Austria’s Blueprint for Covid Despotism

By: Georg Grassmueck

Anyone interested in what the future of the Covid pandemic looks like, should look no further than Austria. The country that was the foundational home of Ludwig von Mises, is now the home of the next chapter in the Covid hysteria. On December 12, 2021 the Austrian government finally lifted the fourth lockdown, since the Covid pandemic began, but only for vaccinated people. While the lockdown for vaccinated people was lifted, the Austrian government kept in place the lockdown for unvaccinated people. However, the Austrian government went a step further in requiring all Austrian citizens to be fully vaccinated starting February 1, 2022. Austrian residents who refuse to get vaccinated will first be fined 600 euros for noncompliance and face fines of up to 3,600 euros every three months after formal proceedings are implemented. What is the most telling sign of uttermost confusion in the leadership of Austria, is that Karoline Edtstadler, the minister for constitutional affairs, stated that “We do not want to punish people who are not vaccinated. We want to win them over and convince them to get vaccinated.” While the vaccine mandate in the U.S.A. for large private employers through OSHA was declared unconstitutional, the supreme court left the door wide open for states and local governments in imposing a vaccine mandate. New York City mayor DeBlasio was one of the first public figures to take the playbook from Austria and issued an order requiring all private sector employees to be vaccinated as well. What is more frightening, there exists a blueprint on how to impose a vaccine mandate upon a larger population. 

Readers of the Mises Wire are already familiar with the enormous social and economic cost associated with lockdown measures. What is particularly sad is the fact that the country that gave name to one of the most powerful concepts defending freedom and liberty is the first country to begin moving away from the ideals of a free society. Mises, who ferociously attacked socialism and ultimately communism, understood clearly the fallacies in his opponents’ thinking. In “The Historical Setting of the Austrian School,” Mises writes about Menger leaving a note that read “There is no better means to disclose the absurdity of a mode of reasoning than to let it pursue its full course to the end.” Menger and his two earliest followers, Wieser and Böhm-Bawerk writing about the Historical School and Marxism “were fully convinced that the logically indefensible dogmas of these factions would eventually be rejected by all reasonable men precisely on account of their absurdity …” All three hoped that ordinary people will eventually realize the logical fallacies in many political dogmas. Equally, one needs to hope that people will realize the absurdity of a mandate especially once it reaches its absurd ends.

Andrew Foy’s article published in the Mises Wire entitled “The Pretense of Medical Knowledge” applies Hayek’s economic knowledge problem to the practice of medicine. The author shows that the idea of decentralization of medical decision making, letting people decide whether to get vaccinated, is diametrically opposed to the prevailing trend to centralize medical decisions, a vaccine mandate. Foy writes that Hayek and Mises strongly believed that “the best answers could only be arrived at through the spontaneous and uncoordinated actions of millions of individuals interacting freely with the marketplace.” This means that every citizen has to gauge for themselves what and how they mitigate the risks of covid. Foy continues that Mises and Hayek did not deny the fact that mistakes will not be made, but “these mistakes would be corrected more quickly in market conditions than under conditions where government made the rules and had a vested interest in ensuring a certain outcome.” A vaccine mandate is at best an attempt for a one size fits all prescription that will solve everything. 

In another powerful article by Birsen Filip, she identifies “an alarming degree of uniformity between the governments of many western countries when it comes to instituting tyrannical measures like mandatory medical injections at workplaces and vaccine passports.” She continues by writing:

“At this point, it is clear that vaccine passports and mandates have nothing to do with safeguarding public health or mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather, they are purely coercive measures designed to punish disobedience by taking away one’s ability to provide for his family, shape his future, engage in activities that bring him happiness, …”

She concludes: “Prior to the normalization of the present environment of fear, hate, discrimination and division, it would have been unimaginable that the leader of any western country would attempt to suspend so many types of freedom and mandate medical procedures for the entire population, …”

How would government be able to pull a vaccine mandate off? The Mises Institute reprinted an article by Ron Paul who for years has been the torchbearer of Austrian economic principles amongst politicians in Washington on a subject that most people have little or no knowledge, the Unique Patient Identifier. The Senate and House versions of the Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services Appropriation bill would remove a prohibition on funding for a unique patient identifier which would allow government to efficiently monitor Americans’ immunization status. If approved government officials, employers, schools and other entities would be able to monitor what vaccinations and medical treatments have or have not received.

More recently, the Mises Institute published another article by Ron Paul about the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act (HR 550). The intent of the act is to facilitate information sharing between state and federal governments as well as public and private health care providers on medical information. Together with the unique patient identifier this bill would empower federal bureaucrats to create databases monitoring health data including vaccine records. Ron Paul concludes this “would be the final step toward creating a system of government surveillance, and control, over our personal health care choices.” But how can government ensure compliance?

Read more: Employer Vaccine Mandates by Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken in a recent article lays out the plan for a vaccine compliance in a recent article entitled using the welfare state to get compliance on vaccine mandate. A president and his cabinet willing to enforce a vaccine mandate, can use the unique patient identifier and the immunization infrastructure modernization act plus using the welfare state to get force compliance. The supreme court upheld the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers through a provision that any healthcare facility that received money from Medicare and Medicaid will need to follow. It is an easy step to tie government welfare payments to proof of vaccination status. The power of the centralized state controlling every aspect of life becomes increasingly real. 

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