What Limits Are Needed On Government During This Outbreak?

by | Mar 21, 2020

Disease epidemics are perfectly solvable by libertarian theory. If someone is infected with a dangerous disease, and they bring themselves into a position where they can infect others, then they have violated someone’s rights. In an ideal ancap scenario, places like malls and movie theaters would have every right to demand your vaccination or medical history before permitting you entry. Don’t like it? Patronize someone else. Worried about getting sick? Go to the places that demand your vaccine records.
It gets a bit more complicated with rights protection agencies. Can a community hire private cops to patrol checkpoints into a town, testing people for fevers or disease as a necessary pre-condition for entry? Can some version of this be generalized into a developed ancap society?  These are tough questions.
All I know is we have nothing like an ancap society right now.  America is a highly degraded, barely free society with a broken bill of rights.  Even so, we still have to survive this virus.  Actual measures have to actually be taken to deal with the outbreak.  As it stands, the government is in the position to be part of the solution.
Is there a way around this? Sure. Private citizens can start building systems and networks now to start independently doing what the government has monopolized. Not only are you likely to do it better, you can prevent the government from seizing power during this situation.
Nevertheless, we may just have to work with government on this one. For lack of a better answer, the best thing I can think of – banal as it is – would be an “outbreak bill of rights”.  Something like 10 clear lines in the sand.  Something we won’t let the government transgress, no matter how much we endure their martial law measures.  Something non-libertarians would support. Something easily spread and understood.
This situation will leave folks vulnerable, but the government itself will be stretched thin.  It will be an uneasy balance, especially as civil and social tensions between communities within America may increase.
If we develop a reasonable consensus between different political factions, I believe the people have more than enough real power to put our feet down and maintain our 10 lines in the sand.  We don’t want this martial law to turn into world socialism or permanent fascism.
In preparation for an article on this subject, I would like you to help me develop these “10 lines in the sand” for the “outbreak bill of rights”.
Here’s one: “No microchips or bodily invasive tracking”.  The government may want to track who is vaccinated or not.  In the movie Contagion, this was done with plastic bracelets.  Sounds like hell, but, you can at least take a bracelet off.  An implant? You’ll never get rid of that.
Here’s another: “Remunerate any property seizures with at a minimum a common instrument of value.”  These would be “outbreak bonds”. Sounds crappy, but better than eminent domain. Plus, if Boeing gets a bailout in order to built cheap pop-up aluminium hospitals or something, I think farmer Joe should be treated the same and get something if the feds use his barn to store equipment. The social and economic aftershocks of this situation will probably exceed the medical consequences, so war economy shenanigans are possible.
That’s the idea.  10 such lines in the sand.  If you have any suggestions, please email them to: outbreakrights@gmail.com
I’ll try to mention all the ideas in my article, but will select the top ten on my own in consultation with the Libertarian Institute editorial board.

About Zack Sorenson

Zachary Sorenson worked for the United States Air Force for six years as a Navigation Officer. He recently quit because of a principled opposition to war. He considers himself to be a Libertarian, and studied Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He would like to see the resurgence of a non-political commitment to peace for its own sake, across the spectrum of ideologies.
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