I originally wrote this for another website so I toned it down some. I actually think I’m being too nice to slick Rick.
In the Tea Party Express sponsored presidential debate earlier this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry came under fire for an executive order he issued which mandated the Gardasil HPV vaccine for all six-grade girls in the state. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul made strong cases against the government health care mandate stating that it was a violation of parental rights and liberty.
Rick Perry admitted that his executive order was a mistake and he “would have done it differently.” He added, “I would have gone to the legislature, worked with them.” The vaccine mandate, however, was rejected by the conservative Texas legislature who eventually overturned the executive order. Rick Perry is correct to denounce his executive order but he has yet to reject the actual policy to my knowledge. As Rick Santorum said, “he believes that what he did was right. He thinks he went about it the wrong way.”
Both the health care policy and the way he bypassed approval from the legislature are wrong. It is immoral for government to force an individual to get a potentially dangerous vaccine that goes against their beliefs. According to Perry’s executive order, any six-grade girl who did not receive the Gardasil HPV vaccine was not allowed to enter her public school classroom. Unlike many communicable diseases such as measles, preteens are just not at risk of the sexually transmitted HPV in their six grade classrooms.
The decision on whether to get vaccinated for HPV should be left between the girl, her parents and doctor. Rick Perry claims that his executive order allowed parents to opt-out by filling out an affidavit objecting to the vaccine for religious or philosophical reasons. But as blogger Michelle Malkin correctly contends, “requiring parents to seek the government’s permission to keep an untested drug out of their kids’ veins is a plain usurpation of their authority.”
Rick Perry still alleges that his health care mandate had good intentions. He told New Hampshire voters that he just “hates cancer.” Everyone hates cancer but true limited government conservatives aren’t supposed to love government mandates. Remember what Nobel-Prize winning economist Milton Friedman said, “whenever we depart from voluntary cooperation and try to do good by using force, the bad moral value of force triumphs over good intentions.”
The Texas Governor has a disturbingly close relationship with Gardasil’s maker Merck & Co. Merck’s PAC has donated almost $30,000 to Perry’s campaigns since 2000. Reports show that the giant pharmaceutical company donated $5,000 to his campaign on the same day that Merck held a meeting to discuss the vaccine with Perry’s staff in 2006. Rick Perry’s former chief of staff Mike Toomey now happens to be a top lobbyist for Merck. One of Rick Perry’s biggest donors is the Republican Governors Association (RGA) who gave him at least $4 million over the past five years. Merck has given the RGA more than $380,000 since 2006.
The Big Pharma company Merck would have cashed in big time if Perry’s executive order was not overturned. The Examiner columnist Timothy Carney writes that, “Perry’s action as governor suggest that for him, ‘pro-business’ means corporatism.” He goes on to further say that, “Perry is pro-Merck, pro-Boeing, pro-Mesa, pro-Texas Instruments, pro-Convergen, and pro-dozens of businesses that donate to his campaigns and hire his aides as lobbyists.”
Unlike Mitt Romney who has not condemned RomneyCare one bit, Rick Perry has at least partially apologized for his health care mandate mistake. He claims that, “the fact of the matter is I didn’t do my research well enough to understand that we needed to have a substantial conversation with our citizenry…I will tell you that I made a mistake by not going to the legislature first.” In my eyes, Rick Perry has still not acknowledged a problem with mandating the HPV vaccine just the way he bypassed the legislature to do it.
He should take it a step further and denounce all big government health care mandates. Americans would be wise to take a closer look at Perry to see if his limited government rhetoric actually matches his record.