Private business should be free to make vaccine mandates

It's public vaccine mandates that are the real threat to liberty

I’ve noticed recently a curious trend among conservatives and free market types pushing for legally mandated opposition to private vaccine mandates. The vaccine mandate fight has uncovered that people on both sides of the aisle are much more statist and authoritarian than I ever imagined.

So-called liberals fight against discrimination and bigotry in other ways, yet have no issue with denying basic services to unvaccinated people.  So-called conservatives think businesses and private property owners should be allowed to discriminate in who they do business with, yet want the government to force business owners to not discriminate against unvaccinated people. It’s this sort of hypocrisy and dualism that make it hard to take anyone seriously in the current political environment. Stupidity reigns across the spectrum, and the average person that supports either side of the the vaccine mandate debate cannot give you an accurate, data based basis for their beliefs. Many on one extreme think covid is ebola, while many on the other extreme believe it’s the common cold, or made up altogether.

My personal belief is that in a free market system, any business or individual should be allowed to discriminate against any other business or individual on any basis they like. It is true that this creates theoretical tribal villages where people with a certain status have few rights and no ability to participate in the daily life of the village. The reality is, however, that this happens far too frequently with or without laws against discrimination. In my view, it’s quite an absurd proposition that any business should have to provide services to any customer - just as absurd as saying that an employee must accept any job offered (i.e. slavery).

If private businesses want to discriminate against the customers by enforcing vaccine mandates, market dynamics will punish (or reward) those businesses. In certain markets, they will alienate up to half of their customer base. Many retail facing businesses cannot survive long term with five percent fewer customers, much less fifty percent fewer, without significant cost cutting and down sizing.

The government making vaccine mandates, on the other hand, is a much more dangerous proposition. Regardless of existing legal precedent showing that government has in the past made vaccine mandates (on a limited basis), and regardless of visa requirements for vaccination from certain diseases (malaria, yellow fever, etc.), it’s important to remember that we should all question not simply whether something is legal, but whether something is just. Governments are first and foremost an answer to tribal war lords. When government begins to behave like a tribal war lords, imposing mandates that threaten the very survival of certain peaceful groups, the time has certainly come to seriously question their overall legitimacy. Government mandates that force private businesses and individuals to discriminate (or not discriminate) against certain groups are extremely dangerous. The US civil war was fought largely over such issues.

That being said, I can support even government vaccine mandates if it will exempt me from all other government interactions and obligations. Of course, while governments are deciding that you can’t enter grocery stores or banks if you aren’t vaccinated, and public health systems are even denying treatment to unvaccinated people for issues completely unrelated to covid, governments aren’t exempting the unvaccinated from property and income taxes, - and that’s where the real rub is.

In many ways, the pandemic has awoken primitive tribalism in a way that hasn’t happened since the second World War, when law abiding second and third generation Japanese Americans were put in camps for having the wrong ethnic background, and Nazi Germany disposed of its “undesirables” in the most horrific ways possible. We all have a responsibility to ensure that we carefully balance individual freedoms, private property rights, and effective public health policy based on honest and transparent communication.

Many people in the ruling class - who are usually older and have underlying health issues - have seen their friends and relatives die from covid. Many younger people do not know a single person who has even had a serious infection. Most older adults have been vaccinated. My theory is that the older, ruling class are scared and tending towards authoritarian solutions that aren’t even effective, on top of being a gross violation of individual liberty. What happened to my body my choice?

In Singapore, nearly 100% of adults and nearly 90% of the population has been vaccinated. Yet Singapore is currently facing the most outbreaks and deaths by far since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s becoming increasingly impossible in Singapore to blame the unvaccinated for less than ideal public health outcomes related to covid. How many people worldwide on the vaccine mandate side of the fence are aware of this?

In other rich, highly developed nations, certain vaccines are actually being labeled unsafe and being taken off the market. When one highly developed country is mandating something you put in your body while another is banning it, it should be very clear to you that no government has a blanket best answer.

While I think that overall, vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalizations for most demographics, like most scientific things - there are many exceptions and nuances. Private businesses who fail to understand these exceptions and nuances will be punished by the market. Governments also generally fail to understand exceptions and nuances, and these mandates on discrimination in private businesses (pro-vax or anti-vax) are a gross and dangerous overreach of government power. You have much more freedom to choose what businesses you patronize than to choose which governmental jurisdiction you fall under.

What we really need is a less politicized, more science based approach to meeting pandemic challenges that relies on informed consent rather than Hilteresque decrees. If governments had all the answers we wouldn’t have had a pandemic in the first place. In Panama, spraying airplane wings with disinfectant was once a state sponsored means of pandemic control (I’m not exaggerating). Allowing the people in the public health apparatus to make health decisions for anyone other than themselves or those who willingly place themselves in their care is wildly irresponsible.

In summary, I support individuals and businesses who choose to discriminate against others based on their vaccination status, though I would not. I strongly oppose all forms of government mandate. Generally, only the stupidest people end up working in government or going into politics. Do you really want them having the power to decide what you put in your body, who you do business with, and who you can spend your free time with?