How Skipping Vaccinations and Right-to-Work Threaten Your Family
By Darin Gilley
How would you feel watching your newborn child suffer through a solid week of spreading skin rash, coughing, fever, muscle aches, and light sensitivity? How would you feel after all this to see your little one’s life changed forever as blindness darkens their windows to the world?
Would it make you feel any better to know the parents of one of your child’s contacts had exercised their “freedom” to not get a measles vaccination?
The ability of an individual to express themselves is part of the constitution, right? As long as the decision is convenient for that individual your child’s suffering and the impact on your family are a sacrifice that had to be made in order to ensure this person’s “freedom.”
That is the implicit argument made by many members of the anti-vaccination movement. In fairness, many of these folks are concerned parents who believe they are doing the best they can for their kids. Unfortunately for them, the credibility of this argument is lost when it fails the concept of “one person’s rights end where another person’s begins.”
Their freedom ends when your child’s health is endangered. At that point it is no longer freedom but irresponsibility.
Imagine watching your wages stagnate or go down, health insurance costs go up, pension eliminated, workplace safety reduced, as poverty grows in your community.
Would it make you feel better to learn that someone in your state had found a job at a unionized facility, chose to work there because it was a good job, and decided they shouldn’t pay dues for the collective bargaining and representation services they receive? The same services that made it a job worth having?
The ability of this individual to express themselves is obviously important to them. As long as this decision is good for them, your wages and family’s standard of living are sacrifices that have to be made to ensure one person’s “freedom.”
This is the implicit argument made by advocates of Right-to-Work. They contend that even though a person has a choice whether to work at a unionized facility, they also have the “freedom” to not pay for the representation services the union is mandated by federal law to provide.
Unfortunately, the credibility of this argument is diminished in two distinct ways. First, like the vaccination case above, one person’s rights end where another person’s begin. Second, taking a good or service without paying for it is called stealing unless made legal by a state legislature passing a right-to-work bill, in which case it is irresponsible.
In both cases the freedom to free-ride on the backs of responsible citizens and co-workers presents serious risks to the well-being of you and your family. As individuals choose not to vaccinate their kids they destroy what scientists describe as ‘herd immunity.” When one is protected, all are protected is another way of looking at it.
If these free-riders assumed all of the risks of their decision it would indeed be an expression of their freedom. But they don’t. The decision not to vaccinate puts the health of others at risk. The decision to take the sacrifices made by co-workers to create a better workplace for granted, to take representation benefits without paying for them is likewise irresponsible and forces others to pay the price for their “freedom.”
The recent 17 state, 150 person outbreak of the measles has many state legislatures looking to enforce vaccination standards in order to protect society from deadly diseases we thought had been put into the hazardous disposal bin of history. It is clear that an individual “freedom” cannot come at the expense of your child’s health and well-being.
Conversely, the explosive rise of income inequality and a disappearing middle class are not generating the same response. Many state legislatures are considering “right-to-work” statutes that legislate an individual “freedom” to demand a service without paying for it and give that practice precedence before the wages and standard-of-living of all residents.
The tension between freedom and responsibility have always been part of American life. In the case of vaccinations and right-to-work, placing an individual “freedom” to be irresponsible before the needs of a moral, orderly society is threatening the American way of life.