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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Mandates, etc.

Just the facts, ma’am September 15, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

When is a mandate not a mandate? When it's not mandated.

Whether an angry-sounding president needs better PR advice might be beside the larger point. The current president has unveiled a plan to require many American workers to get the covid-19 vaccine...

Or take a weekly test.

The headlines didn't include that last part. President Biden announced last week that companies with more than 100 employees should require that everybody on the payroll get the vaccine--or face weekly swabbing for those employees who don't. You know, so those who test positive can go home and keep from infecting other employees and/or customers.

Also, the administration would require that all health-care facilities taking government money (Medicaid or Medicare) vaccinate their employees. Having strings attached to federal money is nothing new in the American experiment.

Also, also, the president signed an executive order compelling all federal employees get the shot, without the testing option. Your employer makes certain demands, and the federal government is no different. The feds also require drug tests before hiring. It's not unconstitutional.

And you'd a-thunk the Redcoats were back in the harbor.

"See you in court," said the governor of South Dakota.

The governor of Wyoming called it an "unconstitutional overreach of executive power."

The governor of Georgia said he'd "pursue every legal option available" to stop this action.

But they might find that "every legal option available" isn't much.

The government can require vaccines. It's settled law. Or at least it's a long-time precedent.

In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a man feared a smallpox vaccine and refused to take one. State law required either the shot or the payment of a fine. Mr. Jacobson sued.

The U.S. Supreme Court said the state law was valid. Jacobson v. Massachusetts has been on the books for more'n 100 years, and is still cited in cases today.

Now, if the government can force a body to take a vaccine shot or pay a fine just to be a citizen in good standing, certainly it can force a body to take a vaccine shot or simply get tested for the privilege of having a job.

Even some of our favorite opinionators feel funny about the administration's plans. Bret Stephens, our favorite New York Times columnist and a regular conservative voice on this page, says the civil libertarian inside him balks at all of this. But we've never heard the civil libertarians complain when the local schools (government!) require their kids to be vaccinated against mumps and rubella and measles.

As has been noted before, even in this column, the Constitution of the United States may be the best thing ever tossed off by the hand of man, but it is not a suicide pact.

Speaking of Mr. Stephens, who is pro-vaccine, the other day he called this not a health-care crisis but a nincompoop-crisis. Because most of those who have serious health problems are among those who haven't taken the vaccine.

We wouldn't go that far, and we would say that the problem of having too few vaccinated Americans doesn't just affect the unvaccinated. For every bed they take up in the local hospital because they refused an easy treatment is one less bed for the rest of us should we have a heart attack, a broken leg or another nasty bug. This is very much a health-care crisis. Ask a nurse.

We'd note that the governor of Arkansas was heard from over the weekend. And, as always, he kept his head amid the general rage and turmoil about him. He said he didn't want the president to issue the mandate/test requirement because it made the states' jobs harder at the local level to persuade more people to get the shot. Maybe he has part of a point. But gentle persuasion isn't getting us to herd immunity.

As for the fire-breathers who vow legal action, maybe they should talk to their lawyers. Besides, what do they have against business?

Business Roundtable, a lobbying group, issued a statement of support for the president's plans. Members of the board of directors for Business Roundtable include representatives from Walmart, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, Best Buy, PayPal, Marriott International, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Dow Inc., among others.

The governor of South Carolina told the press that he'd fight to "the gates of hell" against the mandate-or-test plan. Well, if this country doesn't beat this virus, and it continues to mutate to get around our efforts, a lot more people might find themselves in the afterlife, one way or the other.

Our government should be in the business of protecting We the People, not hurrying us to our meeting with Charon.

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