Yesterday (2/23/2007) 20/20 reported on the use of vaccines and the hazards associated with them. Some hazards are not founded, while others are suspect. One point not covered is the reason for the controversy. Vaccinations are required by government to protect citizens.

The term required by government seems innocuous, but liberty lovers realize it means enforced by government through violence or the threat of violence. Unethical people try to convince us that the ends justifies the means. After all, forced vaccinations have ended many diseases which hurt, maimed and killed children. The end result can never ethically justify the means to that ends.

Children are saved from parental folly by forced vaccination, but they then have to live in a world where some (or many) forms of violence are acceptable. Voluntary vaccinations would end this one area of “acceptable” violence.

Forced vaccination proponents would point out that without universal vaccinations the cost to society would be enormous. We would need to treat otherwise preventable disease. A waste of resources better spent elsewhere. The problem with this argument is that the voluntary inoculations would not dramatically reduce the number of children receiving shots. It would allow individuals to decide for themselves and for their children.

The greatest reduction of vaccinations would probably be in the lower economic classes. These parents would tend to be less educated and would tend to less able to afford vaccines for their children. Government welfare would be needed to aid these people. Those welfare could be spent somewhere else with forced vaccinations.

Welfare is a wealth redistribution scheme which is enforced by government through violence or the threat of violence. It is unethical because the ends can never justify the means. The excuse for more violence is that we already allow some violence. In other words, unethical acts are supported because we already allow other unethical acts.

That’s the law of unintended consequences at work. Whenever we use violence or the threat of violence as a means to an ends then we may be forced to again use violence just to limit the first use of violence. Violence begets more violence. We need to reduce this unethical behavior, not increase it.

How do we break this pattern of violence? We have to place the same importance on the method we use to reach our goals. Goals are great if ewe do not lose sight of the path we take to get there. The unethical path taints the destination. We need to look for ethical paths. Ethical cooperation is one path to obtaining ethical goals.