Update on California’s Vaccination Crisis

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77 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    What will happen is mental health issues like anxiety will become a reason not to be vaccinated. Of course that won’t apply to the youngest chilllins( infants) but it will for slightly older children ( 2 and up) with cooperative docs.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to greginak says:

      I… expect this will happen, but not to a great extent.

      “My child is a special snowflake” and “my child has a mental health problem” are two ideas which aren’t usually going to go together like chocolate and peanut butter.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Patrick says:

        I have as close family friends at least one set of highly educated middle class parents that have pushed their kids to get assessed to qualify for IEPs specifically to get into the county’s public school program for pre-K (which is the only way they would be eligible). Now to be sure, the kids do have some communication and socialization issues, but are otherwise super bright in any way a layman could tell. And as I understand it, there’s a real push from the special ed community to de-stigmatize the ‘special ed’ label, as the processes address all manner of developmental issues, (e.g. speech therapy) not just the ones traditionally associated with significant cognitive impairment.

        (and isn’t Ms. McCarthy herself the very nexus of “my child is a special snowflake” and “my child has a mental health problem?” Isn’t that, in fact, how we got here?)Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Patrick says:

        How familiar are you with medical marijuana clinics? Granted people come up with all sorts of illnesses to get themselves pot, which is different from their kids, but not much. And what K. says has some truth to it also.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Patrick says:

        Having worked with young children my entire career, some parents are quite eager to get their kids a diagnosis if they think it advantageous and some are quite resistant.

        This would be somewhat impacted by how the information was recorded. Does the diagnosis go onto their student transcript? Or remain in their medical file?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick says:

        ADD was the fashionable health problem back in my day.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Patrick says:

        Yes, this is exactly my concern as to what will happen.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    To be clear re the discussion in other thread, this is a proposal to eliminate non-medical exemptions to the requirement that kids be vaccinated in order to enter school. It does go further than just ending the personal belief/philosophical exemption; it proposes to eliminate the religious exemption as well. So, to go the way of Mississippi and West Virginia. Another proposal in the legislature proposes to eliminate the personal belief exemption but retain the religious exemption.

    Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein have weighed in in favor of the former proposal.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/two-california-lawmakers-seek-to-end-personal-belief-vaccination-exemption-1423084770Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Another proposal in the legislature proposes to eliminate the personal belief exemption but retain the religious exemption.

      Ugh. I’ve been wondering for some time now if this is going to be the next great culture clash.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

        In my view, you can’t have one without the other. But that’s actually the norm. Two states don’t allow either, twenty allow both, and the rest allow religious but not personal.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        This review of he world’s major religions is interesting.

        Seems there aren’t so many major religions that forbid vaccine as conventional wisdom suggests.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic says:

        I *think* that gets in to interpretation of religion. In other words, I’m not sure The Church of Our Holy Father has to formally prohibit vaccination for some attendees to use it as a way to get out of vaccination. They just have to cite religion as their rationale, demonstrate that they go to TCoOHF, and that their own faith makes vaccination a no-go.

        That it can only be done (in these 28 states) by tying it to religion is why I can’t quite get on board with that as a compromise. I don’t view someone who goes to church as being inherently more worthy of the ability to opt out than someone of a more spiritual-but-not-religious bent.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @zic
        As much as in general my instinct is like yours to want philosophical exemptions to go along with religious ones (though I don’t want very many exemptions to general laws), here I feel like I have to prefer retaining the religious (but keeping it strict) while ditching the personal exemption.

        In the post-anti-vaxxer world, I think having a personal exemption puts at risk the whole immunization regime. But I also think that completely eliminating an exemption for sincere religious beliefs that truly prohibit vaccination (as a matter essentially of upbringing and membership, not so much individual religious conscience, thoughI don’t think you can really get to that – “sincerely held” is about as well as you can do) would put the overall regime at risk as well by undermining support for lack of reasonable flexibility. It;s all about keeping in mind the target number necessary for herd immunity, and ensuring you;re always comfortably there if possible.

        But in general on less crucial matters (peyote, etc.), I’m very much with you on that ugh. OTOH, as Will has said elsewhere a personal philosophy exemption can in effect mean no mandate/law etc. Most often, where I wish that a philosophical exemption went with a religious exemption, it’s a second or third preference behind either 1. no religious or philosophical exemption at all, or 2. no such aw at all. But that’s often what I’m left with, because the only things we’re sure to have are 1. the law, and 2. a religious exemption of some kind, but not a philosophical one.

        @will-truman

        Do you mean it doesn’t logically work to have one without the other? Or that you prefer to have both if either? Care to explain why on ether case?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        …To be clear, just as @will-truman suggests, it’s important to me as well that the religion itself clearly does prohibit vaccination. That’s why clear membership in such a religion is necessary for me to feel good about these exemptions, not just free-staning religious objections to vaccination, or objections to them that depart from what the faith community in question actually teaches.

        But of course putting all pf that clearly into the terms of the exemption is probably pretty impractical. You just do the best you can within what is practicable.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew

        but I also think that completely eliminating an exemption for sincere religious beliefs that truly prohibit vaccination (as a matter essentially of upbringing and membership, not so much individual religious conscience, thoughI don’t think you can really get to that – “sincerely held” is about as well as you can do) would put the overall regime at risk as well by undermining support for lack of reasonable flexibility. It;s all about keeping in mind the target number necessary for herd immunity, and ensuring you;re always comfortably there if possible.

        If you read the link I posted, you’ll discover that there aren’t so many religions that forbid vaccine as one might presume; it’s often not a matter of doctrine, it’s a matter of personal interpretation. The Amish, for instance, often touted as prime example — don’t forbid, and many do get vaccinated. Christian Scientists, too; and then they pray for the person who’s been vaccinated to have good results from the vaccination. (That doesn’t mean that some believers within don’t vaccinate or believe it wrong.)

        And belief is belief is belief. What today is some long-standing accepted doctrine of tradition (and there aren’t a lot that outright forbid vaccines) was, once upon a time, a new movement of heretics and alternate believers. So this sorta makes no sense to me at all.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to zic says:

        Take me to church.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        In general I agree with that whole line of critique, @zic. However, since I stipulated that I would want to work to ensure the religions in question actually do forbid vaccinations, it’s beside the point how many actually do. What’s your point there? However many there are, that’s how many there are.

        I’m not saying that’s a lot of religions, nor that people won’t take advantage of any religious exemption where there aren;t real prohibitions. It’s just that I fear that if people (even not particularly religious people who get their kids vaccinated) feel that an exemption wouldn’t be available for them even if they really, truly were, let’s just call it under the sincere sway of a religious sect that had its claws into them to their very emotional core, such that they faced the most truly painful choice between obeying a prohibition on vaccination and doing what we ask of them (although, let’s be honest, most of them are home-schooling anyway, or at least probably wouldn’t have much objection to it… but set that aside a moment), that that would go too far even for people who aren’t burdened by religious ties like that. I’m worried about a complete lack of a religious exemption undermining support for the vaccination regime in general, just among the conventionally religious or even the secular (i.e. people who have no problem with vaccinating and do it as a matter of course).

        It’s just one of those sops that is/may be necessary to make things work in a strongly religious society, or at least one that still puts a lot of emphasis on religious liberty. And, perhaps paradoxically, the more you need a regulatory regime to really work the way you intend it to (like immunization), the more important it might be to have the right degree of religious exemption in place out of deference to those political realities.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to zic says:

        zic,
        hm. I knew that the Amish were anti-insurance, didn’t even think that they might be anti-vax.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew if you google religion and vaccination, you’ll find plenty of evidence of people shopping for a religion that allows them to get our of vaccinating their children.

        But there aren’t a lot of organized religions that actually prohibit vaccination. In fact, religions that I though prohibited it, do not. But some members interpret it that way (recently read of a Catholic who did, which is really odd.) So my point is that religious exemption/personal philosophy are pretty much one and the same, and I guess my standard would be that if you want a religious exemption, your religious organization has to apply for that exemption and it has to be doctrine of long standing, not suddenly adopted.

        Because the two are the same; and I don’t think you can say ‘religious but not personal,’ and pass any sort of straight-face muster here. It works in the sortings we do in our heads; but in the real world, most of the religions we think forbid vaccines don’t, in fact, forbid vaccines.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew What is the line in showing deference to religions? Should we allow those with a sincere belief in stoning adulterers* to do that if both people involved are members of said religion? No vaccines, no public schools doesn’t encroach on religion nearly as much as that sort of prohibition.

        * Let’s presume proven beyond reasonable doubtReport

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        religious exemption/personal philosophy are pretty much one and the same, and I guess my standard would be that if you want a religious exemption, your religious organization has to apply for that exemption and it has to be doctrine of long standing, not suddenly adopted.

        But if you just want to say, “I’m not into it because philosophy” you don’t? No, they’re not the same.

        I don’t think you’re grasping what we’re talking about with a personal philosophy exemption. If your personal philosophy exemption has t be gotten via an established religion to which you belong applying as an organization with a longstanding prohibition on vaccination, that’s exactly a religious exemption and exactly not a personal philosophy exemption. A personal philosophy exemption is where you just decide using your own judgement that vaccines re against your own principles, whatever they are. Hence *personal*; *philosophy*.

        A religious exemption to a law and a personal philosophy exemption to a law are very distinct things. There are lots of context where if one is to be available, I want the other to be. (Generally, laws that are somewhat less important to the most critical government functions and that don’t depend on achievement of particular rates of compliance to be effective.) But they’re not the same thing. Your description of a scenario where religious organizations appeal to the government citing specific longstanding tenets of the creed is exactly the kind of thing that separates a religious exemption to a personal philosophy exemption.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @mo

        I don’t know what the line is exactly, and I don’t know how clear I need to be that I’m the last thing from some big partisan of religious exemptions to laws.

        Generally, I want them to be few and narrow and to exempt people only when there is a heavy burden on their religious exercise. and certain a line needs to be drawn somewhere around the point where overt harm is being done to members of the religion, most especially and obviously children being raised in a religious community. In fact, all sorts of lines need to be drawn and vaues weighed against each other to care out the correct exemptions.

        But I also know, or at least think, that in a case like vaccination, where the whole aim to maintain X level of immunization in the population, either too much or too little flexibility in applying requirements can harm overall support for the government’s project, as people will turn against it if they feel there aren’t reasonable allowances made. To me, this means having exemptions for people who cannot medically tolerate vaccinations and for people with deep, sncere religious objections. I think this has broadly resulted in the proper balance until recently, when it’s possible that an anti-vaccination movement has started to try to take advantage to the religious exemptions by making claims about there religions that aren’t true.

        As @zic says, the number of religions with that prohibition is small, and if there is a problem with people falsifying their religious beliefs or the requirements of their religions, then to me the answer is to start to be stricter in granting those exemptions only to the sincere and those people whose religions really do prohibit vaccinations. It’s not to eliminate the religious exemption altogether. Nor is it to decide that the only way to deal with the situation is to widen the religious exemption into a gaping “personal philosophy” exemption.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew the point I’m struggling with here is: when does a philosophical point transform into a religious point? Can the state, for instance, forbid founding of a religious doctrine against vaccination for a religion that currently does hold such a doctrine?

        What’s already happening is that people who have a philosophical difference file for religious exemptions; they literally shop for god to suit their lifestyle choices when it comes to filling out the paperwork for schools. Lots of advice to simply say, “religious,” no further explanation needed. But this is not like the Greens closely held belief. (That decision explicitly excluded vaccines, didn’t it?)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        ugh, that should be ‘a religion that does not hold such a doctrine,”

        tired.

        sleep.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        Can the state, for instance, forbid founding of a religious doctrine against vaccination for a religion that currently does hold such a doctrine?

        Again, keeping in mind that I’m speaking only on this question – exemptions to vaccinations requirements, because my views on religious/philosophical exemption will be considerably different depending on context – I don’t see any reason why the exemption couldn’t stipulate that the prohibition must be able to be documented back X years. Perhaps that would be discriminatory so it could;t pass muster, but at least I would be fine with it. OTOH, it’s only really a problem for me in this context if the numbers of people doing it made it a problem. I don;t have a severe problem with the individual family who takes advantage of the religious exemption here by making up a requirement of their faith, claiming some idiosyncratic interpretation of this or that scrap of holy text. I don’t love it, but it’s not for me reason to be against the religious exemption if the religious exemption is needed to maintain support for th overall law. But if the numbers doing this pose a problem, then you have to crack down on it. So you do; you set a rough quota for how many religious exemptions there will be based on how many people got them prior to the anti-vax movement; you budget the investigatory resources to find out who gets those, and you apply the law. It doesn’t seem like a fatal problem to me.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    This dovetails onto something else I hard on NPR the other day. Some guy who’s kid had cancer and received chemo, and who now has a suppressed immune system, and can’t get immunized again yet, wants the schools to change their policy to keep out kids who’s parents have gotten personal vax exemptions.

    My first thought on this was “why are you demanding other parents do something so your kid is “safe” at school. Why aren’t you keeping him home until he’s recovered enough to get vaccinated again?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Damon says:

      It’s true, he really should have considered how he’d be inconveniencing the parents of unvaccinated children before he decided to have his kid become an immunocompromised cancer survivor. I mean I don’t ask people to pay for my hobbies!Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Damon says:

      I shouldn’t have to homeschool my children, for life, because other people insist on trying to make them ill. NOT everyone can get vaccinations, and it’s for medical reasons, dammit. (note: don’t have kids yet. High likelihood of issues, though).

      For weeping Jesus’s sake, man, I’m not asking for peanutbutter to be completely kept out of any crevice in the damn school. Just that kids get VACCINATIONS. You know, so other kids don’t DIE.Report

    • Avatar Citizen in reply to Damon says:

      Vaxxers can be the default carriers.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Damon says:

      Damon, this reaches a level of libertarian parody that is surprising even in you.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

      @yall

      This has nothing to do with libertarian principles. You all do realize that the kid has a suppressed immune system. Last time I heard there was no vax for the common cold and flu. Since schools are breeding grounds for that as well as other diseases, sending a kid (emphasized again) WITH NO IMMUNE SYSTEM to school seems like a stupid thing to do. When the kid is well enough to get vaccinated and does…well, that solves the problem doesn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Damon says:

        Damon,
        you’ve never HEARD of a flu shot? No, really? Are you even worse about consuming media than I am (and me with no TV?).

        Influenza kills, that’s why we have a vaccine for it. Influenza also mutates Rapidly, which is why we have a new vaccine every year.

        Colds are generally rhinoviruses… but there are a lot of them. Not sure how work is going on that.

        1.6% of Americans have an egg allergy (often gained from MMR or other vaccines in ones childhood). They can’t get vaccinated. This will NOT get better for them. A good proportion of them have a compromised immune system, due to allergenic load.

        It is important to get people vaccinated, so we don’t kill the kids who can’t get vaccinated.

        PLEASE get your flu shot.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Damon says:

        It’s ok this time Damon, the kids school was government regulated to the point that there are no harmful viruses in the area. It’s a “virus free zone”, accept of course for those outliers who didn’t get their virus injections.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon says:

        @kimmi

        Yeah, ’cause the flu shot is always made a year head of time for the expected bugs. It often turns out that that’s no the bug that ends up going around. Yah I knew about it but forgot about it. And no..I’m not getting one. You can’t make me! Nah nah nah nah!Report

  4. Avatar Mo says:

    This issue is not at all like the small powerful lobby issues. Those tend to be concentrated benefit, diffuse costs, so that there’s a small loud beneficiary minority that are passionate and another group that is mildly negatively affected and doesn’t care. This is an issue where there is a loud minority that cares about vaccine exemptions and a majority that wants to get rid of the exemptions that is also very loud and passionate. For every wealthy person opposed to mandatory vaccinations, there are two or three just as passionate on the other side.

    The other thing is the belief that vaccinations should be optional is negatively correlated with age. So you have old people for and young people against. There is pretty much nothing in the structural makeup of the electorate to suggest that the anti-vaxxers can stop this.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mo says:

      A good point. The older you are the more likely you are to remember polio and I doubt very many people who remember polio carry much of brief for anti-vaxxers.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

        Older people are also more likely to be of the era where doctors and scientists were universally trusted by most people what we know call the developed world. From around the late 19th century to the Hippie Era in the 1960s, there was near universal support for science and technology as a way to make life better. Liberals, conservatives, communists, and fascists were all in love with science. The only people who distrusted science for the most were religious fundamentalists. The doctor, scientist, and related professions were nearly universally beloved and accepted authority figures.

        The Hippie Era change this to a large extent. A lot of the liberal anti-vaxx philosophy dates from the Hippie Era ideas about nature and cleansiness. It mixed with the latent anti-vaxx fears on the religious right to create the modern anti-vaxx movement.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North says:

        the Hippie Era ideas about nature and cleansiness

        What do you suppose those ideas are? Because I remember clearly complaints about hippies lack of cleanliness; ‘dirty hippies’ was the phrase. So I’m sorta rolling on the floor here.

        New hippies are different; maybe? Upper middle-class hippies as opposed to phishphreaks and deadheads? I dunno, but I cannot help but find this wonderfully amusing! Thanks, @leeesqReport

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

        zic,
        Puritannical Americans meant something different when they said that hippies “smelled”.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to North says:

        Kimmi – You don’t have to be puritanical to recognize that pot smoke reeks. You just need to have a nose.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

        Kat,
        uuggh. yes. I know. (Very glad that i stayed in a nice Victorian hostel with a “no pot smoking please” policy).

        But that’s not why they called hippies “dirty”.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to North says:

        @leeesq If you look at how it stair steps by generation, it appears to be much more about distance from childhood diseases. Greatest Gen highest mandatory, Boomers second most, Xers next and Millenials next most. There’s nothing that makes me believe that Xers are more suspicious of medical authority than Boomers.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    Napolitano had, I think, some excellent points in a column on this topic.

    “….if we do own our bodies and if we are the custodians of our children’s bodies until they reach maturity, then we have the right to make health care choices free from government interference, even if our choices are grounded in philosophy or religion or emotion or alternative science.

    But if Paul is wrong, if the government owns our bodies, then the presumption of individual liberty guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution has been surreptitiously discarded, and there will be no limit to what the government can compel us to do or to what it can extract from us — in the name of science or any other of its modern-day gods.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/4/andrew-napolitano-to-vaccinate-or-not-to-vaccinate/

    Hmm..gov’t owning our bodies. Kinda sounds like slavery doesn’t it?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Damon says:

      That might be the silliest “it’s just like slavery” arguments I have ever heard. And I have heard a few in my day.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon says:

      Sounds more like overly black and white thinking that avoids a bunch of issues like public goods, externalities and how far can parents go with their children. They can kill them, they can’t abuse them, so there are some limites on what parents can do even while they also have great say. But it makes for a great demagogic speech to frame it as complete opposites and slavery.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon says:

      Napolitano has an unrealistic and frankly kooky opinion about it, so maybe it is slavery.Report

    • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Damon says:

      See, it goes wrong right in the first quoted sentence:

      “….if we do own our bodies and if we are the custodians of our children’s bodies until they reach maturity, then we have the right to make health care choices free from government interference…”

      There are many things that you own, from your body to your car to your gun to your breakfast cereal and so on, that you cannot and should not expect to be “free from government interference.”

      Not to mention:

      “Hmm..gov’t owning our bodies. Kinda sounds like slavery doesn’t it?”

      Not really. How many slaves did the government own?

      I know my comment sounds a bit nit-picky (and I’m not wild about that), but the points that anti-vaxxers bring up are so often just silly “nits” and need to be picked at. We will always have arguments about where to draw the line between personal freedoms and societal obligations, but that line does lie somewhere between them, and rational adults get that the “all or nothing” rhetoric is damaging.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to rexknobus says:

        If you don’t own your own body in full, you own it in part, the amount of the “part” isn’t relevant. If you don’t own it in full, someone else does. Ownership of someone else is slavery.

        The gov’t owns property. Try walking into the Pentagon. You’ll be prosecuted for trespass.

        At least my logic is consistent: I own my body. I can sell my organs if I choose and I can have an abortion (if I was female). Yall gotta jump through hoops to justify your policy positions.

        And actually @tod-kelly it’s a very consistent libertarian outlook.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rexknobus says:

        Ah, but when it comes to children? You didn’t build that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to rexknobus says:

        You know who else had a logically consistent position?

        Seriously, this is the real world. There are conflicting goods and sometimes things are messy.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to rexknobus says:

        @mike-schilling
        The reason it’s messy is you want the gov’t to do stuff they have no business doing. But then when it’s given an inch and takes a mile you get unintended consequences which you don’t like. So you add more gov’t on top of it to fix the last problem. Ad infinitum.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to rexknobus says:

        I say that the real world is messy because it is; life is complicated.

        Is there a right to bear arms? Apparently so. Does that mean your crazy next-door-neighbor should be able to buy a plutonium bomb? How about a case of hand grenades? A dozen automatic weapons? A revolver? A BB gun?

        Tell me what simple principle you’d use to decide where the line is.Report

      • Avatar rexknobus in reply to rexknobus says:

        @damon:

        Perhaps you need to re-examine your definition of the word “own.” There is nothing, nothing, that you “own in full” in the way that you are thinking. All of your ownership of anything is subject to provisos.

        And maybe having to “jump through hoops” to justify policy positions is exactly what should be done.

        Nitpicking again: I have walked into the Pentagon. Didn’t get prosecuted at all. 😉Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rexknobus says:

        I’m down with the whole “you don’t have the right to X” thing. I am.

        I’m just unclear on the whole “therefore I have the right to use force to prevent you from doing X” thing. Or most of the other “therefore I have the right to do all kinds of crazy things” that follow from “you don’t have the right to X”.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to rexknobus says:

        @mike-schilling

        Yes to all those questions. See that’s not messy at all.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to rexknobus says:

        @jaybird

        I’m not sure where you the ““therefore I have the right to use force to prevent you from doing X”” comments. Where have I said that?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to rexknobus says:

        @damon – I don’t think @jaybird ‘s comment was directed at you, at all. I take it he’s approaching a similar answer to yours, but from a slightly different foundation.

        That is, he’s basically saying, OK, even if we accept that individual A doesn’t have the unlimited right to X, why does it follow then that individuals B have the right to compel A to do (not-X) by force?

        Jaybird, apologies if I misrepresent your argument.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rexknobus says:

        Yeah, exactly. I was more talking to Rex.Report

      • Avatar Malarche in reply to rexknobus says:

        How many slaves did the government own?

        More than a few.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to rexknobus says:

        True, if you let ideology trump common sense, self-preservation, and concern for your family and community, things simplify terrifically.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to rexknobus says:

        @mike-schilling

        Tell me what simple principle you’d use to decide where the line is.

        I’d use my view of the proper role of the police power of the states: public health and safety. I’d throw in public welfare (i.e. time, place and manner restrictions on speech).

        I think that addresses why someone that claims a Second Amendment right to own and keep high explosives in the home would lose that argument and badly.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to rexknobus says:

        @dave
        That is, you’d apply several principles, each trying to ensure a different competing good, and find the best balance between them, understanding that different people might draw the line at different places. Which is my point.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to rexknobus says:

        @mike-schilling

        That is, you’d apply several principles, each trying to ensure a different competing good, and find the best balance between them, understanding that different people might draw the line at different places. Which is my point.

        Do we disagree because I tend to view that as a simple principle? I think we’re in agreement that this is the most appropriate way to address if/how government intervention addresses a particular issue. I’m sure our lines may be in different places though.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to rexknobus says:

        Perhaps our lines for “simple” are drawn at different places, too 🙂Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Damon says:

      @damon : ….if we do own our bodies…

      There’s much that I respect in libertarian philosophy but this is nothing short of a huge logic bomb. The concept of “ownership” carries with it certain consequences, one of which is the right to sell or otherwise dispose of your property as you see fit. If it’s true that you own yourself then it logically follows that you can legitimately sell yourself into slavery. So right there you have a contradiction since your insistence on holding to the doctrine of self-ownership is founded on the position that the negation of of that doctrine amounts to slavery.

      But let’s say that you’re okay with that outcome given that it’s a contract, freely negotiated and agreed upon. The instant the contract takes force you no longer are legally an agent who can be considered a competent party to a contract. Can a dog that runs away be considered in breach of the purchase contract that gave you ownership in the first place? It’s unclear to me how such a contract can ever be enforced and so it would appear that you effectively lack a large component of what it means to own something.

      But let’s say you get past that problem. I grew up on a farm and I’ve actually owned cattle. One consequence of owning a cow is that if the cow has a calf you automatically own the calf as well. So now, by default, you have created a system of multi-generational, inherited, chattel slavery.

      Excuse me, but isn’t slavery something you’re trying to avoid??

      Now, sure, you can create rules to avoid these issues but the fact that you would need to create such rules is precisely the point. The nasty outcomes you would need to legislate against are simply the natural consequences of your initial assumption of self-ownership. The problem is that self-ownership grants too much from the outset by asserting that human beings are members of the class of entities that can be owned in the first place. All you’re really doing is trying to establish a special set of rules to apply to a particular subset of the general class. And that, my friend, is the fundamental difficulty of a property-based ethos.

      If you really find slavery existentially abhorrent — and I trust that you do — then it is much better to assert ab initio that human beings (and more generally, sentient beings) are categorically distinct such that they are members of a class which is capable of owning those things which are members of the class of entities which may be owned. To speak of owning a human being, even yourself, is a category error as severe as asserting that your car “owns” itself or the fuzzy dice you hang off the mirror.

      What follows from that vis-a-vis the immunization debate is still in question but at least you’re not starting from the absurdity of “owning” your children. You’re a guardian entrusted with seeing to their well-being and, as such, at times answerable to the larger community that grants you that trust.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar

        There’s a lot of this type of discussion on various Libertarian websites. Prof Block has some good essays on point. For my own perspective I draw a large line between non state and state involvement. You want to voluntarily enslave yourself and all your kids via contract to another person? Meh, this excites me less than state action which comes with the implicit use of violence against me for failure to comply.

        And I think you misunderstand me regards to children. Your statement “You’re a guardian entrusted with seeing to their well-being and, as such, at times answerable to the larger community that grants you that trust.” No. The larger community does not “grant” that trust. It has no authority to grant such a thing.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Road Scholar says:

        The concept of self ownership creates problems for trying to sort out our affairs and create solutions to problems.
        It sets each person up as the absolute and unquestioned dictator of that sphere of personal space, without the prospect of dialogue and agreement.
        You see it now in the libertarian dilemma of attempting to determine if there exists a “right” not to be infected, versus a “right” not to be vaccinated.
        Since these are intrinsically personal decisions that affect the body, and each person is a sovereign state, there isn’t any way to resolve this without enslaving someone.Further, it prevents compromise- literally, the choice is slavery or freedom.

        Using the “bundle of sticks” theory of ownership, where ownership rights can be subdivided and split into infinite slices, allows us to mediate and compromise. One can object to mandatory vaccination, but agree to it in return for a larger set of compromises and agreements in which our own goals are achieved.

        Under this theory, I own most of myself, but control of that part of myself that affects the community can be negotiated and exchanged.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Road Scholar says:

        For my own perspective I draw a large line between non state and state involvement.

        And how do you have the former without the latter? Isn’t the minarchist line that one of the very few legitimate functions of government the defense of individual rights, including property rights? How can you even effectively have property rights absent consent of the community, if only to just agree to leave you alone? So the institution of slavery, even some hypothetical voluntary version (setting aside that such is basically an oxymoron), cannot exist absent the threat of state violence. But the same can be said for all property arrangements.

        Libertarianism, resting on the foundation of property relations, is fundamentally and inextricably rooted in state violence. Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar
        Now, sure, you can create rules to avoid these issues but the fact that you would need to create such rules is precisely the point. The nasty outcomes you would need to legislate against are simply the natural consequences of your initial assumption of self-ownership. The problem is that self-ownership grants too much from the outset by asserting that human beings are members of the class of entities that can be owned in the first place.

        Exactly. Ownership is not a real thing. It is a legal umbrella that carries an entire group of rules with it.(1) It is useful if you want to apply *all* those rules, and it is slightly less useful but mostly okay if you want to apply most rules (For example, ‘owning’ things that don’t really exist, like copyrights.). And it slowly devolved into nonsense the more exceptions from ‘normal ownership’ you have to apply.

        WRT people, you have to basically exempt *everything*. Especially when it comes to kids. You cannot, for example, use your own children as fuel for a fireplace, even if they’re already dead! You cannot even impact them harshly with a hammer, or even your hand. You cannot sell them. You must feed them. You must educate them. You cannot do construction (Aka, surgery) on them without a good reason.

        Meanwhile, you *can* stop them from getting on a bus and riding to another state, which is fundamentally, how ‘guardianship’ works…which you *cannot* do with other things you own. (If a pet of yours gets on a bus rides off, you’re basically screwed and have to go recover them yourself. Whereas with kids, the state will capture them and dedicate resources bringing them back.)

        Also, when your kid reach 18, the government just takes your property, and gives it to…your property? What? Shouldn’t you at least be paid for that?

        I’m actually a little baffled as to what rules of ‘ownership’ people think do apply to children, or even people at all. It really only works if people decide ‘ownership’ is some sort of meta-rule that includes a bunch of behaviors of how we treat physical non-living objects(2) *and* how we treat other humans, taking advantage of the fact that non-living objects and humans behave differently so the rules barely overlap.

        This, to mean, seems akin to pulling out a chess/checkers set and claiming it’s one game called chess. By which is meant chess pieces behave one way, and checkers pieces behave another way, and you decide at the start which set of pieces everyone uses. But we have people insisting it’s really really one game! Because…uh…you can always capture pieces, on an 8×8 board! So it must be the same game! (Why it’s chess instead of checkers, I don’t know.)

        So, basically, congratulations, people, you’ve discovered the few ways in which two separate concepts under the law, ‘ownership’ and ‘personhood’, overlap. However, two things overlapping does not make them identical, nor does it mean we should use identical terms for them, especially since we already have perfectly good terms for both of them.

        Of course, half the people insisting this seem to *also* think ownership is some sort of magical inviolate principle, and applying it to humans also makes them somehow inviolate also…when neither of those are true.

        1) Much like, for a random example, marriage.

        2) And, yes, pets are also living objects we can own, and you’ll notice a few exceptions to ownership rules to them…but, in the end, they basically do fit under the rules, with a sort of general exception for ‘no causing unnecessary pain’.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar
        Libertarianism, resting on the foundation of property relations, is fundamentally and inextricably rooted in state violence.

        I was actually about to complain about that comment, because it’s a bit unfair: *All* governments are fundamentally and inextricably rooted in state violence. That is, literally, the sole defining characteristic of a government…a monopoly on violence over an area.

        However, halfway though my post, I realized what you meant, or at least I realized a way in which you could be right, although I’m not sure if it’s what you were specifically thinking of.

        Libertarianism, to put it simplistically, believes the only real crimes are theft and assault. Even stuff that should have been dealt with *before* it reached that point.

        For example, let’s pretend we’re in a hypothetical libertarian utopia. One that has a way to stop water pollution: A owns lakefront property and has set up a town water supply using that. If B, who also owns lakefront property, sets up a factory that dumps into and pollutes the lake, he has, in theory, vandalized B’s property. This subjects him to either criminal sanctions and/or lawsuits. This seems to be entirely reasonable, under libertarian thought, and really the only way a libertarian society can solve the problem of people abusing the commons. (If this is not libertarian enough, someone correct me, but it’s how I’ve seen libertarians propose anti-pollution laws like this before.)

        There’s two problems there…1) the obvious problem that arresting B for vandalism isn’t actually going to unpollute the lake, but the bigger problem is, 2) at this point, the police have to *forcibly* react and shut off the factory, and perhaps seize the property.

        This is opposed to how, in a non-libertarian society, B wouldn’t be allowed to build a factory that dumps into the lake. Which means, uh, it won’t get built, because contractors won’t work without permits, and since the purpose is to do something clearly illegal, if work actually does start on it, it will be shut down in advance.

        Or, to put it another way, in a non-libertarian society, we have laws that function as security barriers, that bar people from doing things *in advance*. These laws usually work, and mean the police response is not actually required. If the government does get involved, it is via injunctions. People do run the metaphorical security barriers or try to climb over the metaphorical fence, but they do it quite knowingly, and once they do, often we can catch them without them doing harm to anyone.

        Whereas libertarianism’s only option is to respond to ‘thefts’ that have already happened, or are currently happening. You have to let things get to point where they *have harmed others*, or at least are really really close (Even in uber-libertarian-ville, you can’t shoot a gun wildly towards people even if you don’t hit them.) and only then can the police step in. The government, *in general*, wouldn’t have any sort of metaphorical legal security barriers or fences or anything that would stop people from freely roaming *as close as they want* to causing harm. It’s all good as long as they don’t cause any harm.

        This means when the government does react, to finally get to my point, it require much more violence to stop things. A much stronger response. And more harm done to the criminal to fix things (As opposed to just being turned away miles ago), assuming things even can be fixed.

        So, yes, I agree. Basing a form of government on the foundations of property relations (Or, specifically, *just* on that), does require more *actual* state violence.

        Whereas having a government like our own may, in a technical sense, *threaten* violence more often, but it actually manages to enforce most laws without violence actually appearing.

        Of course, all this is slightly overshadowed by the fact that our ‘government’, aka, the police, appears to use violence all the time. Which I’m sure some libertarians claim proves there’s a problem with our system, and it is, but there’s damn little evidence to proven the violence would go away if the laws were reduced…police violence is almost completely orthogonal to the actual laws anyway.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Part of the difficulty in these sorts of political discussions is the assumption that there is some universal truth that can be discovered, to which no reasonable objection can be raised.

        Specifically, some truth which doesn’t rely on consensus and agreement, a truth and logic which is so powerful as to overcome any objection.

        But of course, there is no such thing. Even the most essential dogma of the Catholic Church was decided by group consensus at the Council of Nicea, and every Papal encyclical is written by a large team of theologians. The rights of the American people, including the system of property claims, were decided by group agreement.

        Which is why concepts like the NAP, self ownership and rights which precede the state are not necessarily wrong, just unhelpful.

        They don’t do anything to help us sort out our affairs (like whether or not to make vaccinations mandatory) but instead just become stumbling blocks.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Damon says:

      @damon
      “….if we do own our bodies and if we are the custodians of our children’s bodies until they reach maturity, then we have the right to make health care choices free from government interference, even if our choices are grounded in philosophy or religion or emotion or alternative science.

      But if Paul is wrong, if the government owns our bodies,

      Please provide some reason why ‘us owning our bodies’ and ‘the government owning our bodies’ are the only two options, and specifically why the ‘no one owns our bodies’ option is not possible. (Especially since ‘no one owns our bodies’ is the *current legal position*.)Report

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