‘Public Health’ Has Become a Catchall Excuse for Bad Ideas

A notable development of the Pandemic Era is the temptation to use public Health as a pretext for achieving another goal. This has had little to no impact on public Health. This can be seen in many ways: from Neil Young’s battle on Spotify and Joe Rogan, to the teachers union resistance to President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda. Let’s begin with a topic that is very close to my heart, the battle over New York State’s to-go cocktail laws. 

It was against the law to buy a cocktail to go in New York prior to COVID. Only on-premise sales were allowed at restaurants and bars. You couldn’t bring your Appletini at the end of the night home. However, local officials allowed indoor dining to close in 2020. This Appletini quickly became a “grab-and-go” purchase.

New York’s law authorizing to-go drinks was approved on an emergency basis, just as many of the policies that were enacted in spring 2020. The emergency authorization was revoked in unexpected circumstances, however. 

It was canceled because liquor stores wanted to sell booze. consumed at homeAll to them The policy was heavily opposed by those who lobbied against it. No surprise then that the policy has been rescinded by liquor stores in New York since New York elected a Democratic governor. Kathy Hochul declared that to-go cocktails will be reinstated on a permanent basis. Liquor stores renewed their efforts to end the policy. 

The prospect of a public health crisis is one reason the lobby for liquor stores has stated that bars and restaurants should not sell to-go alcohol. Baylen Linnekin pointed out that the lobbying group representing New York’s liquor stores has recently stated that the permanent to-go cocktails might also increase DWI cases and sales to minors. As if an adult couldn’t buy Jameson or a beer from their local spirit shop on their way back, it is impossible for them to sell to-go cocktails to anyone.  

In any case, what we have is an industry whose entire business revolves around selling booze for people to consume at home strenuously objecting to a law that would expand the ways in which people consume alcohol at home—for public health reasons. Sure. 

To see the other motivations at work, you don’t need to be sober. Read the statement of the lobbying group. It warns Hochul’s proposal that to-go sales would permanently legalize “will devastate liquor stores.” Consider the following: Recently, liquor store sales have seen a boomIt seems to me that restaurants and bars selling expensive, one-serving take-home drinks are not a significant threat to businesses that sell large jugs Jameson. In any event, the threats to competition are what motivate liquor stores, and they don’t care about the public health. 

Something at least somewhat similar is at work in the current battle of bands between Neil Young and Joe Rogan. Last week, Young DenouncedRogan interviews vaccine skeptics demanding that the streaming music service ditch Rogan—and saying that if it didn’t, he wanted his music removed from the service. It’s not surprising, considering that Spotify already had a subscription to his music. Rogan awarded $100 million contractThe service remained loyal to Rogan until 2020. Young’s songs are being removed from the service. 

This was really all about vaccines. Well, maybe. Maybe partially. There were probably other concerns that existed before this. Neil Young is a vocal critic of streaming music and Spotify, in particular. Spotify doesn’t currently provide high-resolution audio.

Apple’s digital music service was in its early stages years ago. Pono was a high-resolution device designed for Young, and it is a more expensive option than the iPhone. Young complained that streaming was “devaluing” his music in 2015. This happened before the advent of high-resolution digital audio.

Spotify was a problem for So Young that was not related to Rogan’s interview.

After Young’s last week’s performance, it was not surprising that he had a new album. Another note was posted sayingHe felt better after he left.Spotify’s distorted and sterile sound. He warned, “If you support Spotify you are destroying the art form” and advised listeners to “go somewhere that really cares about music quality.”

It is not clear how much Young’s decision about Rogan or vaccines. But it seems reasonable to suspect that at least some of Young’s decision to leave Spotify came as a result of his longstanding complaints about audio quality—which he’d pulled his music from streaming services over before—rather than about Joe Rogan’s influence on public health. Young’s reason for leaving was public health. This made him a headline, although it wasn’t by accident. It’s not related: Young has been arrested for a number of crimes. Out now: New Album and Documentary?) Young was given a reason by the public health to accomplish what he wanted, and he received attention. 

This tendency is evident everywhere these days. You’ll see it in many forms, both large and small. For example, teachers unions have used public health fear over the past 2 years to keep their members out of school. Biden, and other congressional Democrats, have made the pandemic an excuse to increase social spending in ways that do not directly address the coronavirus. 

There are many public actions and emergency measures that have been taken as a response to the pandemic. But, it’s not like they were self-advancement. Some of these actions were the result of genuine, but sometimes misguided, desire to improve the public’s well-being. However, there is a certain amount of cynicism. The totalizing pandemic has given rise to an aura of approval that permits moves that may seem selfish to be seen as pure and selfless.