Public Health Approach

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The public health approach treats problems (such as infectious diseases, addictive drugs, gambling, crime, extramarital sex, pollution and other environmental problems) with harm reduction, rather than simple moral judgements or prohibition. Libertarians still oppose it because it is a successful government social program and an alternative to their radicalism.


A Nation’s People Offer the Best Return on Investment [More...]
Countries that spend on education, protect the environment and tackle inequality tend to outperform others.
Alcohol Prohibition (1 link)
Libertarians generally cite this as a failure, because it was repealed. Yet the actual history shows that prohibition achieved many of its goals, and was repealed because voter priorities changed in the Great Depression.
Belle Waring on public health practices in Singapore [More...]
Tickets for mosquito breeding sites, schools closed during outbreaks, mandatory vaccination. "The mosquito police can come in your house anytime and check the water in your flowers!"
Clean Water (1 link)
The public provision of clean water has saved countless millions of lives since Roman Times.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (13 links)
If they're not claiming coronavirus a hoax, libertarians are condemning government attempts to reign in the pandemic, succor those who are ill and help those whose livings have been affected. When they're not spouting disinformation about masks, social distancing, vaccines and reopening.
Democide (9 links)
R. J. Rummel's term for "killing of any person or people by a government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder". It conveniently excludes much larger private and commercial killing such as drug deaths, especially by slow causes such as tobacco and pollution. It also conveniently overlooks lives saved by the efforts of the same governments. Democide numbers are much smaller than the numbers of lives saved by government eradication of smallpox (which killed an estimated 500 million in its last century of existence), let alone other vaccination, potable water, sewerage projects and other Public Health measures.
Drug Legalization (15 links)
Long before libertarians advocated legalizing drugs, liberals advocated legalizing drugs. The difference is how they would be legalized: libertarians want unregulated drugs, and liberals want drugs regulated from a Public Health Approach by organizations such as the FDA.
Epidemics (4 links)
Libertarians have no way of defeating epidemics of contagious diseases. Their ideology does not allow quarantine, mandatory vaccination, and other measures that are essential to stopping epidemics such as Ebola, Corona virus, SARS, measles, polio, smallpox, etc.
Fluoridation and Iodization (1 link)
Fluoridation is an amazingly cost-effective solution to the huge problem of dental caries. Libertarians who object to fluoridation ought not drink "guvment water" anyhow. Iodization is an important antidote not only to goiter, but to significant mental retardation.
Gambling (2 links)
Gambling is the classic example of economic irrationality. Worse, it has enormous externalities due to crime, family relationships and neglect of other responsibilities. The best solution may be the Public Health Approach.
Global Burden of Disease and Risk Factors (book)
Identifies that DALYs (disability adjusted life years) lost due to intentional violence (1/3 of which are war) are about 4% of the total lost to all disease. Governments have prevented far more deaths than they have caused through violence.
Harvard Injury Control Research Center [More...]
A great resource on the public health viewpoint for reducing injury. The Firearms Research section has pointers to a great many recent resources and debunks much propaganda.
Losing at Its Own Game: the Right Retreats from Cost-Benefit Analysis [More...]
"EPA began to regularly produce jaw-dropping numbers on the benefits of virtually all its Clean Air Act regulations -- numbers that easily swamp the costs."
Magic Bullet: The History Of Oral Rehydration Therapy [More...]
Government-sponsored research developed one of the greatest life-savers for children in the third world.
Nanny State (8 links)
People who taunt "nanny state" forget just how dependent they are on the infrastructure of state institutions. Their real goals are to change who bears the burdens of society to benefit the rich and create misery for the needy. They should go off to Somalia to see what it's like without a good state.
Sewers (2 links)
Libertarians like to complain that governments are responsible for deaths through wars, etc. But they never consider how governments prevent deaths. The sewers of Rome have prevented far more deaths through sanitation than the legions of Rome ever killed in wars. Sewers are natural monopolies.
Technology Sabotaged Public Safety [More...]
"Technology services are systematically, if invisibly, eroding long-won victories in public safety." Such as Uber and vaping. "The technology sector’s global conquest rests partly on its total unconcern for the real-world impact of its products and services."
Ten Great Public Health Achievements -- United States, 1900-1999 [More...]
"Since 1900, the average lifespan of persons in the United States has lengthened by greater than 30 years; 25 years of this gain are attributable to advances in public health."
The Immediate Global Costs of Pollution [More...]
"The studies suggest that roughly 8.4-9.0 million people die each year from pollution... one set of estimates suggests that the costs of pollution might be about $4.6 trillion, or equal to about 6.2% of global national income... The Lancet Commission is saying that steps to reduce climate change would pay for themselves in terms of avoided mortality in air pollution."
The New Model for a Health-First Approach to Legalizing Weed [More...]
In Canada, "There will be “strict limits” on advertising, and marijuana will “likely be sold in uniform packages that carry health warnings as their only decoration,” and candies and other edibles will be banned... the critical balance of effective marijuana policy is to incentivize producers to make enough to meet demand, but not to substantially grow the market.
Under Neoliberalism, You Can Be Your Own Tyrannical Boss [More...]
Perfectionism makes us scornful of each other, afraid of each other, and unsure of ourselves at best. It prohibits the types of solidaristic bonds and collective action necessary to take on neoliberal capitalism, the very thing that generates it. The only possible antidote to atomizing, alienating perfectionism to reject absolute individualism and reintroduce collective values back into our society.
Vaccination (8 links)
Libertarians are split about mandatory vaccination. Those opposed claim it "violates individual liberty" and/or buy into anti-vaxer denialism and conspiracy theories. Some support mandatory vaccination because otherwise you are putting others at risk. But the fact of the matter is that mandatory vaccination resulted in the only human disease eradication to date: smallpox, which killed roughly 5 million per year.


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