GR US

Not All Government Mandates Are Overreach, But This One Is, for Now

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2021, file photo, Ann Enderle R.N. checks on a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit (MICU) at St. Luke s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Kyle Green, File)

The biggest impediment to convincing folks to getting vaccinated against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is to impose a government mandate requiring it, and the biggest impediment to successfully arguing against such mandate is to liken it to totalitarianism. At this time, a government mandate is not warranted, but in some situations, mandates are necessary.

If the statistics about this virus were different, then I’d be all for a mandate. But they’re not. You wouldn’t know it from all the ratings-driven media hysteria, but, to date, only about 3 percent of the world’s population has contracted the virus. Of those, fewer than 2 percent have died, many of those deaths occurring before the onset of effective treatments like monoclonal antibodies.

In the United States, the percentage of cases is higher (arguably because more testing is available): over 12 percent of Americans have tested positive. But the death rate – less than 2 percent – remains consistent with worldwide statistics.

Then again, there could be millions – maybe billions – of people who’ve contracted the virus in and never even knew it, and have already developed antibodies against it that some medical and scientific professionals argue are not only more effective than ones produced via vaccination, but that a combination of the two may damage one’s overall immune system.

Now, let’s suppose (God forbid!) that the statistics were reversed. That anywhere from

88 to 97 percent of people were infected and 98 percent of them died. Anyone who in the face of such calamity would still resist government mandates to vaccinate has lost all semblance of common sense and has a pathologically obsessive phobia of the social contract.

The numbers wouldn’t even have to be so stark: even 40 percent of Americans infected and 40 percent of those dying would still be too high to forego a vaccination mandate.

But the actual numbers aren’t anywhere close to that. Many argue that’s because vaccinations accelerate herd immunity to the point that we can eliminate the virus’ deadliness once and for all. Others contend that vaccinations during pandemics are uncommon, as they force viruses into radically aggressive mutations that nature otherwise would have tempered. It’s no different than the perpetual debate about whether FDR’s New Deal shortened the Great Depression or prolonged it.

I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so I don’t claim to be anywhere close to being an expert on the topic. But as a historian, I know how to read and examine different arguments, and when certain points of view are systemically being squelched, my antennae go up that something is awry.

For instance, try to write anything about vaccines on Facebook and an algorithm is likely capture your words and either remove your post altogether, or place a tag on it, prompting folks to click for ‘accurate’ information. Many Facebook users have taken to altering the spelling (e.g., ‘vaqseen’) to prevent scrutiny.

When citizens of this ‘free country’ have to resort to writing in code to avoid censorship, then we haven’t been responsible stewards of the magnificent nation our Founding Fathers handed us. When the media delivers the news from the same playbook, quick to describe any counterargument to a CDC edict as “baseless and “debunked,” it feels like the game plan at a popular restaurant on a Friday night, where the owner tells the waitstaff: “you’ve really got to push the Chilean sea bass. We’ve got to sell out of it tonight, because it’s going to go bad.”

Approximately one in three Americans – 111 million people – remain unvaccinated. That includes a sizable number of health care professionals – even some vaccine developers – and other scholars. It’s not the guy with the Viking horns who broke into the Capitol. Yet a third of our population has been made to feel like societal pariahs, as different sets of rules are in place for the compliant vs. the noncompliant. Soon enough, the unvaccinated will be riding in the back of the bus – or more likely on a different bus altogether – and drinking from separate water fountains.

Just as vaccine proponents need to show proper respect for the other point of view, so do vaccine skeptics. Private businesses have every right to require vaccine passports, and masks, in their establishments. So, don’t laugh and roll your eyes at them – doing so would be like reacting that way because, say, they believe in God, or because they don’t. Moreover, the “my body, my choice” argument they make – alluding that being pro-choice about abortions but not about vaccines is hypocritical – does not apply, because the former do not potentially affect those within a virus’ reach. Accordingly, have a little consideration for those who are afraid that unvaccinated folks are walking weapons of biological warfare.

The government, however, is a different story. The government is “We, the people.” All of our elected officials are merely employees we’ve put in place to run our nation for us, because we’re all out doing other things, like teaching classes, driving trucks, and building houses. These employees of ours are not empowered to restrict our freedom of choice based on evidence that remains far from conclusive.

The 500 billion-dollar elephant in the room, which hardly anyone in politics or the press talks about, is Big Pharma. The pharmaceutical industry stands to make an unfathomable fortune by vaccinating the entire planet, whereas they can’t make a penny by encouraging people to strengthen their immune systems by eating oranges and spending plenty of time in the sun. When it comes to presidents – you know, our nation’s leaders – we have no qualms about disparaging their integrity; the insinuations about Trump colluding with Russia or Biden colluding with China are endless.Yet we’ve placed doctors and scientists on an exalted pedestal of infallibility, rendering them devoid of self-serving behavior and entirely incorruptible.

There are no simple solutions, only simple minds. Rather, overtired minds. Human beings don’t really like to strain their brain by looking at the other side of an issue. Instead, they take the road less challenged: that mass vaccination or lack thereof is indisputably the correct approach, and so no further discussion is necessarily, or should even be allowed.