The Corner

Health Care

Ezekiel Emanuel Wants Vaccine Refusers Denied Unemployment Benefits

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, professor of Health Care Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in Washington, D.C., April 1, 2014 (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Some states have passed laws allowing workers who are fired for refusing to be vaccinated to receive unemployment benefits. These include Florida, Iowa, Kansas (which has a Democratic governor), Arkansas, and Tennessee — with other states considering following suit.

That has the authoritarian Left in an uproar. One such angry activist, unsurprisingly, is President Biden bioethics adviser Ezekiel Emanuel — who never met a mandate he didn’t like. Emanuel just said on CNN:

I think this basically says people who are rejecting the vaccine mainly because they are against vaccinations are actually doing social harm, and now governors are rewarding them. That is a very bad incentive and just the opposite of what the country needs . . .

It’s in the name of politics. No person who was present at the founding of this country, Franklin, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, would endorse this idea of liberty. Liberty always involved the idea that you can do what you want, as long as you don’t impinge on someone else, and that is not what is happening here. People who stay unvaccinated are impinging on other people. They are propigating the virus. They are going to hospitals that are overloaded if they happen to get very sick. This is hardly individual liberty that does not impact the wellbeing of other people.

It seems to me that Franklin, Washington, Madison, and Hamilton would be aghast at such a thing as a national mandate promulgated by a government agency rather than by Congress, and the federal government’s putting the private sector in a harness to accomplish executive-branch goals. I would also note that a nation-wide vaccine mandate is unprecedented.

But why be surprised? The Left won’t be happy until vaccine refusers are unable to work, shop, or even venture outside their homes.

Here’s a better idea. Don’t fire people who refuse to get vaccinated — and then unemployment benefits won’t be an issue.

Mandates are not only counterproductive; they are bad for the country and the economy. It is time to rescind the mandates, as Boeing and Southwest Airlines have done. Offer employees tests instead. And recognize natural immunity as a category of protection.

Either that, or we can continue to tear the country apart. That might get good cable-news ratings. But it is very bad for our mutual affection and finally creating a unified approach to fighting Covid.

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