you going to be deliberately killed by government for a traffic infraction. For what it’s worth, I don’t think government should kill you for any infraction. Besides, what are you trying to say? That it’s a damn shame you don’t get to violate whatever laws you wish?

                  What I’m trying to say is that if you require yourself to fit every political position you have into a strict framework, such as abiding by the NAP (whatever you think that is), then you’re just going to get yourself into the realm of absurdity pretty quickly, as you have here. Besides, you’re talking about courts as an alternative to government, as if that makes any sense at all.

                  1. Under no circumstance are you going to be deliberately killed by government for a traffic infraction.

                    I just laid out to you exactly the circumstances under which you would be deliberately harmed, and potentially killed, for a traffic infraction. This is a feature for you, and a central component of your philosophy. Embrace it.

                    Besides, what are you trying to say? That it’s a damn shame you don’t get to violate whatever laws you wish?

                    As I already said, I’m saying that one would do well to contemplate very seriously what infractions are worthy of bringing down the full weight of government, including the potential for violence up to and including death, onto an individual.

                    Besides, you’re talking about courts as an alternative to government, as if that makes any sense at all.

                    No. You’re stupid as well as uncreative. I am not talking about courts as an alternative to government, I am talking about tort law as an alternative to forcibly sticking needles in kids’ arms over the objection of their parents. But if I were talking about courts as an alternative to government, it wouldn’t be a non-sequitur. There are functioning courts of arbitration RIGHT NOW in Tony’s America that operate entirely outside of government. There could potentially be a multiplicity of courts in the absence of government. But then, when you require yourself to fit every political position you have into a strict framework…

                    1. Give it up, PM. People are still wearing “I can’t breathe” T-shirts and yet the dumbass doesn’t get it.

                    2. Let’s suppose for a moment that “I can’t breathe” T-shirts are less an anti-government manifesto, & more of an anti-racist-insane-thug cops manifesto…

                      If you compound being pulled over for speeding by pulling your Glock out of the glove box, we are no longer talking about infraction of a single rule, you idiot.

                    3. “I am talking about tort law as an alternative to forcibly sticking needles in kids’ arms over the objection of their parents.”

                      Why do have this sneaking suspicion that on some other thread, you’ve argued for tort reform as a viable means of reducing health care costs?

        2. Being unvaccinated is no guarantee that you will become infected with a given disease,

          So what? My taking a shot at you is no guarantee that I will hit you. My driving too fast is no guarantee that I will harm someone. You are creating a risk that wasn’t there before. I didn’t consent to risking being sick by being around you. Just because i get lucky and don’t, doesn’t make your actions any less wrong.

          1. Shooting at someone involves intent that doesn’t exist in the case of vaccination. It’s ironic that you chose that example though, because your logic is precisely that used by gun control advocates to ban or severely restrict access to firearms. The potential for harm and the actualization of that potential are two different things. Giving the government broad powers based on the former is a dangerous move that deserves a lot of careful contemplation. I’m not sure if 100 measles infections in a country of 320 million people is worth it.

          2. I’m also opposed to speed limits for the same reason, to address your second example. If your speeding actually causes a wreck, then by all means the person you victimized should be entitled to sue you into oblivion. It’s not the state’s place to tell everyone how fast they can drive because somebody *might* cause an accident.

            1. Well done, PM. On both of these.

          3. You are creating a risk that wasn’t there before. I didn’t consent to risking being sick by being around you.

            And I don’t consent to being liable for the actions of wildlife.

          4. Your argument doesn’t seem to stop at vaccines; you seem to be for gun control and against global warming too. Not being vaccinated isn’t akin to shooting a gun at someone, it’s more like concealed carry by a tax paying member of our community. Gun grabbers don’t want any guns on the street, and Al Gore probably doesn’t want you to drive fast or own a car. Should the government be the decider of every facet of your life? Vaccines are great, but they come with some risk. I don’t think the government should get into kidnapping and fostering over vaccines, especially when so few people decide not to vaccinate.

      3. Vaccines are understood to be ~95% effective so the risk of an un-vaccinated carrier of a disease affecting your vaccinated kid is quite small. That aside, what’s wrong with making vaccination a necessary condition of attending a public school?

        1. That aside, what’s wrong with making vaccination a necessary condition of attending a public school?

          Because school is not optional. You are still forcing people to vaccinate their kids.

          1. Kind of. You do have the option of private schooling or home schooling still in most places. I don’t think there exists a single private school that doesn’t require vaccination though (here again, another problem that would be easily remedied in the absence of the state).

            1. You do have the option of private schooling or home schooling still in most places.

              Sure, if you can afford it.

              My point was that school is mandatory and most people can not afford to send their kids to private school or homeschool them. So for those people you are still forcing them to vaccinate their kids. And the state is not going anywhere, unfortunately.

            2. There’s not a private school within 40 miles of my home. For me it’s either comply with all the public school system demands or quit my job and homeschool in our new cardboard box home. Call it what you will, but tax funded schooling has unarguably depleted my options and forcing the vax at school is no less compulsory.

        2. You can’t make a statement about the efficacy of vaccines generally. Some of them are much more effective than others.

          1. “Pills cause liver problems”

        3. Because school is mandatory.
          Because parents who don’t vaccinate still pay taxes which fund the school.
          Because I shouldn’t have to conform to your (and I mean that generically) level of required preemptive healthcare standards to enjoy the public school system. A voluntary home quarantine for an unvaccinated child during outbreaks would be plenty preemptive.

  6. My big question with this is why do people pretend that the question is whether to vaccinate or not.

    Being vaccinated for Measles or Polio are not the same as being vaccinated for Chicken Pox or HPV

    1. Yes. Not all vaccines are the same. Not all diseases are the same. MMR and Polio are the easiest question. Those diseases are horrible and once ravaged young people and the vaccines are highly effective. Chicken pox is harder. The vaccine is not as effective, is newer, and it may give people shingles later in life. HPV is just not enough of a public health threat to justify making people take the vaccine. You are stupid not to but that stupidity is not harmful enough to justify stopping you.

      Like most things, the answer depends on the circumstances.

      1. One is stupid for not getting the HPV vaccine?

        How ’bout this: one is stupid for promiscuous behavior, especially with a series of strangers.

        1. Or if you’re unlucky, with one person that you married. But by all means go with the prissy tact…it’s well received here.

      2. What about the flu?

  7. It does strike one odd that libertarians can so cavalierly favor government sticking sharp objects into children. You’re supposed to be the liberty maximalists, willing to accept the consequences. Forget the problem libertarians have with the concept of parenthood, this is support of meddling with people’s children for a social purpose! I’m all for a sudden revelation about the fact that humans are inherently social and cannot escape some measure of responsibility toward even total strangers. It would be nice if you could even apply this epiphany to things that are perhaps not so obvious, or that aren’t so embarrassingly tripping up your man’s presidential campaign.

    1. It does strike one odd that libertarians can so cavalierly favor government sticking sharp objects into children.

      Aaaaaand Tony shits himself in the first sentence.

      This is impressive. Usually it takes about 1/3 of the way into his comment before he loses sphincter control.

      1. Tony, sweetie, I don’t think anybody here is in favor of government officials sticking needles in children.

        Personally, I have my kids pediatrician – who isn’t a government employee at all – do the deed.

        Your failure to understand the distinctions between the state and other societal institutions is really a continual source of cringe-worthy comments.

        1. One way to deal with such things is to make it an aggravating factor in a civil suit if someone is infected with a dangerous disease by someone who didn’t get vaccinated and intentionally went around in public without taking precautions while infectious. That aggravating factor could be taken away in cases where a person can’t be vaccinated for some reason.

        2. Notso cringe-worthy, I think, as the unicorns you rely on, such as pushing aside the fact that this entire conversation is about the problem of parents not vaccinating children, a small expression of individual choice that has nevertheless led to a spike in disease, a form of aggression by any reasonable definition, except the one libertarians favor: it’s only aggression if I can see it happen macroscopically and in real time.

    2. Listen, if we all get vaccinated, then we don’t have the measles. If just one person doesn’t get vaccinated, then we all get the measles.

      “It only works, if we’re all in.”

      ~Big Boy Caprice

      1. Not quite. The MMR vaccine isn’t given to children until 12-15 months with a booster at 5 yrs. The disease would only be confined to anti-vaxxers or those who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons if it weren’t for this.
        However, the current outbreak is also affecting babies that were brought to the medical facility and exposed by the infected person(s).

        1. ” The disease would only be confined to anti-vaxxers or those who can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons if it weren’t for this.”

          Or not.

          1. “That’s why a fully vaccinated 22-year-old theater employee in New York City who developed the measles in 2011 was released without hospitalization or quarantine. But like Typhoid Mary, this patient turned out to be unwittingly contagious. Ultimately, she transmitted the measles to four other people, according to a recent report in Clinical Infectious Diseases that tracked symptoms in the 88 people with whom “Measles Mary” interacted while she was sick. Surprisingly, two of the secondary patients had been fully vaccinated. And although the other two had no record of receiving the vaccine, they both showed signs of previous measles exposure that should have conferred immunity.”

  8. I don’t understand all of this anti-fax business. I mean, fax machines are on the way out, anyway.

    1. It’s all about faq now (that’s a Q, not a G).

  9. It seems bloggers & commenters keep thinking Rand Paul was referring to autism as a possible vaccine effect. I’m pretty sure he was referring instead to encephalopathies from some vaccines, especially since his reference to the ass’n’s not being proven to be causally connected is the stock language that’s usually used in cx with this issue re pertussis vaccination.

    Seems people who know less are prone to condemn those who know more about an issue because of their difference in knowledge. It rankles me.

    1. “It rankles me.”

      Knowing how much you don’t know is a hard problem.

  10. “What does trouble me is the idea that parenting decisions should default to the state. ”

    The problem is that you are framing it wrong. The government is not making a parenting decision, it is making a public health decision.

    If the only consequence of you not vaccinating your child was that your child was harmed – that should be your choice.

    But it isn’t – a likely consequence is your kid merely gets sick, and then is part of a chain of infections that causes some other kid to die.

    Even Libertarians understand that a legitimate function of government is to protect people from harm inflicted by others.

  11. Even though it is a government institution I think the University of California is taking the most libertarian approach given that they are essentially the owners of a business. From now on if you want to attend UC you will have to be vaccinated.

    I favor all businesses posting big signs in their windows saying:

    If you’re not vaccinated don’t bother coming in.
    Be prepared to show proof of vaccination if you are not in our registry.

    1. I am perfectly fine with this. That’s the proper libertarian way to do it.

  12. Libertarians can also point out that privately owned schools (and other places where diseases are an issue) have every incentive and every right to require vaccination to attend. And if you don’t like it, you can go elsewhere.

    These debates become a matter of law and politics because of public facilities like schools. No anti-vaxxers think a local private school is part of some vast conspiracy, they think it’s the government or the big corporations.

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