In a four-year Trumpian convulsion that has been earmarked by disrespect, distrust, and untruth, it will be very difficult to mount a vaccine campaign that can bring the coronavirus devastation to heel. Misinformation flourishes, and a big percentage of our people will resist vaccinations.
Yet, for vaccinations to be widely effective, a large majority of Americans will have to buy in and take the needle.
Where is the leadership going to come from to convince people to get aboard the vaccination imperative?
From where I sit, it’s going to have to come from business leaders. They need a consistent block of workers to keep their businesses running. It is existential for them to have an uninfected workforce. No workers, no product or service out the door, no surviving company.
The concept of mandates doesn’t fly very well in America, even when they make perfect sense. Witness the furor over masks. The anti-government zealots claim a constitutional right to not wear a mask, but will wear blaze orange into the woods during deer hunting season.
Does an infected person have a constitutional right to infect other people?
Or, to close part of a plant, or maybe even the entire plant?
Their refusal to stop infecting other people can rob other people of their health, even their lives, and will surely affect the job security of their fellow workers. How American is that?
Employers are probably going to have to flip this equation on its head. Instead of mandating vaccinations, business leaders are going to have to lead the way for the country by simply saying: “You can come to work if you are vaccinated.” The implication, of course, is that you will not be allowed to come to work if you are not vaccinated.
I fail to see the unfairness of that requirement to hold a job. People with strong convictions have the right not to be vaccinated, but they have no right to work at a particular business.
The entire US economy hinges on businesses. They pay all the taxes either directly or indirectly through the wages they pay their employees. Nothing works in a society or economy if people don’t work. Most things work in a society if people work and pay their share of taxes for health care, schools, welfare, and other public services.
Let’s look at the pandemic. Ten million people have been thrown out of work, and they are devastated. They are having trouble putting food on the table. They are being evicted. They are falling behind in terms of education because they can’t afford day care.
The government can step in to try to help people through the tough passages, but there aren’t enough taxes to support huge chunks of our society.
Millions of people are falling behind today. Without a job, despite government bailouts, they will fall further behind. They are desperate.
Further, it is perfectly clear that workers in some sectors like health care must be vaccinated. The same goes for any other kind of caregiving or food service. Mandates must apply.
If principled people don’t like those requirements, find another line of work.
We don’t let kids with measles go to school and we should not let employees who refuse vaccinations come to work. It’s not a mandate; it’s a necessity to work.
One closing thought; vaccinations should be seen not as a restriction on people’s rights, but as a permission to engage in all kinds of normal American activities.
For instance, the leadership of the Green Bay Packers should open the gates to people who have been successfully vaccinated. The stands could be filled for the playoffs.