Locke wrote at a time when it would have been easy to miss the role of social systems and how unfair these can be. But aside from issues of fairness in our social systems, it’s worth noting how big a job it is to secure individual rights and liberties.

Part of our current political dysfunction is driven by people who see no threats to liberty except from the government. And from that point of view, any government rule or regulation is likely to look like an infringement of liberty.

So, we need to talk about vaccine mandates in connection with this. People who go around unvaccinated undermine the liberty of others by making their own physical presence a threat to the health and safety of others. Vaccine mandates are there to prevent some people from undermining the liberty of others by taking risks with the health and safety of others. Sometimes rules and regulations are there to advance and secure liberty.

This seems to be a difficult idea for many people to grasp firmly. I suspect this is because many people think of liberty in terms of getting to choose whatever they like instead of in Locke’s terms of self-ownership and non-domination. But political freedom is not the same thing as consumerism.

So, here’s another example we all get the point of. You are not free to run red lights, drive on the left side of the road, or go 90 MPH through the middle of town. The rules of the road we are all expected to follow don’t infringe on our liberty, they secure and enhance it. We are all more free to get where we want to go safely when everybody abides by traffic laws. Same idea with vaccine mandates.

If we, in the land of the free, could get a little clarity on how freedom works, I’d once again feel free to go to a bar, have a beer, and talk politics with someone who disagrees with me in at least marginally more reasonable ways.

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