I confess that I’m flummoxed by the people who think that the only possible explanation for Rick Perry’s decision to mandate Gardasil (HPV) vaccination–or the only likely one–has something to do with a minor campaign donation, or the fact that his former Chief of Staff ended up working for a pharmaceutical firm. I like me a good Public Choice horror story as much as anyone, but can we really categorically rule out the possibility that Rick Perry thought that mandating Gardasil was a good way to fight cervical cancer, which claims the life of around 4,000 women every year? A further 12,000 are diagnosed with it every year, and treatment is painful, frightening, and can permanently impair the fertility of the younger women who undergo it. Is it somehow crazy to even think that a governor might have wanted to authorize a vaccine which could wipe out many of the most common strains of HPV?…

I think that preventing the transmission of communicable disease is a clear public health issue, and that frankly if this wasn’t an STD, no one would even be questioning whether we should vaccinate for a disease that kills at least 3,000 people a year–more than died of measles in the late 1950s, by the way. And of course, thousands of more have to go through invasive tests and treatments.

But even if your cost-benefit analysis differs, I don’t see how this warrants the conclusion that the only possible reason Rick Perry could have supported mandatory vaccination was corporate influence. I’m not saying that drug companies are always solid citizens . . . but they do, in fact, occasionally invent things that save peoples lives. Which means that occasionally they’re going to have a good argument when they suggest that the government should deploy their product.