You have the right walk down the street outside my house. But you may be denied that right if you want to cross the road at a light controlled intersection and you are facing a red light. We use traffic lights to reduce the risk of accidents between people using the same roads. But then we took a further step. We made it compulsory for the driver of a motor car to wear seat belts. This law was not made to reduce the risks of others being hurt. It was made to reduce the risk of damage if the driver was involved in a collision. Some people were offended. They complained that this law invaded their rights by impairing their freedom. One answer is that all laws affect the freedom of people since they will not be free – they will have to face consequences – if they break the law. If you want to introduce economics into this discussion about compulsory wearing of seat-belts, it is that people injuring themselves badly because they are not wearing seat-belts may be injured badly enough to require hospitalisation – at our expense.
That is the argument for the compulsory wearing of face masks during a time of epidemic. You do not hear that argument so much outside the U S, but to many of us, Americans have a fixation about ‘rights’ and ‘liberty.’ That fixation reached the level of madness when a state governor sued a city mayor for seeking to make the wearing of face masks compulsory. It adds nothing to say that a law affects ‘freedom’ since all laws do just that.
We’ve been having a lively debate lately about what the sudden social-justice ascendancy in American institutions represents, and whether the new iconoclastic progressivism is just an organic development in liberalism or a post –liberal successor.
New York Times, 7 July, 2020
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd said later ‘the Commonwealth accepts the need for this action in response to containing spread of the virus’.
But, Kidd said, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee — the federal-state health advisory body so often invoked by Morrison — ‘was not involved in that decision.
‘The AHPPC does not provide advice on border closures’, Kidd added.
ABC, 7 July, 2020