Re: poly: Re: libertarianism

From: Carl Feynman <>
Date: Tue Feb 17 1998 - 11:27:42 PST

At 12:24 PM 2/17/98 -0500, Perry E. Metzger wrote:

>"Vaccination campaigns" lead the government to spend money on what is
>very obviously a private and not a public good -- if I am vaccinated,
>I am personally protected, never mind what the public good side
>effects might be.

Actually, it's a public good. If a large enough fraction of the population
is vaccinated against a given disease, the disease cannot spread even to
the unvaccinated individuals. It's called 'herd immunity'. At
immunization rates close to those needed to produce herd immunity, the
public good payoff of each additional immunization becomes arbitrarily
large. Of course, this doesn't explain why the government requires *every
single* child to be immunized.

There's also a public safety argument: not being immunized presents a
hazard to those around one. I'm glad the government requires my neighbors
to be immunized just like it requires them not to fire guns into the air at

Received on Tue Feb 17 19:30:53 1998

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