Health Care under Well-Ordered Libertarianism

· Essay
Authors

There have always been some, accused of being conspiracy theorists, who have argued against vaccinations. This has become a hot topic in the months just preceding the writing of this article, and we heartily agree with repudiating those writers who would prohibit such a health procedure on such grounds that, for example, it was specifically a Jesuit-instituted attack on society, or, more generally, a Catholic plot – one of many, including the sinking of the Titanic. (The links are provided for proof of our statements, but not to substantiate the positions held by these people!) Those arguments, by their nature, are such that imperfectly reasonable people may easily be tempted to believe that a plethora of vaccinations must be a gift of the pharmaceutical companies, if not of the gods.

Truth is often found is some intermediate position, but those that manage debates are not about to cut any slack to the opposing side. Our own limited experience with debating in the educational environment is that a topic is presented, and one gives a no-holds-barred argument for or against the position. This type of aggressive verbal banter then slithers itself onto parliamentary and congressional floors, and is a corollary of voting along party lines, rather than harmoniously according to one’s personal beliefs.

We do not pretend to give an argument here which will be fallacy proof. We believe it to be impossible when beyond the scope of traditions Aristotelian logic, and further, it would be too much ignored. Neither do we limit ourselves to a discussion on vaccinations, (which, inaccurately, but to avoid repetition of the word, we sometimes call inoculations), because we believe that some libertarian discussions miss a couple of points which we wish to deal with here.

First, as just mentioned, the debate often becomes extreme, as pointed out above. This is a lack of what we have called Well-Ordered Libertarianism in a separate article.

Secondly, the libertarian position on what the health-care sector wants to give us seems to ignore the right pharmaceutical and other players in the health care industry should have in order to attempt to market their products, as does the producer of non-GMO [genetically modified] foods, or the provider of pasteurized milk. We do acknowledge that government distorts the market in both cases, by enacting certain laws, often suggesting crony capitalism.

Finally, it has occurred to us that the debate, from our approximately 10 years of reading libertarian material, has focused on vaccinations and supposedly dangerous medicines (with, what we would say is an unhealthy defence of illicit substances), but has ignored a real danger to society by failing to sufficiently address the misuse of antibiotics.  We believe that the threat to the health of populations is much greater here, than from either mandatory vaccinations, or their rejection. Let us now look at how the libertarian position succeeds or fails in these cases. To start, but without naming our libertarian web-site of choice, we note that the in-house search for antibiotics gave 10 results, as opposed to 418 for vaccinations.  It would be interesting to know the reason for such an imbalance.

It has been pointed out that the percentage of population which needs to be vaccinated has been increasing over the years. [Go to paragraph “The Plausible but Unproven Theory of Herd Immunity“.] It may be argued that this is done for the sake of the health of the population, or for the health of the shareholders of the companies which manage to lobby successfully that these percentages be increased.

In the same way that misuse of antibiotics is creating a serious health problem in hospitals, and for the victims of certain diseases, pointed out by the well-known BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in a couple of articles, a source we use on account of its easy readability. From the same source we have heard that polio did not become the harmful disease it is, before the advent of excessive hygiene. The mild form sent no one into a wheel chair, or made no one reliant on crutches. [The BBC source has not been found, but the claim is made here.]

Even the health textbooks we had in the sixties (province of Ontario, Canada) suggested that houses should be neither dirty, nor clean to the point of stifling healthy play. And from the Voice of America, a U.S.A. government-run short-wave station, we have heard that spring-cleaning was originally a true event of cleaning out of the accumulated dust and dirt snow-bound environments had kept confined indoors during the winter months.

Again, speaking of the 1960s, 50s perhaps, we would like to point out, that an era which limited computers to the government, and larger industries, something as phenomenal as space-flight was achieved, and since then, society is expected to applaud the waste of money of unmanned satellites sending back pictures of places which can never be visited; or will not be, in this century; Mars being an exception. During that time of increasing prosperity for the Western world, it was considered sufficient to vaccinate against polio, smallpox, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, maybe one more or less (I remember only boosters after 1961-2). Most other diseases for us were practically considered desirable to have, for the immunity they later gave. Strangely, although the size of the population for statistical purposes is rather small, of 100 students known to this writer, he only remembers one case of a pupil contacting one of these illnesses, mumps, to be exact – and it appears the the patient was not unhappy with the repercussions. Several older television shows reflect the former attitude towards the childhood disease, measles.

We therefore argue that at a time of meaningful progress in the world, without the glitter of the computer age, the medical profession did not consider many of the other diseases of importance. The progress, if it is that, which has been made, fails to address common debilitating events such as the common cold, a true influenza vaccine (because that is still impossible), as well as solutions for A.I.D.S., Chagas-Mazza, cancer, and malaria. That tuberculosis has become antibiotic resistant is also worthy of mention.

For most people in the Northern Hemisphere, at least in the West, the cold and the flu were considered normal, A.I.D.S. did not yet exit, and Chagas-Mazza and malaria could only bother visitors to tropical countries. Cancer was the word which most frightened us, as were its cures, such as chemotherapy or radiation. But hey, no problem, they’re pumping something into children which should prevent the diseases we haven’t been thinking of worrying about, even if these same injections, supposedly according to government sources, put the surrounding population at risk.

We will give three arguments against mandatory vaccinations, which does not mean that we approve of the same: (1) the “it’s our body” argument, often used by feminists, is implicitly thrown out of the window by the majority of the population which accepts these vaccinations; (2) a minority position, yet reasonable for those who sustain it, is that the vaccinations are to be rejected as the scars and tattoos of certain races were, for having disfigured the property of God, the agnostics and atheists might argue that these scars are unsightly blemishes on otherwise perfect bodies; and. (3) Nazi and communist thinking merge in the ideas that (a) only perfect individuals will be allowed in society, perfected by these inoculations, and (b) all are equal, therefore all shall be subjected.

The third objection is fully compatible with the libertarian point of view to which we subscribe. Regretfully, there is a downside.

First, does free-market libertarianism reject the right of drug companies to make a profit, which is often maintained by launching new products after the expiration of patents on the expensively-created old ones?  Of course, it does not, but the anti-vaccine arguments seem to place moral arguments ahead of the usual morality-does-not-apply school of thinking. [We also acknowledge the thinking which suggests that drug companies can always profit, without monopolistic practices.]

Second, does this free-market thinking subscribe to the idea that a drug company can place any product on the market, in the same form as quack medicines used to be? We know it to be true that the first position is not acceptable, but when speaking of other products, the argument is always that the consumer will determine suitability, through education or experience. In the case of medicine, this is naïve. We are pleased to say that the web site of choice for libertarianism is highly critical of questionable new products, but does it then not invalidate the caveat emptor principle?

Thirdly, we are particularly worried about that issue of antibiotics. If the articles on the BBC web-site (linked further above) are valid, the world is in for a crisis other than nuclear war. In some countries, antibiotics are easily obtainable by the general public. Should an anti-libertarian law be established (after opening Pandora’s Box), or are people to continue to be allowed to have their freedom in this regard, and thus put the general population at a risk a hundred or a thousand times greater than that of having a few people opt out of vaccinations? Stated in other words, have the libertarians suddenly acquired a death wish through depopulation caused by antibiotic-untreatable viruses? Then, they must give up on their criticism of the fanatics who promote such a Nazi-type doctrine.

Our Imperfect Solution

In our idea of an ethical libertarianism, we must look for the greatest good for the greatest number. Vaccination may fall into that category, but, as has been hinted at a couple of times above, this does not mean that everybody need to have any or all of the vaccinations available. It should be a case of informed consent, with parents taking full and irrevocable responsibility for any negative effects caused by their decision.

Vaccination for HPV, or chlamydia, a word not even in the voluminous 1981 American Heritage Dictionary, should be rejected by all religious people, as an indirect attack, through the insinuation of sin without consequence to young people. Here, children are again clearly the responsibility of their parents. I can imagine that the majority will favour permissiveness, so the drug companies will not be hurt insignificantly.

Arguably useful, but mostly prohibited substances existing in natural form, such as plants or seeds should not be banned at all. The only prohibition, which needs to be more scientifically enforced, is that of allowing impaired individuals to manage vehicles or machinery. Since research shows that every hour of sleep deprivation is equivalent to drinking a unit of alcohol, for example, focusing on one, and not the other, is discriminatory. The drinker should have the same rights as the tired person, and the one on some possibly dangerous medication. A good argument has been made that the groggy driver who slept off a relatively minor amount of alcohol becomes more dangerous after waking up with the correct blood levels of the prohibited intoxicant. We trust the foregoing will not be understood as an excuse for traditional “drunkenness”. [The most-desired link has not yet been found.]

We will not deprive, by the above, the forces in the war on drugs of their job. Rather, we propose to change it, as much as some libertarians may object. Instead of targeting possession of marijuana or coca leaves, target possession of antibiotics and GMO foods. Perhaps the former can be administered in sanitariums only, and instead of drug tests for students, athletes, and prospective employees, there will be antibiotics tests.

If producers of GMO seeds can trespass on properties of farmers which will be harassed if any of their natural plants were accidentally pollinated by their creations, how much more right it would be to go directly at the GMO farmers for contaminating the natural environment, in the same way that someone who dumps a toxic waste is theoretically punished.

Conclusion

We have shown that both unbridled defence of enforced vaccinations and the libertarian objections to the same ignore the even greater threat of the misuse of antibiotics, of which GMO foods can be considered an ancillary product, for their supposed capacity to resist diseases. Both camps risk debilitating the health of the general population in the long run.

Neither industry nor government should fear for their jobs and balance sheets, where applicable, because naturally-occurring genetic mutations of disease will still require investigation and cures. For over fifty years, we have been hearing about the solution for tooth decay, and the elimination of mosquitoes and cockroaches, but none of this has happened, so there are still interesting challenges remaining from the past.

Indeed, the misuse of antibiotics, insecticides, and weed-killers have created super races of species which may end up as insidious as that of any supposed human type, which, through the concepts of disease and blemish-free designer babies are the Mephistophelian gift which is being offered by and to those who can afford such thoughts and cares, while scruffy protesters and addle-brained thinkers who may have been steered into worrying about such minor, morally-neuter issues, as the amount of wealth someone has, or the less-provable threat of global warming, while remaining oblivious to the real, immediate threats to the health of their children and themselves. [Go to the bottom of our poem on the Heck cow for a comment.]

Copyright: Paul Karl Moeller, March 7, 2015.

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