Jailers and inmates

This is weird at first glance, and even weirder when you start to think about it:

In California’s state prisons, a federal judge could order all correctional employees and inmate firefighters to be vaccinated under a class-action lawsuit. In mid-July, 41% of correctional officers statewide had at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 75% of inmates. 

I’m racking my brain for an explanation of this gap. Perhaps corrections officers are less educated than average, and vaccination rates are lower among that group. But are inmates well educated? Being a corrections officer is a dangerous job, and I’d guess that they are more macho than the average person. But are inmates just a bunch of “sissies”? People increasingly argue that getting vaccinated is a socially conscious act, as it protects others from Covid. OK, but are inmates especially socially conscious?




53 Responses to “Jailers and inmates”

  1. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. September 2021 at 09:18

    Corrections officers, like police, tend to pretty heavily skew right wing.

  2. Gravatar of logan logan
    7. September 2021 at 09:20

    Wouldn’t a “rational actors” model predict this? Prisoners are almost certainly at higher risk of contracting coronavirus, and likely to receive worse medical care if they do. They might also be older on average.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. September 2021 at 09:25

    Yes, but that begs the question of why being right wing would make one less likely to be vaccinated? What is the actual mechanism?

    And inmates in California tend to be mostly black and Hispanic (or low education whites). Aren’t those groups also less likely to be vaccinated?

  4. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. September 2021 at 09:47

    I don’t see it as of much of a mystery. I assume that the guards are being radicalized by right wing media sources and that they may be feeding each other within their community. In fact, working in prisons itself can be radicalizing.

    Regarding the prisoners, my first thought, another assumption, is that there’s a very different mindset about the spread of disease within confined spaces.

    The guards can skip work, quit, etc.

  5. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. September 2021 at 10:26

    Logan, I guess I don’t see any of those points. Guards could catch it inside the prison or outside. I doubt that guards are younger than prisoners, on average. And I doubt the difference in medical care would have much impact on mortality.

    Michael, But why would right wing media be bashing Trump’s vaccine? Before Covid, I don’t recall anyone saying that right wing people opposed vaccines.

  6. Gravatar of Coleton Stirman Coleton Stirman
    7. September 2021 at 10:30

    Low education is a strong correlate nationwide, but in California the low education minorities are more trusting of institutions than their peers nationwide, fewer feedback loops in the community from whites that traffic in right wing media environment???

    Low education + white-male (paranoiac media trafficking) + law enforcement/COs (exceptional online conspiracy message board presence {proven from my conspiracy research day}) = would be my best thesis…but that is a large spread, so probably some exceptional variables (to this situation — covid) added in to whatever I’m right-tracking on above…


    Interested dilettante social scientist 👨‍🔬

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. September 2021 at 10:50

    Coleton, Interesting comment. Thanks.

  8. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. September 2021 at 11:31


    Yes, my impression is that the original anti-vax movement arose on the left and perhaps among extreme libertarians. But, the same was true of 9/11 conspiracy theories, anti-nuclear energy perspectives, and anti-GMO views. However, those views are now also popular on the right.

    I suspect right wing media often just tells conservatives what they want or expect to hear. Part of why the right wing turned against vaccines could be due to reported Russian disinformation campaigns, as they promote the Sputnik vaccine globally, for wxample, and seem to like to sew division in western countries.

    Also, I think there’s long been distrust among conservatives of what they started calling “the deep state”, which obviously are cwntral actors in many conspiracy theories. I think many conservatives see the FDA and CDC as being part of the deep state.

    And, conservatives, like liberals, have deep distrust regarding pharmaceutical companies, not without some reason.

    So, I suspect the ultimate answers to your questions are complex, and I doubt anyone has a complete answer. I think many institutional failures here at home, the perception of the influence of legal campaign contributions, some factors mentioned above, and a growing distrust of education and expertise itself, along with new social media vectors of disinformation have contributed to the current state of the right wing, and particularly to their anti-vax fears.

  9. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. September 2021 at 12:22

    Implicit in my latter comments is that Trump supporters didn’t think Trump had full control of the executive branch, ehich is true of course, and many of their beliefs are internally inconsistent anyway.

  10. Gravatar of tpeach tpeach
    7. September 2021 at 12:32

    I’d say inmates mostly just don’t care either way and just take the shot when it’s given to them. Vaccine politics isn’t on their mind and inmates have less access to misinformation…

  11. Gravatar of Sam Sam
    7. September 2021 at 16:32

    Perhaps inmates were offered bribes (free cigarettes, extra cans of spam, or whatever constitutes good barter material on the inside these days) in exchange for getting vaccinated. This would be unsurprising if prisons were given an explicit or implicit mandate to get their inmate vaccination rate up.

  12. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    7. September 2021 at 16:33

    My quick googling didn’t turn up much useful info, but I wonder if the difference could be explained by the number of evangelicals in the two populations.

  13. Gravatar of XVO XVO
    7. September 2021 at 18:09

    Inmates aren’t subjected to all the stupid brainwashing that can be found on the internet… or maybe they’re democrats and prison guards are republicans and they’re just doing the partisan thing… ya that makes more sense. Also inmates probably have the vaccines easily accessible, they don’t even have to leave the building.

  14. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    7. September 2021 at 18:55


    You point to a possible plausible factor, which is liberals favoring vaccines. Some conservatives seem to like to oppose just about anything favored by liberals, no matter how good.

  15. Gravatar of Dale Doback Dale Doback
    7. September 2021 at 20:33

    I didn’t use to get a flu vaccine every year, but it was purely laziness or indifference for me. When I worked for a company that brought flu vaccines to the office and made an event out of it for a day, I always participated. I suspect prisons have similar such vaccine events. Perhaps there is a silent majority that is indifferent and likely to just follow their peers, particularly if done in an open and socially visible way (sort of like voting in person and getting a sticker).

    The same effect in reverse could explain the low rate in the guard population. Guards are probably likely to be less educated, less wealthy, and watch more right wing media than the general population. Whereas positive peer reinforcement from a vaccine event tips the indifferent majority to vaccinate, just a few vocal vaccine skeptics could do the opposite.

  16. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    7. September 2021 at 23:32

    Not California but (probably similar)

    “Leaders of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, the agency that oversees the state’s prison system, publicly say COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory inside prisons and boast the state’s low percentage of prisoners refusing to become inoculated.

    But inside the state’s largest prison, people who are hesitant to take vaccines face serious consequences like no visitation rights, no access to work programs and no consideration for movement to different facilities, according to documents obtained by Mississippi Today.”

  17. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    8. September 2021 at 06:38

    I am pleased Scott asked this interesting question in a neutral curious way—-as I too find the facts odd (I would like the source of the stats but I accept them here for purpose of comment)

    I find the prisoners numbers more the source of the difference than the guards. My guess is —as in guess—-~they are stuck indoors with same people 24/7–more risk perhaps—-maybe average age is higher—-or, more likely, perhaps going with the flow also makes them more sympathetic at parole time——evidence of being rational and not a pain in the ass. The latter is what is my best guess.

    The Guards? Super stress job—Does that make them less likely to the vaccine? My guess is no—-but it might. My best guess, however, is if you adjust for their age, gender, race, background and compare them to non-prison guards—-the numbers would be similar.

    It is the prisoners which likely have the interesting number.

    Some comments interpret too much thru the eyes of our robotic politicized media. Every answer for every question on certain subjects produces a certain percentage of thought free commentary on “left” and “right”. Please—-stop it. Politics used to be a side show. Now too many of us are center stage performing.

  18. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    8. September 2021 at 06:40

    PS——if my guess on guards is true—-the answer we really want to know is why is that group as a whole so low?

  19. Gravatar of BC BC
    8. September 2021 at 06:58

    It’s not surprising to me that prison guards are resistant to following directives from the educated class, even to their own detriment.

    While one might think that criminals are naturally rebellious too, once in prison their focus may turn to compliance to gain parole, more favorable treatment, etc. See dtoh’s comments above about Mississippi.

  20. Gravatar of d w d w
    8. September 2021 at 07:20

    i suspect its easy, inmates do what the are told to do, and do it. prison employees arent.

  21. Gravatar of Ryan Ryan
    8. September 2021 at 08:57

    In this particular case I suspect that the Right is just reflexively reejecting what the percieved elites are saying, while the left follows the elites’ lead.

    Both Masks and Vaccines flipped almost instantly from the right to the left as soon as the received media endorsement.

  22. Gravatar of steve steve
    8. September 2021 at 09:03

    In PA we did pay inmates to get vaccinated. Suspect CA did similar. As to the officers I think several other people got it correct. Police and prison guards tend towards the political right. Why the political right has such a large number of people rejecting vaccines seems kind of complicated to me. In short it mostly seems like tribalism to me but in this case the tribal reasoning is a bit more all over the place. And, remember that 41% isn’t all that bad compared with rates in other states. West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Idaho and Wyoming are all under 40%. (Source- Beckers)



  23. Gravatar of Brad F Brad F
    8. September 2021 at 09:04

    The first question to always ask is, is the data true? It’s possible that the measured lower vaccination rate of guards is due to guards not reporting their vaccinations to their employer. Inmates can’t do this because the jail controls their vaccination.

    At our company we have asked all of our employees to tell us if they have been vaccinated. It’s voluntary (at this point). We’re pretty sure that some of the non-reporting employees actually have been vaccinated but the just don’t want to tell us.

  24. Gravatar of DJO DJO
    8. September 2021 at 09:07

    Getting a shot breaks up your day if you are an inmate.
    Getting a shot may require you to miss work if you are jailer.

  25. Gravatar of Some Guy Some Guy
    8. September 2021 at 09:18

    I would imagine it’s not a choice for many inmates. They are wards of the state.

  26. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    8. September 2021 at 09:44

    Whites (particularly non-Hispanic whites) are slightly underrepresented in that occupational category, while blacks are overrepresented:
    So theories that rely on them being disproportionately white are wrong. Theories about them being a low-education blue-collar mostly male workforce are still fine though. And since political polarization by race has been declining as polarization by education goes up, you could possibly make a political argument, just not one based on race.

  27. Gravatar of TMC TMC
    8. September 2021 at 09:47

    From CNN no less: “The most recent Kaiser poll helps illustrate that the vaccine hesitant group doesn’t really lean Republican. Just 20% of the group called themselves Republican with an additional 19% being independents who leaned Republican. The clear majority (61%) were not Republicans (41% said they were Democrats or Democratic leaning independents and 20% were either pure independents or undesignated).”

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. September 2021 at 09:58

    Everyone, Thanks, lots of good suggestions.

    Ryan, You said:

    “In this particular case I suspect that the Right is just reflexively rejecting what the percieved elites are saying”

    Elites like Trump, the guy that claimed he is responsible for the vaccine?

    DJO, You said:

    “Getting a shot may require you to miss work if you are jailer.”

    Come on, in CA it takes like 5 minutes–at a CVS.

    TMC, All the other polls disagree with that one, as does the actual behavior of Dems and Republicans.

  29. Gravatar of c8to c8to
    8. September 2021 at 10:18

    You potentially answered your own question – why would inmates be more socially conscious than gaolers.

    Who is more likely to be at risk of a beating if they don’t go along. Maybe there’s a strong coercion element.

  30. Gravatar of derek derek
    8. September 2021 at 10:57

    I don’t think any of the suggestions about political leaning or class are very persuasive. To me, inmates have been willing to get vaccinated for the same reason that old people, across political affiliation and class, have high vaccination rates: a likely justified fear of severe health consequences from a covid infection. For the elderly, this is because of their age, but for prisoners it is probably from a lack of trust that they will receive very good medical care.

    Also note that if getting vaccinated is pro-social and remaining unvaccinated has adverse affects to your neighbors, prison yards are ironically enough probably very, very good at enforcing the pro-social behavior.

  31. Gravatar of steve steve
    8. September 2021 at 11:20

    TMC forgot to post a link. Here is a link to the most recent Kaiser results I can find. It looks at who has actually been vaccinated (at least one dose). Very strong party differences. KFF also has data looking at vaccination rates based upon counties and how they voted.



  32. Gravatar of Jack Jack
    8. September 2021 at 16:09

    The answer is clear. The simplest explanation is often the best.

    Prison guards lean right, and often extreme right. It’s no different than police. Why? One reason – there is a lot of internal reinforcement and radicalizing.

    The degree of awful people in the inmate population is naturally going to be higher than the general public. The prison guards deal with them every day. They guards tend to buy into “us” and “them” ideas, which are internally reinforced daily.

    The right wing politicians and media court law enforcement with the same us and them talk, the more extreme the more support they get.

    The left has its own problems.

    But there’s no deep thinking required here. I’m Bronx Irish American – lots of family, friends and neighbors who I grew up with in the police, prison guards, court officers. Hispanic, black, white, doesn’t matter. Us vs. them. Plenty of them are smart enough to get it, and don’t buy in. But the majority, even some very intelligent, do, and generally they’re far more radical right than average.

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. September 2021 at 16:30

    C8to and Derek, Interesting comments.

    Jack, I know they are more right wing, but that doesn’t explain why they don’t want to get vaccinated.

  34. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    8. September 2021 at 17:05

    As with masks, vaccines have become a marker for membership in the blue tribe. Of course some right wingers (like myself) have been vaccinated and some left wingers have not been, but being against the COVID vaccine is now a part of the right wing idea cluster.

    It’s not a matter of intelligence or education. One of my friends is a literal rocket scientist employed by NASA and he refuses to take the vaccine. Intelligence and education doesn’t matter, because hardly anyone has the knowledge and expertise to have an informed opinion on vaccines. 99.999% of the population requires an authority they trust to make that decision for them.

    Unfortunately, institutional legitimacy in the United States has collapsed, most notably amongst right wing Americans. Right wingers (with some justification) view organizations like the news media, the CDC, the DOJ, etc, as untrustworthy institutions controlled by their political enemies.

    Imagine, for example, if public health authorities pushed aggressively against BLM protests due to COVID, but was willing to support white nationalist rallies. Imagine the vast majority of the news media, corporate HR boards, university professors, and government officials were known to be personal advocates of a Orbanesque American political party. Imagine that white nationalist banners were flown over state capitols and US embassies. Imagine that the government aggressively arrested a large numbers of people from a BLM protest that had broken into the Capitol to denounce Donald Trump for stealing the 2020 election, while Hollywood celebrities the previous year had bailed out Richard Spencer after he had torched a black owned business in a nationwide set of riots, riots that major news organizations had labeled ‘mostly peaceful’. Imagine that business leaders were aggressively promoting the cause of white nationalism in their organizations, requiring all their employees to sit through white nationalist propaganda.

    Now imagine the news media, the government, corporations, etc, all aggressively pushing the vaccine in this hypothetical universe. Vaccination rates by political affiliation would be more or less reversed from our experience. Vaccines would, in this universe, be a marker of red tribe status.

  35. Gravatar of MarcC MarcC
    8. September 2021 at 21:26

    Scott’s question about why right-wing beliefs would correlate with vaccine rejection is challenging.
    Sure, some of it is herd behavior driven by right-wing media, but I think that’s simplistic. I’d suggest a few reasons why right-wingers are susceptible to anti-vax sentiment right now:

    – Pre-existing anti-tyrany mindset. Think of the tea party, second amendment rights, etc. Many right-wingers have a hair trigger for government intrusion into personal liberty. This pandemic has offered so many examples of such intrusion, and people are trying to register their displeasure at government intrusion however they can.

    – Cult of toughness: Some right-wingers worship toughness and decry feminization of society. The attitude of public health experts who want to protect others and care for the vulnerable looks weak and pathetic to them. Getting covid-19 and getting over it is a sign of strength, health, and vitality. Getting the vaccine is a way of giving in to the squishy health experts. I heard one conservative commentator describe it this way: the worst possible insult to a left-leaning person is to call them a racist. The worst insult to a conservative is to call them weak. I suspect this mindset is especially prevalent in law enforcement and prison guards.

    – Religious belief: For religious conservatives, death is merely “my time to go,” and there’s no point in trying to prevent it. “If God wants me to go, he’ll take me.”

    – Fascination with emergent order/skepticism of central planning: Skeptics of top-down planning might be pre-disposed to question whether a one-size-fits-all intervention in a natural process (like the human immune response to a new disease) will create unintended consequences.

    – Reticence about new technology: By temperament, many conservatives have a bias toward the problems they know rather than a new solution they don’t know.

    The last two points have led me to the conclusion that environmentalism is in many ways conservative, not a left-leaning view. It focuses preserving what we know rather than moving toward an uncertain future. And it tends to see human involvement in nature as creating LOTS of unintended consequences that would be better left undone. There is probably a latent strand in the right-wing that could easily put these ideas together into some kind of naturalist argument in favor of letting the disease run its course and avoid some unknown new treatment.

    All that said, let me return to the specific question of the vaccination rate of prison guards and inmates. I’m intrigued by a couple of comments above on incentives for inmates. Early in the pandemic, there was a lot of worry about superspreading in prisons. Maybe the CA government has put effort into incentivizing inmate vaccinations?

    On the flip side, are there peculiarities in the union contracts for prison guards that create adverse incentives against vaccination? I don’t know enough to comment intelligently, but I’ve heard enough perverse incentive anecdotes during this pandemic to wonder about it.

  36. Gravatar of Tiana Tiana
    9. September 2021 at 02:42

    What if inmates have more time than guards on average? Can’t imagine sitting around in jail would be very fun. Why not go stick a needle in your arm? The guards at least are clocking in for work and can’t get away to schedule such a vaccine.

    The same thing is happening with the African Studies department at my university. My faculty advisor is teaching a class on race and imprisonment to prisoners who have a lot of time on their hands. She isn’t teaching the class to prison guards or anybody with a full-time job.

  37. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    9. September 2021 at 07:29

    Calling people “sissies” because they take the advice of a number of scientists who disagree with the vaccine rollout is not “science”. It’s ad hominem pseudo science. It’s lazy.

    The truth is that you – and many other quacks – are afraid of debate. You are unable to articulate words well, self evident after numerous interviews, and your subjective interpretation of facts that fit your narrative are exposed when a scientist who disagrees presents his evidence.

    Many intellectuals do not agree that vaccines should be mandatory, nor do they agree that the vaccine should be prescribed universally. Many do believe that the decision should be left to the individual & their doctor.

  38. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    9. September 2021 at 07:36

    I bet the ideologies and “mindsets” between guards and prison inmates are relatively similar in large parts.

    The difference can be explained quite simply by indirect coercion. Guards do not seem to face many (if any) constraints if they do not vaccinate, but prison inmates do. Thus, they will get the vaccination and the guards won’t.

    This behavior can easily be explained by selfish, rational motives on both sides. The inmates have a great advantage if they cooperate, the guards see no advantage for themselves at all. Therefore, they do not cooperate. This may seem rational for the guards, but it might not be helpful for society as a whole.

    Guards and all other vaccine objectors need offerings (or pressures) that make vaccination seem more worthwhile for themselves. I assume this is Econ 101.

    As long as that doesn’t happen, these people won’t get vaccinated. We cannot reach these people with arguments alone (if ever); one has to offer them a real advantage according to their weltanschauung.

  39. Gravatar of JW JW
    9. September 2021 at 07:44

    Scott Sumners is now the home of the knuckle dragging, drooling left. In 1993 the state of Ohio tried to mandate TB vaciines in prisons. It started a riot that killed nine inmates and one guard. Fear of government experimentation and general conspiracy theories involving prison inmates are common. But many states have tried to bribe inmates to get shots but the ACLU considers such acts coercive and the incentives thus remain small. Two judges in Ohio have made vaccinations a condition for parole, the ACLU said it was bothersome but they aren’t taking action. Still it appears New Mexico has done more than most to encourage compliance. In Ohio the low vaccination rate of prison staff is becasue as of August 2021, 42% have tested positive and 55.3% have been vaccinated. In July, 13 staff anf 4 inmates tested positive in Ohio prisons. Prison staff skew younger and given their exposure levels already, they don’t see the need. Seems pretty rational. They stayed on the job when many wouldn’t, contracted the virus at a higher rates than the public before vaccines were available and their reward is for idiots here to attack them as right wing nut jobs. Once upon a time this blog had some value, now it is home to crazy conspiracy nuts.

  40. Gravatar of Mary Mary
    9. September 2021 at 08:02

    When you say getting the vaccine is socially conscious, you are presupposing that the scientists you agree with are indeed correct.

    How do you know that? Have you studied immunology? Do you blindly trust the pharmaceutical industry and the people who benefit from that industry, including scholars and politicians? How about the scientists who disagree? Do they get a voice?

    And btw, didn’t some commenter say that you “feigned illness” to get out of the draft? If true, isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

    I would have probably “feigned illness” to get out of the draft too, so I’m in no position to take the moral high ground. But it is interesting that one would call others sissies when they did everything they could to avoid Vietnam.

  41. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. September 2021 at 08:20

    Justin, Do conservatives not get the flu vaccine each year? The ones I know do.

    Marc, You said:

    “The worst insult to a conservative is to call them weak.”

    Yes, that’s why there aren’t any Christian conservatives, they are all Nietzcheans. (Just kidding.)

    “Pre-existing anti-tyrany mindset.”

    The real tyranny was the FDA claiming that it gets to determine who gets the vaccine and who does not. Conservatives should have demanded the vaccine before it was approved by the FDA. But then most conservatives don’t even understand what “tyranny” is.

    You said:

    “Religious belief: For religious conservatives, death is merely “my time to go,” and there’s no point in trying to prevent it. “If God wants me to go, he’ll take me.””

    Yes, that’s why conservatives don’t go to hospitals. In any case, we’ve already established that there are no Christian conservatives.

    “Reticence about new technology: By temperament, many conservatives have a bias toward the problems they know rather than a new solution they don’t know.”

    Like Reagan’s advocacy of a “star wars” system to shoot down Russian missiles? Trump’s advocacy of new vaccines?

    “The last two points have led me to the conclusion that environmentalism is in many ways conservative, not a left-leaning view.”

    Now you are doing my work for me. This is all interesting stuff, but in the end it’s just hand waving.

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. September 2021 at 08:54

    Mary, I’ve already been called a CCP pedophile, so I guess draft dodger isn’t too bad an insult.

    BTW, do you know that I’m 65 years old?

  43. Gravatar of d w d w
    9. September 2021 at 09:44

    @justin, i suspect that as time goes by (if not already) you will find that the ‘left’ will do the same thing that the right has done. they wont trust any thing that the government (unless its run by them whih seems to be the way the right was 2017-2020) proposes (look at SCOTUS its trust level is plummeting and it will take all of the other courts with it). course maybe thats just a symptom of society breaking up? course one could be cynical (and maybe rightly so) that its part of the plan of Russia and other to destroy the US, democracy and capitalism? they dont want to have to do that using force, since that is extremely risky for them, cause that could break their power along with the Us.

  44. Gravatar of d w d w
    9. September 2021 at 09:54

    I have a name for those who claim to be Christians, but only seem to have adapted only one part of the faith, they only believe in spreading the word, but seem to ignore the other part, in that we are suppose to help the poor, not attack them, not deprive them . doing just one part of the faith, wont make you a christian, but a CINO

  45. Gravatar of harry harry
    9. September 2021 at 12:53

    Socially conscious is another radical left term to virtue signal their supposed moral superiority.

    Virtue signaling has become the new norm for the radicals, and those who disagree with them are labeled “racist, xenophobic, anti-science, wimps, sissies” or some other negative epithet.

    Sumner likes to call himself libertarian, but he’s clearly not. A libertarian believes in small government, liberty, individualism, and bill of rights.

    Sumner believes the “collective” is more important. He shuns the individual for “bigger government”, “bigger enterprise”, “more regulation”, “mandates”, and so forth.

    People who claim I need to give up liberty, so they can feel “comfortable” are the real threat to humanity. Your “comfort” means nothing to me. I’m rich, I’m happy, I have a hot wife”. “Your problems” mean absolutely nothing to me. If you die of starvation, which you won’t, because my tax money pays for your incompetence, then I could care less. Die already. Too many losers as it is.

  46. Gravatar of steve steve
    9. September 2021 at 13:01

    “Justin, Do conservatives not get the flu vaccine each year? The ones I know do.”

    Why people wont take vaccines has been studied quite a bit. There are a lot of reasons but on ideology the study below has been found by several researchers now. Those who dont trust govt are less likely to get vaccinated. Trust in government varies quite a bit depending upon who controls it ie POTUS. So conservatives were more likely to trust govt with a GOP POTUS. Now that we have a Dem they no longer trust so they are less likely to get vaccinated.



  47. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. September 2021 at 18:04

    Steve, So conservatives trusted the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on January 19th and distrusted those two vaccines on January 21st? Not saying you are wrong, just wondering what the thought process is.

    I’ve given up trying to understand people.

  48. Gravatar of MarcC MarcC
    9. September 2021 at 20:56

    Scott, you’re correct that the group of ideas I outlined isn’t consistent with other known conservative beliefs, and the list isn’t even internally consistent. But that is true of a variety of political parties. Political ideology is often not logically consistent. It’s based on a variety of factors, including coalition-building among various interest groups who are partially at odds with each other. But once people begin building their identity around their political affiliation, they take on the ideology of their party as an identity marker.

    If anything, I think the list of ideas I mentioned above shows that there is a web of pre-existing strands of thought in conservative circles that can be activated to turn people against the vaccine. It still doesn’t demonstrate what the causal factor is. As you rightly point out, there are other aspects of conservative ideology that would argue in favor of vaccines.

    So what is the causal factor (or factors)? That remains a mystery to me. I’m pretty sure it’s not ONLY the person in the White House, because there was quite a right-wing backlash against Fauci and other public health experts during the Trump administration.

    It’s also worth noting that there seems to be quite a range of vaccine hesitancy. There is a staunch group of people who will never take the vaccine. But there is a larger, amorphous group who are hesitant in varying degrees. There is not a single explanation for vaccine rejection among right-wing people.

  49. Gravatar of Joe munson Joe munson
    10. September 2021 at 00:49

    random guesses:

    I would think guards skew extremely right wing and inmates skew a bit left wing.

    I imagine the consciousness of the two groups are broadly similer, guards who are willing to stay guards despite the low pay and the incredible corruption?

    I also imagine guards have first hand experience with government lying through its teeth, because they probably lie through their teeth about how they officially treat inmates quite a lot.

    Perhaps its even more targeted, maybe they skew scotts irish acnestors or something? Maybe scotts irish are even more hesitant than republicans on average?

  50. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. September 2021 at 09:08

    Marc, Fair enough.

    Shorter version: People are irrational.

  51. Gravatar of steve steve
    10. September 2021 at 12:18

    Scott- They stopped trusting in November. If Trump had won a lot more Republicans get vaccinated and fewer Democrats. Just remember that this is mostly tribal. You keep trying to make sense of this but it doesnt have to really follow any understandable logic. Look at the Democrats. They didnt care about Russians when Obama was president. Trump becomes president and they care a lot. Now Biden is president and they dont care so much again. Does this reveal deeply felt, principled beliefs about Russians? Nah. Its tribal.


  52. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. September 2021 at 14:07

    Steve, Good points. But there’s no cost in holding an opinion on the Russians—not getting vaccinated might cost you your life.

  53. Gravatar of steve steve
    13. September 2021 at 17:42

    Its still tribal. They only consume right wing ie tribal media which tell them that the Covid is really just the flu and that the vaccines dont really work anyway. Think of this through the tribal lens and it makes much more sense. If there eis anything i have learned from reading econ it is that incentives matter, but you need to figure out the incentives. I read the medical literature so my incentives are in line with getting vaccinated. If you watch or read only the media from your own tribe then that is what you are likely to believe and respond accordingly to incentives based upon those beliefs.

    To be clear there are some right of center media advocating for vaccines and citing real literature but there are a lot that dont.


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