Governments Cannot Effectively Regulate Vaccines

Because government officials do not worry about the consequences of making mistakes, the government should not be permitted to regulate anything as important as vaccines

Image Credits: ARTUR PLAWGO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty.

It’s theoretically impossible for government to regulate vaccines effectively.

To see why, consider the following thought experiment: Imagine you were an expert employed somewhere in the government’s sprawling healthcare apparatus, and further imagine that you received incontrovertible evidence that every single person who took the covid vaccines would die as a result of those vaccines at some point in the next five years.

First, notice that I’ve loaded this experiment in favor of the government. There’s no such thing as dispositive evidence on such complex issues, and there’s no such thing as 100 percent fatal vaccines (after all, if nothing else, somebody would die of something else while waiting to die from the vaccine).

Well, what could you do with that information? Nothing. After all, who’s going to risk their career over something as trivial as massive deaths? If government workers were inclined to risk their careers to save lives, we’d have far fewer wars.

But let us assume you’re willing to take that risk. So what? How would you make your voice heard? After all, lots and lots of experts came forward with dire warnings about those vaccines, so why would your efforts be any more successful than their efforts? Put another way, you could—quite reasonably—argue that those experts failed because they were wrong, but how could you—our hypothetical whistleblower—know that you’re right AND that you would succeed merely because you’re right? Surely, even the most naïve person cannot believe that truth and justice always prevail, so everyone must admit that even if you were right, you’d be taking a terrible risk.

But there’s another problem: Would you personally benefit from preventing the disaster or allowing it to transpire? If these vaccines proved disastrous, what would be the response? Well, obviously, a massive expansion of government power in order to remedy whatever “market failure” caused this disaster. How long would it take for fans of big government to realize the problem was the private sector’s involvement in the development and approval process? How long until some massive bipartisan bill invested billions in creating new levels of bureaucracy to ensure the next vaccine was safe and effective?

Remember the housing crisis? Rarely, if ever, has there been a more clear and more obvious government failure, and yet one is considered delusional for blaming the government for that crisis. Instead, we created vast new bureaucracies to administer thousands of new regulations to “fix” the private sector’s “failures.” Now it’s conventional wisdom that the housing crisis “proves” that markets can’t work.

Wouldn’t millions of dead people “prove” that markets can’t respond to pandemics? Wouldn’t some new government agency, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), that’s almost entirely immune from political oversight “fix” these problems? Wouldn’t some Dodd-Frank for pharma do wonders, ensuring no more vaccine failures?

That is, government always benefits from government’s failures, which are invariably cited as proof that more government is needed. If World War I doesn’t end all wars, surely World War II will. If Fannie and Freddie and a million other interventions can’t fix the housing crisis, then surely CFPB will. If central banking causes the Great Depression, then surely more central banking will fix the market’s supposed propensity for causing great depressions—a propensity that curiously enough had never actually caused a great depression prior to central banking.

I could go on, but this point should be obvious to any reasonable person: government has no reason whatsoever to prevent its own failures. If these vaccines kill everybody, that’s great for them—another reason to expand their power.

This means that they simply cannot regulate vaccines effectively. Indeed, they can’t regulate anything effectively. If we really wanted regulations to work, we’d need them to be created and administered by people who had skin in the game.

If, for example, vaccine manufacturers had to pay for every injury or side effect and were required to have insurance for such losses, then they and their insurance companies would ensure that vaccines were safe and effective. But the moment you introduce a third party who suffers no consequences for its failures, you ensure the system cannot work.

Let me illustrate the point by analogy. Imagine a football team for which the coach cannot be fired no matter what. How do you think that team would perform? No one would suggest such a system, but that’s precisely what government is—a coach who cannot be fired. In theory, the coach “regulates” the team, but in practice, the coach does not and cannot fulfill that function because she has no reason to do so and every reason to fail.

Does any of this prove that covid vaccines are unsafe or ineffective? No, but it does prove that government regulation doesn’t ensure that vaccines—or anything, really—is safe or effective. If regulations work, it’s merely by chance because this tool (government) simply cannot do what it’s being asked to do.

If you want to argue that government workers are brave altruists who will do the right thing at great cost and risk to themselves merely because it is the right thing, then I have to wonder why you think government is necessary at all. As James Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” And why would such people congregate in government? How would they get power? How would they keep it?

Government, even in theory, has a massive adverse selection problem in which the unscrupulous tend to garner more power than the ethical, so how could a system that depends on angels controlling the government ever work?

Of all the things we ask government to do, regulating vaccines must be the task to which the government is most ridiculously ill suited as it requires government “experts” to understand the most difficult questions in science and to question the results at great personal risk and cost to themselves. To think that they will do that on any consistent basis is farcical.



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