Hobby Lobby and the War on Women’s Intelligence

Hobby Lobby and the War on Women’s Intelligence July 1, 2014

Of all the reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby Case, Sam Rocha’s is my favorite: The health care problem wouldn’t be solved either way.  Go read his comments, then come back here, because that’s where I’m going.

First a few more required reading links:

Now let’s talk health care reform.  You may recall the other week I proposed three steps towards health care reform.  If you don’t remember what they were, quick go look, because I’m continuing that conversation.

There Are Benefits to Non-Cash Compensation

One of the advantages of employer-funded health care benefits is that it enables a living wage.  Whether you are a senior executive or a career janitor, you have a body that needs to be cared for.  Your wages might reasonably vary based on your skill and contribution to the company.  The moral imperative for employers is to provide, at a minimum, that decent frugal living that any of us need.

Part of that living is the ability to pay for medical care.  Given that family size varies and medical needs vary, it would be ludicrous to say, “Pay your employees enough cash that no matter what happens, they can all afford exactly the medical care they need.”  Some people will have greater expenses than others.  Medical benefits as part of compensation allow employers to pay their workers what they need when they need it.  Need chemo? Great, got it covered.  All you need is a flu shot and a well-child visit?  Super, glad I didn’t spend $100,000 on your “medical fund” when your co-worker needed that money for chemo.

That’s the theory, and it’s a theory that makes a good starting point for health care reform.

There are Pitfalls to Employer-Funded Health Insurance

The primary pitfall being that your life suddenly depends on your job.  Oops.  Thus a reform that is desperately needed is an unhinging of healthcare insurance from single-employer funding. This does not, however, have to mean, “Only the Government Can Save Us!”

It can mean, instead, “I can enroll in my employer’s contracted health insurance program, or I can receive the same amount in health-care savings cash, and use it to enroll in another insurance program.”  Because group risk-sharing is the name of the game in health care funding, it would make perfect sense to enable and encourage all kinds of group health-insurance purchasing cooperatives, most of them not tied to employment.  Your rugby club, your grocery store, your religious association . . . any of these might collect enough subscribers to negotiate a decent health care plan.  When you started your new job, you could just check the benefits box that said, “My health insurance is through a private association, please direct $_____ of my healthcare benefit to insurance fund #____________.”

One of the Pitfalls is that Your Employer Might Have Bad Ideas About what Coverage You Need

In other words: You might be smarter than your boss.

Whether it’s procedures that you’re sure you need and your boss is sure you do not, or the reverse; a deductible that’s impossible, or co-pays that induce panic attacks . . .  it is possible that there’s a massive misalignment between your needs and your employer’s negotiated health care plan.

A single-payer system is no solution. Only change: Suddenly we all work for the same pointy-haired boss. Same problem, massively larger scale.  At least with corporate, you can hope to find a new job.  Finding a new country is somewhat more difficult.

Neither system will work nearly so well as paying employees a health-care benefit amount, and allowing the employee to choose which health insurance is the best fit.

Are You Too Stupid to Know What You Need?

This is, fundamentally, the crux of the Hobby Lobby case.  Were our esteemed legislators sure that you could be trusted to pick your own birth control, they would simply have said, “If your employer won’t provide the mandated services, they can alternately compensate you with a health care savings benefit that is sufficient to purchase those services at our government-run health care exchange.”

End of problem.  You want your ______? Use the money your employer pays you to purchase it.  Same as you can buy cigarettes, tasteless clothing, and an ugly sofa.  Your employer doesn’t have to approve.  You get the money, you make the purchase.  But the moment we start saying, “The only way to ensure you buy the right sofa is to make your boss buy it for you . . .” is the moment we’ve decided you are not smart enough to pick out your own sofa.

Are women this stupid?  That’s what the war-on-women team is claiming: You are too dumb to know if you need birth control.  You’ll just spend the money on cosmetic surgery or little Jimmy’s chemotherapy co-pays if we fund discretionary health care savings for you; we must prepay your contraception bill so all the nice nurse has to do is quick inject you at the office when you go in about that lady problem you’ve been having.

Yes, People Think You Are Stupid and Should Not Breed

And they have the Facebook status to prove it.  It’s not a novel idea, the whole eugenics thing has been around for a long while.  I would say, “It would be refreshing if people would just admit they think you are too dumb to be allowed more babies,” but I’m getting tired of hearing the open admissions.  On the left and on the right, it’s a popular cure-all.

This is the issue.

You are too stupid to decide if you want to buy contraception or not. Therefore, your boss must buy it for you.

It is not enough that you be paid a wage sufficient to buy such things.

Yes, you are smart enough to get a job.  But you aren’t smart enough to know how to spend all that money leftover after you buy your lipstick and your nail polish.

Quit worrying your pretty little head over these difficult, difficult decisions.

Papa knows best.  Be a good girl and take your medicine, sweetie.


That’s the war.

File:Eugenics congress logo.png

 Artwork via Wikimedia [Public Domain]

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