Thoughts on Vaccine Mandates

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I wanted to just capture some thoughts around vaccine mandates.

We’re seeing more and more rational people come out against mandates, citing personal freedom and an aversion to unquestioned governmental authority.

Fine. I get it. Sure.

In a vacuum, yes, it’s a bad precedent to just blindly do what the government says. And when you combine this with our universities and our media becoming more ideologically oriented, it starts paining a picture for some on the right.

The picture is this:

  1. The media is completely sold out to the extreme left, and will only allow extreme left viewpoints to survive. Anything else will be ridiculed and/or cancelled.

  2. Universities are now teaching the same, which is churning out young people who bring that stuff into the workplace.

  3. Then we have the pandemic, which really isn’t that bad if you just let it happen and let people get natural immunity. It’s actually just another government control mechanism, designed to scare people into listening to the same left-leaning, Marxist-style government that is selling extreme left ideology in the media and the universities.

That’s a neat little package, and there’s a great word for it.


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The problem with the pandemic part of the argument is that it’s not backed by science. The scientific consensus is overwhelmingly clear that if we didn’t take the pandemic seriously, there would have been a lot more death. We’re at around 700,000 dead right now, but that could have easily been in the millions without distancing, masks, and vaccines.

We know this because we ran natural experiments. States like California did way better because more people distanced, wore masks, and got vaccinated. And states like Florida and Tennessee did worse because they didn’t. We saw it happen right in front of us, and it’s well documented in the statistics.

The New York Times publishes all their data and its sources on Github.

Now, you can say you don’t trust the data, but if you don’t accept evidence then there’s no evidence I can offer you to fix that situation. Data from the New York Times is just pulling from the various state and local jurisdictions. It’s not like they have their own Liberal/Federal source of fake data. Their data is as real as it gets.

That data shows, and we saw in real-time, that the states that followed the guidance did the best. This was true around the world, and it was true in the US. Distancing works. Masks help. And vaccination has been a miracle for avoiding symptoms, hospitalization, and death.

All this to say, to the moderate conservatives, ok—I get it. You don’t like the crazy far-left politics. I get it. It annoys me too, and I am pushing for a more center-focused politics as well.

But don’t conflate that with the virus and the effect it’s had on people. Sure, you can argue about mandates and politics and stuff there. In other words, how we reacted to the virus. But don’t allow yourself to be swayed on the basics.

The basics are:

  1. This thing is really bad.

  2. It’s killed 700,000 people.

  3. It likely would have killed many times that if we did nothing.

This is completely separate from our reaction and whether or not it made perfect sense in every case. It didn’t. We made it up as we went along in many cases. But distancing, masking, and vaccines are the solid parts of the equation.

It’s true that we could have done nothing, and humanity would have survived. But the economy might not have. If say, 2 million or 5 million people died, or maybe 10 million—just in the US—that’s a small number relative to our total population, right?

That’s what some on the right believe. And it’s somewhat true. We’d still be here. And we’d have some kind of immunity afterwards as well. So that is one way of doing it. But there’s no way of knowing whether the economies of the world would survive that. And it’s not a very American way of doing things either—to just walk straight into the slaughter of millions when we have the weapons to fight, i.e., policy combined with vaccines.

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And that brings us to mandates for vaccination.

Vaccination only works properly if enough people do it. So this is a canonical case of where personal freedom collides with the greater good.

It should be 100% possible for a moderate Republican to simultaneously say:

  1. The media is biased far-left.

  2. The universities are biased far-left.

  3. Some of the stuff that came out of the WHO and the CDC was sketchy.

  4. Something is up with Fauci and the way he divulged what he knew and when.

  5. BUT, the basic guidance that the CDC gave was right.

  6. BUT, the basic guidance that Fauci gave was right.

  7. BUT, we absolutely would have had millions of people dead if it weren’t for doing that guidance and getting vaccinated.

You can, and should, hold both of these lines in your mind at the same time. They are not in conflict. Believing 5-7 does not make you a liberal. And believing 1-4 does not make you a conservative. Life is complex and messy.

Smart and thoughtful people are able to assemble their own beliefs from many other sets of beliefs. You don’t have to pick one camp and believe everything they believe.

So I ask you, my friend the moderate Republican, be willing to say that blindly following the government is bad, but that in this case, given the risks, the good of the many does in fact outweigh our individual freedoms—just for this one issue—at this one moment.

That doesn’t mean we forfeit individual freedom, and it doesn’t mean we blindly trust the government. Our country is based on not doing that. Or at least it’s based on not blindly trusting in all cases. So that’s good. That’s healthy. Keep it up. We love you for it.

But we have the data. It’s right there. In this case, and in many others in the past and in the future, the government is actually correct—at least directionally—in pushing people to vaccinate. It’s a public-good thing, and the public-good is also part of being a good American.

America first doesn’t mean each of us first, it means the country first. As a group. As a whole. And that’s collectivist, not individualist.

Please think about it.