Ed. Note: Another debate has broken out at SJ! Chris Seaton has called the question:
Resolved: in the interests of public health, safety, and reviving a struggling economy, the United States should require vaccine credentials for all citizens 18 years of age or older.
Chris will be taking the affirmative, and I will be taking the negative. Chris’s post follows, and I do my lame best here.
As you’re reading this, America is well over a year past “two weeks to slow the spread” of COVID-19. Many small businesses are gone. School children haven’t seen friends or teachers in person for over a year. We’re not to leave our homes without at least two face diapers over our nose and mouth. Our current way of life isn’t sustainable.
Worse still is the inconsistent messaging from our elected officials on how we’re progressing during the pandemic. On one hand we’re told there’s probably four vaccines for COVID that are miracle drugs that we should all get immediately. Then we have no less than the CDC director on the news telling the world she feels “doom and gloom” over areas reopening.
It’s time for us to kick COVID and reopening society in the pants. The best way to go about this, the more I consider the options, is to encourage every adult 18 and older to carry a vaccine credential. A “passport to normalcy,” if one chooses to view it as such.
Here’s how this “passport” would theoretically work. Two weeks after the second shot, the signed card in your wallet gives you the ability to remove the face diapers and go about your life as you see fit. Drink in bars, twerk at the club. Do whatever you want.
The credential benefits you when some busybody approaches you at Kroger in the produce section to remind you of the store’s face covering requirement for entry. You then produce your card, smile at Karen while informing her you’re safe to be around, then thanking her for thinking of your health. Then go about your business while the Karen calls you a bigot and reminds you “We’re all in this together!”
Many people would understandably balk at the notion of carrying a “vaccine passport” just to participate in normal life. To those people I say, “I get it, some folks might balk at getting injected with something developed in nine months. No judgment.” I would then tell those individuals to continue washing your hands, social distancing, wearing however many masks are appropriate this week, and so on.
Hence the wording of the resolution: adults 18 and older should carry a vaccine credential. The whole goal is to incentivize as many adults as possible to get the vaccine so we can all go about the business of acting like Con Law experts, instead of epidemiologists, on Twitter once again.
My policy proposal might be moot by the time any plan took effect. Right now it’s impossible to get a vaccine appointment booked anywhere near me because the demand is so high. With millions of shots administered daily there’s a good chance we could finally get to the praised “herd immunity” status we’ve dreamed of for a year. Until then the passport is a great measure to help us get back to normal life.
Naysayers will contend once such a program is in place it will never end. To those individuals I say, “this is a debate, and in my debate hypothetical people are smart enough to realize when a government program isn’t needed and get rid of it.” And ideally we would stop requiring proof of vaccination before getting cited for wearing a non N-95 mask in the near future.
I am nothing if not a realist, and must grapple with the possibility my proposal would become permanent law if enacted. If that is the case, then so be it. It’s one more trade-off we’ve collectively agreed to so our society can function.
This is an important point of my argument because in the back of my head I can hear my esteemed counterpart and mean-ass editor making some grand argument about the price of freedom. He might be onto something if we haven’t shown ourselves to give zero fucks about our freedoms in the last year.
We jailed ministers for the crime of holding church services because unelected bureaucrats labeled them “super spreader” activities. Someone you know probably snitched on a “non-essential” business trying to operate then snuck off for a road trip two states away. A favorite watering hole might be closed because they couldn’t afford the fines from selling improper snacks.
Our nation arguably stopped giving a damn about freedom on September 11, 2001. We’ve only accelerated our disdain for civil liberties in the last year.
Let’s just accept one more trade-off and get back to life.
Rebuttal: It’s telling how much Scott and I agree on certain key issues, like the need to get vaccinated. I suspect his concern with my incentive-based argument lies in that it’s clear, simple, and if history means anything, most likely wrong.
The one area where we fundamentally disagree, I believe, is in how good-natured people inherently are. Scott’s arguments reveal he’s a bit of an optimist for our species. I’m afraid I just can’t share his sentiment.