Thursday, October 14, 2021

A 'Shot' in the Dark: To Vaccinate or Not

Anyone who knows me understands that I a independent thinker (in fact, "independent" is hardly an apt description as I think most people would agree). I have absolutely zero tolerance for dogma of any sort. So, it's not surprising that the cockles of my heart were downright giddy when I read about the number of teachers, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, air traffic controllers, pilots, and all the rest who chose to go home than submit to a defacto mandate from government and business to get a COVID vaccination. 

Now, some of you must be stunned or even flabbergasted to hear that. After all, look at the burden its placing on those who decided to comply and return to work. Would it surprise you to know that I can agree?  There is an inordinate burden being placed on those who opted for the shot and went back to work. For many, not only are they doing their own job, they're also being forced to pick up the slack for those who decided to opt out.

The result has been unstocked shelves, unfilled prescriptions, an absence of replacement parts, longer waits in lines, fewer people to answer the phone at businesses, unavailable or prolonged appointments, not to mention longer work hours for some, drive through only, and even the consolidation of stores, leaving many people having to travel a little further to find an open location (made worse by the higher gas prices, which have recently increased for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which includes fewer people available to unload the tankers sitting outside of  harbors or truckers willing to transport it).

On top of the that, we seem to have fewer people willing to work. It seems that there are "help wanted" signs practically everywhere. I almost feel sorry for those individuals standing on corners with their little cardboard signs begging for money. Who wants to handout "spare change" when now is the best time ever for them to get a job and get their lives back together?

Interestingly, there are about 9.2 million job openings at present, and yet unemployment is at record highs with some 8 million unemployed Americans, and that doesn't include the millions who are underemployed, working outside of the industry they want, or those who either are working part-time and want a full time job or visa versa. What's going on here?

The downturn in employed individuals appeared to have begun with the onset of COVID-19 when the government all but shut down the economy, urging only "essential" workers to report to their jobs and asking the rest of us to stay home. Schools and universities were closed, as were daycare facilities, and most stores in general. Only a small handful of services were let open, including many doctor's offices. Dentist office were closed, as were courts (trials were postponed) while hospitals, gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies remained open.

To offset the sudden loss of income, unemployment benefits were extended and ordinary households were issued supplemental income checks by the government to help get them through. Meanwhile, insanity seemed to run amuck as people started hoarding paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, milk, butter, and other food staples which created panic and artificial shortage.

At the same time, we were encouraged to wear nose and mouth coverings, which many thought of as some sort of shroud akin to the ones used during the Black Plague. Nevertheless, this "shroud" became our admission pass should we want to go anywhere, be it to the store, doctor's office, or just about anywhere else that was open. For a few enterprising Americans, making and selling masks became a cottage industry. It wasn't long before other more established businesses got in on the act with "extra layers", filters, while some were even copper enhanced!

Simultaneously, with all the "peaceful protests", resulting in looting, arson, destruction of property, and vandalism, people went on a buying spree of ammo and guns of all types (not to mention the government's quiet buying spree of ammo). It seemed like chaos was everywhere, and then, just like magic, came Big Pharma and Washington to rescue with their hastily produced (and even hastier approved) vaccines.

Americans, in droves, lined up to get an injection of the magic elixir. Meanwhile, the government and corporate owned media went on a full court media press to encourage everyone to step up and get the shot. It seems like we were being told from every corner and from nearly every expert and pseudo-expert (not to mention a few quacks) to get vaccinated. 

Gradually, the lines for the vaccinates got smaller, more stores opened, and the majority of the artificial shortages started to become a thing of the past. At the same time, fewer and fewer people wore their "shrouds". However, in its place, a new "passport" came into being---your proof of vaccine card.

Many businesses and government agencies (including courts) now required proof of your compliance, which reminded many Americans of the "Kennkarte" (personal ID card) demanded of German citizens and those in occupied countries by the nefarious Gestapo of Nazi Germany (Soviet citizens, as well as those in Warsaw Pact nations carried a similar ID card post WWII). 

For the majority of Americans, having to show proof of their compliance hit them wrong, particularly since at the same time, federal and state governments were considering mandates to force individuals to comply. There was never anything from the government or health officials which dictated the mandatory vaccination of all citizens. It was left up to each of us to be vaccinated or not, although the government and others (including employers) were strongly encouraging it, which brings us full circle.

A large percentage of Americans---about 45%--- have elected not to get the anti-COVID shot for various reasons as of July 2021. They believe that COVID is nothing more than variant of the flu; perhaps artificially made or enhanced to be more virulent, but nothing more than our own immunity couldn't handle (assuming we didn't have any illnesses which suppressed our immune system). 

These individuals believed that collectively, a "herd immunity" would be formed which would all but eliminate COVID and change it into little more than a nuisance, albeit a potentially serious one. They also encouraged those with impaired immune systems to get the vaccination(s) as a way to protect themselves. This notion of "herd immunity", originally encouraged at the initial outbreak of COVID, was now being downplayed by the government and some health officials.

The result has been a unintentional standoff between those who support free choice (to vaccinate or not) and validity of individual and herd immunity versus the government's (and other's) insistence that the only true protection is immunization by vaccine.  Businesses which had required proof of vaccination of their employees (or face sanctions up to and including termination) has seen the majority of their employees not blink at this COVID standoff and take the latter option, whatever that happens to be.

The same has applied in several other occupations including air traffic controllers, pilots and crew, firefighters, nurses, doctors, and hospital employees, truck drivers, warehouse workers, store employees, and even restaurants to name just a few.

Police officers and others in law enforcement also drew a line in the proverbial stand. Already facing massive shortages as a result of early retirements, resignations, and lack of available recruits thanks to last year's anti-law enforcement protests and demands to defund police departments, now officers are rejecting demands by the state to get vaccinated (this also applied to other first responders).

Even the military is seeing a downturn in retention and recruitment, amid the growing threat of China and possible terrorists attacks now that the Taliban is back in charge of Afghanistan and ISIS has returned (to paraphrase Mark Twain's famous quote, "talk of their demise has been greatly over exaggerated"), as military personal, who are inoculated against practically everything you can imagine, are refusing the COVID shots.

So, what does this mean to you and me? In short, we are facing what will surely be the first of a standoff between the Status Quo and its supporters over what constitutes "public health" and those that are ardent defenders of free choice; individuals who believe they have the right to decide whether to get vaccinated or not (the irony of "my body my choice" isn't lost on anyone).

As a result, these individuals have elected to risk financial ruin and who knows what else by refusing to get vaccinated. Unemployment, if covered, is only a short term fix. At some point, they will have to go back to work. Their only hope at this point is that given the millions of job openings, they can find a job that pays as well or better and doesn't require vaccination.

Meanwhile, employers who do require vaccinated employees will have to decide to stand by their guns and suffer it through while encouraging their employees to endure the extra hours. Most likely this will prove to be a boon to the employees. With a labor shortage of this scale, now is the time to seek higher pay, better benefits, promotions, and so forth. Employers can do little but go along, though some may go belly up. Many are already offering sign on bonuses, higher hourly wages, and special bonuses. 

COVID has already morphed once since the introduction of the vaccines (the "Delta" variant), and there's the possibility that it will continue to morph before it can finally be controlled. Given the uncertainty of the COVID's origin (despite strong suspensions), there is the likelihood other viruses will pop up. If so, then what? Will we go through this all over again? What about the concerns of the vaccines themselves?

Numerous doctors, nurses, immunologists, and others in the healthcare have come out against the vaccines, equating them to the snake oil sold by hucksters of past generations. They can be found all over social media pontificating their opinions. There are even claims that the vaccines contain chemicals which can destroy or at the very least, impair our own immune systems or having magnetic ingredients which enable the government (or corporations) to track our every movement. Some claim that the vaccines will help depopulate an overcrowded earth.

Personally, I can understand the need for the vaccinations, especially when it comes to protecting those with impaired immune systems. At the same time, each individual has a natural right to decide for themselves what to do with or to their own body. If I chose to vaccinate, that's my choice and not anyone else's, especially not the government's and certainly not a business.

Others will argue that a employer has a legal duty to provide a safe working environment, and they are right. Employers do have a legal right to protect their workers. That's the purpose of OSHEA. Schools have an obligation to keep students safe as well. But, do they have a right (or legal obligation) to demand that everyone shows proof of vaccination?

 When I was growing up in Florida back in the 1960's, everyone had to be vaccinated. I assume that's still the case. This is just one more vaccination to add to the list isn't it? But, if the majority are vaccinated, they are presumed "protected". So, what if I opt out? What if I was already exposed? My body will create its own natural antibodies to protect me. If I am willing to accept that risk, what's the problem?

As to the vaccines being used as a tracking device, why? We are already a surveillance state. Our movements, purchases, phone calls, computer and Smartphone use, and so forth are already monitored and recorded. They've got satellites which can literally peer over our shoulders and see what we're reading. They don't need a vaccine. As for the vaccine's contents, I have no idea. Biology was never my strong suit. I specialized in economics and the social sciences. Nevertheless, while I trust science, I trust my body's natural immune system more. It's time society did likewise and got people back to work. 

 

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