Posted in Brownstone
November 6, 2021

The Mandate on Business Intensifies the Crisis

It’s hard to imagine that public confidence in everything could fall further, but it surely will. 

This past week was emblematic. We saw Biden’s party face an electoral rout on Tuesday due mostly to pandemic policy – even the education controversies in Virginia trace to disastrous school closures – followed two days later by an intensification of those very policies with a vaccine mandate on companies with 100 or more employees. That was followed by an announcement from Pfizer the very next day that they have a new therapeutic pill that is 89% effective, in which case, why the vaccine mandate?. 

That’s more than enough to make one’s head spin. But then it got worse: on the same day, the head of the CDC claimed on Twitter that masks reduce “your chance of Covid-19 infection by 80%,” a claim without a shred of evidence in the scientific literature. At this point, it seems like they will say anything, knowing full well that the fact checkers will leave alone any high official in the federal government. 

Let’s focus on the mandate on business. It is imposed in the midst of evidence all around us that the previous public-sector and contractor mandate has led to sickouts, resignations, and unpaid leave announcements hitting industrial sectors and cities all over the country, from airlines to fire departments to hospitals and academia. In Senate testimony, Anthony Fauci cited the fantastic success of mandates at United Airlines while failing to mention the hundreds of firings and the pilot and staff revolt at every other airline. 

One would suppose that this mess would be enough to forestall more mandates but no: now all companies with 100 employees must force vaccines on its employees, or else pay fines of $13,600 per violation. 

More precisely, the mandate is a masking and testing one, with an exemption permitted for the vaccinated. That little trick is designed to survive the flurries of inevitable court challenges. Yes, it overtly creates a segregated caste system based on one’s willingness to submit to an injection via a government mandate. 

The rules come into effect on January 4, 2022, which means that businesses all over the country will spend the next two months trying to figure out what to do. Same with workers, many millions of whom do not believe that they need, and thus do not want this vaccine that neither stops infection, nor transmission and is also associated with unusually high adverse effects for which the vaccine makers bear no liability. 

Buried in the gigantic text is a request for public comment on expanding this to all businesses of any size. So there is no real escape in the long run. 

It’s truly hard to imagine how this could happen in the U.S. But the same could be said about nearly everything that has happened in the last 21 months. Citizens are desperately struggling to get out from under the yoke of this despotism, and using every opportunity available to do so. Politicians who back these policies are being swept out of office. And yet they carry on. It appears that the sadistic state is quickly becoming a masochistic one. 

Eleven red state governors have already filed lawsuits around the country. But these take time. And judges are incredibly unreliable. Some will reject the mandate and some will embrace it. Then there are appeals and those too take time. Then there will be the matter of toggling between various decisions. It sets up a war between the states, a war between judges, a war between bureaucracies at all levels. 

And for what? The public health rationale makes zero sense. Charles Blow, a very naive New York Times columnist who accidentally says things he should not, tweeted out an obvious question. “I am mystified by how these southern states have such low rates of Covid when many of their governors haven’t followed cdc guidance. Someone please explain this to me.” 

He received an earful in the replies. But of course he cannot change his mind: he works for the New York Times, and we all know where they stand. In fact, it is worse than what he says. The states where vaccination is highest, Vermont for example, are some of the places where infections are worse.  

Of course the inevitable answer here is: get a booster. And give more injections to people who are younger and younger, even if they are at near-zero risk of severe outcomes. And even if we know for certain (106 serious studies by now) that natural immunity — perhaps half or more Americans already have it — is 27 times as robust as vaccine immunity. The science is absolutely clear on this. 

But of course this is not really about science. It is about political hegemony. Once the Biden administration decided this past summer that state-by-state they could predict vaccination rates by party affiliation, the deed was done. They decided to use the shot to target their political enemies, vex them, and show them who’s boss. In particular, Washington, D.C., today despises Florida and Texas, which has siphoned off millions of residents from the lockdown states. The resentment of this and the realignment this will create in the future is palpable. 

Businesses cannot wait for the courts to sort out this mess. They have to act now. And so HR departments are already putting together plans for imposing the mandates. This much is true: everyone who wanted a shot long ago, got one. That leaves only people of various degrees of resistance, resentment, and anger. Many people will go along. Others will not, and so they will be fired. They will seek other employment in a company with fewer than 100 workers to provide a temporary reprieve. 

And all of this is occurring in times of an unprecedented labor shortage when perhaps 4.3 million people have gone missing. 

Businesses cannot find workers. Owners of businesses are having to work 18 hours a day, even as they face rising costs of nearly everything in this inflationary environment. Now they are being told that they must become the enforcers of vaccines, which will only intensify their resentment. 

Of course none of this is truly enforceable. The Department of Labor has nowhere near the resources, especially since they too are firing people for their failure to comply with this mandate. Compliance devolves down the company level, pitting managers against employees and employees against each other. I’m going out on the limb here to say in public what many people tell me in private is true: there is a pandemic of forgeries in every sector that has attempted a mandate. 

Some people with vaccinations don’t see the big deal here. Just get the jab, they say, then you can be free. Others find this idea to be outrageous, an immoral acquiescence to power that can only lead to even worse outcomes. Businesses, meanwhile, just want to get on with doing business. But doing so will require that they become enforcement agents for the CDC and vaccine companies. 

It all flies in the face of an intuition that has long been part of our public ethos: the medicine we take, our health information, the choices we make over what to do with our bodies, are no one’s business. In a free and civilized society, individuals can keep all of this private. Vaccinated or not, only the individual should decide and the choice he or she makes should not be public knowledge. 

Famed quarterback Aaron Rogers explained as much when he pushed back against the mob that denounced him for declining to get vaccinated. He had previously said that he was immunized – an excellent word choice to describe the reality of natural immunity. After further refusing the shot, the mob became angrier, demanding that he be immediately fired. 

The Aaron Rogers controversy is a microcosm of a larger public health mess that has encouraged stigmatization, segregation, spying, and generalized brutality that is dividing companies, communities, and friends, spreading mistrust and anger without precedent in our lifetimes. A more incompetent conduct of public health is hard to imagine.