(My Clovis News Journal column for October 10, 2014.)
Sometimes it takes me a while to realize when people are seriously concerned over something like the current Ebola scare.
I've seen enough of these well-publicized health crises fizzle to know they generally work themselves out before much happens. As an American you are nine times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by terrorists, and you are much more likely to die of something boring, like heart disease, than Ebola. It's just not as dramatic and newsworthy.
We see how government is handling the Ebola scare- either as well as can be expected, or on par with the average preschooler, depending on who you believe. Everyone has their own ideas of what government should be doing, but how could a free society deal with such a terrible disease in the absence of The State?
Since a free society would have no borders of the kind you have become accustomed to, but private property lines instead, there would be no such issue as "immigration". People would either be trespassing or not, and property owners, not government, would be making that determination. So immigration is irrelevant for this discussion.
Airlines (and other transportation providers) would be free to set any rules they see fit for passengers, including cutting off service to places with dangerous epidemics or even requiring on-site medical tests before allowing anyone to board. Failure to take sufficient precautions could scare people away from using their service, could cause liability problems and restitution owed, and might drive them out of business.
At home, a free society wouldn't be confiscating money through "taxation", but experience shows people will chip in when they know it's in their interest to do so. Since it would be in just about everyone's best interest to treat and cure epidemic diseases, charitable hospitals and research facilities would probably be common, well-funded, and would cover the medical bills of those unable to afford even the vastly less expensive and more advanced medical care which will have been freed from the burden of government rationing and regulation.
A sick person who chooses to expose people to his communicable disease, actively infecting others, is just as guilty of aggression as someone shooting into a crowd. This could mean forcible quarantine if he didn't voluntarily cooperate and permit treatment. As a last resort, a contagious person could even be subject to self defensive violence of a more direct nature.
No one can predict exactly how a free society would approach such a problem without violating any innocent individual, but judging by history, and by what is happening now, government's supporters have no better answers.