In the interest of full disclosure, I must point out that Bram R is actually B-Money, formerly of the Ringers and BoP, and while he might insist he is not posting in his capacity as a currently semi-retired ultimate frisbee player, I think this bears heavily upon his remarks.
*command-economy, legalized >campaign contribution redemption< department. My dudgeon is rusty.
The sideshow argument is mind-numbingly facile, amounting to so much "So's your sister", though I guess I side with Roddey on its merits. It's not like he signed on as "OvertaxedWorkingFamilyGuy412" or something. It's safe to assume every comment by everyone, on the Internet or in the meatosphere, is in some way self-interested.
I'd be more interested in whether any of the money saved by "reforming Harrisburg" can be reallocated to education, and what is the present state of those initiatives we heard so much about during the campaign. Also, why money waiting to be raised with the sort of significant fossil fuel extraction tax we see in Texas or Louisiana (mature energy producing states) can't safely be forced down our evil, loathsome velcro hallway without undue harm to hardhat wearing 99%ers. Finally, and this might reveal my naivete, but I wonder how much money might be reprogrammed from the centralized command-economy, legalized vote purchasing department we call "Economic Development".
Well, if you're offering the last word, I'll take it:
You did indeed say that. And my response then (and now) is that the argument is circular: you're defending a law based on its legality. Which is not defending it at all.
Whether or not you find contraception to be an important part of health care matters not one whit to the argument I'm making. I find free speech to be an immensely important right, but that doesn't mean I have to loan you my megaphone. If you feel otherwise, how about a deal: the Catholic church pays for your contraception, and you pay for their communion wine. That's what our freedom apparently means now, right? Not just the right to buy something, but the right to make other people provide it.
That, I'm afraid, is the part of your argument that just doesn't follow. Even if I accept your...er...interesting personal definition of "bullying," and even if I concede that the Declaration of Independence should be retroactively modified to include "contraception" right between "life" and "liberty," there is nothing about that belief that necessitates that it has to be provided by one's employer.
I am not a Catholic, nor a libertarian, nor am I against contraception at all. But those are my conclusions, and everyone gets to decide these things for themselves. There is no dictionary, no common usage, no lingo, under which someone who doesn't want to buy you something is denying you your right to it. There is no way of looking at this issue in which the Catholic church is imposing things on you. It is just the opposite: the church is insisting on a society where each individual gets to decide whether or not they purchase contraception. You're insisting on one where they don't. It's as simple as that.
Well, as I said awhile back:
"Using institutional heft to deny me benefits I'd otherwise have -- because of a morality I may not share? To me, that's a form of bullying."
You can reject that definition if you wish, but it is informed by my feeling that what's at stake is a right to health coverage. And since many Americans seem to support the Obama approach, I suspect I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. In any case, it seems a little simplistic to say the church "just wants to be left alone," as if no one else -- namely the employees -- has a stake in the decision. (And I'd add that birth control is only the beginning. Already Rick Santorum is saying covering certain forms of prenatal care should ALSO not be required ... not because a procedure like amniocentesis is objectionable it itself, but because it MIGHT reveal information that MIGHT lead to a decision an employer would disagree with.)
But we're at the point where we're quoting ourselves, so this argument has played itself out. I'll yield the last word to you, and thank you again for the discussion.
While I appreciate the "hey, diff'rent strokes" sentiment, I don't feel that's an accurate assessment of our disagreement. If you look at my comments I think you'll notice that I've been pretty consistent in making one point over and over again, and that it's a point that remains unaddressed: the point about the specific rhetoric being used.
I would not have bothered to reply at all if my only contention sprang from our fundamentally different views on healthcare. I've had enough discussions with people who believe healthcare to be an innate human right to wander into another one. No, like any decent argument, I was disagreeing with something that I felt didn't make sense even if I were to assume your general view of things: the insinuation that Catholics were trying to impose their beliefs by not wanting to participate.
You may find the more libertarian view of healthcare I'm talking about to be foolish, heartless, or a million other things. But the one thing it cannot be is bullying. It may be many things, but it is not compulsion or imposition. There is no angle from which that particular accusation makes sense, regardless of whether you're Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. You may think it necessary to force this on people whose religious faith condemns it. I strongly disagree, but there is an argument to be had there. But there is no way to pretend, without doing things to the words involved that would easily violate the Geneva Conventions, to pretend that their wanting to be left alone on this issue is somehow bullying others.
Yeah, we're definitely talking past each other, probably because we have pretty different concerns when it comes to fairness. From what I can see, your principal concern is that it's unfair to ask employers to pay for anything they don't want to pay for. MY principal concern is that it's unfair for working Americans to go without a baseline level of health insurance.
I've described the legal and social history here at length, largely to prove that this policy shift is not such a radical departure from previous precedent after all. Compared to a genuine overhaul like single-payer, it's actually a pretty modest policy shift where employers are concerned: leaving the employer-based approach intact, but firming up some baseline requirements.
But obviously, if your goal is to erase those previous precedents -- by removing government from EVERY aspects of the employee/employer relations -- then citing historic precedents probably isn't going to satisfy you. Neither, I suspect, will citing polling data that shows a majority of Americans are pretty comfortable with where Obama has come down on the contraception issue. Because it's the prerogatives of management you seem most anxious to protect.
So we're probably at an impasse here. But even if so, I thank you for the discussion.
It is not unlikely that the suit will be dismissed. However the losses are enormous. Not so much from an immediate revenue position but from the insight into the nature and fraudulent character of the organization, its goals, practices, and not only the leadership but one needs to ask "just what kind of a person would even work at EDMC?"
The DOJ argument is very broad and includes a wide web of offenses. That having been said there are other more significant issues. The investigations related to this suit have exposed the fraud, political corruption, and gross inadequacies of the EDMC education in specific and on line and for profit schooling in general. It is most likely that EDMC will bare the brunt of any number of other actions and certainly the reformulated action at hand. The overwhelmingly obvious corrupt relationship among Olympia Snow, John McKernan, and Romney is very likely to become a major issue following the elections. In the even that Romney would become president the nefarious relationship between Romney and Todd Nelson will become a liability. In the event that Obama would remain as president it will become necessary that he address the coming student loan bubble. At that point Snowe will become the sacrifice and at this point who cares about McKernan's past connections. As the student loan bubble becomes more visible and more urgent the fraudulent practices addressed far beyond the present lawsuit will become major issues. Given the damage that the Pittsburgh company has inflicted on individuals and their their employers the Congress is likely to investigate the conversion of Title IV loans. At that point the instructors who lacked appropriate credentials, the students who plagiarized and were passed, the incoherent courses that were designed by unqualified employees, and the nebulous relationships with the accreditation agencies will come under scrutiny. EDMC will not stand alone in this. Even some well established state schools are as guilty as this company. However the long pattern of abuse by Todd Nelson and the executives that he brought from Apollo do suggest conspiracy. Give the unique relationship between Todd Nelson, Romney, and the LDS Church in juxtaposition with the McKernan-Snowe duet, there is very likely to be a criminal investigation. I's sell short if I had it
Democans and Republicrats
@Chris Potter: I'm not sure what argument is made by detailing the government's long and illustrious history of interference. That no more justifies this particular interference than it would justify the Iraq War if I reminded you that we are, in fact, legally allowed to go to war and have done so many times before. In fact, it seems this entire discussion has been me trying to explain why this mandate is unfair, and you just telling me it's law. The problem is, when the argument is about whether or not something should be law, pointing to its legality is circular.
You say my hypothetical is different...but I don't see where you say why. The only difference I see is that mine is clearly ridiculous, which is the entire point. We can do this a million ways: If you don't buy me a gun, are you interfering with my second amendment rights? If you don't buy me a company car, are you "bullying" me into walking? If you don't buy me a pony, are you imposing your anti-pony prejudices on me? If the answer to these questions is "no" (and it is) then all the rhetoric about Catholics imposing anything on anyone needs to be recognized for the hysterical gibberish it is. It flies in the face of both logic and the dictionary.
If your response, as it seems to be, is only that these things aren't laws, then the ballgame's over. Because if the only argument for a law is that it's the law, then we have on our hands both a really bad law and a really bad argument. And that's without even getting into the fact that, unlike the other regulations you mention, this one isn't contingent on any action: you're mandated to purchase it merely for being alive.
And, justness or unjustness aside, this is a pretty pointless wielding of government power. We're not talking about whether or not we should be allowed to draft Quakers in times of war. We're not talking about a scenario where the clear, undisputed responsibilities of government come into natural conflict with religious belief. This fight was picked. And as you alluded to in your article, mandating contraception is only going to decrease wages to pay for it, anyway. It's of questionable value even if you completely strip away the religious aspect.
Sorry for the delay.
Sounds like we both agree that religious-affiliated employers deserve no more -- or less -- deference that any other employer with an objection to the contraceptive benefit. And if I haven't addressed your broader objection, it's because this post was written specifically in response claims largely made on behalf OF CHURCHES. (See Dailey's original article.) I think you and I have kind of dispensed with that claim, and can move on to discuss the issue as it applies to ANY employer.
You note that "there are such things as unjust or unreasonable laws." I agree, but I'm not sure placing this requirement on employers qualifies ... certainly not in the way your hypothetical example does.
For one thing -- and I can't believe I haven't mentioned this until now -- a couple dozen states ALREADY require employers to offer contraception as part of their insurance coverage. Mitt Romney advanced just such a policy himself; it was arguably LESS solicitous of religious scruple than the modified Obama proposal.
For good or ill -- and as a backer of single-payer, I think it's mostly for ill -- health-insurance in this country is largely tied to employment, at least w/r/t the working-age (and thus, for our purposes here, *child-bearing* age) population. That's just how we roll here in the United States. It's been that way for decades, for a whole slew of reasons ... due in part to the preference of employers themselves.
Government already regulates various aspects of the workplace, including compensation: worker safety, minimum-wage and OT laws, social security withholding, etc. Sometimes, employers have cited religious or moral objections to those standards, but as we've seen, the courts have generally ruled that their scruples must defer to secular law. So should government regulation of BENEFITS like health coverage be more susceptible to such objections than government regulation of WAGES? Especially when both are key components of an employees compensation?
I have to say, I think it might well be reasonable to ask the broad question, why is the ACA saying that contraceptives have to be paid for by health insurance for non-medical reasons? I mean, I know there are medical reasons to prescribe the pill (and I am assuming that the pill is the contraceptive we are talking about, not the almost disappeared diaphragm), but I don't think "so I don't have kids" is one of them. The inclusion of contraception as something health insurance and doctors must cover and prescribe seems like social policy to me.
But the Catholic church objecting to covering/providing contraception on religious grounds does strike me as major league hypocrisy. And Ruth Ann suggesting that Republicans should (as they are doing) make this an election issue is doubly hypocritical. If the church is so concerned with life, where were they when we attacked Iraq by choice, with flimsy justifications that never panned out? And how concerned are Republicans about freedom of religion, given their stance on Muslims building new Mosques?
Let's be clear, there are several types of contraception available including the afore mentioned diaphragm and of course condoms that can be purchased cheaply from every drug store and grocery store in the country (as far as I know).In denying coverage for the pill, the Catholic Church is simply punishing poor and middle income unmarried and married women who work at Catholic hospitals and Universities, for what evidently the Church considers promiscuity. They are denying them access to a form of contraception women can control, is easy to use, effective, and in this context inexpensive. In the real world, women may face a situation where the man they are "with", husband or otherwise, may choose not to use a condom, or may use it badly. That is where forbidding access to the pill can have a disastrous effect. This may be a religious issue for Catholics, but in this situation it is Catholics enforcing their religion on their employees (no matter what the religion of the employee might be). That makes it a social issue.
Again, I am not sure the ACA ought to mandate coverage of the Pill for reasons other than to treat a medical condition. But if that policy survives any legal challenge, then I am with Potter, there should be no religious exemption from this policy. Especially for the Catholics, who, I think everyone must admit, have a less than stellar record on all sorts of moral issues.
Helpful questions, and your guess is correct: I don't think bishops should be treated better than Amish farmers. I don't think we should be making major exceptions to broad mandates. But the fact that this dispute exists is not an argument against those exceptions, it's an argument against the mandate.
We both, I would hope, agree that there are such things as unjust or unreasonable laws. If the law required that I buy you contraceptives, even though I'm not your employer and have no formal relationship to you whatsoever, I would not be "bullying" you by resisting, despite the fact that such a situation would be, to use your words, "deny[ing] [you] benefits the government would otherwise require." This is clearly an absurd situation, but almost all of the arguments you're using in defense of current law could be used in defense of this farcical hypothetical one, because almost all of them "proceed from the fact that the Obama Administration is mandating such an obligation." Any ridiculous or unjust law can be defended if you get to ignore the part of the argument about whether or not it should be law.
The problem, then, is that the arguments presuppose the very thing being disputed. You assume the law is fair and reasonable. But the dispute is not strictly about whether or not to make a religious exception, but about the integrity of a law that would put us in that position in the first place.
@Tofu -- "...unless, as I suggested before, you're operating under the assumption that contraception (not access to contraception, but actual contraception) is a fundmanetal right. AND the assumption that it's somehow the job of your employer to secure that right and make it manifest. To make the arguments you're making, both of these things need to be true, and it seems to me that neither of them are."
It does seem like we need to define some terms here. "Fundamental right" doesn't seem too helpful a term here. But if my employer can cite his beliefs to deny me benefits the government would otherwise require, I regard that as a sacrifice *I* am being forced to make for the sake of HIS convictions. Using institutional heft to deny me benefits I'd otherwise have -- because of a morality I may not share? To me, that's a form of bullying.
(And sure, I'd say the same of an employer who sought to deny me dental coverage I would otherwise be legally entitled to.)
See, I'm not "operating under the assumption" that my employer has an obligation to provide a birth-control benefit ... I'm merely proceeding from the fact that the Obama Administration is mandating such an obligation.
The bishops are asking for a special exemption, based on church doctrine. But lots of business owners might have their own convictions about birth control. Should their convictions, or those of an Amish farmer, count for any less? And if so, why? Because the Catholic church is a bigger institution than the Amish community?
I'm actually not sure you think the bishops DO trump an Amish farmer. You seem to object to the idea that ANY employer could be required to offer a benefit he opposes. Am I wrong about that? Is it your belief that ANY employer should be able to opt out of paying for benefits he doesn't approve of? Or is your position that certain religious-affiliated organizations have a special right to do so?
"If I oppose birth control, I can impose that limitation on myself, but I don't have any means to impose that morality on anyone else. My employer, however, has the ability to impose his preferences through the kind of coverage he purchases."
He really doesn't. You can buy it or not, and your employer can't stop you. Absolutely zilch is being imposed on you in this scenario. I don't see the thought process in the idea that anything you are not being explicitly provided by your employer, you are somehow being denied. By that logic, as I said before, isn't your employer also "bullying" you and imposing their values on you by not providing dental? Hell, by not providing ANYTHING?
I don't see how these questions are at all dealt with by saying the mandate is a "separate argument." Conflicts like this are one of the reasons people oppose the mandate in the first place; it is the inevitable consequence of it, not some side issue. These are the worms inside the can. And even if we try to maintain the fiction that we can cordon the effect off from its cause, that still doesn't explain how anything is being imposed on you...
...unless, as I suggested before, you're operating under the assumption that contraception (not access to contraception, but actual contraception) is a fundmanetal right. AND the assumption that it's somehow the job of your employer to secure that right and make it manifest. To make the arguments you're making, both of these things need to be true, and it seems to me that neither of them are.
Confucius say: Argue with tofu, get egg foo young on face.
OK, I have time to add a bit more to this. You write:
"Also, I can't for the life of me discern the apparent significance of making a distinction between make "you" do something and making your employer do it. What's the logic there?"
Well, the distinction is that my employer and I are in distinctly different situations, and -- even if we both opposed birth control -- would be engaged in distinctly different behaviors. If I oppose birth control, I can impose that limitation on myself, but I don't have any means to impose that morality on anyone else. My employer, however, has the ability to impose his preferences through the kind of coverage he purchases.
The point I'm making here -- and the reason why it matters whose ox is REALLY being gored -- is that framing this debate as a question of "religious freedom" ignores important questions about "the exercise of power, and how much of it your boss should have."
Thanks for your comments, Tofu. I'm rushing out the door, so I'll have to make this quick.
First, my "sarcastic hypotheticals" are neither all that sarcastic, nor particularly hypothetical. As I said in the piece, people have claimed religious objections to a slew of worker rights -- there have been religion-based challenges to child labor laws and Social Security withholding. Perhaps you don't define these as "fundamental rights" either. But they are rules that employers have to live by, and religious employers do not get to pick and choose which rules to follow.
Which brings us to your broader argument -- that having the right to buy something isn't the same as having the right to compel someone to buy it for you ... I'll just go back to what I said toward the end of the piece:
"No doubt there are people who think the government shouldn't be dictating such rules to anyone ... But that's a separate argument -- about the obligations of employers to their workers. It's not an argument about religious freedom ... It's about the exercise of power, and how much of it your boss should have."
We could argue whether it's appropriate for the government to require employers to do anything. I'm just saying that don't think the answer to that question ought to be different for church-affiliated employers than for any other employer.
Also, I can't for the life of me discern the apparent significance of making a distinction between make "you" do something and making your employer do it. What's the logic there? That I shouldn't be outraged because someone ELSE is being compelled to do something they shouldn't be compelled to do? Hell, what if I AM an employer? The problem is the law; whether or not every person complaining about it is directly affected is beside the point. You could pass a law raising taxes on anyone over 6'5", and I'd still find it horribly unjust, even though it wouldn't apply to me.
"The debate has put conservatives in an awkward position: telling you that in order for you to be free, you have to be bullied by your employer."
No it hasn't. It's put you in the awkward position of pretending anything your employer does not provide for you you are somehow being unjustly denied. Is an employer "bullying" their employees when they don't offer dental, too?
The logic is remarkably simple: having the right to do something or buy something is not the same thing as having the right to compel someone to buy it for you. This isn't that complicated.
"Memo to the bishops: It's not society's fault you can no longer inspire obedience, but only seek to compel it."
Er, your side is the one using compulsion, last I checked.
It seems the problem with your argument is that you're operating under the assumption that contraception is a fundamental right. It isn't. Therefore, all the sarcastic hypotheticals about people who have a religion that forbids them to pay the minimum wage are invalidated. The church's stance against contraception does not invalidate your rights, because you don't have to be involved with the church. You're coming into their yard, not the other way around.
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