It's Like Public Health Academics Are Trying to Marginalize the Field
If Leana Wen is too right-wing to speak, your field is far out of touch with the public. Plus: Josh's housekeeping hints.
Happy Friday! I wrote yesterday about Joe Manchin’s sidecar to the Inflation Reduction Act — reforms to permitting rules that Congress is supposed to vote on later this year, which would make it much easier to turn the energy funding in the IRA into actual new infrastructure — and how, if enacted, they will mean the IRA is much likelier to actually deliver inflation reduction. If you didn’t get that issue, that’s because you’re not a paying subscriber to Very Serious, but you can sign up to read it at this link.
We’ve had a short hiatus for the Very Serious podcast, but I’ll be back next week with Alex Parker, a longtime tax-policy journalist, to talk about the corporate income tax and the Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA generates lots of added corporate tax revenue through a somewhat kludgey minimum tax — I’ll be talking with Alex about how that tax will work, how it was affected by last-minute changes at the behest of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and how it relates to efforts led by Janet Yellen to obtain international agreement on policies that would limit international tax shifting and avoidance.
Do you have questions for Alex? Send them to email@example.com. Please also send in your questions for the Mayonnaise Clinic — as you saw on Wednesday, I offered advice on a reset for Kamala Harris and on the internal politics of gay mens’ choruses, so there’s a wide range of what I’ll opine on.
Below the fold today, I have some housekeeping tips on the Instant Pot, robot vacuums, and why I love bleach. But first, some thoughts on public health.
Dr. Leana Wen is slated to make an address at the American Public Health Association conference in Boston in November. And boy are some public health academics and activists upset about it. In a petition, they say they disagree with her support for the cessation — more than two years into the COVID pandemic — of certain non-pharmaceutical interventions. And they also disagree with her about some other things.
For example, they say she was being “fatphobic” when she objected to Krispy Kreme’s promotion offering customers a daily, free glazed donut with proof of COVID vaccination, about which she said that “donuts are a treat that's not good for health if eaten every day.” They say she was “unethical” for mostly endorsing the CDC’s recent relaxation of COVID guidelines for schools, and they object to her concern that pandemic-driven restrictions on schools are leading to learning loss. (Dr. Wen “believes that ‘learning loss’ is a fate worse than death,” they aver, with scare quotes in original.) So they demand that APHA rescind Wen’s invitation and replace her with “someone who is capable and can speak to evidence-based practices rooted in a collective responsibility for health equity” — that is, someone who agrees with their extreme ideological positions. And they demand that the APHA “reject the rhetoric of inevitable mass infection,” even though mass infection is inevitable — over 200 million Americans have had COVID, well over half the country, and it’s not going away no matter how many mask rules you impose at conferences, or who the speakers are.
Now, how relevant are these people?
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