Smallpox was a scourge that humankind is better off without, but we didn’t get rid of it because individuals decided to quarantine themselves. You don’t fight a systemic problem on an individual level. Eradicating smallpox required us to make big societal investments in the research and development of vaccines and in the infrastructure to get those vaccines to every corner of the globe.Of course if you live alone in an island compound patrolled by guard robots, you don't have to worry about epidemic disease. But if you want to live in a human society, even a thinly populated rural one, you need collective means to solve collective problems.
Individuals mattered in that process: people did the research, people administered vaccines, and people chose to get vaccinated. The plan worked, however, because those people were acting as a part of something bigger. On their own, with nothing to connect their efforts, individuals trying to eradicate smallpox couldn’t have made a difference, even if lots of individuals were separately working on it at the same time.
Monday, April 9, 2012
Another Reason why Libertarianism is Stupid