Friday, February 06, 2015

Liberty Verses Vaccination

I am taking time off from trans issues this morning to write about freedom and what freedom means. I imagine everyone has seen about the measles outbreak and how it is spreading because so many people are op-outing of getting their children vaccinated. Many of them do so because of fears of complications from the vaccination, while many others do so out of political beliefs. Many are opposed to the government telling them what to do or not to do; they say that their liberty is being abridged.

Freedom means many things and it also means responsible. Just like you can’t yell fire in a crowded building or light a match in a gas vapor filled room because your actions causes harm to others, your “freedom” not to have your children to be vaccinated is cause harms to others. Just this morning a nursery school is under quarantine because of measles, all the children are too young to be vaccinated and somehow they were infected by measles.

Yahoo News has an article about what freedom means,
What anti-vax parents get wrong about personal liberty
By Rick Newman
February 4, 2015

They’re your kids. You can do what you want with them. Right?

Actually, no. The wonderful American tradition of individual liberty stops well short of the entitlements claimed by the parents opposed to vaccinations who have contributed to the alarming measles outbreak centered in California. The anti-vaxers, as they’re known, believe they’re asserting their right to individual liberty by rejecting the collective wisdom of public-health authorities and choosing not to have their kids vaccinated against measles and other dangerous organisms. But they’re confusing self-interest with liberty, as are tongue-tied politicians such as Chris Christie and Rand Paul. The whole episode reveals the troubling ways we have distorted and trivialized the true meaning of liberty in the so-called land of the free.

As popular as the concept is, liberty is actually a difficult word to define, as I explore in my latest book, "Liberty for All: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Financial and Political Freedom." Liberty means different things to different people, based on the rights and privileges they’re accustomed to, socioeconomic context and every individual’s life circumstances. For the purpose of my book, which focuses on economic issues and prosperity, I researched the views of many experts and defined liberty as this: the ability to make of your life what you wish, within reasonable constraints.

That's quite different from simply doing whatever you want, which is where the anti-vax parents veer off-course. When exercising a particular type of liberty imposes no risk or cost on anybody else, everybody’s generally fine with it, no matter how wacky it might be. But when one person’s liberty interferes with somebody else's, civil society intervenes with rules meant to protect the largest portion of the population while harming the smallest.
There was a rebroadcast of a Nova program on PBS about the risks of vaccinations; it debunks many of the irrational fears about vaccines.
Program Description
Diseases that were largely eradicated in the United States a generation ago—whooping cough, measles, mumps—are returning, in part because nervous parents are skipping their children's shots. NOVA's "Vaccines—Calling the Shots" takes viewers around the world to track epidemics, explore the science behind vaccinations, hear from parents wrestling with vaccine-related questions, and shed light on the risks of opting out

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