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Sunday, May 08, 2022

The coivid pandemic and one million U.S.deaths have waned my anti progressive,public health antibodies just a bit

 Many decades of reading libertarian and classical  liberal literature and at least semi serious reading of Austrian school economics mixed with mainline Econ101 had for the most fixed my thinking and planted some priors that seemed unlikely to be refuted.

I was disturbed by the movement in medical discourse toward something called population medicine and blogged about traditional medical ethics with a backbone of a fiduciary duty of the doctor to the patient was being challenged by a  mushy, vague admonition for the physician to be responsible not only to the patient but somehow also to be charged with a co-duty that including being responsible for the group.Some how the physician needed to treat his/her physician but to work to heal the village.

Although I  once displayed a certificate of board certification in preventive medicine- a field that includes public health,I had never felt aligned either by experience or philosophical leaning to be a member of the public health tribe. Noticing that it had become an often repeated mindless expression that Disease X,Y or r Z is a public health problem  I blogged that would make nearly everything a public health problem.I do not believe that everything is a public health problem; However, if there is spread of a potentially fatal respiratory illness than is spread by the small aerosol particle routes at times by asymptomatic persons and whose spread can significantly be mitigated by wearing masks then that is a public health problem if there ever was one and covid is one for the ages.

Claims by politicians that wearing masks is just  a personal decision because it only affects the wearer's health is clearly wrong,scientifically wrong and even wrong,IMO,from a libertarian point of view.Hat tip to Nassim Taleb who pointed out the obvious that the fundamental principle of libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom, ie. one does not have to right to initiate force against another human being. The fact that the CDC echoed the pretend conservative-libertarian thought that only the wearer is affected does not make it so and may have been the most shockingly  un public health advice even issued by a public health organization .The CDC began their battle against covid with a egregious technical error in test production and 2 years later topped that with a shape shifting moral error.

All of which brings me to admitting that I have convinced myself that not just out of a survival instinct that mandating masks and vaccines is necessary much as many abrogations of individual freedoms are necessary for a civilized society,

Mandatory vaccination and mandated masing have catalyzed a definite division in libertarian circles .One academic libertarian, Jessica Flanigan Phd has written a lengthy and I think persuasive commentary supporting the idea that mandatory vaccination  is consistent with basic libertarian views .My simplistic view of her argument is that she relies mainly on the nonaggression axiom without explicitly using those words.(Her essay can be found on the HEC forum, online, August 2013 edition. )

Reason is,and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.David Hume 


Anonymous said...

Thomas Szasz, whose libertarian medical views are most relevant, would, I believe have supported some mandatory public health measures against Covid. I don’t think he would have supported mandatory vaccination, though. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, and I’ve regretted not having his guidance. Szasz was very concerned about the expansion of public health into private health matters, but he did see a role for public health in its traditional role of preventing readily communicated diseases. As he said, he was not an anarchist.

Anonymous said...

This not exactly on point, but it’s a concise explication by Szasz of his views on public vs private health.