Ronald Bailey, the self-described “science correspondent” for Reason magazine recently wrote a piece which has raised a lot of eyebrows, titled: Refusing Vaccination Puts Others At Risk: A Pragmatic Argument for Coercive Vaccination. He goes on to argue in no uncertain terms that he not only believes that coerced medicine is libertarian, but that there is no libertarian argument for declining a vaccine.
Bailey’s article is heavy on irrelevant statistics and light on actual libertarian arguments. The article, which asserts that liberty is incompatible with vaccine refusal, can be condensed into the following three sentences; the only places that liberty is mentioned at all:
Oliver Wendell Holmes articulated a good libertarian principle when he said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”…. To borrow Holmes’ metaphor, people who refuse vaccination are asserting that they have a right to “swing” their microbes at other people. There is no principled libertarian case for their free-riding refusal to take responsibility for their own microbes.