Mandatory Vaccines and Libertarianism


Conor Duffy

Conor is a neuroimmunology Ph.D student based in Dublin. He's particularly interested in science and health policy, liberalism, and how the two interact. You can find him tweeting @conorduffy_7.

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64 Responses

  1. Well written post Conor. This issue is not complicated to me; You have a right to not be vaccinated, and society – and its representative form in the government – has a right to shun you for doing so as a potential danger.

    Also, adjacent to the topic of mandatory vaccinations, the extreme parts of the anti-vax contingent include some truly reprehensible people and behavior, which mars a lot of the discuss and makes some folks that might have honest and well-meaning skepticism of vaccines very wary to even discuss the topic in public. I’m firmly in favor of vaccines, but I think it fair to point out you can reasonably question without being a full blown kook, as is sometimes done. Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Concur here. I would not want to have government mandate vaccines as a condition of being within the borders of a polity, but I most certainly support government mandating childhood vaccinations if the child wishes to participate in any government supported activity (public schools, activities at the public library, summer camps run by the community/city/state, etc.). I also support private entities making vaccinations a requirement for participation (private schools, churches, etc.).

      I’d also support allowing for legal action should a parent lie about their child’s vaccination status in order to get around such rules, including tort actions, and possibly criminal charges, should an un-vaccinated child be traced to a contagious disease outbreak.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Agreed, and it should be noted that in general vaccine compliance rockets up to pretty acceptable levels when the very mild stick of vaccination being required to be able to access government funded public spaces and childcare is firmly applied. Most anti-vax parents are extremely squishy and are unwilling to pay very much at all in money or inconvenience to keep their little tots un-vaccinated.

        As for anti-vaxxers themselves? My towering contempt exceeds my capacity to put the emotions into words and text.Report

  2. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    I agree with this article. I am somewhat skeptical about the number of vaccines and have some rough sense that vaccination against mumps and chickenpox are not equally supported and may lie on different ends of the spectrum for discussion. From an American perspective, my main complain though is that if the state mandates a vaccine on herd immunity basis, I believe the state should pay for it. I thinks its comparable to a private taking for a public good, so it should be a public cost. If the state is bearing the cost, not only do I find the argument for the mandate more persuasive, I also trust that the state will make sure its mandate doesn’t contribute to cost inflation.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      In the US, vaccines on the immunization schedule for children are subsidized (or paid for outright through the Vaccines for Children program), and the ACA requires insurance plans cover vaccines without copays.

      We’re already mostly there.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw says:

        That’s nice, but doesn’t quite get to the function of my preferred policy. I want the government creating the mandate to pay for the mandate, not order people to pay for the mandate or order insurance companies to pay (which is just another way of making people pay while feeding business to insurance companies)

        I want them to be weighing the cost and benefits directly; not just in terms of the particular drug, but in the larger picture of where is the best benefit for the buck. (And while I would apply this to all immunization mandates premised on her immunity, I am more concerned about future drugs, with high development costs, lobby from big pharma, and a public health sector which has “if it will save one life” as the default position.)Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          I mean you’ll pay for it in taxes or you’ll pay for it in premiums, and the difference doesn’t strike me as amazingly huge, especially given the way insurance premiums are subsidized post-ACA.

          Also, the government (specifically the CDC) already does cost-effectiveness analyses of vaccines as part of the process of determining whether they should be recommended or not (and thus eligible for VFC, etc.)

          It’s not exactly what you’re looking for but given our screwy Rube Goldberg machine of a healthcare system, it’s remarkably close.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    We discussed something similar back in 2015. My take then was that my problem with making vaccines mandatory would result in enforcement of the “mandatory” part and cops would shoot dogs and choke people out. Even further back, in a different thread, I came up with this solution that was sufficiently libertarian:

    If we don’t want to get the gummint involved with arrests and whatnot, we start making signs in the “Keep Calm And Carry On” vein that say something to the effect of “If You Have Not Been Vaccinated Then You Are Not Welcome Here” and plaster them up in the front doors of every business we can find.

    Come up with a variant sign for churches. “If You Have Not Been Vaccinated You Should Know That Jesus Loves You But You Are Not Welcome Here” or something.

    Put it on shirts. Put it on coffee cups. Get the Baez sisters to make a poster.

    We have more information now. I think I’m down with vaccinating children without the knowledge or consent of parents.

    We live in a society, after all.Report

  4. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Interesting take on this topic and you have done a reasonably good job of laying out the position.
    With that said, I will disagree on a few points here.

    a.)The first and main one is that the family is not and never will be a illegitimate institution it is a biological construct. I can argue that truth in both the empirical objective frame work and the social objective frame work. The empirical truth of it is resolved. The social truth would be harder to resolve, but I think it could be shown to be better resolved than the truth that ‘the family is a illegitimate institution’ as truth.

    b.)The social truth about whether or not people should(/want) be treated/viewed as a herd is unresolved.

    c.)The social truth about interfacing with disease in a artificial interface, or a natural interface is unresolved.

    d.)The social truth about naturally developed immunity or artificially developed immunity is unresolved.

    e.)The social truth that ‘public safety’ is a legitimate social construct is unresolved.

    Without the social objectivity of these social truths resolved, I thoroughly deny the legitimacy of any social construct to enact social policy on the matter.Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    This is a well written essay, but illustrates for me the difficulty that libertarians have in reconciling their two strands of thought, the first being a strong protection of rights and the second of the autonomous individual.

    Standard conservative and liberal thought reconciles these by seeing them as flexible and negotiable ideas. Rights can be bounded, limited, regulated and routinely modified as needed to achieve a consensus on what “justice” looks like.

    Libertarians seem to have more difficulty with this. For example, even the most ideal libertarian state relies, at its heart, on a coercive regime of monopoly power.

    Yet the idea that at some point the collective body will make a decision, and a dissenting individual is compelled (upon pain of men with guns and cages) to comply with it is very hard for them to accept, as this essay attests.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal says:

      Rights are a failed social construct, none has survived infringement. Creative destruction has leveled a good many social constructs. It will level many more.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Is there anything you really dislike that you do not label as a social construct?Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          I wouldn’t like any social construct that could be infiltrated by social/collective control freaks who had a desire to control individuals through nefarious means.

          After 5 years of searching for a social construct that couldn’t be infiltrated, I finally found one. Only one.

          It was a really obvious one. I spent a few hours looking at the parameters of why this was such an impenetrable construct.

          It has a specific filtering criteria on the threshold of who would want to be in it and its focus is very narrow and not diverse. Just one social construct out of the thousands.

          If I want to engineer a social construct that couldn’t be infiltrated by socialist, tribalists, nationalists, and communists it would need to have the narrow criteria, but it could expand in focus.

          I always knew that individual sovereignty could survive as a individual construct, but there was a question of whether it could survive as a social construct. Even expanding the concept into a Individual Republic. What I found was that the criteria was narrow but the focus was broad based. I just didn’t have a working example to test the criteria part.

          Now I consider it pretty much resolved.

          What did BlaiseP used to say, something about ‘tide and time’.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Libertarians and other anarchists believe that government is something of an original sin of humanity. Left anarchists will add commerce and private property along with government as an original sin. To them, government is always bad because it originated, in their opinion, from bullies ruling over by force. They believe that humans can cooperate and build a society, even at 21st century developed world standards, without government.

      It is an unanswerable hypothetical. Across the entire world, once human population reached a certain level you got government. When you had even tens of thousands of people living close to each other, some sort of impersonal organization was created to get everybody kind of working together. Maybe it was imposed by a bunch of bullies that wanted everything for themselves. Maybe humans generally found x number of people and completed projects like flood prevention were impossible to pull off without some level of coercive force because of criminals taking advantage of others, Maybe it is a combination of both. We simply don’t have any example of human societies avoiding government once a certain level of population or technological/cultural development was reached.Report

      • Avatar Philip H says:

        This has been my exact critique of Libertarian thought all along. The Libertarian streak always ASSUMES that all humans will make right and just decisions for themselves and thus ONLY make right and just decisions for those around them. History tells us otherwise. And no Libertarian I have discussed this with has a real answer except the trope that if government pulled back and people had to fend for themselves somehow it all magically works.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Let me start with the fact that I, my son, my wife, in fact, all my family are vaccinated. My father was a genetics professor and believed highly in immunology. As do I. Thus as a Libertarian, I have to agree with Senator Paul in this. I don’t think the gov’t can rightly have a say in who does, does not have this when it stretches out into fields as diverse as immigration (it would give good cause to track down illegal immigrants a la ICE) or could give good cause to a voting ID act (can you prove you are vaccinated? Do you carry papers to prove this?)

    Those might seem far fetched, but are they? For that is what is at the heart of many of these discussions. Where and when can the gov’t intervene “for the public good.” What rights would the public lose as a precondition to effect this health regime?

    I am fully supportive of a private business wanting immunization records as a condition of employment. I can see the governments’ asking for this as a legitimate need in employment. But to demand it as a condition of citizenship or residence seems to be a step too close to totalitarianism.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      Herd immunity is a public good.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      I’m not aware of any proposal that declares one must be vaccinated to be a citizen or even resident, though exclusions of immigrants on health status has been a feature of American immigration policy as long as there’s been and America (or so the hospital ward exhibit at Ellis Island tells us).Report

  7. Libertarianism seems to be based on this model of each individual living in his slice of heaven, not affecting other people, each in theirs. This is only even semi-plausible if they are widely separated. The idea that what you do, even on your own property, doesn’t affect your neighbors breaks down as you and your neighbors get closer together. This is why fictional libertopias tend to be set in sparsely populated locales.

    Vaccination and the herd effect are just one example of where this breaks down when confronted by the real world. If Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe decide to fly naked, who cares? They are out on the Ponderosa. Even Virginia City is far enough away that the plague that wipes out the Cartwrights won’t really matter. A classroom full of kids is another matter.

    The thing is, once we move off the Ponderosa into the real world, all sorts of things that you do affect your neighbors, and vice versa. Parking and traffic may lack the emotional punch of virulent diseases, but that doesn’t make them any less real or legitimate. So while it is good that some libertarians noticing the problem, my personal reaction is “no shit.”Report

  8. Avatar Slugger says:

    I want to stop vaccination, and I know how to do it. At one time, governments the world over had a very vigorous policy of enforcing smallpox vaccinations which actually led to some deaths like Nikos Kazantzakis. As a result, smallpox has been eliminated, and no one (with the possible exception of certain biology researchers) gets vaccinated. We could do the same for polio, measles, rubella, and other diseases that do not have significant nonhuman reservoirs. Influenza won’t be on that list since there are porcine and avian reservoirs, and the virus mutates rapidly.
    Want to greatly decrease vaccinations? Get vaccinated, and get the government to make this generation get vaccinated. This works.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      Smallpox vaccines are still a thing – and generally handed out for work in remote tropical areas. I actually got one in 1974 when we went to Spain for my dad’s work for a year, because the State Department considered Spain under Gen.Franco to be a third world African nation, and we were not allowed to apply for a vise through State to go absent the smallpox vaccine (and Malaria and Typhoid among other weirdness).Report

  9. The best take on this I’ve read is that your right to swing your first ends where my nose begins. I don’t think vaccines should be “mandated” in the sense of sending cops out to vaccinate people. But I do think they should be “mandated” for participation in certain things like public schools, public universities, entities that receive govt funds, etc. Exemptions should be rare and hard to get. As libertarian as I am, I can’t imagine a right to run around society spreading disease.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      As libertarian as I am, I can’t imagine a right to run around society spreading disease.

      Externalities. The bane of libertarians’ existence. 🙂Report

  10. Avatar Zac Black says:

    This is such a weirdly narrow view of liberty. Shouldn’t children have the liberty to not be infected with easily preventable diseases? Why libertarians so often assume it means “freedom to” and not also “freedom from” I’ll never understand.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      See it like this:

      It’s the difference between “the freedom to make decisions” vs “the freedom from having to make them”. If someone else is making hard decisions for you, that’s very freeing. Liberating, even.

      My cats, for example, don’t have cares in the world outside of being picked up and having the Meow Mix song sung into their necks. Their food and water is taken care of, their waste is taken care of, their warmth is taken care of, yes, even their vaccines are taken care of… heck, they get *CATNIP* from time to time.

      Absolute freedom from want.

      And yet… and yet…Report

      • Avatar Zac Black says:

        And yet they could have the freedom to run wild?

        Sure. If cats were capable of expressing preference, perhaps that’s what they’d want instead.

        It is striking to note that cats have yet to build a functioning society. So maybe analogizing their preferences to ours isn’t the most useful implicit argument.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          Say what you will about cats, they have never found a herd of dead ones at the bottom of a cliff.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          It is striking to note that cats have yet to build a functioning society.

          This is not true.

          As for their preferences… it has nothing at all to do with their preferences. They are pets.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Yeah but under either vision here, the kids aren’t free to make their own decisions about vaccinations. In general we leave the decision up to the parents, but there isn’t a general requirement that we let parents make arbitrarily stupid decisions about their kid’s health because of weirdo conspiracy theories.

        Hell, if parents were refusing to give their kids food, instead of protect them from easily preventable diseases, there would be no question that they were being abusive and there would be a lot of serious consequences for them, up to and including criminal penalties.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          but there isn’t a general requirement that we let parents make arbitrarily stupid decisions about their kid’s health because of weirdo conspiracy theories.

          I am always vaguely reminded of our tendency to irradiate children with abnormally large Thymuses back in the 1900’s when I hear about stuff like this.

          When the tone switches from “parents have concerns that need to be seriously addressed” to “those rubes should just listen to scienticians”, we’re going to find ourselves in a dialectic.Report

          • Avatar pillsy says:

            Scientists and medical authorities have a mixed record, true.

            Weirdo conspiracy theorists are much, much more consistent.Report

          • Avatar Philip H says:

            @Jaybird, the problem with this example is that parents concerns HAVE BEEN seriously addressed, and that addressing by people who actually know what they are talking about is still being ignored by those parents because we as Americans still believe that “my fact free common sense is just as good as your fact based science because we’re all free” or some such. As a scientist who works daily on the periphery of the climate change “debate”I’m beyond weary of that delaying and obfuscation tactics being used by people who, frankly, are not ever going to listen to the legitimate answers they are given.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      Libertarianism, particularly of the Big L variety, is the divorce of principle from perspective and priorities.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kind of like Marxism in that way, when reality goes against ideology always favor the ideology. What are millions of deaths when utopia is at hand?Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          It can be, yes, reduced to a foolish and oblivious consistency. Which isn’t to say it’s all bad. I think the libertarian perspective on civil liberties is dead on and compelling in a way no mainstream conservative or progressive philosophy is.

          But beyond the (IMO correct) libertarian observation that criminalization of unvaccinated people is probably a bad way to approach this problem I don’t see the need for the handwringing. We need a state to address tragedies of the commons and fill in where markets can’t, and yes, also at times make rules against defectors that pose a threat to others. I see this one as an easy call.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            I don’t find it compelling at all. Many libertarians are still mired in the property rights are the greatest rights mindset. They don’t really understand why people don’t agree with them on how awesome unfettered free market capitalism is and believe anybody who disagrees with them are stupid. Nearly every ideology does this but libertarians seem to have a rather bad case of it at times.Report

            • Avatar InMD says:

              Well I said compelling with respect to civil liberties.

              The market worship stuff to me goes way off the rails.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Some of the market worship stuff verges on Satanist Marxism, complete with the same class struggle, but with beleaguered capitalists as the good guys, and parasitic proles threatening them at every turn.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      I think the problem with the libertarian movement is similar to what many say about Islam; it hasn’t had its moderating Reformation. Moderate libertarians exist (Hi, Oscar!) but they aren’t recognized by the “church” as legitimate for not holding the line on various points of Orthodoxy. As a result they code in our political discourse as Centrists.

      I imagine this is a result of never-ending exile to the electoral wilderness. In a PR system I can imagine a softening of the rhetoric to grow the party.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The Reformation was not necessarily a moderating movement in Christianity. One of the critiques of the Reformation was that the Catholic Church was too lax in combatting sin, willing to let people go with a monetary donation and a few prayers rather than real punishment. Countries that went through the Reformation could be more enthusiastic about using law to enforce Christian morality than Catholic countries.

        We also have lots of evidence that parties do not necessarily moderate when they get to actively hold power.Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Compromise? Vaccination is mandatory, but you can pay for it in Bitcoin.Report

  12. Avatar Tracy Downey says:

    “This tips the scales on state action in a crucial manner. The question isn’t about forcing a choice. Rather, it is one of which agent ought to make the choice for one unable to do so themselves. If parents are refusing to protect their children, I find it compelling that the state is justified in taking action. And as far as state actions go, a vaccine is one that’s not very intrusive.”

    Thank you for your post!

    This is the particular reason why I cannot be a libertarian. The choice to protect your children from diseases or not should be your children’s is something I’m having trouble understanding. If your child needs treatment don’t you want to receive it? At times I feel society is its own worst enemy.Report

  13. Avatar J_A says:

    @Tracey Downey

    “This is the particular reason why I cannot be a libertarian. The choice to protect your children from diseases or not should be your children’s is something I’m having trouble understanding. If your child needs treatment don’t you want to receive it? At times I feel society is its own worst enemy.”

    There is no sacrifice too big for OTHER people to make for MY convictions.

    I used to point out that in Rod Dreher’s blog, with respect to social conservatives exclusively making demands from others. It applies equally well to big L Libertarians. Better the kid die than accepting the chains of vaccinationsReport

    • Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

      Almost sounds like Jehovah Witness’ belief to refuse treatment for God’s prayer. I respect peoples’ differences in religion but when it comes to creating a self made pandemic, it feels a bit extreme. The child is not allowed to receive a choice its being made for them after 18.

      I tend to wonder if this will create a backlash against Libertarianism and far left radicals as a whole should more children be affected that never had to be in the first place?

      I recall a former co-worker pushing against vaccinations because it caused autism which there is zero scientific proof. That was 18 years ago. An entire generation now conditioned to believe a myth.Report

  14. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    The problem with Libertarianism is that everyone, including far too many ‘adherents’, think of it as a black and white issue. Freedom & Liberty GOOD!, Government & Coercion BAD!.

    That’s the ultra pure distilled ideology. If you are a Libertarian, you want anarchy or the Night Watchman state.

    For us moderates (Hi Road!), the philosophy is a bit more nuanced. There’s a sliding scale.

    Think of it this way… in science, the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the evidence needed to support the claim. Simple claims can be supported by simple evidence. The earth is round. These days, easy to show evidence of. Hell, the ancient Greeks had it figured out. More extraordinary claims, like the earth is flat, well…

    Libertarians feel the same way about the application of government power and coercion. Power and coercion can be applied by varying degrees, and the more power and coercion you want the government to employ in support of your pet idea/ideology/etc., you are going to have to work harder to make your case.

    In a similar vein, when coercion is called for, we tend to want to employ the lowest amount feasible at the start, see if we can nudge people to do something, get them to want to do it because it’s a good idea, rather than forcing them to do it. And we want to give the nudge time to work, because people can be slow on the uptake sometimes (perhaps we want more time than is reasonable, but that’s our priors).

    Now in this case, we’ve been nudging people for a long time, and most people got the nudge and acted as desired. Then Wakefield showed up, and the medical community insufficiently rallied in time to discredit his ‘research’ and beat him with a sack of fish. So now we got this anti-vax movement (which, given the internet, honestly probably would have happened without Wakefield… sigh) with an active propaganda campaign and far, FAR too many nominally intelligent people (who really should know better) making the nudge less effective than it needs to be.

    So we need to do more than nudge.

    But that does not mean we make it a law and slap the cuffs on the anti-vaxxers (as much as I’d love to see Jenny McCarthy hauled away in chains for her idiocy). The next step is to raise the cost of that action. If you want to avoid vaccinating your kids without a sound medical reason, then you don’t get to participate in public institutions, as I noted above. And if you lie about your kids shots in order to get in, that’s a fraud, and you the penalties for that could be as low as simply being ejected from participation, to being sued, to someone filing criminal charges for fraud.

    Note that at this point, all we’ve done is raise a cost by applying a minimum of coercion. Government force doesn’t kick in until someone employs deception to avoid the cost. At the same time, we can employ positive incentives to get immunized. Do everything we can to make sure kids get their shots. Have the school nurses be able to do them, if parents just can’t get away from work to take their kids in (maybe this is already a thing? I don’t know, Bug has all his shots from his pediatrician), stuff like that.

    Anyway, that’s all a long winded way to say force and coercion exist on a gradient, and for us libertarians, we demand a rather high level of evidence that a given level of force and coercion is actually needed.

    Other folks tend to disagree with our demands for such evidence, according to their priors, because they feel it unnecessarily interferes with the implementation of whatever it is that they want.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal says:

      “We’re with Libertarians, and we’re here to help!”

      Strange days bro.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      While I can respect that nuanced perspective, you are the first of multiple libertarians I have encountered who view coercive force as a necessary component of human societal interaction, much less the first willing to admit its on a scale. Which is where your brethren and sisteren often loose me. They also loose me with the notion that government action is of necessity coercive. I was actually told once that collecting property taxes to fund fire departments was coercive – people SHOULD be willing to pay what they think its worth to a fire department to protect their property. And the ones that don’t are just stupid and deserve to have their houses burn down. My view frankly is paying taxes to fund the FD, PD and library are a liberating action in as much as they free my time and other valuable resources to not have to worry about getting books for the voracious hoard of readers in my house, or keeping me safe in the coming climate change induced fire storms.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        To be clear, collecting taxes is coercive. If you don’t allow the government to collect taxes from you, they will exercise force to do so.

        That does not necessarily mean it is wrong to collect those taxes.

        To your example, the question to ask, is forcing a person to pay taxes to fund the FD the least coercive way to do things?

        Where I grew up, in rural WI, we did not pay taxes to fund the FD. The FD was a volunteer organization that held fund raisers in order to pay for equipment and training and operational costs (and people, for the most part, willingly supported the local VFD). But this was rural WI, if my house caught fire, chances were good that by the time the VFD mustered and arrived, they’d just be there to put out the ashes and make sure we didn’t have a wildfire sweeping across the fields. The joke was that the VFD hadn’t lost a foundation yet!

        Again, this was a known fact of life. Everyone accepted it as a part of living out far enough that your nearest neighbor was a good bow shot away, if not a rifle shot.

        Start putting those houses a lot closer together, where a fire in one house could very quickly threaten all the other houses, and the calculus of how to fund and operate your FD changes dramatically and suddenly the VFD model is not workable. You need the FD to be well equipped and well staffed for rapid response. You can not reasonably expect the fundraising model to be sufficient, thus the justification for using coercion (taxes) is more easily able to be met.

        If you don’t want to pay taxes to support your FD, live out far enough away that you have a VFD.

        And honestly, where I criticize my brethren, is when they essentially act as though they want all the benefits of urban services, but want the taxes of rural living. If that is how you view the libertarian philosophy, I won’t waste my time with you. If paying taxes is really so offensive, then go live so far out from society that you can exist under the radar.

        My tolerance of paying taxes for urban services, however, does not mean I accept the legitimacy of every government service or expenditure, nor do I think every act of the executive or legislative branch (at any level) is legitimate just because. For instance, I am a huge critic of corporate welfare (sports stadiums as but one example). But going into that is a much longer discussion.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          I tend to think of the two approaches to libertarianism you describe as “moderate” and “radical” libertarianism.

          I tend to find moderate libertarians pretty congenial, and usually find they have worthwhile things to say about public policy that I may have overlooked [1], while the radicals tend to be too caught up in abstract ideological questions for that to happen. They remind me a lot of a certain sort of Leftist that is far too interested in ideology to consider the real world.

          [1] And I’ve been shifted libertarian-ward on several issues, like gun control and the legalization of prostitution, in part due to these discussions.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Yep, if your ideological consistent/rigid about individual liberty you should be called a radical.

            If you bend toward public policy by a group of people that want to make other people do stuff, we are going to reward that and call you a moderate.

            It’s like you can hear all that social goodness flowing into the sand.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              All depends on what you stick your libertarian wrench into.

              When I get all libertarian about 4th Amendment protections and CJ reform, the right thinks I’m a radical.

              When I refuse to accept public school as an unalloyed public good that should entertain only token competition, I get it from the left.

              So it goes…Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              If you have a simple set of principles that invariably leads to the best outcome, you’ve severely underestimated the complexity of the world.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                There are a potential infinite set of principles in individual sovereignty. Each one chosen has 100% consent of the sovereign at any time it is chosen, updated in real time.

                There are few agreed upon principles that reach measurable consent in social constructs. Even if some are found, the consent will change in time.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                @ Oscar,
                Coercion only exists on a scale for 80% of the political spectrum. it doesn’t exist for the other 20%.

                When people form a herd and inflict violence upon you, you do not have time to debate civilly with everyone in very large herds. When the herd reaches a certain size, herd members believe they do not have to negotiate with individuals.

                Every law that is made without consent is a act of violence. There are layers upon layers of violence. There is a entire social construct of enforcement that is built upon applying violence.

                The herd may attempt the nudge, but if that doesn’t work, they will add the violence.

                They had a chance to build a voluntary system, they didn’t and aren’t going to.

                Maybe this herd should ask the Buffalo about the song of my people.Report

              • Avatar Philip H says:


                Your intent focus on consent is amusing, but belies the fact that we have chosen to elect people to represent us in the consent debate. Some of those folks do a fantastic job of representing their constituents, some don’t. But until very recently there was no effective way to poll EVERYONE to obtain total consent, so we do in fact go with the majority.

                Technologically we can now change that, as most of use carry devices in our pockets that would allow true, full participation in the political process, if we’d bother to let them. Until we as a society make that choice, however, we need another mechanism, lest even the basic questions like “How do we deal with flooding in Nebraska” devolve beyond all recognition.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                @ Philip
                “that we have chosen to elect people to represent us in the consent debate”

                I didn’t choose that, and when I represent there is no one else filling in to represent my sovereignty. I find it amusing you would assume otherwise.

                I must give credit that you are seeing part of the problem. I don’t hold in regard that if the herd knows about EVERYONES consent preferences, that it will matter.

                The social engineers aren’t very good at social truth or social engineering.

                It’s 2019, if people can’t figure out flooding they are severely fucked.

                I have seen licensed professional engineers produce flood walls without any rebar going down into the concrete piers. Yep piers with no tensile strength AS PER THE SEALED DESIGNED PLAN SET. I have been in a room of Army Corps engineers and not a damn one knew structural engineering.

                FEMA is so understaffed….the government should have never got into the flood business. The average herd member has no idea on what they are relying on, but damn, keep on feeling comfortable that the social construct is TCB.

                In this day and age everyone just assumes the social constructs have got this.

                Not only does the herd need to get better about social truth, it needs to get better with empirical truth also.

                It’s alright though, nothingburger it and carry on.Report