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:
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.