Speech as Public Choice Remedy

Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy (forthcoming) (symposium edition)

69 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2024

See all articles by Irina D. Manta

Irina D. Manta

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Cassandra Burke Robertson

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Zoe Robinson

Australian National University, School of Politics and International Relations

Date Written: February 12, 2024

Abstract

In an era in which the dissemination of information is as crucial as the policies enacted to safeguard public health and welfare, the intersection of public choice theory and the dynamics of speech plays a pivotal role in shaping health policy outcomes. Legislators and executives, pushed by the prospect of re-election and influenced by private interests, often enact policies that may not align optimally with the public good. This discrepancy is particularly evident in the realm of public health, where the allocation of resources and regulatory measures can be swayed by political and electoral concerns, leaving the broader public interest sidelined. This Article explores the intricate relationship between government actions, public choice theory, and the regulation of speech within the context of public health. The Article posits that a recalibration of speech policy can serve as a remedy to the public choice dilemma in public health. By differentiating between true and false health speech, and advocating for the amplification of true health speech, it outlines a path towards more informed public discourse and decision-making. True health speech, characterized by its adherence to scientifically validated information, can guide public behavior and policy in ways that genuinely promote the public good. Conversely, false health speech, whether stemming from misinformation or disinformation, undermines public trust and impedes effective health measures. Our recommendations emphasize the need for a nuanced approach to regulating health-related speech. By identifying and mitigating the spread of the most egregious health misinformation, promoting open public dialogue, and proposing narrowly targeted government health campaigns, we argue that the government can more effectively marshal its resources towards public health goals. This strategy not only seeks to counteract the influence of misinformation but also to foster a public discourse that is conducive to the adoption of scientifically grounded health regulations, envisioning a future where public health policy is less susceptible to the distortions of public choice theory and more reflective of collective welfare.

Keywords: Public health, Public choice, COVID-19, Misinformation, Disinformation, Speech

Suggested Citation

Manta, Irina D. and Robertson, Cassandra Burke and Robinson, Zoe, Speech as Public Choice Remedy (February 12, 2024). Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy (forthcoming) (symposium edition), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4850221 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4850221

Irina D. Manta (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

Cassandra Burke Robertson

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-3302 (Phone)

Zoe Robinson

Australian National University, School of Politics and International Relations ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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