What Vaccine Mandate Advocates Don’t Talk About

It is interesting to me that vaccine mandate proponents never talk about or account for the more than 60 million people in the US who have natural immunity from having already contracted and recovered from covid. (60 million is the low end of estimates…the CDC, which I no longer trust due to its politicization, puts the number well over 100 million) Even if we accept the pretzel logic used to rationalize mandate advocacy, that logic does not hold for the huge number of people who already have what the vaccine will ostensibly give them. Even if nothing else does, I think this not insignificant demographic poses an insurmountable obstacle to justifying these authoritarian desires, which I presume is why it is usually just ignored by mandate advocates

The other notable thing about the mandate crowd is the complete lack of any acknowledgement of just how extraordinary the thing they want to do really is. It would be one thing if they argued that draconian government measures were justified on the basis that they are needed to combat an extreme situation. “Hey, we understand why this is objectionable, and it is very unfortunate that we have to take these steps, but we are in an existential crisis and only extreme measures can turn it around.” It wouldn’t make their position any more sensible or any less troubling, but at least it would indicate some shared understanding and embrace of what constitutes governmental norms in a civilized, free society. The argument, then, would simply revolve around a prudential judgment about just how “extreme” the current situation with covid actually is, and just how necessary the draconian steps actually are.

But this is not what they are arguing. They are suggesting that people who are reluctant to get the vaccine are the bad guys, that it is not Covid but what these people are doing (or, in fact, not doing) which is the cause of harm to other people, and that protecting the populace from the harmful (non-)acts of these people is what government exists to do as a matter of course. Biden suggests that the government has so far been compassionately indulging vaccine reluctance, but that “patience” is up and it is time for the government to do its job.

And what is that job? Put plainly and stripped of the vague generalities and benign language that is usually used, the stark reality of what they advocate is this: They want the government to forcibly impose a medical procedure on healthy people against their will, one that consists of injecting them with brand new and relatively untested medical technology. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extreme circumstance in which such a plain imposition on individual liberty might be arguably justifiable in a free and civilized society, at least relative to the probable alternative. But anyone who thinks such a measure is not a violation of personal liberty at all and thinks it is akin to traffic regulations or public nuisance laws does not share my notions of personal liberty, limited government, or what constitutes a free and civilized society. And to me such a mindset is immensely more dangerous to the future safety and well-being of the nation than vaccine hesitancy.

13 Responses

  1. New post is up.

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  2. Excellent point.

    Why has talk about here immunity sort if faded out? Because we’ve basically reached it. In reality if not in the narrative. With 60 million people with natural immunity and 60% of adults vaccinated … we are at here immunity or at the cusp. So this is happening right when if there was any practical benefit it won’t do much good.

    I know several vaccine hesitant people who have finally not the bullet and gotten vaccinated in the past few months. I know more who were pretty much deciding that they’d finally go get vaccinated and after Biden’s speech have entirely flipped and are saying they’ll go to jail before they get the vaccine.

    This approach seems hugely counter-productive. This is not the approach to take with American’s. The people currently unvaccinated are also the people most likely to resist this kind of compulsory program.

    And unless the narrative changes it won’t make any difference anyway. Coverage and healthcare experts continue to fear-monger about future killer variants like there’s some data to support their fear-mongering, even though they are just talking out of their ass. Mandate doesn’t fix that.

    Media keeps counting positive PCR tests as if they represent actual cases, even when asymptomatic—which is insane. PCR tests don’t represent active infection like a strep test—and even strep tests will be positive if taken from a large sampling of people without strep symptoms, and we don’t act like they’ve all got strep because of a positive test.

    Emphasis should be on hospitalizations and deaths. Which are at flu levels now and apparently nobody is getting the flu so I’m expecting the excess death number will be low or negative … so what is this supposed to accomplish at this point?

    Concur there is not a good argument for this at all.

    And if this were Trump doing the exact same thing, the left and the media would not be so sanguine.

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    • And if this were Trump doing the exact same thing, the left and the media would not be so sanguine.

      They would be screeching that this is fascism.

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      • And they might actually have a point this time.

        Greenwald pretty much captures my position:

        This is also where all the lost credibility of elites and the government really comes back around, when they don’t even have enough left to convince people to voluntarily get vaccinated.

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    • That was indeed a good read.

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    • jnc:

      Good read:

      It was, but I would take issue with a couple of things.

      I think he is wrong when he says that Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners should fire players who take a knee to protest during the national anthem “exemplifies” cancel culture. I think there is a meaningful difference between an employer expecting employees not to engage in political acts in the workplace, and an employer punishing employees for holding and expressing political opinions outside the workplace. The former is not an example of cancel culture.

      I also think he is wrong to accuse Cruz of bad faith regarding his positions vis a vis Nike and Goya. Again, I think there is a meaningful difference between a corporation taking a political stance as a matter of corporate policy, and an employee (or even owner) of a company expressing personal political opinions outside the workplace. To boycott a company as the result of the former is to object to the use of corporate power to achieve political ends. To boycott a company as the result of the latter is to embrace the use a corporate power to achieve political ends.

      Finally, Gillespie may be justified on traditional laissez-faire grounds in condemning Republican efforts to legally prevent Twitter et al from de-platforming speech it doesn’t like, but to list such efforts under the banner of “censorship” is plainly absurd. Those efforts are the exact opposite of censorship, even if they do fall afoul of libertarian principles in other ways.

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  3. Matt Taibbi has a great, brief history of the march towards authoritarianism through Dubya and the Republicans to Biden and the Democrats.

    Good stuff!

    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-anniversary-of-911-is-a-great?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo4NTc0NzI2LCJwb3N0X2lkIjo0MTE1NjY5NCwiXyI6ImlqVWlBIiwiaWF0IjoxNjMxNTQwOTE5LCJleHAiOjE2MzE1NDQ1MTksImlzcyI6InB1Yi0xMDQyIiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.Y25cGNJRuGbwDEKRXUpCBzsCjuAjMdBQWI8_qWDB_ro

    A short list of the more obscene authoritarian practices Republicans rammed into being since 9/11/2001, most of which have stuck with us in stubborn fashion ever since, like venereal disease:

    — They created a new term of war, “unlawful combatant,” which allowed them to unilaterally opt out of both the Geneva convention and the due process protections of American criminal law, when it came to the growing population of persons around the world not charged with anything, but in our custody;

    — They asserted the right to kidnap and remove to this indefinite secret detention any person anywhere in the world, with or without formal charge, even an American citizen;

    — With the aid of then-NSA director Michael Hayden, who’s since become a star in #Resistance circles, they unilaterally put into service a surveillance program that mass-violated the rights and privacy of every person on earth, including every American, and bluntly violated our own existing foreign surveillance law;

    — They created a secret master list of undesirables via the establishment of a program called the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), which had as a sub-project the infamous “No-Fly List.” This program affected the lives of as many as a million people without any due process or transparency, not just impacting the ability of the listed to fly but permitting the state to intervene to affect the chances of those listed at getting jobs, admission to schools, access to loans, and so on;

    — They ostensibly made assassination legal again and secretly gave themselves the right to employ their new “targeted killing” policy anywhere in the world. A Democrat, Barack Obama, would be the first to assert the legal right to drone without trial two Americans, al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year-old son;

    — They entered into agreements with telecom companies and other institutions that gave them ongoing, warrantless access to the medical, educational, and communications records of millions of Americans and foreigners alike. In most of these arrangements, whether formalized via a “National Security Letter” or not, the companies warehousing data were barred by law from informing their customer they’d been coerced by the government into sharing private data;

    And so on, and so on. Republicans scarcely protested any of this until Obama got elected, and even then it wasn’t Obama’s acceleration of the worst excesses like drone murder that was the problem. Instead, the Democrats’ public flirtation with deploying a few of these tools in unpredictable directions finally triggered the Republican outrage center. An early preview of what that looked like came in May, 2015, when congressional Democrats in the wake of a series of mass shootings tried to deny purchases of certain kinds of firearms to people on the no-fly list.

    Republicans were aghast. Who ever said anything about using these insane and clearly unconstitutional programs against our constituents?

    I like that this take down of GOP authoritarianism is accompanied by a detailed takedown of present-day Democrat authoritarianism. Also noting how many folks once reviled by the left in the Bush-Cheney years are now (having crossed over) embraced as heroes standing athwart unnecessary freedoms for the peasants.

    Taibbi is a standout. And definitely doing work he couldn’t do at Rolling Stone these days.

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    • I liked the piece in general as a history of how we got here in service of his broader point that Democrats now want to turn the “War on Terror” establishment against perceived domestic opponents, but he elides certain facts along the way:

      1. Stateless terrorist actors did present a novel legal challenge. The closest approximation that I think still fits was how pirates were treated in centuries past. He’s right though that Bush resisted any effort to constrain what the President could do unilaterally with them. Bush should have gotten the Geneva Conventions amended to address the subject rather than ignore them, or at least have Congress pass a law specifying what process was due them.That would have served things better in the long term.

      2. Clinton actually started extraordinary rendition. G.W. Bush expanded it after 9/11.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition

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      • I didn’t qualify my comment but I don’t agree with all of Taibbi’s complaints—-I don’t think he’s 100% wrong, either, but it’s a fairly consistent position and that alone makes it remarkable from a journalist in this day and age.

        But, no, I’m less worried about the targeted killing of terrorists than he is. But I think he’s correct about how the no fly list was implemented.

        I was not aware or had forgotten extraordinary rendition started under Clinton, but it doesn’t surprise me. Everything Bush did I think was bad (from DHS to the Iraq war to the TSA to No Child Left Behind) was bi-partisan and built upon the groundwork of previous administration and current politicians of the time, on both sides of the aisle.

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    • I think he has a point only to the extent that any of these policies were applied to American citizens. For example, the lack of American criminal law due process protections for foreigners waging war against the US was hardly an innovation of the Bush era Republicans, and certainly not one I would call an “obscene authoritarian practice”. Nor do I think it was an obscene authoritarian practice to establish a new term (“unlawful combatant”) to characterize what was in fact a uniquely new form of foreign enemy that themselves operated outside of Geneva Convention protocols.

      BTW, if an American citizen was discovered to be fighting for the Germans in France during WWII (I bet it happened), I wonder whether the US military would have sought to arrest such a person and provide him with due process protections or whether he simply would have been killed in combat as and when he was discovered.

      edit – I haven’t been corked in a long time!

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