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Mauldin Economics' Patrick Watson says business & property owners should be able to set their own rules about allowing people who have and haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 on their premises

Mauldin Economics' Patrick Watson says business & property owners should be able to set their own rules about allowing people who have and haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 on their premises

By Patrick Watson*

A distressing aspect of the pandemic - aside from the sickness, death, and recession - is the way it turned into a political and social wedge.

I wish, back when it started, we could have all pledged something like this:

“OK, here is a big problem none of us wanted. We’ll sort out the blame later. For now, we need to cooperate on the solution. We’ll trust experts to give us their best advice, knowing they will modify it as they learn more. We’ll accept some inconvenience, forgive each other’s mistakes, and just get through this.”

But no. Every little thing became an argument, at least in the US. I think this reflects a broader loss of trust among Americans.

In any case, it’s an economic problem because trust is the grease that enables growth. Lack of it extended both the pandemic and recession.

The vaccines that will get us out of this mess are also triggering a whole new argument.

Source: Marco Verch/Flickr.

Different boats

Disasters, wars, and pandemics should be times in which everyone works together against the common threat. We’re all in the same boat, so to speak.

Except we’re not in the same boat. Some have been able to work at home, have food delivered, and otherwise avoid the threat. Others - including those who made it possible for the first group to stay safe - remained exposed.

So that was frustrating and divisive. The vaccines were supposed to equalize it by protecting everyone. So far, they’re proving very safe and effective, including against the known variants. That was a big concern back in January.

Better yet, the latest studies show fully vaccinated people are protected not only against severe disease, but are also unlikely to infect others.

So the data is encouraging. But now we’re in an awkward in-between period.

  • The fully vaccinated population is very safe from either becoming sick themselves or spreading the virus.
  • Another (and for now, larger) not fully vaccinated population is still vulnerable, and still potential virus carriers.

If we ever were in the same boat, we’re certainly not anymore.

We spent months adapting to an environment where everyone was a potential virus vector. Measures like masks and social distancing were the best response we had. Now we have a sizable and growing number for whom these precautions are no longer as necessary. They naturally want to be freed from the burden.

Meanwhile, others who aren’t yet fully vaccinated want the same. But doing so may endanger both themselves and others.

Papers, please

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are both circulating in public, and there’s no easy way to tell them apart. This is a problem. Vulnerable people can’t tell if those around them are safe or not.

It affects business, too. Theaters and music venues, for instance, will have more customers if they can offer reasonable assurance everyone in the crowd is vaccinated.

The problem will recede as more people are vaccinated. But for now, we need better solutions.

“Vaccine passports” are one idea. An app on your phone or some kind of secure document would prove you received the vaccine.

Some object to this on privacy grounds. They seem very concerned about having to prove they received a couple of injections.

But if you did, in fact, receive those injections, disclosing it to others doesn’t reveal anything private about your body. It just says you got some shots. That doesn’t seem too intrusive.

So for some, I think the real problem is…

  • They don’t want to be vaccinated, and they also
  • Want their choice to have no consequences.

The first part is fair. No one should be legally forced to receive a drug they don’t want. Survey data suggests about 20% of American adults are in this category.

But if you decline vaccination, it doesn’t follow that you still get the same privileges as those who chose differently. You aren’t the only one with rights.

Common courtesy

Vaccine passports would have many possible uses. Some may be government-mandated: entering the country, riding a city bus, etc.

Are those proper? Maybe, but that will be up to federal, state, and local leaders, who are accountable to voters.

Economically, the harder issue is private property. Can restaurant owners check vaccine passports before admitting someone? Should they?

That’s really not your choice, or mine. It’s a business decision for restaurant owners. They can judge what is best for their customers, workers, and communities.

But whatever the law says, common courtesy says property owners can set their own rules. If you don’t want to obey them, don’t go there.

Oddly, though, in the last year some otherwise courteous people who once defended private property rights stopped doing so. Now their supposed “right” to go wherever they want overrides everything else.

That attitude isn’t just childish. It’s inconsistent with a free economy. It says “your” premises aren’t really yours. You must admit me even if you know I could harm your workers. That’s not freedom.

More to the point, businesses can’t operate that way. It would keep consumers wary about their safety, thereby prolonging the recession.

Is that really what we want?


*Patrick Watson is senior economic analyst at Mauldin Economics. This article is from a regular Mauldin Economics series called Connecting the Dots It first appeared here and is used by interest.co.nz with permission.

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74 Comments

A 'passport'. It doesn’t get much more dystopian than being required to show your “proof of identity papers” wherever you go.

Carrying a driving licence to show adequate skills to control a vehicle, or a passport to allow overseas is OK but showing that you pose the lowest risk possible to your fellow humans is dystopian (an imaginery society that is de humanising) - I cannot agree.

The worst part of this whole debacle is how normal human interaction has been reduced to fear and paranoia.

Covid is definitely not the worst thing that can happen to you, and in a few months time the few pockets of it will be rare.

At that point, the hysteria needs to be thrown away and we should just start behaving normally towards each other again.

A few months time. Right. Let's see the evidence on that one/

With variants, at least one now looking like it might be resistant to current vaccines, this thing is not going to be over anytime soon, and then there is the emerging evidence of ongoing very real issues for those who have "recovered" from covid, so don't be too sure of what you are saying there.

You're not asked to show your passport "wherever you go".

Semantics

It doesn’t get much more dystopian than being required to show your “proof of identity papers” wherever you go overseas.

Every human being and animal one comes into contact with is capable of transmitting some virus. Vaccine Passport may be useful for the Covid now. But what about other viruses that are out there ?
But right now, it looks like International travel will be safer with the introduction of Vaccine Passport. But it is only one of the safeguards.
Within a country itself, it could be treated as discrimination.
As for private properties and establishments, though it is the owners' rights to deny admittance, there has to be equity. That trend would snowball to other forms of discrimination and the genie would be difficult to put back into the bottle. Remember Jim Crow, etc.

Private day cares can exclude unvaccinated children, same same with other private businesses and covid.

Any business who tries to introduce this dystopian approach should be publicly shamed.

Are these bots spouting out dystopian comments?

Do you think everyone who has an opinion different to yours, is a bot?

Not at all. There just happened to be a flurry of comments all mentioning dystopia. Coincidental, and a bit hysterical maybe.

Because it is dystopian...

The vaccine passport is prone to abuse. When COVID19 is gone, you can bet the passport will still be with us. What other vaccines will be mandated to allow me to participate in society? Will I also need to submit to the yearly flu shot? What about those that decline vaccination due to religious beliefs or other health issues. Are they allowed to participate?

Dystopian indeed.

Hasn't happened yet. Certainly worth keeping an eye on. But let facts speak for themselves, not supposition.

So we can't discuss it until it happens? Vaccine passports were conspiracy theory last year.

Who said we can't discuss it? Good to keep things factual though. Things that can be proven as opposed to supposition etc.

At least they've taken a break from spouting "Orwellian!" without doing poor George the credit of even reading his work.

Or understanding the man who called himself George Orwell, Eric Blair, was a socialist

Very true. An early and strong voice in socialism. His books Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier are definitely worth the time to read.

The significant portion of the NZ population who are immunosuppressed (include in this over 70's even if healthy) would disagree with you as would I. They have a right to have equal access to travel etc without the avoidable risk to their lives by being in the company of individuals who could be infect them. The crux is avoidable risk. It will never be totally safe, vaccines don't offer 100% protection and so forth, but why should they be condemned to that risk? Or even worse simply self isolate indefinitely. Get vaccinated, not for yourself but your friends, family, neighbours and fellow Kiwis. Get a passport and show it with pride then shame those that won't step up.

Perhaps a little microchip under the skin to show you've been vaccinated?

Ihre papiere bitte!

I think many were probably thinking that

Or we could just let vulnerable people choose to vaccinate themselves - if they want to.

And when those not vaccinated develop a variant over time that the vaccine doesn't cover? Are you watching Europe where the slow vaccine rollout has been over taken by a 3rd wave. ICU's full, good people dying avoidably. Look at the UK stats. Where would you be? This is not about individuals, pandemics and vaccine programmes are about behaviour on a population basis (regional / national). Lockdowns, vaccines it's all the same - we all get on board or we reject elimination and let C-19 run its course.

Presumably such freedoms extend to others in society too, though?

For example, countries with vulnerable people may choose to exclude visitors who have not taken a precaution of being vaccinated before traveling, as has been required in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccination_requirements_for_international...

In addition, private businesses surely have the free rights to choose not to welcome un-vaccinated patrons into their premises if they prefer or if they have vulnerable staff members.

Moreover, we should probably approach the issue with some awareness of how vaccinations and herd immunity work.

Patrick needs to do some more reading.
"Article 6 – Consent

1. Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice."
http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31058&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECT...

Maybe a promise from govt that covid passports will be ended and info destroyed once herd immunity is reached? Guarantee that there will be no central bank digital currency and no cash ban. Also promise that UBI will not be granted if you don't get the chip.

You know to make people and conspiracy theorists get vaccinated.

Yellow fever certificates? Wonder how they will manage when the AZ vaccine shows no efficacy against mild-moderate infection with the Sth African variant but ol’ Pfizer is looking solid. Going to get complex and bitty. Nightmare.

Logic would suggest that if you have been vaccinated then why should you be worried about someone who has not been vaccinated ? I will not be lining up to get the vaccine myself, call it a gut instinct.

None of my family is interested in getting it either and one of them is 80. He has no zero interest in getting the vaccine

Herd immunity is much easier to reach with vaccination. Based on your gut instinct research other virus, plague and infectious disease outbreaks over the last 800 years and look at the patterns that have resolved them. That should help.

IF you are vaccinated, herd immunity is no longer an issue.....

It is for the rest of the population. By reducing the amount of people covid can spread to you achieve herd immunity, thereby protecting those who won't or can't get vaccinated. The more people that get vaccinated the quicker we achieve this. So we will owe a debt of gratitude to those getting vaccinated.

I'd rather have COVID and develop natural immunity than use a vaccine which hasn't been subject to the normal levels of testing.

Which of the vaccines new zealand will be employing haven't been subject to the normal levels of testing?

All of the COVID vaccines, not just the ones NZ will be buying, have not been subject to the standard testing and approval process.

This is not true. The only test that one could argue has not been done that might otherwise be done is long-term observation over many years. Apart from that, what we've seen is the usual testing process without the usual delays between steps.

Worth familiarising oneself with some of the myths vs reality: https://health.ucdavis.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/covid-vaccine-my...

Add to this that immunity from actually having the disease seems pretty short-lived.

I said the vaccines haven't gone through the standard tests. Your response is that this is not true, then immediately give an example of a test it hasn't gone through. Fairly loose definition of truth you have.

The longevity of the immunity from vaccines is also in question. Something that would have resolved had the vaccines gone through the long term testing.

That's a bit of avoidance there as typically long-term observation studies are not necessarily part of the normal testing regimen of a new drug prior to release. That did not seem unclear. Fairly loose definition of truth you have there.

https://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/vk/COVID19-FAQs#Q12
https://apnews.com/article/fact-checking-afs:Content:9792931264
https://www.newsy.com/stories/dose-of-truth-did-vaccine-developers-skip-...

Do you have any supporting evidence suggesting test in a normal pre-release cycle were skipped?

Why can't you (and your surprisingly large number of 'friends' above) just admit that you don't have a clue what you're talking about? Do you honestly think you all know better than all of the infectious disease/vaccine experts in the world? What are your credentials? Do you think you are privy to all of the information there is out there?

Throughout modern history, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. a new vaccine is developed, we see this exact same pattern: hordes of know-it-alls giving their reckons about why the vaccine is not fit for purpose. And despite having come across literally HUNDREDS of explanations of why herd immunity is important, the same moronic question is repeatedly asked: "if you're vaccinated then what does it matter if I am or not?" Can you honestly say you haven't either worked this out, had it explained to you, or actually bothered to simply Google why? This is symptomatic of why our species is doomed to self-destruct.

George Carlin — 'Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.'

Very well said and distinctly non dystopian.

All of them. They were subject to emergency approval by the FDA. By definition, no long term testing has taken place.

Not logical at all. While C-19 has available hosts it will mutate. If the number of available hosts reaches less than 15% (herd immunity) then it will die out - that's the lifeline that is a vaccine programme. So unless vaccine uptake reaches herd we WILL get a resistant variant some time in the future. Then back to square one. Lockdowns, and if we go the European route - hospitals fill up, elective surgeries stop, ICU's at capacity, people die avoidably first of all from the virus. Then, and this is yet to hit countries with C-19, indirect deaths from diseases that currently have treatments (cancer, leukaemia etc.)not being treated due to diagnostic services and treatment facilities being directed at C-19 fire fighting. I work front line and the talk on this forum today scares me to death. I may well be putting people with C-19 on ventilators who might kill me even though I've got vaccinated because they wouldn't. I've had both jabs and the total amount of unpleasantness is no worse than a mild hangover or getting a filling. Please, please, please just get jabbed.

May be the same suggestion to be put forward for the P, Meth cook? - just unsure for those with specific conditions or medically just compromise too much for their own health condition.

If you are vaccinated, why would you be worried about bumping into someone who isn't vaccinated? If you are not vaccinated, and are worried about bumping into an infected person, get vaccinated. I don't see that it should even be an issue, it can be free choice and private, and everyone will be fine.

Yes exactly and Jacinda has already publicly stated that compulsory vaccinations are a no go in New Zealand so that would mean the idea of a passport is also a no go within New Zealand. Overseas countries can implement whatever they want, personally I don't care as I'm not intending to do any overseas travel for the next few years at least. Getting on a plane is like getting into a petri dish, even at the best of times you wind up with a nasty cold from a long haul flight.

You're missing the point. The vaccine isn't "compulsory", at least through law. No politician wants to wear that one. It'll be enforced by corporations.

I don't want the vaccine either, at least for a few years. If the AZ vaccine is already showing some issues with clotting, why should I have confidence there aren't other issues in the pipeline. Vaccines used to be tested for years before being introduced on a large scale and there's good reason for that.

Fact check: The risk of blood clots in the latest data analysis actually shows that (clots happen spontaneously) post AZ vaccine there is a lower incidence. So although not statistically significant the difference may infer protection not harm. As for the speed of vaccine rollout the flu mutates annually. A new vaccine is produced annually on a massive scale. It saves lives. The speed of rollout therefor has a precedent.

Don't expect anybody to have actually researched any of this. You probably won't even get a reply - doesn't fit the narrative.

British authorities have recommended that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/covid-19-coronavirus-uk-recommends-limi...

The AZ vaccine is statically less deadly than COVID19 generally. However, for a young healthy individual with no pre-existing conditions the risk of contracting COVID19 is preferable in my opinion. I'll reassess my position as more data becomes available.

So not stopping the spread of the virus is a priority for you then?

No. I encourage those that are obese, elderly or vulnerable to COVID-19 to get the vaccine. I would vaccinate in those circumstances.

I’ve had the normal suite of vaccines. My children have too. On balance of risk, this vaccine isn’t worth it for us currently.

I am not convinced such a draconian step is necessary (costs vs benefits). The vast majority of people who can get vaccinated will do if they are worried about being infected in a movie theatre, to take your example. Having herd immunity helps those who cannot get vaccinated - what percentage of the population are we talking about here? You are proposing a massively draconian measure to protect that percentage of the population to go to the cinema.
Further, I don't think the costs of this approach are being understood in this article.
For example, it is not childish at all to stand up for the rights of everyone to be accepted in places of business. Think Rosa Parks on the bus, and all ethnicities being allowed to walk into a shop. There is a balance to be found with regards to property rights, and we have a lot of history to refer to already.
Lastly, why just the covid vaccine? And why just vaccines in relation to health? Why not for example have airlines discriminate based on the weight of passengers?

Why much around with a passport, the vaccinated could just wear a yellow star on the breast of their outer layer of clothing to show they are safe. Oh hang on, we need to mark the unsafe for society. Since the virus hits negros worse than whites then lets force all those with any african descent wear the star. While we are at it, Church goers have been shown to wish to disobey lockdown provisions for their worship and congregating, so lets put a star on their breast also so that we know who is a risk to society. Lets take it further, those of you who speak ill of the government and RBNZ, well you are a risk to good order also, we'll get a star made for you too.

So scarfie, what's your plan then?

Personal responsibility. If you're worried about the virus and vulnerable to it through poor health, go get the vaccine. Don't worry about the rest of us!

Yeah, because personal responsibility worked so well for the US, UK...

People choose not to vaccinate, they choose to eat and drink excessively, not exercise, smoke.. Lots of death is caused by lack of personal responsibility.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Why should COVID19 be any different? Obesity is far more deadly in the long run.

Status quo. I don't have to provide a passport proving I am up to date with my MMR shots, and free from HIV, Ebola, SARS and every other infectious disease under the sun when I go to the theatres today. What is the justification for this disease breaking that mould?

Gee. How about the world pandemic currently in progress?

The entire purpose of the vaccine passport is supposedly that vulnerable people can freely go to these places without fear of bumping into a non-vaccinated person. Yet they are still just as vulnerable to every other infectious disease, as they always have been.

Risk reduction is very different than risk elimination. Pedestrian crossings offer safer places to cross but people have still been killed crossing on them. Motion to remove pedestrian crossings???

In your analogy, I am the one saying pedestrian crossings should remain (status quo). Introducing a vaccine passport would be the equivalent of building a pedestrian overpass at every intersection, in your analogy.

It's incredible that this isn't obvious.

Please tell me you're not a doctor

why the need for a passport?
surely its better to leave it in the hands of the Thought police

Apologies this was a reply but seems relevant to much of the opinion on here. While C-19 has available hosts it will mutate. If the number of available hosts reaches less than 15% (herd immunity) then it will die out - that's the lifeline that is a vaccine programme. So unless vaccine uptake reaches herd we WILL get a resistant variant some time in the future. Then back to square one. Lockdowns, and if we go the European route - hospitals fill up, elective surgeries stop, ICU's at capacity, people die avoidably first of all from the virus. Then, and this is yet to hit countries with C-19, indirect deaths from diseases that currently have treatments (cancer, leukaemia etc.)not being treated due to diagnostic services and treatment facilities being directed at C-19 fire fighting. I work front line and the talk on this forum today scares me to death. I may well be putting people with C-19 on ventilators who might kill me even though I've got vaccinated because they wouldn't. I've had both jabs and the total amount of unpleasantness is no worse than a mild hangover or getting a filling. Please, please, please just get jabbed.

Source on the 15% number? As everything I have seen to date states there is no known herd immunity threshold for COVID-19 and it's variants, which have highly variable transmission rates.

New Zealand could consider dialing back slightly on the welfare stimulus for property and instead provide stimulus via vaccinations: $1,500 in cash for getting vaccinated.

This would power economic activity while achieving a high vaccination rate, and sort the wheat from the chaff in tracking sincerity of anti-vaxxer belief. $1,500 is a whole lot of Dotera essential oil stock or magic crystals for one's other true cure.

Diabetes passport
Homeless passport
Rich idiot passport
Team 5 million passport
Home owner with large mortgage passport
Rental owner passport
10 plus rental owner passport
I would rather not have a passport as once they start I am sure it will be quicky expanded.

Everything is communism!