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Ep. 75 Bretigne Shaffer on California’s Mandatory Vaccinations

Longtime libertarian journalist Bretigne Shaffer explains the de facto mandatory vaccinations now enforced for school children in California, and the concerned parents who are protesting the policy. She also discusses her fictional books that will appeal to libertarian readers.
Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute, and co-host with Tom Woods of the podcast "Contra Krugman."


  1. […] boy, I’m getting into risque territory with this one. Here is the podcast link (with notes) and here is the […]

  2. Randall Malboeuf on 11/11/2019 at 12:04 PM

    Great episode,Bob! Is the debate on vaccine mandates that you participated in available online anywhere?

    • Robert Murphy on 11/11/2019 at 7:24 PM

      Thanks. I think this was my piece but I don’t know how to find the other guy’s.

      • Randall Malboeuf on 11/12/2019 at 12:03 PM

        Thank You!

  3. deborah post APRN on 11/11/2019 at 5:42 PM

    way to go and having the guts to go there. Its starting to get some play, Bill Maher did some discussion as well. Keep up the good work thank you .

  4. Joe Chip on 11/13/2019 at 5:02 AM

    I felt a bit uneasy voicing my skepticism until I learned about the vaccine court, and the fact that the manufacturers are given immunity from prosecution for damage caused. Jumping off from there, you’ve got a classic moral hazard situation. I voice my skepticism in the fact that they were given such blessing and how it seems in the interest of the manufacturers and the federal government to keep any problems quiet so neither party is left with the blame if something horrible comes out. Because the blame is either going to be on inadequate product from the creator or the feds as the enabler allowing them to do what they please.

  5. Jeremy R. Hammond on 11/13/2019 at 5:26 PM

    Great show, Bob and Bretigne! Thanks for covering the critically important vaccine issue.

  6. Concerned Minnesotan on 11/13/2019 at 8:10 PM

    Thanks for introducing this debate on your podcast. Free Man Beyond the Wall has touched on this before with Jeremy R Hammond, and I’m glad to see you do this as well.

    In Minnesota at the start of this year SF1520 was introduced to make all vaccinations mandatory even for homeschoolers. Thankfully the bill was never heard, but it will most likely come back in 2020.

    One other important note is each state’s mandated vaccines has barely-contagious or risk profile specific diseases. So tetanus is mandated (part of the vaccine with pertussis), but that’s not spread like measles. Hep B is mandated and that’s only a risk for needle sharing and other dangerous sexual habits. The HPV vaccine is another where the risk profile doesn’t fit requiring all kids to have it. I feel it shows their motives of exercising control and increasing ownership of children and it demonstrates the influence of the pharma lobby.

    You didn’t even get into aborted fetal cells being used to develop the vaccines and the Christian implications of that! It’s a good rabbit hole to go down, and I encourage you to do so.

  7. Ryne on 11/16/2019 at 5:51 AM

    Thanks for this one Bob. As an anti-vax parent and libertarian, I have felt like an outcast of outcasts, and that did not make sense to me. Glad that you shed light on the topic and the disconnect in the libertarian discussion regarding it.

  8. Cameron on 11/16/2019 at 6:29 AM

    Thanks for this episode, Bob. Bretigne was the first guest you’ve interviewed that really challenged my point of view. If you’re interested, Ron Bailey at Reason makes a good libertarian case for incentivizing vaccination without actually mandating it:

    “For the sake of social peace, vaccine opt-out loopholes based on religious and philosophical objections should be maintained. States should, however, amend their vaccine exemption laws to require that people who take advantage of them acknowledge in writing that they know their actions are considered by the medical community to be putting others at risk. This could potentially expose vaccine objectors to legal liability, should their decisions lead to infections that could have been prevented.”

    I also think Bretigne downplayed the impact of vaccination on public health. For example, there were 469,924 measles cases and 432 deaths in the US in 1962. The first measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, and within seven years, total measles cases plummeted to 47,351 and deaths fell to 89.

    This graph from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia helpfully illustrates the dramatic decline in the early 1960s.

    • LP on 11/24/2019 at 8:40 PM

      Note that the decline in cases reported is about 90%, while the decline in number of deaths is about 80%. Now, it’s possible that those ‘extra’ 45 deaths are because some people are sickly enough the vaccine couldn’t help them, but there is another likely factor. Once there is mandatory vaccination against some disease, doctors assume everyone has had the vaccine and so someone presenting with signs consistent with the disease *must* have something else instead, so cases go undiagnosed. The rate of this under-reporting is extremely difficult to determine, but autopsies still fairly reliably indicate mortality rates from diseases.

      I’m not trying to minimize the impact of the vaccine, simply highlighting the problems with data collection. Unfortunately, both sides of “the vaccine debate” commit the same egregious errors; I’ve found essentially no one on any side thinking clearly. The phrase “the vaccine debate” highlights the core issue: there is no *The Vaccine*, there are multiple vaccines, each with different risk and benefit profiles. Grouping them together for a single decision is incredibly stupid.

  9. Chad on 11/18/2019 at 9:17 PM

    I’m keeping an open mind while listening to this, but I do think there are quantitative differences between the vaccine debate and climate change/economics and the Libertarian position on them.

    For instance, the “aluminum” issue seems like junk science after a quick Google search:
    From (referencing “In fact, the average American adult may consume anywhere between 0 to 95 milligrams of aluminum per day, according to Gearhart, with the median amount being about 24 milligrams. And while this may sound like a lot, these values are generally safe, Gearhart assures.”

    And from
    “In contrast, the standard vaccines administered over the first six months of an infant’s life contain an average of just 4.4 milligrams of aluminum

    You always have to consider the dose with toxicity.

  10. Amy on 12/10/2019 at 4:03 AM

    Chad, don’t be so quick to label something junk science after only a quick Google search. What you seem to not be aware of is that only 0.1% to 0.3% of ingested aluminum is absorbed into the body through the intestines.

    (“Oral aluminium bioavailability from the diet has been estimated to be ~ 0.1 to 0.3%, based on daily aluminium intake and urinary elimination.”

    While all injected aluminum, by its nature, is absorbed into the body.

    Using your 2nd link with a PTWI of 1mg/kg, with a 150lb person, that is about 68kg, so 68mg, at 0.3% absorption that is comes out to a weekly absorbtion limit of about 0.2mg. 

    There are about 79mg of aluminum in the HPV vaccine.
    225mg aluminum hydroxide at about 35% aluminum by mass

    This flyer goes over infant exposure to aluminum and the actual amounts that are absorbed into the body from possible sources. You can see that breast milk and formula provide tiny amounts compared to vaccines.

    As you should now understand the levels of aluminum people are exposed to through vaccines are higher than you had been lead to believe. 

    Combine your new found knowledge that ingested aluminum is not comparable to injected aluminum with the information on this page ( and you should begin to understand the level of fraud being used to convince people the levels of aluminum in vaccines are safe. They compare ingested with injected levels disregarding the 99.7% of the ingested that passes unabsorbed through the body and say see how much more aluminum is in food compared to vaccines. You are being lied to. Once you realize that you should understand that with such a big lie as this what else are they lying about? It is a lot but the truth is out there though you aren’t going to find it in a quick Google search. 

    • Amy on 12/10/2019 at 4:16 AM

      I made a large calculation error with HPV vaccine. The original amount was supposed to be mcg not mg so the amount I calculated is wrong. Without doing any calculations the amount is given on the page which lists 0.5mg of aluminum per dose.

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