Responding to Vaxx Mandates Justification

[Freedom-Advocate Charles Frohman of Freedom Hub Working Group — freedomhubworkinggroup@gmail.com — had my friend and mentor Walter Block, PhD as a guest on the Freedom Hub this week. Dr. Block wrote the famous Defending the Undefendables and is a leading free market economist.  I asked him about his views on vaccination.  He said that vaccination, like abortion, is a political issue upon which people of good conscience may vary.  So, rather than give his personal view, he would give an economic analysis, “assuming vaccine worked.”  In that analysis, he said that refusing vaccines might cause other people to become sick and that would be a trespass justifying vaccine mandates.  I disagreed with his assumption of course, and consider the trespass logically impossible since, if vaccines worked, the vaccinated would have nothing to fear from the unvaccinated; if they work, there is no issue with some people deciding not to be vaccinated, since they are only imperiling themselves.  That exchange led to a note from Charles to Dr. Block and my elucidation of my position on vaccine mandates, reproduced below.]

Charlie,

It’s important to remember that Market Theory is informed, in the Austrian School tradition, by reasoning from basic principles.

That’s where Mises starts, and from that he develops the entire science of Human Action, of which economics is, as he put it, the best developed branch.

On the other hand, libertarian political theory must start from where we are, here and now.  From the actual political conditions in statist societies.

Rothbard is the great libertarian strategist when it comes to Political Action, but even he, in Power and Market, I believe, reminded us that all the economist can do is describe the likely outcome of Human Action, not decide for us what actions should be taken.  That is, he reminded us, up to the ethicist in each of us.

So Prof. Block’s response, justifying mandates “assuming vaccines work” is within the theoretic tradition, as a value-free judgment.  In essence, he said, if vaccines work, mandates are a way to make people vaccinate.  That’s true.  Hold a gun to my head and I’ll let you do what you want to my body. No choice, as Ayn Rand noted.

But such a position can be urged to justify ever more draconian political acts by the state.

And that is what has happened.

A small, but growing percentage, of families reject vaccination on medical, philosophical or religious grounds.  Never more than 5%, by the way.  They relied on statutory exemptions that had existed for over a generation.  Those exemptions are being repealed and more families are being forced to choose between government “free” schooling and their conscience.

While I agree with Gandhi that conscientious objection to the pseudo-science of vaccination is morally obligatory, I also hold that such objection is protected not by statutory exemptions, but by the universally acknowledged property right in my body, expressed as Informed Consent.

I assert that my right to my body trumps any state government exemption repeal.

But, says Dr. Block, “if” vaccines work, being unvaccinated is a type of trespass on the rights of others to keep pathogens out of their bodies and thus, those others are justified in forcing vaccination on conscientious objectors.

While I deny that the common law ever prohibited the sort of passive trespass he suggests, I understand the argument.  It is misplaced.

Many microscopic critters cohabit our bodies.  Modern science recognizes that there is a microbiome that is a necessary part of a healthy body.  Earlier science, including vaccination pseudo-science, did not.

The critters in that biome instruct the body in expressing immunity, when its natural immune abilities have not been suppressed by pseudo-scientific interventions such as vaccination. The presence of microbes in the human microbiome is not a disease. The presence of even dangerous microbes is not a disease.

The disease occurs when a person with a suppressed immune system cannot keep the critters in balance.  Disease is a failure of homeostasis.  It’s that body’s problem, not another person’s body’s trespass.  So I reject the argument.

But I go further, since I know that our courts have held vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe” (which was the excuse for abolishing our right to sue for vaccine injuries), and since I know that insurance actuaries refuse to insure vaccination (there is no premium that will cover the risk), I hold that vaccination itself is a trespass against all the unvaccinated who are subjected to both viral shedding, a well-document effect of being vaccinated (Merck used the word “most” to describe those who will shed) and to the spread of disease by the vaccinated.

Nearly all recent outbreaks of diseases such as measles in “first world” countries have come from the vaccinated, while, historically all of the major pandemic diseases of the past centuries were overcome by nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, well before any wide-spread vaccination.

Furthermore, the unvaccinated are clearly healthier than the vaccinated.

Therefore, there is no utilitarian value to forcing people to be vaccinated.  On the other hand there is a strong political value in supporting the universal right to Informed Consent.

Wars have consequences and one result of WWII was enshrining in International Customary Law (the common law of all humanity) the right of Informed Consent.  The hanging of Nazis as a result of the famous Nuremberg Code and the Doctors Trial makes it clear that no state has power to force any medial intervention on any person.

“The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion…”

Of course, we then come to the Typhoid Mary case, which Dr. Block holds up as an example of when people can be forced to undergo medical interventions.  There was, as the chart above shows, no Typhoid vaccine.

The actual story of Typhoid Mary is more nuanced.  Although warned that she was an asymptotic carrier she continued to hire herself out as a cook.  Mandatory quarantine is not the same as forcing a needle into someone’s body.  As the Supreme Court held in 2013 (Missouri v McNeely):

Even a “…diminished expectation of privacy does not diminish the…  privacy interest in preventing a government agent from piercing the… skin . And though a blood test conducted in a medical setting by trained personnel is less intrusive than other bodily invasions, this Court has never retreated from its recognition that any compelled intrusion into the human body implicates significant, constitutionally protected privacy interests…” (page 15; emphasis added — “privacy interest” is modern SCOTUS-talk for a “right.”).

The political issue of conscientious objection to vaccine mandates is a very important issue for libertarians to champion.  Right now there is a growing international movement against forced vaccination.  That’s why all the coercive power of the state has been unleashed by all the most “progressive” governments:  California, New York, Australia, Germany… vaccine mandates are at the front of the battle against government tyranny, which is why General Bert told us, “Informed Consent is the defining issue of the 21st Century.”  He was, as always, a strategic thinker of the highest order.

That’s why I must ask all libertarians to stand with the conscientious objectors, not as an economic policy (though natural immunity costs a lot less than government-approved-drug-induced chronic illness) but as an issue of personal autonomy.  There is no utility in forcing people to engage in unwanted medical interventions.

Or, as Judge (later Justice) Cardozo said in the leading Informed Consent case:

“Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body; and a surgeon who performs an operation without his patient’s consent commits an assault for which he is liable in damages.” — Schloendorff v. Society of New York Hosp.,105 N.E. 92, 93 (N.Y. 1914)

Abandoning this salutary law for the siren song of drug-mediated immunity is not just bad law it is also bad public policy and a violation of fundamental liberty.

Regards,

Ralph

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