Saturday, January 31, 2015

Libertarianism, Choice, Responsibility, and Vaccination

What's good for the unvaccinated goose is good for the vaccinated gander.

Following up my last post, I want to explore a bit about the libertarian view on vaccination.  My understanding of libertarian complaints is that they want:

1) People to have the choice to be vaccinated or not (for the most part, said choice already exists).
2) Vaccine manufacturers should not be protected from lawsuits; there should be an open and unregulated system in which said companies will be liable in civil court for damages resulting from their product.

Fair enough.  But that is incomplete. Let us expand the concept of choice and responsibility.

Choice. The vaccinated should have the choice to socially ostracize the unvaccinated.  Employers should have the choice not to hire the unvaccinated, businesses can refuse to serve them, doctors and hospitals (including emergency rooms) refuse to treat them, insurance companies refuse to cover them, neighborhoods and schools refuse to accept them.  Freedom! Choice!  No regulation!

Responsibility.  If the vaccine companies need to be held liable if someone has a side effect to a vaccine, so should the unvaccinated be held personally liable, in civil court, for damages resulting from them spreading disease to others, and be held personally liable for the costs incurred in treating those they have infected. 

I wonder if the libertarians would accept those terms of engagement, terms that would be most strictly enforced (e.g., if a medical facility refuses to serve the unvaccinated, they have the right to refuse the patient even if it results in that patient's death, with no criminal or civil penalties allowed, since everyone is merely exercising freedom of association).

I admit to being hostile to libertarianism.  However, I see my points as valid.  Just like the capitalist wants to privatize the profits and socialize the costs (of, say, immigration or outsourcing), so do the libertarians want to privatize their choices but socialize the responsibility and consequences (they can choose to be unvaccinated, but society has to bear the costs of their Typhoid Mary epidemics). That is in my opinion a selfish and childish view and they should be called out on it.