The Carrot and the Stick

Now that the decent, considerate, intelligent, well-informed, and thoughtful have gotten vaccinated for the very simple fact that it is the right thing to do, we are left with the rest of the country, roughly half, who are unvaccinated against a Pandemic that is again on the rise and evolving into new strains that are more infectious and deadly. What should we do?

The ancient tools of statecraft are the carrot and the stick: rewards for the virtuous and punishments for wicked.

So the Psalmist, writing out of the Jewish wisdom tradition that is steeped in the practical results of being smart vs. being dumb, tells us:

I will instruct you and teach you 
  the way you should go; 
  I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, 
  which must be curbed with bit and bridle, 
  else it will not keep with you. 

Many are the pangs of the wicked; 
  but steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in the LORD. 
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, 
  and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Ps 32:8–11)

While Proverbs tells us:

“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
and a rod for the back of fools.” (Pr 26:3).

This is saying the same thing as the Greek tradition, which tells us that if you will not have wisdom and virtue as kings in your city, then you shall have pain as your tyrant. That’s how life goes, pally. Wise up, or learn from suffering like a jackass.

About half the country, some due to ignorance and poor education, some due to pig-headed selfish spite, some due to paranoid fear, some due to boneheaded stupidity, some due to tribal hatred of Liberals are avoiding or absolutely refusing to be vaccinated. The epicenter of this is the MAGA “prolife” Murder/Suicide Cult. They get their information from various liars like Tucker Carlson or grifting quacks like Joseph Mercola, or manipulative GOP hacks like Ron DeSantis, or from deadly spiritual leaders like Fr. James Altman and Bishop Joseph Strickland, or from dunces and grifters filling pulpits, airwaves, and FOX News perches all over the US and lying or spreading disinformation, peer pressure, and gossip throughout Red America.

It is tempting to track down all the ways in which this Murder/Suicide cult teaches itself to choose sickness and death out of fear, ignorance, and spite. But the main thing that I think we need to know is that, however they do it, they get something out of spreading Pandemic, something rewarding. What that is can vary widely. Some get power out of it. Some enjoy the pleasure of spite (aka “owning the libs”). Some soothe their ignorant paranoia. Some think they are pleasing God or the Right People.

As long as that reward remains they will keep doing that. There is a kind of inertial pleasure to it because the bulk of these people don’t like to think and do like to act contrarians to Normals.

But whatever the case, as long as the cost/benefit analysis leans in favor of selfish perversity and stupid spite, they will go in the current direction.

And I do mean stupid spite:

So since we are now down to that segment of the population that requires rewards and punishments to motivate them, I have no trouble at all with the state and corporate America richly rewarding the vaccinated and punishing the stupidly unvaccinated. Vaccine passes, barring the unvaccinated from businesses, restaurants, theatres, sporting events. Punishing places like this restaurant with closure for health code violations, vaccine requirements for school and work and travel are all great ideas. Employers can and should imitate Biden, who recently made vaccination compulsory if you want to work for the Feds.

There should also be tax breaks for the vaccinated and penalties for the unvaccinated. Lower insurance for the vaxed, higher premiums for the unvaxed. Also, as the City of New York recently required, there should be weekly testing for the unvaxxed.

The anti-vaxers insist on their rights. Well, chum, with rights come responsibilities. These selfish people insist on being a burden on the rest of us. They demand to go on spreading Pandemic and death. Let them pay for it and let responsible people be rewarded for their concern for the common good.

Also, people should face fines and penalties for deliberately spreading disinformation and lies about vaccines and public health, particularly if they work in media. During World War II this was the attitude to traitorous people whose words helped to kill Americans:

Loose Lips Sink Ships Wanted for Murder WW 2War Propaganda Poster photo |  eBay

Back in those happy communitarian days, Americans complied voluntarily, because they thought about somebody besides their selfish selves. Now about a third of the electorate could not care less about their neighbor, and another hefty percentage is so confused and ill-educated they think Democrats drink baby blood of the vaccine alters your DNA or some other weird nonsense. Or they just don’t care. So the stick needs to be applied. Make it hurt to be selfish and stupid and make it rewarding to do the right thing. Even that will not change the minds of the most perverse MAGA. Some will rather die–or kill those they love–than do the obviously right thing. Spite is strong with the Cult. But the coordinated efforts of state and corporate America can still change millions of minds and perhaps spare the rest of us a fifth, sixth, seventh ad nauseam wave.

If the unvaxed have a reasonable medical excuse, fine: exempt them. And, of course, their children cannot be held responsible for the choices of their selfish, stupid parents. But otherwise, make it hurt to be unvaxed and make it a rewarding experience to be vaxed. Take off the kid gloves with these selfish dumbells.

And if they dare to try to game the system by, for instance, faking their vaccination documents, send them to prison for a year.


23 Responses

  1. I am vaccinated; my family is vaccinated; I advocate for vaccines. I do note, however, that the Vatican’s document on the vaccines does say it is not an absolute moral duty to be vaccinated ( They do say people who choose not to be must engage in other preventative measures (like mask wearing), which many unvaccinated I know fail to do. But I just don’t think I’m comfortable going behind what the Church says here and saying those who choose not to are necessarily sinning, even if many probably are.

    1. There is no dogmatic teaching from the Church not to play in traffic either. The state still can and does punish those who do. This is about state policy, not Church teaching. The state and corporate America need to apply the carrot and the stick so that virtue is rewarded and selfish stupidity punished.

  2. Some–and I think this is an underreported part of it–is laziness among 18-29 year olds who also feel invincible (I’m *never* gonna die!!) It’s an understandable attitude at that age, but there needs to be a concerted effort to bribe them. Though university vaxx mandates in the Fall will take care of a good chunk of them, thank God.

  3. Every day, there is a story- actually, a bunch of them— just like this…

    The Associated Press reports:

    Daryl Barker was passionately against a COVID-19 vaccination, and so were his relatives. Then 10 of them got sick and Barker, at just 31, ended up in a Missouri intensive care unit fighting for his life.

    “I was strongly against getting the vaccine,” Barker said through labored breathing. “Just because we’re a strong conservative family.” He arrived critically ill. Placed on a ventilator, Barker was given a 20% chance of surviving.


    What does strong conservative mean, and what does it have to do with his refusal to take seriously a disease that has killed more than 600K people in This country? That words simply don’t have any meaning any more to qonservatives, republiqans, and qonservative republiqans.

    Empathy, common sense, science, knowledge, facts, logic, experience— all must bow before the word “conservative”, which no longer means things like conserving, or being concerned about your family and community- not that I would trust 99% of the groups that have “family” in their title. Now, it simply means “my tribe hurray, your tribe boo”.

    It has gotten even worse since that dime store messiah showed up. As it said, it loves his unedumacated people.

    1. It’s weird. For many people vaccine refusal isn’t even about their personal beliefs or concerns with the vaccine itself. It’s seen as a mark of tribal loyalty. Steadfastness in ignorance is seen as the highest virtue in Trumpism. Many of these people would apparently rather die than do something which could be seen as vindicating their ideological enemies. Many of them went to early graves standing on that principal. I’m not sure how you can help such people, or really even if it’s possible at all.

  4. Here is the second story. Another word that has no more meaning in MAGAtry.

    CNBC reports:

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday, reiterating his opposition to mask mandates, Covid-related business restrictions and vaccination requirements and issuing fines of up to $1,000 on those who fail to comply.

    The measure bans government agencies from requiring individuals to get vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination. Public and private entities receiving state funding are prohibited from denying entry to individuals based on their vaccination status.

    “Texans have mastered the safe practices that help to prevent and avoid the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott’s statement said. “They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities.”


    I believe texas is TENTH in the nation in terms of new infections. So, no. Texans have already indicated that texans have mastered anything but opposing their own self interest infavor of this sameidiotic version of qonservatism, Qhristianity, and Qonservative Qhristianity.

    Another right to life Qhristian who simply does not care if people get sick and die, the delta variant Spreads, more people get sick and die, the lambdavariant spreads, Because MUH FREEDUMBS!

  5. Interesting crosstabs here–

    Aside from the obvious–that Republicans would be one of the least vaccinated subgroups, along with 18-29 y/os as I outlined above–it’s also interesting to me that the uninsured (I don’t know why they say uninsured under 65–everyone over 65 is insured by Medicare!!) and the rural are some of the least likely to have the vaccine. On the uninsured, I think there needs to be better messaging that this thing is free. I don’t know what to make of rural residents. And, no, rural != Republican. Some of the most rural counties in the nation are overwhelmingly African-American and Hispanic. There are a lot of Native Americans in rural counties, too, but these tend to be reservations and the Indian Health Service has done a bang-up job of getting them vaxxed, and there was almost no hesitancy among this particular ethnic minority.

    1. @. BEnjamin

      Here is the third story TODAY. Maybe you can explain it. Another right to life Qhristian that doesn’t actually care about anyone’s life, this time, in God’s Waiting Room.

      Orlando’s NBC News affiliate reports:

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will soon sign an executive order that he’s calling the parents’ rights bill that will prevent mask mandates for children attending school in Florida.

      The governor made the announcement on Friday at Two Meatballs in the Kitchen restaurant in Cape Coral. “I want to empower parents to make the best decisions they can for the wellbeing of their children,” DeSantis said, in part, during the briefing.

      “I have young kids,” he added. “My wife and I are not gonna do the masks with the kids, we never have. I wanna see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.”

  6. I was having a conversation with a friend about the GOP’s handling of the pandemic. I was telling him that they’re just doing business as usual.

    “How so?”, he asked.
    “Well, they’re still advancing policies that will get their constituents killed”, I replied. “They’re just doing it faster than before”.

  7. political issues aside, Wouldn’t forcing someone against their conscious be a violation of the dignity of a human purpose for your own gain? Exactly the thing you mention in chapter 1 of your book about not using another person for your own benefit? I’m genuinely curious.

    1. I do not call for forcible vaccination. I call for carrots and sticks. Normals are perfectly aware the vaccine saves lives and is a civic responsibility. The whole point of law is that it tells selfish fools to do things they don’t want to do for the common good. This is no different. You don’t like seat belts? Tough. Wear one anyway and if you won’t then you will be fined and your insurance rates go up. You don’t like to make healthy food cuz it’s too much trouble? Tough. Health codes punish you if you don’t comply. If somebody wants to be a selfish dummy, let him bear the costs, not the rest of us.

    2. If you have to be forced to do what is right, to pay attention to what real science has to say, to not be ignorant of literal centuriesof medical progress, to care for yourself and your family and your friends, to care for strangers and their right to be alive and not suffer from a horrible disease…

      Your problem isn’t your putative lack of freedom.

      it is your lack of empathy, education, social responsibility, personal responsibility, morality and societal well-being. It is also your willingness to believe people who actually don’t care about you at all, but want to keep you afraid of everyone who is not just like you – which is actually everyone – so that you will continue to give them your allegiance, your votes, your money, and give them the power and money they desperately crave.

  8. This just in, from today’s news feed. 110,000 new cases in Florida in the last week, in large part due to Governor Deathsantis. And also just in: Florida pastor and his wife and the number of their congregants are awfully upset about something.

    West Palm Beach’s ABC News affiliate reports:

    A husband and wife remain hospitalized on Friday at Jupiter Medical Center after contracting COVID-19. They both did not get vaccinated, and the wife is now sharing their story, hoping more people will take the virus seriously.

    Her husband has been put on a ventilator and is in critical condition. Juan is a co-pastor at a local church and WPTV is told four other pastors and at least 15 others at the church all have COVID-19.

    For the past 14 days, Cindy has been at Jupiter Medical Center undergoing treatments trying to beat COVID-19 as her husband Juan remains in the ICU.

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