Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) treated a Senate Health Committee meeting Tuesday morning to a speech decrying the notion that parents should be required to vaccinate their children, while also propagating the notion often cited by anti-vaccination proponents that vaccines can cause harm.
In typical Paul fashion, he acknowledged all the good that vaccines can do while framing his oppositon to mandatory vaccination as a stand for “liberty” and against “government mandates.” That he does not acknowledge how one person’s liberty can be many other people’s measles outbreak is pretty standard for the Paul worldview, in which liberty for the individual always takes precedence over whatever might help society as a whole.
“I don’t think you have to have one or the other, though. I’m not here to say don’t vaccinate your kids. If this hearing is for persuasion I’m all for the persuasion,” Paul said. “I’ve vaccinated myself and I’ve vaccinated my kids. For myself and my children I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweighing the risks, but I still don’t favor giving up on liberty for a false sense of security.”
Paul also did not address the obvious question of why the right of a parent to not vaccinate a child should be paramount over the rights of parents who choose vaccination in order to keep their children from contracting communicable and deadly diseases. Such questions are one of the contradictions of Paulism that always seems to remain unexamined.
Paul’s abhorrence of government mandates of any kind leads to irony when you consider his position on socialized medicine. Paul won his Senate seat in 2010 by riding a wave of opposition to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with its mandate that everyone in the country have some sort of health coverage. He has been a consistent voice against any kind of healthcare reform that would expand coverage to more of the population, citing his belief that people should have the right to choose not to carry insurance if they so wish. The drawback of that approach is that fewer people having health coverage drives up the costs of insurance and treatment for everyone.
In other words, Rand Paul’s vision of liberty makes it easier for people to contract preventable diseases, and harder to get and pay for the treatments needed to cure them.
Watch video of Paul’s speech at the top of the post, via C-SPAN.