The Lesser of Two Evils

Most everything has two sides to the story.  It is said that 14% of the US population has expressed the sentiment that they will never get the Covid vaccine.  That, on the surface, sounds bad.  But is it? Could there be a silver lining to that sentiment?  Many of our poorer nations have a dismally low vaccination rate, like around 1%, and most of those people will have to wait at least two years to get their first shot, just because there is only so much vaccine around, and they can’t afford it. Already WHO has come out against getting the booster shot (as some of the wealthier nations are already doing) that would deprive the poorer nations of getting their first shot. To get to “herd immunity,” at least 80% of the population must be immune.  We are nowhere near that now, and are said to be around 50% at this point.  Taking all the vaccine refuseniks at 14%, we will get to 80% all be it a bit slower.  Those that have not been vaccinated will be more likely than ever to get infected with the delta variant being much more infectious. The mortality of this newest variety is also likely to be more virulent because of the high viral load this virus can generate.  I feel sorry for those people that will get it and possibly succumb to it, but it is their choice. I am a firm believer in freedom of choice.  It is not in my nature to make people do things they do not want to do. It is, after all, one way to pare down the herd.  It is a function of the Darwin effect – survival of the fittest.  Darwinism has a dark side that is not at all flattering to mankind.  The weak, the sick, and the dumb have one strike against them.  Unless they are protected, or forced to do what is in their best interest, they are cruelly and inhumanely eliminated. 

The Darwin effect has had more than its share of bad press, because when you get right down to it, it is just not ethical.  Most humans are, by nature, good.  We help the weak, the disabled, and the sick. My whole life as a physician has been devoted to helping those who are disadvantaged by illness.  The efforts by many that want to make humankind better have been seduced by the promise of a stronger race.  And people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pot Pol have employed murder, eugenics, and starvation to supposedly make a better human.  It didn’t turn out that way.  Those deeds go down as the most despicable events in human history.

Although I firmly believe in personal choice as to what is shot into your body. Furthermore, the government should not and can not decide what medical procedures you should or should not have. However, private companies or individual employers have the constitutional right to choose what people they can hire. They can decide how you should dress, what education you must have, what licenses you must possess, what the state of your health is, etc.  Your employer may object to your coming to work naked.  If you want to go naked, you cannot work there. You can go to a strip joint, and if your body is attractive enough, they may hire you.  Furthermore, the business has the right to tell you to wear a shirt and shoes if you want to enter their premises regardless if you are an employee or a consumer. An airline may not allow you to fly if you carry a gun. Why would they allow you to fly if you are infected with Leprosy or Covid, both potentially lethal infectious diseases? Most of the legal challenges to vaccine mandates by universities or companies have come down on the institution’s side. It is one of the holy grails of conservatism to give individuals the right to make decisions about one’s own body. You can refuse medical procedures even if they would save your life.  But if those decisions could damage the bottom line of a business, then the company has a right to decide if you can come to work or not. And not being vaccinated is, in fact, dangerous because the virus can be carried without any symptoms and can infect you with Covid and kill you and your coworkers, which has the potential to decimate the business. There is legal precedence for imprisoning individuals who insist on working in the food industry that have active Typhoid. Mary Mallon (aka Typhoid Mary) is the poster child for that issue.  She spent 26 years of her life in forced isolation (aka jail). I might add that it was not deemed unconstitutional. All states have vaccine mandates for measles, mumps, rubella, and polio for school-age children. States have exercised their right to mandate vaccination for over a century, which has held up under Supreme Court review in 1905, Jacobson v. Massachusetts. Besides,  a recent Department of Justice ruling on Section 564 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (passed by Congress in 1938) specifically does not prohibit private businesses from mandating vaccines. And mandates will become even more universal once the FDA grants full approval for the vaccine, which is said to come in a few weeks.

We have a Solomonic challenge before us in regards to the individual.  King Solomon was asked which of two women would get the baby of whom both claimed to be the mother. How to divide up the baby so that each mother will get a piece of the baby?  There is no way except by killing the baby.  That, too, is the problem with forcing people to do what is better for them and society.  Is it better to force the anti-vaccers to get the jab or to just ignore them?  If they die, they die. Unlike the decision for a business when it comes to the individual, it is better to let nature take its course, whatever that brings? But this, too, has its ethical problems. As said by Jerry Garcia, “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil!”