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

The tendency to make public health a pretext to achieve another goal, even though it has nothing or little to do with health is one of the most notable features of the pandemic era. 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. 

Before the advent of COVID it was unlawful to purchase to-go cocktails in New York. Only on-premise sales were allowed at restaurants and bars. Your end-of-night Appletini could not be taken home legally. Local officials made an exception when indoor dining was shut down in 2020. They allowed cocktails that were produced at a bar to be taken home for takeout. This Appletini quickly became a “grab-and-go” purchase.

New York’s emergency law allowing to-go cocktails in New York was a similar one. The emergency authorization was revoked in unexpected circumstances, however. 

It was canceled because liquor stores wanted to sell booze. consumed at homeThey are all for themselves They strongly opposed the extension of this policy. It’s not surprising that, in the few weeks after New York’s 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. 

One of the main reasons that the liquor store lobby has used to prohibit bars from selling to go booze is the possibility of a “public-health crisis.” Baylen Linnekin recently noted that a New York lobbying group warned that to-go permanent cocktails could increase DWI incidences and underage sales. It’s as though it would be impossible for an adult or minor to buy a Jameson bottle and take it home.  

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 be legalized “will cause chaos in our liquor shops.” The following Recent boom in sales of liquor storesHowever, it seems unlikely that expensive single-serving cocktails sold in bars or restaurants are a serious threat to Jameson-sellers who sell big jugs. It is clear, however, that liquor stores are motivated primarily by competition and not public health concerns. 

In the battle of the bands, Joe Rogan and Neil Young saw something at least slightly similar. Last week, Young AnnouncedInterviews with vaccine skeptics by Rogan demanding that the streaming music service ditch Rogan—and saying that if it didn’t, he wanted his music removed from the service. Given the fact that Spotify has reportedly acquired Rogan, it is not surprising. Rogan was awarded a contract worth $100 MillionIn 2020, Rogan was still the most popular member of the service. Young’s songs won’t be available on the service. 

This was really all about vaccines. Well, maybe. Maybe partially. However, there was almost certain to be other preexisting issues. Neil Young is a vocal critic of streaming music and Spotify, in particular. Spotify doesn’t currently provide high-resolution audio.

Apple’s digital business in music was developing years back. Pono, a premium device that was designed to play high-resolution audio, was supported by Young. Young also pulled his music from streaming services in 2015 before digital music was common.

Spotify was a problem for So Young that had nothing whatsoever to do with 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 said he was “better” for having gone “The shitty, degraded, and null sounding Spotify. He warned, “If you support Spotify you are destroying an artistic 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. New album and document out?) Young received support from the government for his desire to achieve what he had already done. 

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 last two decades 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-advancements. Some of these actions were the result of genuine, but sometimes misguided, desire to improve the public’s well-being. Some cynicism is appropriate, as the panic of the pandemic created an atmosphere of permissibility that allows for selfish moves to be made in a way that makes them seem pure and selfless.