Perspectives: Why the common good is usually bad; or, America’s got the measles

OPINION –  If you were asked to name the greatest political divide in American society today, how would you answer?

Is it Republicans versus Democrats? The rich versus the poor? Believers versus non-believers? Once we start down this road, we end up with the kind of list that quickly snowballs into an avalanche of labels yet still fails to describe the real divide.

As G. Ed Griffin points out in his essay “The Future Is Calling”, the real conflict isn’t just about the merits of a proposed action. It’s about whether a policy or course of action is ethically justifiable or not.

Viewed through the lens of principle, the most important division in our nation today is the one between the individual and the collective.

Griffin rightly states that a majority of collectivists and individualists are men and women of good intentions. They want a good life for themselves and the people around them. The difference is in how they go after their goals.

The individualist views human rights as natural, nontransferable, individual rights that limit the power of government over us. The best example of this can be read in the Declaration of Independence which states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men …

The collectivist sees things differently. Under collectivism, our rights are granted or given to us by the state. This means that government exists to tell us what our rights are rather than securing and protecting them.

Individual rights require government to act within clearly specified limits on its power. No individual may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. Government cannot rightfully do what would be wicked or immoral for the individual to do in preserving his rights.

If it would be wrong for me to forcibly take money from my neighbor and use it for philanthropic purposes, it would not be right for a thousand, or a million, people to forcibly take his money for the same purpose.

Collectivism, on the other hand, makes our rights a matter of simple math. The natural rights of the individual are subject to the approval of the majority when it is being done “for the greater good” of the group.

Acts that deny the rights of the individual are somehow transmuted into acts of imaginary nobility when they are done for the so-called common good. But how can something that is truly good be detrimental to another good?

One place where we can see this distinction playing out is in the rising hysteria following a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland. Not only is the outbreak being blamed on individuals who, for various reasons, choose not to be vaccinated but there are increasing calls for mandatory vaccinations.

One Pasadena woman whose sister came down with measles is being threatened with an involuntary quarantine if she does not get the measles vaccine. California’s state epidemiologist is also warning those who are not vaccinated to “stay away from Disneyland.”

What’s curious is that a surprising number of the people who contracted measles at Disneyland were, in fact, already vaccinated. In other words, vaccination is not the panacea that the collectivists are pretending it is.

The individualist approach to this measles outbreak would be to follow one’s own conscience on reducing exposure to the disease while encouraging others to make an informed decision on whether or not to become vaccinated. Fear of what others may or may not choose to do would not be a deciding factor.

The collectivist approach is to clamor for legal intervention that would treat every person who has not been vaccinated as a walking time bomb. Fear and numbers remain the moral basis for all collectivist law and policy.

Will they advocate removing children from the homes of parents who have rejected the group’s will? This is not a far-fetched possibility when we consider what has already been done in the name of the common good.

We saw this in the Parker Jensen case in Utah back in 2003 when a 12-year-old boy was nearly forced to undergo unnecessary chemotherapy by the well-intentioned collective.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, 17-year-old Cassandra Fortin has been taken from her home and ordered to undergo forced chemotherapy even though she wants to refuse the treatment. By what right does the collective force a young woman to undergo medical treatment she does not want?

Genuine common good doesn’t require government violence. It’s really just voluntary individual good on a larger scale.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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56 Comments

  • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Blah blah blah “truth seeker”.
    The TRUTH is that vaccinations save lives. There were no measles vaccinations when I grew up and a girl I know died. Men who caught the measles were rendered impotent. You’re the father of SIX and do not believe in vaccinations? Good! I hope your crowd stays away from my daughter, a kidney transplant patient with a compromised immune system — and from small children and those with other medical issues.
    You Ayn Rand lovers are actually selfish. It’s like a mental disease to you. You’ll stay that way UNTIL you want money from us taxpayers. Then, like Ayn, you’ll collect Social Security. THEN, like Mia Love, you’ll ask for millions from the Feds for remediation after flooding damaged areas that the city did not properly maintain.

    In your case, fighting the “common good” means that you shall truly have to say “I’m sorry, I was wrong”. I can’t wait.

    • Koolaid January 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

      A person only needs to visit cemeteries that predate vaccinations and note the graves of children who died at the same time when child illnesses, now treatable by vaccinations, swept through the community. Good think this person voice only his own opinion which you should regard as only opinion, not fact. Seek out the real facts, not this writer’s opinion.

  • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 10:04 am

    By the way, anyone who’s studied the Cassandra Fortin case knows that it’s her mother behind her refusal. Poor little Cassandra doesn’t want chemo because it may damage her body (YET she faces death from one of the most easily-treatable forms of cancer).

    Here’s what her mother says: “Cassandra’s mother, Jackie Fortin, wants to prove what’s called a “mature minor doctrine,” which basically means that although her daughter isn’t 18, she’s competent enough to make life-changing decisions.
    “She’s very independent,” said Fortin. “She works a job, pays her own bills [and has] her own responsibilities.”

    It sounds like her mother has been making this child pay her way all her life and the issue REALLY is that the mother doesn’t want to PAY for the treatment.

    OK, mom. LET YOUR DAUGHTER DIE. Who forces an under-aged child to pay their own way? Doesn’t anyone RAISE children anymore?

  • Koolaid January 26, 2015 at 10:18 am

    “Viewed through the lens of principle, the most important division in our nation today is the one between the individual and the collective.” This comment comes from someone in Utah who is a member of the “collective” religion. that will excommunicate and ostracize you should you dare state an opinion opposing that of the “collective”. The voice of that “collective” is not that of an individual. Even the basic ordinances and laws of government within Utah, state and local, are based on that “collective”, because the “collective” has its representatives in governing positions. Odd that this member of the “collective” talks about individual representation without addressing his own “collective” membership.

  • Bunny2015 January 26, 2015 at 10:25 am

    What’s funny is I really didn’t want my taxes to pay for Hyde’s six kid’s public schooling either. Probably a total waste when they end up like good old dad…

  • Les January 26, 2015 at 10:32 am

    So are you saying that as an individual you pretty much should be able to do what you want to do under the guise of freedom and the rest of us citizens (the collective) be damned. You always seem to have such a childish point of view when it comes to government and the individual. I neither have the time nor the inclination to point out all of the falsies of your diatribe. But it is pretty self evident that if we let people scrap all vaccinations that they just don’t want our health care system could be overwhelmed by preventable health care issues by a small number of individuals that could care less about the large number of individuals (the collective.) Not to mention that these are probably the same people that don’t feel the should have to buy health insurance because the rest of us will pay for it one way or another.

  • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Another ramble that veers from logic to illogic in a heartbeat and gives Bryan the column space to re-write the Declaration of Independence in the process. Man oh man. Bryan Hyde: “Individual rights require government to act within clearly specified limits on its power. No individual may be deprived of life, liberty, or PROPERTY without due process.” Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, re-read your own words quoted from the Declaration: “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” How did “the pursuit of Happiness” become – in your phrase – “property”? Your column is not about measles, it’s about public lands and the perpetual whine in this area about government interference, a whine from people who happily reap the rewards of government every single day. But like so many who drape themselves in camouflage or other disguises, you don’t want to come right out and say that. Instead of directing people Griffin’s writing, I suggest people first take a look at Griffin’s bio and history – conspiracy theorist, etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Edward_Griffin. Then go get yourself a stiff drink and ponder how it is that a self-proclaimed Truth-seeker can be so full of BS.

    • Brian January 26, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      The Founders originally wrote it as “life, liberty, and property”, but they didn’t want the “property” part to misinterpreted to promote or justify slavery, so in the final it was changed to “the pursuit of happiness”. But if you read the writings of Franklink, Adams, Jefferson, and others, “property” figures into it very prominently.

      • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        Franklink? Who’s that?

        There’s a reason our Constitution is a living document. If it were not, we’d still have slavery, women and blacks could not vote, and the second amendment’s “militia” clause would matter.

        • Big Guy January 26, 2015 at 6:28 pm

          Your examples are poorly chosen. The Constitution was amended to eliminate slavery and allow women to vote. The “militia” clause has been adjudicated and the Constitution’s original intent to allow individuals to own firearms has been affirmed. (I do not and never have owned firearms, but I do respect the Constitution.)
          The Constitution is only a “living document” in the minds of left liberals. Examples of how the Court has turned the Constitution into a “living document” are plentiful. A number of them are controversial and all of them have greatly expanded the reach of the Federal government, the liberals dream.

      • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 3:58 pm

        Brian – check your resources. The Founders did not originally write it as “life,liberty, and property.” This was Locke’s phrase. Jefferson deliberately did not use the word property but chose instead “pursuit of happiness.” It’s true that Jefferson and the Founders did not want to use a term that could have an impact on slavery, but it’s also true that they had in mind the idea of the common good in the phrase “pursuit of happiness.” You see, Brian, for unselfish people, the pursuit of happiness and the common good are not antithetical. (Am I going too fast for you here?)

        The common good is a basic tenet of a civilized society. It’s even in the Bible, Bri, (New International Version) “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ” Sharing. Generosity. Not standing on your property line with a gun, Brian. That’s the common good.

        • Travis January 26, 2015 at 4:25 pm

          Who decodes the common good? You.

          • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm

            I think your report card must have said “Does not play well with others,” Travis. The common good is decided by the group. But that requires generosity, unselfishness, a sense of the value of the individuals within that group. Remember the loaves and fishes?

      • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 4:20 pm

        Yep, most everybody knows that. But the fact remains that property is not there in the final draft. Care to elaborate on why?

    • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      Excellent point, A&L.

      • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 4:53 pm

        Thank you, Roy…

  • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Wow. I started reading the G. Ed Griffin article, but I got hung up on the beginning of the mountains and mountains of evidence from history beginning when he said “It was Will Durant who said: “Those who know nothing
    about history are doomed forever to repeat it.”

    This is not true. Georges Santayana said it, and everybody knows it. It is in ‘The Life of Reason, Vol. 1: Reason in Common Sense (1905)”.

    After that I just gave up. What could he possibly have to say that would be worth considering after such an abysmal beginning into seeking after truth?

    • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Excellent point, Roy.

      • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm

        Thanks, A&L. Still digging the picture.

        • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          Yeah, I like her, too…

          • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

            I am gonna start calling you Frannie…lol

  • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 11:07 am

    page 284

    • Roy J January 26, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Had to interject this as well from the Ed Griffin article again : ” If our task is to define rights as we think they should be in a free society,
      we must choose between these two concepts. Individualists choose the concept that rights
      come from the people and governments are the servants. Collectivists choose the concept
      that rights come from governments and people are the servants.”

      This is also not true, or at least does makes light of the actual complexity of the problem of rights. It should rather be pointed out that some rights are derived from the specific nature of man, while others are derived from his relationships (to nature, to man, to God, etc). Therefore the plurality of different states and political systems.

  • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Question, Bryan Hyde:
    IF it’s OK for a parent to DENY their child the cancer treatment that will save their life, how come it’s NOT OK for them to kill their child in another way?

    Oh, wait. In Utah, you don’t even get punished for baking your baby to death in a car (and people throw thousands of dollars at you).

    Life is so cheap in Utah….for “the born”.

    • ladybugavenger January 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Laytonian, I feel ya brother

  • Alex Jones January 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

    infowars.com

  • ladybugavenger January 26, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Didn’t the government give syphillis to people?

    • Koolaid January 26, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      The military provided soldiers with LSD and nuclear radiation exposure.

    • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Yeah….and because of all these government conspiracies, we NEVER heard about it, did we?
      Blacks weren’t valued in those days….but the Bryan Hydes of the world want to go back to the good old days of slavery, nonvoting uppity women and blacks, and “originalism”.

  • Big Guy January 26, 2015 at 11:41 am

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    Our Constitution provides for a fair amount of “common good” while also preserving individual liberties. Balancing these sometimes competing goals requires judgment and isn’t nearly as neat and clean as your editorial suggests. “Divide” occurs when we are faced with difficult and complex situations: some would choose personal liberty and individual choice while others see a need for government to provide for the “common good.” Honest and thoughtful men and women will be found on both sides of most of these questions.

  • Joanna January 26, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Does anyone know how to get in touch with the horse that bucked off Perspectives Guy? I’d like to send it a gift basket…

    • koolaid January 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      That horse probably belonged to the Bundys. That’s about when he got on the antigovernment horse.

  • Mike January 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Isabel Paterson correctly described those who insist on their view of a “greater good” being required of every individual as “humanitarians with a guillotine.” How very apt.

    Well done Bryan. As you swim upstream you will always encounter debris being swept along with the current.

  • Travis January 26, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I love how people don’t even read the article and just spew out personal attacks. And for what purpose? This isn’t an anti-vaccination article. Only that it’s a person’s individual right verses being forced to by a collective group. It’s my personal right to receive and for my children to receive vaccinations. I lose that right when the government decides to force me to do it. Just like it used to be my right to pay taxes. Now that right is taken away at the point of a gun. I have no choice in paying federal income tax. It’s stolen out of my paycheck and put in the government’s bank account.

    • Arts and Letters January 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Travis, it’s my personal right to drive on the wrong side of the road. Oops, did I hit your car and hurt somebody? So sorry.
      Uhm, Travis, when was that time you mention here when you didn’t have to pay taxes? Did I miss that window? Paying taxes is not a right, it’s an obligation. Sorry, but federal income tax taken out of your paycheck is not stolen, but I’m familiar now with the Utah logic on that one. Darn feds. But, say, do you ever drive on I-15? Any idea what that highway would be if it hadn’t received federal funds? And did you say “point of a gun”? Anybody else see a gun?

  • made up facts? January 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Mr. Hyde – you discredited your entire viewpoint by referencing yourself the article on the outbreak, which in the end shows you obviously make up “facts”. You say in your article that a “surprising number” of people contracting measles had been vaccinated. The article you reference says 82% were NOT vaccinated. “Surprising number” seems a little (lot) misleading. Assuming that about 90% of the US is vaccinated (from the CDC data), then based on these numbers, the rate of incidence of those contracting measles who have NOT been vaccinated is 1:500,000, while those who HAVE been vaccinated is 1:18 million. Which means your 40 times more likely to get measles if you were not vaccinated. Big difference, and not a surprising number.
    From the article referenced: “For the most part, it spreads among those who have not been vaccinated against the virus. Overall, 82% of those infected in this outbreak were not vaccinated, either because they’re too young or because they elected not to be, officials said.”

    • Bonita January 26, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Agreed. He’s trying to use the outbreak for a political rant when the science of herd immunity does not take political sides.

  • laytonian January 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Oh, Travis and Mike.
    Yer so cute. You don’t think we read the article? Do you seriously believe that if we just understood it better, we’d run to your side and take the anti-American route to selfishness?

    Since WHEN have you been forced to pay taxes at the point of a gun?
    Tell us. Show us the news story. Exactly WHAT happened to you specifically?
    Or are you just making more stuff up?

    Or, are you two like Bryan and Cliven Bundy, making things up to suit your purpose and thinking no one will catch you doing it?
    You know, like when Bundy claimed that his family grazed on those lands since the 1870s and thus had “ownership”. Yet, it took only five minutes to see that the Bundy family lived a hundred miles away back then, in Arizona. Bundy’s Dad only moved to that Bunkerville ranch in 1946 and took out the grazing permit in 1953.

    1953. 1870s. Let’s see. How does one get so confused?

    YOU are all feeding off the government. You use every bit of what the government provides yet you do not want to pay for it.

    I call that UNpatriotic and seditious.
    MY husband, father, father-in-law and older generations all fought for this country.
    I am appalled by you country-hating modern “patriots” fighting AGAINST our country. You have NOT been harmed. You are coddled and spoiled.

    • real life January 26, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Exactly Laytonian. The fact that the Bundy’s fly the American flag behind them at any of their anti-establishment rallies, is a joke.

  • Anonymous Coward January 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Lighten Up Francis

  • Bunny2015 January 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I’m looking for a good place to hide my guns from Obama. Who knows of one?

  • arrowone January 26, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    What happened to the measles?

  • S Steed January 26, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Forgive them Brian, they know not what they do. They have had these doctrines crammed down their throat all their life and the haven’t yet had that illuminating experience that forces them to reevaluate their existence. It is a slow process waking up the masses and we don’t like to be told that everything we think we know is wrong. Don’t take it personal, let it roll off your back because some day they will appreciate what you are doing. You seem to be the one sheep in the herd walking away from the slaughterhouse; but your piers are encouraging you to get back in line or the dogs might bite you. They do it out of love but it comes from a perspective of fear so I hope you can let it go. Keep up the good work.

  • KarenSp January 26, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Just when I thought that we were making progress with the anti-vax crowd, Brian Hyde has to write an article full of misinformation and “stir the pot” again. Another commenter already pointed out Mr. Hyde’s glaring error about “the surprising number” of vaccinated children who got the measles. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Mr. Hyde should read the article he referenced. Vaccines work!

    • S Steed January 26, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      The article said 82% were not. Doesn’t that mean that 18% were vaccinated? You keep shouting that he is wrong in hopes it will make you right. Vaccines don’t really work unless you want polio or autism; or if your into eugenics. Even then it doesn’t really work because the population is still growing. This whole thing stinks of an advertising campaign for Disneyland and vaccines- both of which we would do well to avoid. Some vaccinations might actually work but the trust has been broken and we’ve made it so far without them.

      • KarenSp January 26, 2015 at 9:45 pm

        Vaccines are not perfect. There’s a 5% chance of vaccine failure in people who have had only one dose of measles vaccine, and a less than 1% chance in people with both doses. I’m glad you have “made it so far without them” but I worry about my tiny grandchildren who are too young to receive the MMR being exposed to kids whose parents have an unreasonable fear. Obviously, some people cannot get vaccines because of allergies or immune system problems. The rest have a responsibility to have their children vaccinated. I grew up in the era when boys became sterile from mumps, some kids got encephalitis from measles, my uncle died from whooping cough and on and on. My neighbor spent his life in an iron lung from polio. People that got polio as children developed symptoms again in middle age.

        There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism or polio (that is a new one). Vaccines save lives!

        • Koolaid January 27, 2015 at 11:31 am

          I know someone whose infant died from one of those childhood diseases. You don’t know how painful it was for the parents to watch their daughter scream and cry in agony for hours until she finally died from fever and exhaustion. You don’t know how emotionally hard this was for the nurses and doctors at the hospital who tried to save her. Yeah, don’t get your children vaccinated. Maybe someone will throw you a fundraiser if your kid dies.

      • S Steed January 27, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        Ok, saying they don’t work is a misstatement. I will retract that; but fear is the key word here. It causes stress and anxiety; and that lowers your immune systems capabilities. We are constantly being told to “be afraid”, no “be VERY AFRAID”, and that is not helping. Blow up the TV and get in the dirt. Nature is pretty awesome and we can benefit a lot by using it. The alternative is to do the fear thing and take the shot, before long you can transform the human experience into a synthetic existence. I’m sure there are benefits to that route also.

  • real life January 26, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Thoughts and opinions are a right. And I believe in those rights. That said, this article was nothing more than irresponsible journalism.

  • ladybugavenger January 26, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I refuse to get the flu vaccine! I havent ever had the flu shot. So far so good. (fingers crossed)

  • villager January 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    ” Sancho, if we hear the dogs barking it is because we are advancing”
    Words from Don Quixote.
    Keep on writing!

  • Bender January 28, 2015 at 12:22 am

    Hints for the reader new to the scribblings of Hyde. His worldview — and language (e.g. collectivist) — is colored by his discipleship to an amoral, atheist emigre with a Russian Jewish upbringing. Many of us were interested in Ayn Rand, but upon exiting adolescence, most left her loony rants behind.

  • Teacher February 9, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Hints for the reader new to the scribblings of BENDER. His worldview may be colored by his discipleship to an amoral, atheist emigre [who moved to Britain] of German Jewish descent. Many freshmen were interested in this man, but upon exiting adolescence, most left his loony rants behind.

  • Teacher February 9, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Of course, BENDER apparently has a problem with people of Russian and Jewish upbringing, except for perhaps Lev Bronstein right?

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