William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Companies Should NOT Be Forced To Fund Employees’ Birth Control. SCOTUS Update

hbbylobb

Update The original post appeared on 26 March 2014. See the second update below for commentary on the Supreme Court decision, which I think is only a small, temporary victory. But do read the original, too. You’d hate to make an argument that’s already been shown to be fallacious, right?

Why should a company be forced to pay for its employees’ contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services just because its employees are employees?

There is no justifiable answer to that question, though I invite you to provide one. There are several popular irrational answers. (If you are going to comment, and you do not answer this question, we will assume your answer is they should not.) Here are the major ones.

(1) The government mandates that they should. It is true that the government mandates that businesses—such as the Little Sisters of the Poor—provide these services, while also forbidding businesses recompense. But this is not an answer to the question because it is circular: the government mandates because the government mandates.

(2) We can’t let businesses control the sex lives of their employees. A non sequitur. The sex lives of employees are their own business, not the business of businesses. Indeed, this answer is backwards. The government is mandating that employers meddle in the sex lives of their employees by providing, at “no cost”, items which make certain sexual activities more desirable and therefore more likely (why worry so much about getting drunk and sleeping with the wrong guy if you know your boss will pay for a morning after pill?). Not giving condoms free is not “meddling” with anybody.

(3) It makes good business sense. Pregnant employees are costly and those raising families are less attentive to their duties. Let this be true: businesses who refuse to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services will experience greater expenses and suffer lower incomes than companies which provide them. But it is not within the purview of government to force private businesses to take specified levels of profit. If a man of business feels he would rather forgo 30 pieces of silver than violate his conscience, that is his call and not the government’s. And then the statement is not true, or at least not always. Employees from stable, traditional families are often observed to be good, stable, and productive employees.

(4) Employees who are given these sexual services are healthier, and healthier employees make for better business. Again, let this be true. But employees should make provisions for their own health. Saying that employers must be responsible for the health of their employees, especially in sexual matters, is circular and absurd (except in special and rare cases where the employment activity is dangerous; and even here it is doubtful, because the employee freely enters into a relationship with his employer). If employers were responsible for the health of employees, the burden on employers would be vast (should employers necessarily monitor the food employees eat?). And again, the statement is not generally true.

(5) The government already mandates employers pay for other services. These are just additions. This is circular: that the government has already forced employers to fund other things is not justification that employers should fund still more. If anything, given the burden employers already face, and which causes them to hire fewer employees rather than more, this argues that employers should pay for fewer services.

(6) If we let employers get away without paying, they might be able to get away without paying others in the future. Slippery slope. Governmental control for the last century has been in one direction: increasing. There is no reason in the world to suppose government will allow any diminution in control.

(7) Letting people not pay because of religious beliefs is a clear violation of Church and State. This assumes what it set out to prove: that all employers must pay. It is therefore circular. And even if it were not, there is no “clear violation.” A man’s right to practice his religion, and not just his right to worship, is ensconced in the Constitution, whereas a woman’s “right” to “birth control” pills is found nowhere in that document. And the religious beliefs in question are not minor nor recent: these are long-standing, foundational moral questions, the very guide of life for many religious people.

(8) Even if individuals can have religious rights, corporations cannot. The government can force the mandate on corporations. First, the government is forcing the mandate on corporations and individuals. Second, it’s false to say corporations, like the Little Sisters, cannot be religious. Think of a corporation formed by religious whose purpose is to disseminate materials on the evils of contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services. (These exist.)

(9) If employees must pay for these expensive services, they will have less money. This is true. But it is equally true that if employers must pay for these services, they will have less money, perhaps so much less that they have to fire (or not hire) other employees. It does not follow that because an item wanted by some employees is expensive, that the employer because he has more money should be mandated to purchase the item for his employee. After all, housing and food costs more than condoms, but we do not require employers to provide them free.

(10) It’s too late. The government already passed its mandate. We’re only talking about the pernicious influence of religion and what the law should be. Circular: assumes that employers must pay because the government mandates they pay. If anything, we’re talking about pernicious effect of secularists who would prohibit free expression of religion.

On the contrary, the question seems never to have been asked, its answer assumed by those who would desire the government mandate employers provide these services. It is enough for many that the government demands it, and that some (vocal) people want to have these services without having to foot their own bills, to conclude that the mandate is valid. But every argument which asserts this is circular, as shown. Attempts to bypass the question via a shift to balancing religious over “women’s” rights are non sequiturs.

I answer that the government’s mandate is a move to ingratiate itself with a portion of the public in an effort to secure its future cooperation. This is done in two ways. The first is by appeal to emotion, e.g. promulgating a “War on women!”, and the second by disguising increased taxation. The mandate just is an indirect tax. How? Those with money, because they are “employers”, are told to surrender the money and give it to others. Only the step of first handing the monies to a bureaucrat who would then redistribute them is missing. Since the mandate is a tax, it will in general lead to a drop in employment and economic activity, as these are the effects of most taxation.

The mandate is also responsible for increased servility in the public, already at dangerous levels. People demand a thing, politicians and bureaucrats anxious for power award the thing by forcing “the rich” to provide it. People don’t care where the thing comes from, as long as it arrives. The line between business and Government blurs, and finally fades, both in the minds of the public and in reality. After all, both are the “source” which gives, gives, gives. The part of the business which remains free is seen by the public as not yet regulated and therefore to be suspected (“You didn’t build that”). Why doesn’t the government mandate employers provide meals, housing, clothing, transportation? Aren’t these more important to women’s health (men are curiously left out of these arguments) than condoms and the like?

For the public—especially women: those women will not be responsible for their own bodies and demand to suffer no consequences from being female—the only surviving argument, and a powerful one, is I want it.

Update Another popular argument, encapsulated in this headline: Andrea Mitchell Slams Hobby Lobby: ‘What Right Do They Have to Interfere With Medical Decisions by Women?’. So a woman makes a “medical decision” to engage in, say, unprotected sexual intercourse and it thus becomes somebody else’s responsibility to foot the bill for the consequences of her behavior. Not paying is “interfering.” This is obviously absurd.

SCOTUS Update The SCOTUS decision is in and, for once, it’s good news. Of a sort. Hobby Lobby won on the grounds of religious freedom, which is nice in its way. But they should have won on the grounds the government has no right to force employers to give without requiring any obligation contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services to their employees just because they are employees.

A certain segment of our population has suffered the conniption fit most glorious over the ruling (e.g. among many here and here). “Today’s decision from five male justices is a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and echoed by Nancy Pelosi. Elizabeth Warren said, “Can’t believe we live in a world where we’d even consider letting big corps deny women access to basic care based on vague moral objections.”

Heaven forfend any should have moral objection, vague or otherwise. Did we not know that morality is old hat? Rather, we have pride in our immorality.

Forget it. These ladies have somehow derived or discovered the heretofore unknown and preposterous fundamental right possessed of all women to be given whatever they demand merely because they demand it. What’s troubling is that their opponents in power do not deny this sexist absurdity (men are not given the equal “right”). Instead, they sheepishly point to (the true) necessity of religious freedom. “We’d force employers if we could, but First Amendment and all that. Just please don’t say we’re anti-woman!”

Which is precisely what they are saying and will say. The trouble with winning victories on the wrong grounds is that they are all too often fleeting. This SCOTUS decision is like a retreating army feeling a stand of trees to dissuade the advance of its foes. It buys some time and brings some joy, but the enemies’ arms have not been destroyed and they will soon find another path.

Until we attack the idea that the State is God, that it can give us whatever we want, “free” and as if by magic, there will be no end to this culture war. In his concurring opinion the sometime literate Justice Kennedy suggested that since religious people cannot be coerced into footing the bill of women’s proclivities, instead the government should pay. After this suggestion is accepted, thus will Hobby Lobby still foot the bill, albeit indirectly.

And thus will the government seem mightier than before. And thus will the immorality caused by these “free” “women’s health” accoutrement increase.

119 Comments

  1. A company should be forced to pay because of the following facts: A true universal healthcare system is too transparent to implement in the United States of America, and because of that, we must use the tax code or some other existing government function which, when tweaked, will be an almost unnoticeable shift in perception, but huge in public policy, and because of the method of this shift is sneaky and one-sided anyway, that side may as well write their worldview in to the legislation.

  2. Briggs

    March 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Nick,

    Circular: assumes what it sets out to prove, that (a) the government can and should mandate employers fund health care because they are employers, and (b) that the contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services are matters of health care and not personal choices.

  3. Briggs,

    ” Since the mandate is a tax, it will in general lead to a drop in unemployment and economic activity, as these are the effects of most taxation.”

    I think your enemies slipped in the “un” before “employment” in the third to last paragraphs.

    Assuming the employer-employee relationship is reciprocal although not identical (i.e., they make an uncoerced agreement to trade remuneration for labor), if employers are forced by the government to provide benefits, shouldn’t the employees be obligated to use them? It happens in some cases — employers must provide safety equipment and employees must use it. Why not extend that to all elements of the relationship?

  4. I understand point #10 is circular in a sense, but it also ignores that there was an opportunity to craft their own universal healthcare legislation before the Democrats, one that would not have contained a provision to insert contraception. I was being a little cheeky in my explanation to highlight the reality of the situation, but also my personal disdain for the provision.
    Laws of the land have a function component, meaning they can’t exist in a vacuum, especially at the national level. Republicans should have addressed some of the problems with healthcare when they controlled congress under Bush. Instead, they just added more costs(like the Rx benefit that weirdly didn’t use any bargaining power against big Pharma).

    The healthcare system before Obamacare was pervasively a reactionary institution to government laws and mandates already, why not just go one more step and address the system at the federal level?

  5. Briggs

    March 26, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Nick,

    I understand and have sympathy with your view, but it is a retreat. People (and families) should be responsible for their own health. The idea of subsidiarity should be implemented so that control of health care (such as for those who cannot afford it) remains at local levels.

    Gary,

    Ahhhh! My enemies, both on the website and in real life, have been especially active lately.

  6. The idea of subsidiarity does not absolve us from using our government institutions to level the power imbalance between the impoverished and the powerful.

    Subsidiarity is the idea that institutions should remand their decisions to a level which is capable of dealing with an issue. The federal government should have done this because the totality of the system was injust itself.

    Who is to say who is a doctor? Who is to say that I cannot prescribe medicines to myself? Subsidiarity can quickly devolve in to warlording if certain questions aren’t addressed at the national level. In order to provide a level playing field for the average person, we should have figured out something.

  7. let’s take another tack. let’s suppose the government decided involuntary euthanasia should be carried out (as it already is in the Netherlands). Should we force companies to pay for such a procedure if it is against the religious and moral principles of those who own the company?

  8. Bob–You have hit on something; a painless way for companies to rid themselves of unproductive employees, or those who have outlived their usefulness.

  9. Nick, those aren’t facts you cite, they’re your opinions…

  10. Katie–painless to whom?

  11. “The idea of subsidiarity does not absolve us from using our government institutions to level the power imbalance between the impoverished and the powerful.”
    What does that have to do with forcing employers to fund employee contraceptives? What are we being absolved from?

  12. It definitely doesn’t say we should force employee contraceptives. My argument is not really directed against Briggs but merely says this provision reaps what we sowed. We didn’t do the right thing in regulating the healthcare market (let it get too expensive in the name of special interests) and so the opposition regulated it and then put a rider in to assert their worldview because, by our non-participation in the conversation, we allowed them to control it.

  13. Catch-22. The government forces employers to fund this stuff and if they don’t employees can opt out of employer plans and into obamacare plans that will cover it. Win-win for the State. Either way they produced what they promised and Leviathons’s power grows. Obamacare gets bigger or employer mandates get bigger.

  14. > I answer that the government’s mandate is a move to ingratiate itself with a portion of the public in an effort to secure its future cooperation.

    What I can’t understand is “Why bother”? Specifically, there is no evidence that people have had a hard time getting contraceptives, and plenty of evidence to the contrary; so there was no urgent public health problem that needed to be addressed. But the government went out of its way to antagonize Catholics, a large reliable Democratic voting bloc, to ingratiate itself with a smaller reliable Democratic voting bloc. I can’t see any reason for that.

  15. All of the pro-force arguments boil down to “Utopia justifies the means.”

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans

  16. Briggs

    March 26, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    All,

    We seem to be missing our usual Left cohort. Some sort of holiday, perhaps?

  17. Ye Olde Statisitician

    March 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Healthcare became more expensive for two reasons:
    1. It became a more complex product. In 1955, a stay in the hospital was a relatively simple thing. Except for penicillin and the sulfa drugs, there wasn’t much they could do medically except make you comfortable while your body healed itself. Surgically, they could remove appendices and set bones and so on. Sonograms, MRIs, heart transplants, sundry wonder-drugs, etc. lay in the future. More complex products generally cost more.
    2. Third party payers. Prices always rise when there is more money chasing the goods and services, and even more so when neither the customer nor provider is spending their own money. This started during WW2 when wage-price controls gave unions and companies an incentive to include employer-paid benefits to secure labor peace without raising wages, and accelerated when Medicare pumped a whole lot of money into the medical system.

    It is unclear that more of #2 will be a solution for higher prices.

    It is unclear that contraceptives and abortifacients are health care at all, given that pregnancy is not a disease.

  18. Sylvain Allard

    March 26, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    To begin there are many rational answers on why company can be forced to provide their employees’ birth control. But there is not a single ration answer that can explain how a company becomes an entity with religious belief.

    Your post doesn’t start well today. It first starts with disinformation.
    1-)The Little sister of the poor is part of the kind of organization that can ask and be part of the exception for religious organisation. All they have to do is complete the request to be exempted. Their complaint is about filling a form. So they will simply be dismissed in the end.

    The government mandate not because he mandate. The government mandate because some organization deny to their employee some basic access to healthcare. It is forced to put rule so that people are not denied basic services just because their employer are bigot.

    2-) Yet companies have no problem paying for Viagra pills and penis enlarging pump which is only used for lust and not the ability to produce children.

    While the oestrogen pill might be used for birth control is really a medicine needed by many women to save their lives. My niece is 15; she needs to take these pills and another one that I not sure what it is, even though they discovered that she can’t have children. In Canada, those pills are covered and still cost $30/month. Without those pills she would be dead by now. If she lived in the US she would be dead because she could not afford them.

    3-) It is true that the government should not have to have to regulate medical insurance. But since enterprise are ready to take decision that will cost them money to make sure there employee will suffer. They have little choice to do so. Just like because of corporate greed you need the FDA, and other regulating agencies.

    4-) You realize that many employer will monitor alcohol and drug intake by their employees. What you are saying is that a company is more a person than a person and can dictate its employee everything they can and should do. But the government cannot protect the individual from these superhuman enterprises.

    5-) May be you should talk to the people who are losing their land in Texas so the sacrosanct pipeline can pass. Of course, if the pipeline burst they are the one who should pay to clean it.
    http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/meet-the-texas-farmer-challenging-the-keystone-pipeline-courtroom-plains
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Mayflower_oil_spill

    7-) “A man’s right to practice his religion, and not just his right to worship, is ensconced in the Constitution, whereas a woman’s “right” to “birth control” pills is found nowhere in that document.”
    Are you claiming that a corporation is a human being? How does a corporation worship? How does it go to church?

    😎 “Second, it’s false to say corporations, like the Little Sisters, cannot be religious. Think of a corporation formed by religious whose purpose is to disseminate materials on the evils of contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services)”
    The little sister of the poor is not a corporation. It is religious institution that can be exempted by making a simple request.

    9-) In many cases, if not most, people will pay a large part of their health care benefit. Also since in many case insurance will save money by having women having preventive care. So to claim that the employers will spend more money is false.

  19. Perhaps the cohort of the International Socialists see it as a bizarre domestic political issue that’s best ignored.

  20. Sylvain Allard

    March 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    If your spam folder didn’t eat my comment the left would provide answers

  21. Nick (and agreeing with YOS): What made the mess in the first place was insurance. When it’s not your money and there’s a huge pool of money to reap, costs are not relevent. Between the birth of my sister and my youngest brother, there was three years. In those three years, costs of birth at the hospital went up by 5 times. The difference: Insurance on the last birth. Insurance allows companies to charge $1000 an injection for some meds. If there were no insurance, the company simply could not charge that. Sure, rich people would pay, but how many rich people are going to need the shot to make it viable for selling at that cost? When you start throwing in all the money into one pot, costs become irrelevent.
    Max: I agree. There was no major problem before. There are plenty of ways to get free contraceptives. It was a non-issue sold to very selfish women who think they are owed something because men can’t get pregnant. Irrational all the way

  22. Briggs

    March 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Sylvain,

    You have, not unexpectedly, focused on religion. But have no justified by why the government must force employers to pay for condoms (etc.) for their employees because they are employers. I can’t see where you haven’t produced any new arguments, while repeating the same ones (in different forms) that I disproved.

    Incidentally, in American corporations can be charitable.

    Your (or anybody’s) argument needs to start with this sentence, “The government has a right to compel employers to pay for their employees’ condoms (etc.) because…” That an employer voluntarily provides any service (viagra, etc.) is not and cannot be a reason to compel that same employer to offer the additional services of condoms (etc.).

  23. @Sylvian:

    I recognize you may not be familiar with the health care system in the US, either pre- or post-ACA.

    > While the oestrogen pill might be used for birth control is really a
    > medicine needed by many women to save their lives.

    Insurance companies are savvy enough to cover things for particular uses, but not others. Morphine, for instance, would be covered for treatment of injuries sustained in a car accident, and not for treatment of a headache. Clearly it would depend on the policy, but I would expect a policy that does not cover estrogen as a contraceptive would still cover estrogen as an effective medical treatment.

    > If she lived in the US she would be dead because she could not
    > afford them.

    Before the ACA, there was no law prohibiting insurance companies from covering contraceptives — whether for contraceptive use or for treatment of other conditions. And many employers voluntarily covered contraceptives. Clearly it would depend on the policy, but odds are incredibly good that your niece would be able to get estrogen treatments without going broke.

    The issue is whether *all* insurance policies must cover contraceptives with no co-pay. I’m not aware of any regulatory finding that people were having difficulty getting contraceptives before the mandate (in fact, I am aware of a study that stated literally 99% of people who wanted contraceptives managed to get them), which would be a common step in showing that a regulation was needed to handle an urgent health problem.

    > The Little sister of the poor is part of the kind of organization
    > that can ask and be part of the exception for religious
    > organisation.

    At the beginning of their lawsuit, they were told that they did not qualify as a “religious organization” as defined by the regulation, and would have to file the form they refuse to file on religious grounds. Near the end of the trial, the federal government changed course and declared that the Little Sisters were, in fact, a religious organization and wouldn’t even need to file the form. The judge apparently wasn’t impressed by the change of heart, but we’ll have to see the final ruling before there’s anything to add.

    However, it appears clear that the government believes the line is right about where the Little Sisters are. Change a few facts, and you’ll fall on the other side of the line. Is it appropriate for the government to mandate people violate their religious beliefs to combat something that the government never bothered to call an urgent health problem? The government has been surprised that people will accept punishment for violating laws when they believe the alternative is eternal damnation. You may find that belief silly, but it does fall under every definition of “human rights” that I’m familiar with.

  24. SteveBrooklineMA

    March 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Let’s say an employer pays an employee $1000 cash per week in return for the employee’s labor. Then the Gov’t comes along and mandates that worker compensation include $100 worth of insurance coverage. So now the employer pays the employee $900 cash per week and sends $100 per week to an insurance company. Who is really paying for the insurance then? The employer’s bottom line has not changed at all. He still sends out a total of $1000 dollars and gets $1000 dollars worth of labor each week. The employee, however, who used to have $1000 cash in his pocket every week now has $900 cash instead, and $100 worth of insurance coverage.

    To me, it’s clear that the employee is paying for the insurance, and so I find myself not very sympathetic to the employer’s plea. On the other hand, certain employees have a legitimate basis for objection! Why should they be forced to accept, as compensation for their labor, insurance that covers procedures which they consider immoral? There should be a “conscientious objector” exception available for employees. They should be able to opt out of that coverage and get the cash equivalent instead.

  25. Sylvain: Employees do not have “basic rights to health care”. They get paid and they work. Benefits are something companies can provide if they so chose. They are not mandatory. The only thing owed an employee is whatever was agreed upon at the time of employment. The government mandates breaks, lunch hours and overtime.

    Your niece could get estrogen pills from Planned Parenthood for $15 to $30 per month in the US. Seems she could maybe cut her cost by half if she didn’t live in the generous country she does……

    Canadians appear to be incapable of surviving without the government holding their hands. I wonder–do your employers actually hand out paychecks? If so, what is the purpose? The government has to make sure you have medicine, housing, food. I don’t really understand why employers would need to pay employees. And if they did, wouldn’t everyone earn the same so everything would be “fair”? You should be careful not to leave the womb you live in. Some places actually expect people to take care of themselves–housing, food and even buy medicine. It’s a really scary world out there, and yet there are millions managing just fine and thriving without the government as a nanny.

  26. Sylvain,

    On top of the criticisms of the other commentors, you are clearly not aware of the history of employer provided health insurance and other forms of indirect compensation in the US.

    These things only exist due to past government meddling in the labor market. During WWII the government set mandatory wage caps, an upper limit on what employers could pay. However, due to the diminished labor supply caused by the war companies needed to compete for workers. All of the “fringe benefits” we enjoy today are a direct result of those WWII wage caps.

    By the time the war was over and the government lifted the wage caps, people had gotten used to the benefits and no one bothered to actually go back and think about whether the benefits were a better deal for the employees than equivalent direct compensation.

  27. Why should a company be forced [by the government] to pay for its employees’ contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization services just because its employees are employees?

    Because the government has been taken over by Malthusians (a gentle word; there are others). They seek to reduce the human population. For whatever reason they are genocidal in spirit and action. They hate people, especially babies, and seek to prevent them.

    Generally the Malthusians are also racist. They seek to kill those not of their tribe. That’s why the “free” (govt. funded) abortion clinics are in the inner cities, and why 3 out of 5 black pregnancies end in abortion. That’s genocide, my friends.

    But the Malthusians are aware of this statistic, and somewhat uncomfortable with it, and so they seek more abortions among different tribes, to balance out the stats.

    Especially they would like more Catholic abortions. Catholics often have large families. Members of that religion (not to be confused with Lutherans who are suicidal) keep breeding more and more Catholics. Just what the Malthusians hate with passion.

    Put that all together and you get the Obama administration. I know, he’s our first “black” president. But he’s only half black (and half white). Whatever, it doesn’t stop him from advocating for the most sadistic methods of birth control ever devised, including punching a hole in a half-born black baby’s skull and sucking her brains out.

    It’s all about killing off the population. Does the government have that right? Hahahahaha. The government has no rights at all, except the ones they usurp. But there you go.

  28. “The government has a right to compel employers to pay for their employees’ condoms (etc.) because…” it is within the confine of the government power to do so.

    You cannot claim that the first amendment apply since a corporation is not a human being as Scotus will determine in a few month.

    Employer have accepted to cover male sexual enhancement pills, which are not vital to their health. So the decision by some employers to specify to their insurance company that they should not cover what they have to cover.

    By the way, the price would not change either. Think if you go to McDo and ask for a Big Mac with no pickle, they will not deduct the price of the pickle. You also have to consider that employees have to pay a part of their health insurance coverage.

    Only companies with more than 50 full time employees are mandated to provide health insurance. They can also choose to pay the penalty of $2500/year/employee which is less than the cost of health insurance. Only 5% of companies that are concerned didn’t already provide insurance to their employees.

  29. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Sheri,

    ‘Your niece could get estrogen pills from Planned Parenthood for $15 to $30 per month in the US. Seems she could maybe cut her cost by half if she didn’t live in the generous country she does…”

    Don’t you think they haven’t tried the cheapest one first. The one she needs are expensive.

    Overall, Canadian have a higher standard of living than US citizen. The government make sure that everyone can access the strict minimum. We waste less money on bureaucratic and more in direct services (for example we do not test for drug, or give food stamp, we give the money directly and let people chose how they spend it, and they don’t have enough to not spend it) We could still do better in education and healthcare.

    Why do we have a higher standard of living? Simple, people don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on their health insurance. Housing, electricity and school is much cheaper, but car and gas are more expensive.

  30. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Max,

    “Insurance companies are savvy enough to cover things for particular uses, but not others”

    There is such a thing has individual privacy. Doctors can prescribe medicine but their oath prevent them to divulged the medical condition of the individual, at least to the drug store. Though yes in the US insurance can decide to refuse certain care to the patient. In Canada, every one can have the treatment that our doctor prescribes, no one will deny it.

    As for my niece I was implying that she or her parent could not afford any insurance. Of course, if covered she wouldn’t go broke.

  31. I think you are just entering the death spiral that the French are well into.
    Social security charges here amount to a 62% deduction on salaries from the first euro earned. Someone who is paid 2500 dollars a month will receive 950.
    You need about 2000 to live independently with no luxuries. Most unqualified people cannot afford to work.
    Why should the employer have anything to do with his employees insurance problems?
    A former socialist government minister said recently that France is the most de-industrialised country in Europe!

  32. “Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” is the only non circular answer Prof Briggs would seem to accept.

    There is then obviously the question of why should we do that … but as a good Catholic I presume Prof Briggs is leery of ignoring the person who provided that political advice.

    There is a more interesting follow up about whether this is the realm of Caesar or not. Slavery, war, the death penalty etc have all been allowed using this caveat so I am not sure why the government mandating that employers provide health insurance covering reproductive health is so obviously excluded from Caesar’s realm.

    The personal morality of the employee using this insurance to provide services is up to the conscience of the employee and I am unconvinced this makes the employer responsible for any immorality ; the employee is responsible for their conscience and Caesar has decided what people should render unto him.

    If people wish to refuse to render unto Caesar then they can expect the fines etc Caesar will demand; then it is up to their consciences to pay the fine, or to provide the insurance.

    People can of course campaign to change Caesar’s mind – but don’t forget when the advice to render unto him was given there was no possibility – the people Jesus was preaching to had to accept the dictates of an immoral dictator with no possibility of democratic accountability, but the advice was still to accept the Ruler.

    Does Prof Briggs really think he should ignore this advice now in a far more democratic society?

  33. YOS and Sheri:

    While right in a sense, you would be wrong in thinking that insurance companies would want to see higher prices. If there was an insurance company that could get lower prices, they would – making individuals account for varying consumer cost has been part of the battle to stabilize wages recently (deductible insurance plans are increasingly the norm).
    But to blame costs on just those two things is naive – it doesn’t account for the fact that medical services are a scarce resource. There are a finite number of hospitals, doctors, and machines that can take decades to adjust to the market. Doctors also become more limited by the fact that you must go to x college to become one, and there are only so many of those, and the costs of x college have gone up a ton I would argue again, due to government interference.
    We regulate the market in to complexity by mandating these kinds of things before insurance even has a chance to give their market input. When routine medical care has to be handled at the very lowest by a million dollar facility by a $200,000 educated person, paying $10,000+ a month in routine malpractice insurance (another government intrusion), the average individual doesn’t have much choice but to pay more for a service. Since government has effectively disallowed market solutions from providing medical care to the lowest of our society for a fair and reasonable price, it is up to the higher orders of government to address that issue.
    Even if you are a firm believer in the equalizing effect of free markets, you have to admit that healthcare is not one and has not been one for some time, right or wrong, and it is then up to that same government to not cut out any members of society. The public will respond to the unfairness at an individual level by voting for someone who is willing to correct the problem for them (no matter how that problem gets corrected.)

  34. Sylvain: Of course the pills are the most expensive. And so is my cough medicine. Name brand only. I paid for it myself last year–the full cost of over $80 per month. See, I am not so stupid as to buy things BEFORE I buy the medicine. If I have to cut out other luxuries, I do. Because I care about me. (By the way, how do you personally know what medications Planned Parenthood in the US uses????? Another ASSUMPTION?)
    Actually, the Canadians do not have a higher standard of living than the US. They have a different standard. First off, if your neice would “die” without the medical insurance, your wages are either incredibly LOW or you cost of living is outrageous. People here afford medical procedures that are not covered by insurance all the time. Everyone in the US CAN access the bare minimum. Everyone. Absolutely. Well, maybe not the people actually earning the money and having it taken from them. They exceed the income guidelines. Does your minimum include food stamps, housing, cell phones, cars? In the US, the socialists here don’t believe the poor are smart enough to spend the money on food, so they get food stamps. Maybe you could write to Harry Reid and Nancy Peolosi?
    “Simple, people don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on their health insurance” has to be the stupidest thing yet you have written. Are you really so math illiterate that you cannot figure out health insurance does NOT take up so much money it would lower your standard of living? Now, under Obamacare, people in the US have to pay thousands of dollars per year–some more than $10,000. Socialized medicine is so much more affordable, right?) Seriously, I’m starting to think the reason you believe these things is “soma” and that little set of headphones you sleep with.

    Chinahand–You’re agreeing that Obama is a dictator and we must give to him what he asks for? Otherwise, since this is/was a democracy, we have every right to limit what Caesar gets.
    Briggs is not saying we should break the law, which was what Christ was saying we should not do. Briggs is saying the government “of the people” is overstepping its bounds.

    Nick: Good point. Personal injury lawyers and unrealistic, greedy patients also affect the outcome. Say, Sylvain, what happens in Canada if someone gets a bad drug? Can they sue for millions, have the lawyer make half the millions and get a settlement for $6000 in a class action suit, all the while driving up the cost of medicines?

  35. All,
    There seems to be some confusion here when the topic is the Canadian health plan. There is no such thing. Public medical insurance is handled by the individual provinces and they all differ to some extent or another. Ontario, for example does not cover the cost of prescription medication, and as this seems to be the topic of this thread it is important to mention this. There are a number of private plans that cover extras and these are often obtained through employment benefit packages.

    So, Sylvain and Sheri in particular, you need to be a little more careful as to what you are talking about.

  36. > There is such a thing has individual privacy. Doctors can
    > prescribe medicine but their oath prevent them to divulged the
    > medical condition of the individual, at least to the drug store.

    When somebody else is footing the bill, that somebody manages to get the laws written in a way that permits them access to all relevant information.

    > As for my niece I was implying that she or her parent could not
    > afford any insurance. Of course, if covered she wouldn’t go broke.

    The health system here wasn’t perfect, and it’s hard to imagine anybody intentionally designing such a baroque network of providers, payers and customers with so much effort to hide the cost of care from the person receiving care.

    But for what it’s worth, your niece would probably qualify for Medicare or Medicaid (or S-CHIP) if her family couldn’t afford insurance (compared to neither of her parents being offered insurance from their job).

  37. Scotian: I realize Sylvain’s version of the Canadian health care system may not be correct. My comment was to Sylvain, based on his version. In the future, I will be sure to note that I am responding to the version present by Sylvain, which may or may not match the reality of the system.

    Nick: Good point about the lawsuits and their effect on costs.

    Chinahand–Since this is/was a democracy, we have every right to limit what Caesar gets.
    The reference to Caesar seemed to be saying you can’t just ignore the ruler–which is not what is being said here. If Obama is a dictator, then one supposes we would indeed have to give him what he wants. However, since he was elected, we have the right to elect someone different in the future, someone more attuned to our philosophies. That does not seem “unChristian” or to violate the statement about Caesar.

    Sylvain: I buy my medications if insurance doesn’t cover them. With your claim of a high standard of living, I find it surprising Canadians seem to be paid so little they cannot afford health care on their own. Scotian states that Ontario doesn’t cover the cost of prescriptions. By your logic applied to the US, people in Ontario would be dying because they can’t afford their medications. Your whole claim makes little sense.

  38. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Max,

    Doctors are qualified to diagnose and prescribe treatment. Insurer pre-approve a list of treatment. If the prescription is in the list they have no justification to second guess a doctors judgement. They don’t need to see what prompted the doctor to prescribe the treatment either. Unless it is a work related injury in which the employer can see the employee diagnostic and even have the employee seen by their own expert.

    The parent of my niece would have fallen in 15% of uninsured people. To rich for medicare to poor to have insurance. But with Obamacara they could now afford to buy it.

  39. Sylvain: You said your niece lived in Canada. So how is it that your neice’s parents filled out a form on the Obamacare site and discovered what they would get for insurance and how much it would cost? Isn’t that illegal–or very odd, at the least.

  40. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Scotian,

    I should have been more precise and mention Québec instead of Canada.

    Sheri,

    100% of canadians have healthcare (about 92% in the US now), which include preventive healthcare. Like in the US most canadian would be able to afford health insurance. They would pay less in taxes but more for healthcare. All in all they would be poorer in the end. Before Obamacare some household could pay up to $20k for their health insurance not counting the deductible.

    From the OECD stats there is a difference of $10K in net salary between the US and Canada. This is the average not the median. The median income is about equal.

    If Canada had the same policy than the US our median income would be much lower.

    http://www.oecd.org/statistics/datalab/bli.htm

  41. The graph was cute and colorful, but I have no idea what it means. What one country considers a plus another may consider a minus. It’s 100% subjective. There are pages of statistics that might be helpful, but again, what one country wants may not be what another wants. You want the government to take care of you, it seems. Americans, about half or so, do not want that. Imposing your idea on said Americans is equivalent to Americans demanding Canada stop providing health insurance for its citizens. It’s America and Americans should work it out.

    As for Obamacare:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obamacare-deductibles-deliver-hefty-sticker-shock/
    $12,700 deductible does not help people with medical costs. My current deductible is $3000 and that is double what it was a couple of years back. It also looks like the $10,000 difference you quoted will be eaten up by Obamacare’s deductible.

    To be honest, since the government does not know how many people paid premiums, how many people are now uninsured, how much costs changed for all people or basically anything else about what is going on, it is impossible to know anything about Obamacare other than it’s causing all kinds of problems and has no oversight whatsoever. For all we know, 20% of Americans are now uninsured. There are no numbers whatsoever given by the government other than 6 million registered on the Obamacare sight. There’s no actual verification of that number. It’s all just numbers that people throw out.

    You did not answer how you know your neice would be covered under Obamacare and how much it would cost.

  42. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Shérif,

    M’y point is that you claim that the US system create more wealth than other counties that you would call communist. The reality is that trickle down economy doesn’t work. If it did work your median income would be much higher than ours. Yet this is not the reality. This is what the OECD website shows

    Before Obamacare there were deductible of up to $50k. The max now is $12-13k.

    They know that 6 million people bought insurance through the website. This is not a number thrown in the air. There are also those who now have access to Medicare and medicaid expansion about 12 millions. At least 18 million people who were not insured are now insured. Only half of the state expanded Medicare preventing another 10 million to get insured

  43. You are looking at median income. If you look at the top of the scale, Canada is far below the US. There are more millionaires and billionaires in the US. Of course, since you think it’s unfair for people to work hard and make money, you won’t see that as a plus. Also, looking at the Obama years skews the US to a lower number because of the disasters in policy. Check out previous administrations and how the US economy and people were doing.

    If there were $50,000 deductibles, they were either by choice or special circumstances. Anyway, how can people pay $12,000 in deductibles when they could not afford insurance in the first place? What kind of deductibles does Canada have–where you are?

    Yes, those are made up numbers. I do not care what you have read. There are NO numbers according to Kathleen Sybelius, the director of the program. If there are, she is lying to Congress. Medicaid is welfare, not insurance. It does not count as part extending health insurance, only as expanding the welfare state. Wyoming said no to expanding medicaid–as well they should. There are programs available to people and there was no need to expand any government handouts. Again, unless Kathleen is lying to Congress, those numbers are just made up. They cannot or will not provide verification.

  44. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Yes the trickle down economy in the US really is trickle up. It is not unfair that people work hard and make money, but I find it unfair that people who work the hardest need food stamp to eat. The median income represents the point where half the population is either higher or lower the line. The higher the line, the strongest the middle class is and the least inequality there is, the higher the standard of living is.

    There is no deductible in our system. Though they are thinking about putting a fee of 10$ per visit. You can have deductible if you go to private doctor and have a private insurance.. For certain surgery you will be served faster in the private. In the public the cost of surgery is much lower than in the US.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a4J.ER8r4CrM

    “Anyway, how can people pay $12,000 in deductibles when they could not afford insurance in the first place?”

    How can they pay the entire cost if they have no insurance ? If they don’t have insurance they will be treated in last resort, but then the hospital can sue to have most of its cost covered.

    Her testimony was in November when the website didn’t work, a lot has change since then.

  45. February 14, CBS news:The federal government may not completely finish the automated payment system for Obamacare for “several months,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.

    Until that system is fully running, the administration won’t be able to verify how many of the consumers who signed up for Obamacare insurance are, in fact, paying their premiums and are hence truly enrolled.
    Also from CBS: “Success, however, could be measured by a number of factors — some of which the HHS isn’t monitoring.

    For instance, HHS isn’t keeping track of how many Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured. ” and “Sebelius said the administration is still building the portion of HealthCare.gov that would collect that information automatically. In the meantime, they’re working with insurers to obtain it.”
    (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sebelius-redefines-success-for-obamacare/)

    The hospital can still sue for the $10,000 dollars and the 20% copay. Also, anyone who goes in through an ER is treated no matter what. People who pay cash can often get lower costs at hospitals and the uninsured can often get financial assistance from hospitals. There’s no “last resort” in this–only in your mind.

    Costs of surgery vary widely in the US. One has to shop around for the lowest cost.

  46. Sylvain Allard

    March 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    “In the meantime, they’re working with insurers to obtain it.” I.e.they do get the numbers only it takes more works.

    We don’t need to shop for surgery. Everyone that goes to the hospital is cared for and the hospital doesn’t have to sue anyone to get paid. No one pays for preventive care and everyone can access it.

    It cost nothing to have a colonoscopy, scanner, blood test etc,

  47. “We are working with the insurers to obtain it” does NOT mean they have the numbers. It means they do NOT have the numbers and are claiming to be trying to obtain the numbers.

    Personally, I prefer to shop for my surgery and physician.

  48. Sylvain Allard

    March 28, 2014 at 1:44 am

    They actually have the number of enrollee but they do not have the brake down, by age, uninsure, etc

  49. Michael Davlin

    March 28, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Sylvain wrote:

    “You cannot claim that the first amendment apply since a corporation is not a human being as Scotus will determine in a few month.”

    Who’ll need the likes of Briggs endlessly interpreting mysterious data entrails when Sylvain can instantaneously foretell their future?

  50. No company pays for an employee’s contraception. The employer provides health insurance as part of the employee’s compensation and gets a very nice tax subsidy for doing so. Health insurance is actually a form of payment to employees. If Hobby Lobby really hates the Pill that much, it can change its employee compensation by paying employees more but not providing health insurance. It will pay higher taxes, but if this is such a burden on the owner’s consciences they should be willing to endure the pain.

  51. Briggs

    March 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Karen,

    Circular. Assumes what it sets out to prove, that employers must buy employees “health” “insurance.”

    And, incidentally, you’re wrong about companies getting “nice” tax subsidies for paying for insurance.

  52. I was about to make the same point as Briggs; that deductions from taxable income for legitimate business expenses are not subsidies. By Karen’s logic, all compensation related deductions, such as salaries, are very nice tax subsidies.

  53. @Karen:

    > No company pays for an employee’s contraception. The employer
    > provides health insurance as part of the employee’s compensation
    > [which pays the bill]

    Putting aside the fact that the health insurance company pays for the contraceptives from the money the employer gives it, this ignores the fact that some companies self insure, and *do* in fact pay for health care services from a corporate bank account.

    > If Hobby Lobby really hates the Pill that much, it can change its
    > employee compensation by paying employees more but not providing
    > health insurance.

    That used to be the case. Now there’s an employer mandate to provide insurance if the employer has enough full time employees. Hobby Lobby is large enough to fall under the mandate.

  54. For most of my life, there has been no contraceptive mandates, but I have honestly never heard of anyone going without contraceptives for lack of money. For the poor, government insurance provides it. For the vast majority of other people, employee health care plans voluntarily pay for them. For anyone left, organizations such as Planned Parenthood offer options. As a last resort, most contraceptives are inexpensive and can be purchased out-of-pocket. Am I missing something here?

    The only reason I see for the government to mandate contraceptives is to garner support (buy votes) from particular political blocks. This, however, comes at the expense of those who, in fact, have sincerely held religious objections to providing contraceptives.

    In my view, that is an extremely high price to pay. If we accept the principle that the government can force a person to act against religious objections what constraints are there on such a power. Can a company be forced to offer insurance that covers abortions? Can doctors be forced to perform abortions? Where does one draw the line and based on what principled distinctions?

    At the very least, the government could offer a broad religious exemption to allow any employer to opt out based on religious objections. No one would be forced to work for such companies. Since most employers already provide contraceptives voluntarily, I would not anticipate a large number of companies to opt out in the absence of legitimate religious objections. If this creates some political distress or actual distress, the government could provide free contraceptives to those who are effected or subsidize organizations that distribute contraceptives.

    In my view the contraceptive mandate exacts a high price for anyone who is concerned about religious liberty to solve a “problem” that never existed and could in any event be addressed in other ways.

  55. Fletcher Christian

    March 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I think that it’s worth asking a question to which I don’t claim to know the answer. If some companies provide contraception as part of the health insurance for which they pay and some don’t, then presumably the insurance companies will have to administer approximately double the number of distinct policy options than they would if this wasn’t the case. This must impose additional administrative expense – probably on both groups; in other words, companies that do provide this will have to pay slightly more than they would if the situation was otherwise and the companies that don’t provide contraceptives will have an addition admin cost burden also.

    My question is this: Given that contraceptives are cheap as already stated, is the additional admin cost greater than the cost of the contraceptives would be?

    Especially as even the companies that don’t provide contraception, because the people who claim to represent the skyfairy say they shouldn’t, will have to provide the same medication for non-contraceptive uses such as hormone balancing and the like, thus imposing even more admin costs. “Please confirm that this prescription for the Pill is not for contraceptive use.”

  56. I don’t get the connection between employees health insurance and the companies they work for.

  57. Shub,

    Employee health insurance, as we know it today, is a relic of the WWII era. The government imposed wage controls and to circumvent that, companies (largely manufacturing) offered fringe benefits–that is, something of “value” that wasn’t counted as a “wage” to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market.

  58. to any commentators who dispute the right of corporations to hold religious beliefs, note that the Supreme Court Decision limited the exemption to “closely held corporations”, like those such as Hobby Lobby, owned by one person or a family.

  59. I think the answer you are avoiding in this article is that society has a right to draw moral boundaries, and it has a right to redraw these boundaries as society changes. Maybe this is obvious and unstated.

    Should human cloning be allowed?
    Should we have the right to euthanize our ailing parents?

    These are moral questions, not science questions. So who should the “deciders” be? Our duly elected and wise representatives of course. Different people have different morals and the only useful way to decide is to take a vote. Note that “letting people do whatever they want” is a valid option.

    Of course our constitution has set forth the basics of society’s rules, but it to can change. Part of freedom of religion is the freedom to not be ruled by the Bible.

    Certainly the US is a Christian nation, but it is trending to non-secular, as has happened in Europe. It is likely the rules of society will continue to trend away from purely Christian values, but it will take generations.

    Don’t read this incorrectly, I don’t believe the government should be telling the private sector how to run its business. I support the SCOTUS decision.

  60. All ten of Briggs’ conditions are wrong.

    The SCOTUS decision ought to have been the very first stop in assessing what the determining factors actually are.

    The core, legal principle that factors into the assessment is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) — which appears in the second word of the SCOTUS decision and “RFRA” recurs throughout the brief.

    None of the actual legal evaluation comes close to the simpleminded moral/value-based philosophical approach presented here.

    ‘Burwell v Hobby Lobby’ is wholly about resolving–consistent with established applicable legal doctrine & precedent–the many legal & jurisdictional intersections/overlaps of corporate & constitutional law relative to the government’s ability to grant rights & benefits.

    Life in the real-world is complex — and it’s more rewarding to address.

    SCOTUS Blog delves into much of these from a dissenting, but law-based, perspective: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/hobby-lobby-symposium-hobby-lobby-unconstitutional-conditions-and-corporate-law-mistakes/#more-214571

    As did SCOTUS in its decision: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

  61. Or, as Aristotle or Plato put it centuries ago:

    A group of medieval scholars were debating how many teeth were in a horse’s mouth. To answer the question, each person stood up and cited their favorite authority–but there was still NO agreement. A junior member of the group, then suggested that the group should go outside and simply “COUNT” a horse’s teeth–to resolve the question once and for all! Upon hearing this, the rest of the group became so alarmed that, according to the manuscript, they “fell upon him, smote him hip and thigh, and cast him from the company of educated men.”
    (as quoted by James Trefil, READING THE MIND OF GOD, IN SEARCH OF THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSALITY, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1989, pp33-4).

  62. It used to be that employer provided insurance was voluntary (a benefit). In that world, it seems to me that an employer can decide what they want to provide and what they don’t want to provide.

    If they want to pay for 14 kinds of contraception but not for 4 different types – that is up to the employer.

    I treat this issue like elective surgery, the employer shouldn’t have to provide insurance coverage for elective surgery.

    I agree with the decision and would extend it to public companies generally (leave it up to them to each decide what they wish to provide).

  63. I love how the rhetoric is framed as corporations denying access to contraceptives, etc. SCOTUS didn’t deny a woman’s access to these things, they denied women’s access to a company’s money. There’s no one from the company standing at the pharmacy entrance blocking their entry. No one is denied access. By that same logic, my employer is denying me access to food because they don’t buy it for me.

  64. Hobby Lobby provides 16 types of birth control. That does not seem like “not providing for women’s health care”.

  65. In response to the SCOTUS decision in ‘Burwell v Hobby Lobby’ and in recognition of the central role the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) played in enabling that decision,

    “A coalition of leaders of diverse U.S. religious denominations and faiths, including Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has announced that they “are united in [their] staunch support” for protecting the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) …. The coalition sent a letter to Congressional leadership June 30 asking that they “not amend or repeal RFRA, ….”

    As reported by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-117.cfm

  66. Sylvain Allard

    July 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Briggs,

    The Supreme Court opened a huge can of whoop-ass with this judgement and the other eliminating the security buffer zone.

    1) Anyone can manifest “pacifically’ right in front of the access door of business like hobby lobby so they can engage in conversation with their costumer to make sure they think through before encouraging people that held prehistoric views.

    2) The point least publicized by this judgment and the non-intended consequence is that now owner are liable by the action of their company since the wall between the owner and the company has been fuzzied.

    Before owner could simply close a company if the amount of damages were too high. Back then their personal asset were safe. Not anymore.

  67. Wow, Sylvain, who knew prehistoric people actually were so foolish as to not demand their government pay for their birth control? Maybe they were too busy taking care of themselves to think of that, huh?

    Your liability comment is nonsense. There is no liability. No one denied women birth control. If you make that argument, then I can sue because I’m homeless because no one paid for my house. Talk about opening a huge can of whoop-ass.

  68. Michael Davlin

    July 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I thought Sylvain made an interesting point. Limited liability is predicated on the corporation being a separate legal entity from its owners. If a closely held corporation’s owners’ religious convictions can be extended to the corporation, then the existing boundary between owner and entity — the boundary upon which limited liability relies — becomes blurred and this could be used as a line of attack against limited liability for closely held corporations in some future, unrelated, case.

  69. This from reason.com blog:
    In seeking to defend the requirement, the federal government had argued that Hobby Lobby, as a for-profit corporation, was not eligible to challenge the rule under the RFRA because corporations are “separate and apart from” their individual owners and operators. They were distinct, and not “people,” and therefore ineligible for the protections of a law designed to shelter “a person’s exercise of religion.” Alito says, more or less, that this is nonsense: “Corporations, ‘separate and apart from’ the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them, cannot do anything at all.”
    That would seem to run contrary to the idea of corporations and owners being separate. It seems that at some point in the future, this will possibly need further clarification by the court. Limited liability may need reworked.

  70. Sylvain Allard

    July 1, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Sheri,

    Yes, it does. And in doing so Allito reversed one of the first ruling of Scotus which stated that companies were person that could sued and be sued and which also protected individuals actions posed while working for a company from personal liability (i.e. you could sue the company not the owner).

    This decision removes that protection. Their will be some very nasty lawsuit where people owning company will lose everything. I’m not sure if it is such a bad thing. It would be ironic to see the owner of hobby lobby suffering such a medicine.

    For example: The owner of Hobby Lobby can now be sued by a customer that would be hurt by one of their product. Before, only Hobby Lobby could be sued.

  71. So the correct solution for Hobby Lobby would have been to fire all employees, close all stores and go on government assistance. Obviously.

  72. Actually, there was another option for Hobby Lobby—drop all insurance and pay the $2000 per employee fine for not providing insurance. Unfortunately, the caring Christain owners thought that would not be an acceptable idea and that they felt a moral obligation to provide insurance. Too bad they weren’t completely without morals and just tossed out the insurance altogether. It’s really sad when religion and business mix. What were they thinking???

  73. Sylvain Allard

    July 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Sheri,

    What is too bad is when business insert itself between their employee and their doctor.

    The good thing is that very few women should be affected by this decision.

    The bad thing is that these women could pay as much as 1 month pay to access live saving medicine.

    By the way, if Hobby Lobby has a problem providing contraceptive to their employee, they don’t have a problem investing in company that invest in them.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2014/04/01/hobby-lobby-401k-discovered-to-be-investor-in-numerous-abortion-and-contraception-products-while-claiming-religious-objection/

  74. Not that I disagree with the decision, but I think atheists should declare atheism a religion. There are only advantages. All kinds of protections and exemptions in the name o f religion!

  75. Sylvain: The only contraceptive not covered that costs a “month’s pay” is an IUD. I personally have no idea why IUD’s came back on the market in the first place—they were horribly damaging and there were thousands of lawsuits. Why anyone wants the government to force companies to pay for this horrid devices is beyond me.) The “plan B” is around $50, hardly a month’s pay. Being pregnant is not life threatening in most cases and can be completely prevented by not having sex, so that argument is just ridiculous. In all honesty, if a women does not care enough about her health to pay for some form of contraception or stop having sex, why should anyone care? I find it hard to be compassionate about people who don’t care about their own health unless it can be used to force others to fork over cash.

    Hobby Lobby did NOT insert itself between an employee and their doctor. They refused to pay for what the doctor was willing to supply. Again, for the four thousandth time, if not paying for what an employee wants is wrong, then businesses must pay for food, housing ,etc. If a business MUST pay for something the employee wants or needs, there cannot be exceptions. Any Hobby Lobby employee can still get whatever the doctor orders. She/he just has to pay for it themselves. So, unless you are arguing that employers must provide everything an employee desires, give it up.

    I have no answer to your link. Hobby Lobby has not commented. From what I could find, the Greens do no pay close attention to their benefits programs. Obamacare may have been a great idea in the sense that people suddenly started checking their benefits. I can’t say. It certainly does seem hypocritical. However, this was out there when the Supreme Court made their ruling, so it’s not something that suddenly sprang up.

    This case was about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (courtesy of Bill Clinton). There is an article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/06/30/the-religious-freedom-restoration-act-and-complicity-in-sin/
    that addresses this somewhat. The law seems to hinge on what the person feels is the line they won’t cross:
    The “substantial burden” requirement didn’t require that the connection be “substantial” enough in the secular legal system’s understanding of complicity. (A burden might be insubstantial because it imposes too small a secular cost to count, not because outsiders to a religion think that a causal connection is too weak to count as sinful complicity.) Perhaps being required to add forms of contraception was the line Hobby Lobby was not willing to cross.

  76. I should know better than to wade into this discussion. It’s become completely unmoored, but here goes:

    * Personally, I find it deeply insulting to women to argue that the litmus test of whether a company cares about women is the list of birth control the company pays for. It must amaze people to learn that women have other things on their minds.

    * This decision does not get rid of limited liability; sadly that happened long ago. Courts have been piercing the corporate veil for over a century. When I was a bank teller years ago, I was surprised to discover that one of our customers was a CPA but had not incorporated her business. She replied that there wasn’t much of a reason to do so: anybody suing a small corporation will also sue the owner personally. This decision may lead to eventually allowing the corporate veil to be pierced in both directions ( http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2013/03/using-reverse-veil-piercing-to-vindicate-the-free-exercise-rights-of-incorporated-employers.html ).

    * I’m unable to understand why it’s relevant that Hobby Lobby’s employees can invest their own money in companies that Hobby Lobby’s owners might not like. Is a 401(k) that obscure to that many people? Once Hobby Lobby pays the money to match whatever the employe puts in their account, the money belongs to the employee. The employee keeps any gain in the investment, and eats any loss. I don’t see any way that the employee’s investments reflect on Hobby Lobby. This isn’t some technical reading of IRS regulations, it’s one of the main selling points of the 401(k) system. *Every* company I’ve ever worked for that’s offered a 401(k) — even before I was old enough to sign up — has stated “and the great thing about the 401(k) is that the money in the account is yours, no matter what.”

    * In this case, the government conceded that nonprofit corporations could raise a religious freedom claim. This isn’t earth shattering; many churches are corporations, after all; and many churches own corporations (hospitals, adoption agencies, thrift stores, homeless shelters, etc.). One of the most telling parts of the decision (in my opinion) is that the government could never articulate a reason that nonprofits could raise a claim, but for-profits couldn’t (“Although HHS has made [the accommodation where insurance companies provide contraceptives with other customers’ money if the customer objects to paying for the contraceptives with its own money] available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections” pg. 3).

    * There were three legal questions presented: (1) can a for-profit corporation raise a claim under RFRA (answer: yes, at least some for-profits can), (2) does the contraceptive requirement burden Hobby Lobby’s sincerely held beliefs (answer: yes), (3) can the government achieve its goal of increased access to contraceptives in a less burdensome way (answer: yes, with the silly accommodation). I am truly surprised that the accommodation hasn’t been officially extended to all companies yet.

  77. Sorry, better quote from the decision (on the legal definition of “person,” pages 19-20):

    HHS concedes that a nonprofit corporation can be a “person” within the meaning of RFRA. … This concession effectively dispatches any argument that the term “person” as used in RFRA does not reach the closely held corporations involved in these cases. No
    known understanding of the term “person” includes some but not all corporations. The term “person” sometimes encompasses artificial persons … and it sometimes is limited to natural persons. But no conceivable definition of the term includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

  78. As usual on politics, Dr. Briggs gets it about right – there simply is no logical basis for the Obamacon position. It’s fairly clear, I think, that the people drafting the legislation simply never considered religious freedoms a serious issue – and had an “f-them” agenda with regard to middle class businesses.

    The deepest problem here, however, is not the government’s lack of rational argument but the fact that four of the nine judges are not judges – they’re democrats first, last, and always. That means cases get decided by four judges who review the law and try to think things through, and one fence sitter who can think but often prefers not to – and that’s scarier even than global cooling.

  79. What I find funny how in modern America we have so many people whom believe in slavery. Taking money from one person and giving to another with the force of a gun is slavery. Income redistribution is certain slavery forcing companies to subsidize employees want or even need is another. Employment is a contract between the employer and the employee, it should be freely entered into with both parties have their wants and need taken care through that contract, if and employer does not full fill those need the employe is free to seek employment elsewhere. If the market does not full fill the employees need he is free to create a business that does.

    Anytime government mandates anything into the contract it a form of slavery either enslaving the employer of the employee depending on the mandate. It beyond me how government interference between two free individuals to make their own decision about how and what should be in an employment contract can be construed as anything but slavery. Even a business that practices unsafe working conditions the free market should be able to handle it through civil and criminal liability. If a worker is working in unsafe working condition an is kill or injured it the employer whom should bare the cost civilly and criminally. Government only need to make sure law in regard to safety are allowed to work in the nonbias court system, after all the right to a jury trail should not be infringed. I believe ones peers are far more often better able to determine penalties that some bureaucrat. History has proven more than once that government is the greatest threat to a mans freedom, and without freedom there is no liberty. Mandating contraceptives enslave three people, first the employer, next the employee how subsidize it through less wages paid, lastly the employee whom get the benefit since it creates dependency beyond the normal employee employer relationship. That not only true for the contraceptive mandate it also true for the laws mandating and employer mandated health care.

  80. “What is too bad is when business insert itself between their employee and their doctor.”

    Hmm… reminds me of this exchange:

    “Get your politics out of my bedroom!”
    “Not a problem. I’m just going to grab my wallet before I leave.”
    “The wallet stays, bigot.”

    (source: https://twitter.com/seanmdav/statuses/483647455662055426)

    ===
    On the topic of corporations having religious protections via the first amendment, if people don’t think such a concept is valid, why not invalidate freedom of speech and press, too? I’m sure the NYT and NPR would love that.

  81. Gummit mandates employers MUST buy abortions for their employees. And broccoli. And Turkey ala king. And a motor scooter. And new shoes. Because employees are too stupid to buy their own crap with their paychecks. The employer MUST buy whatever the Gummit says they MUST, for their braindead employees who cannot be trusted to buy anything on their own.

    If you are an employee, then you are a dunce and a half. You are a pathetic stooge. According to the Gummit. You are a child. You cannot be trusted with your paycheck. You will buy something stupid instead of what you really need, which is abortions.

    What maroons you employees are. Lucky for you, the Einsteins who run the Gummit are watching out for you, holding your hand, wiping your nose, and feeding you broccoli and birth control pills. With somebody else’s money! How’s that for genius!

    Except of course, it’s your money. It all comes out of your paycheck. But you haven’t figured that out, because, well, you are dumber than a bag of hammers. Poor little employee. Poor, stupid, pathetic infant. You should have been aborted way back when. Would have saved you from a life of mindless suffering, like a chicken in a coop.

    Not to worry. The Gummit will save your might-have-been children from a similar fate. Eat your “meds”. Do it right now. Can’t have you breeding more morons.

  82. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Sheri,
    About women having sex unprotected, surely the millions of women that get rape each year should have foreseen it and take precaution beforehand. Of course, the male shouldn’t share in the burden of paying for such protection. After all they have nothing to do with it. There are some women that sleep around but I would guess that this number is very low.

    BTW, why is pregnancy more probable when women are rape? The answer is easy, they have no say under what condition and when it happens. Women I know will either not have sex during their period or force the use of condoms by their partner. Of course, no women have ever been forced to have sex against their will by their living partner. Just like women that get beaten deserve the treatment their life partners gave them. If women shouldn’t be covered because of their promiscuity, then why is there no objection to the use of Viagra or vasectomy which is use by men for pleasure not necessity? They could chose to not have sex. Why is it always the women that bare all the wait of prejudices? Why do woman deserve all the evil done to them, because the bible said so, or because of Eve?

    “I find it hard to be compassionate about people who don’t care about their own health unless it can be used to force others to fork over cash”

    Why should society care about people who smoke, get drunk on regular basis, eat badly, etc? Anything can happen to anyone. The goal is not to judge the person but to help them when they are in need.

    “ Hobby Lobby did NOT insert itself between an employee and their doctor. They refused to pay for what the doctor was willing to supply”

    I don’t know for the US but here the doctors usually take the decision for the good of the patient. They will not prescribe pill just for the pleasure of it. But in this case Hobby Lobby is telling the doctor that if he prescribes this pill he will they will refuse to pay for a treatment that the doctor consider essential for his patient.

    Sometimes I wonder if conservative wouldn’t be happier in a country like Somalia where there is no law, no government, no tax. You are free to have a weapon and use it has you want, to discriminate on all basis: sex, religion, race, ideology.

    Of course, an employee paid less than 10$/hour (less than the minimum salary in the 1960s) can afford everything in life. The best school for her kid, a house, a car, etc. By the way, how come someone who is against abortion do business in a country (China) which causes millions of abortion every year.

    “This case was about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (courtesy of Bill Clinton).”

    Actually this is the law that the court used to justify their decision. It was never mention of it during the argumentation. Neither does the law make any mention of corporation. But for the Roberts Court corporations are some kind of god that are better persons than human being.

  83. Michael Davlin

    July 3, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Sylvain wrote:

    About women having sex unprotected, surely the millions of women that get rape each year should have foreseen it and take precaution beforehand … There are some women that sleep around but I would guess that this number is very low.

    It is simply NOT the case in the United States — the nation to which this discussion should be limited — that “millions of women get raped each year”. The actual number is around 150,000 per year, or roughly 1 of every 1,000 women over the age of 12. The rape rate in the USA has declined by two thirds since 1995. You can discover this for yourself from US Department of Justice reports; for example, this relatively recent and short (16 pages) report: Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010.

    Do you truly believe fewer than 1 in 1,000 women over the age of 12 in the USA sleep around? Seriously?

    Since this is statisticians blog, its readers expect other readers’ comments to bear some relationship to empirical reality (statistics for the USA, which is the nation being discussed on this thread) and not consist of wild assertions and snarky accusations arising from a fervid imagination. You truly jumped the shark with this post.

  84. Sylvain: Women who are raped can buy the morning after pill for under $50 (Planned Parenthood says $35 to $60). So unless the very, very poor with no friends who can help buy the pill for them are the only victims of rape, your argument fails completely.

    I see you have been reading the HuffPo again. The reason women become pregnant after rape, according to actual research (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8765248) 47% of women/girls get no medical treatment after rape. No amount of “free contraception” will help if the women does not go in for medical treatment or at least go to the store and buy the morning after pill. (Note, too, that 1/3 opted to keep the baby.)

    Biology is the reason women bear the brunt of reproduction–NOT prejudices. Complain to God or Darwin. I didn’t make the rule.

    No, Hobby Lobby is NOT telling the doctor what to prescribe. By your logic, the federal government is saying you can’t drink because food stamps don’t cover alcohol. Is that your claim? If the government won’t pay for it, it means you can’t have it? YES, that is your claim. Clearly. So why then do poor people have cigarettes and beer? They can buy cigarettes and beer but not medicine? Sounds like the poor prefer their vices to their health in some cases.
    (By the way, I was a financial counselor and I can tell you most people simply don’t want to pay for meds. If they pay for meds, they can’t buy what they want. And they can’t ask the taxpayer to buy their beer and cigarettes or lottery tickets, so they cry and moan about no one caring about their health. Very, very dishonest.)

    Maybe socialists would be happier in North Korea where everything is equal and they are so concerned about climate change. I’d buy you a ticket if you wanted to there. One way, of course. Who would want to come back from paradise. (Please note that a LIBERAL said North Korea was environmentally friendly, so I’m not making accusations, just relating what other liberals say.)

    Hobby Lobby pays over minimum wage. Nice try. (Where did you get the idea that $10 an hour is less than the minimum wage in the 1960’s? The highest I find is around $7 per hour–oh, wait, the HuffPo again, right?)

    Someone who is against abortion cannot avoid some support of businesses that are involved. I depise socialist liberals behaviours, but there’s no way to avoid doing business with them in some for or other. One just avoids as much as possible. I already said if the owners of Hobby Lobby are indeed invested in certain companies for retirement, they should rearrange their portfolio immediately. The employees are on their own if they want to change theirs.

    Since the Roberts court is the Supreme Court, their rulings are what counts. Liberals lost on this one. Stop blaming the court and deal with it. Had it gone the other way, you’d be having a hug-fest with the court and praising them. It’s not the court, it’s that liberals lost.

  85. Sylvain: Not sure if my comment went to moderation or was lost. Will try posting later and hope my lengthy comment does not show up twice.

  86. Michael Davlin

    July 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Sheri asks Sylvain:

    Where did you get the idea that $10 an hour is less than the minimum wage in the 1960′s?

    In the summer of 1969, after my freshman year of college, I felt extremely lucky on those few days I was able to handload 100 pound boxes of frozen chicken into refrigerated boxcars for $1.30 per hour (roughly four gallons of gas per hour; not bad!). The following summer, I worked for a moving and storage company where our hourly pay was $2.65 per hour, which seemed a king’s ransom. I remember in the mid-60s, my parents almost moved our family of eight into a very spacious house costing $30,000, or about 150% of my father’s salary as a HS teacher and coach, which just happens to work out to about $10 per hour. That shows just how silly is suggesting the minimum wage was $10 per hour in the 60s.

  87. This case was about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (courtesy of Bill Clinton).

    Actually this is the law that the court used to justify their decision. It was never mention of it during the argumentation. Neither does the law make any mention of corporation. But for the Roberts Court corporations are some kind of god that are better persons than human being.

    This is absolutely the weirdest claim I’ve ever heard. Taking this in two parts:

    Actually this is the law that the court used to justify their decision. It was never mention of it during the argumentation.

    It’s mentioned on the first page of the transcript (“When a Federal Government agency compelled employers to provide something as religiously sensitive as contraception, it knew that free exercise in RFRA claims would soon follow.” http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/13-354_5436.pdf ). It’s mentioned on nearly every page of the transcript. Your argument is simply wrong.

    Neither does the law make any mention of corporation.

    That is, in fact, a big part of the oral arguments. The law applies to people, and the question was whether people in this case included corporations. Again, from the ruling (quoted earlier):

    HHS concedes that a nonprofit corporation can be a “person” within the meaning of RFRA. … This concession effectively dispatches any argument that the term “person” as used in RFRA does not reach the closely held corporations involved in these cases. No
    known understanding of the term “person” includes some but not all corporations. The term “person” sometimes encompasses artificial persons … and it sometimes is limited to natural persons. But no conceivable definition of the term includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

  88. Aargh! One of my “blockquote” sections got screwed up.

  89. It’s also worth noting that the original question the Supreme Court agreed to hear was:

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq., provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest. 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1(a) and (b). The question presented is whether RFRA allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

    ( http://www.supremecourt.gov/qp/13-00354qp.pdf )

  90. At least you can bring now your gun to church again.

  91. Hans: Don’t you mean “still”?

  92. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Sheri, Michael,

    you are talking current dollars while I’m comparing in constant dollars.

    You could do more in 1960 with a salary $1.30/hour than today with a salary lower than $10/hour

    To use your analogy, today’s minimum salaries buy about 1 1/2 – 2 gallon of gas.

  93. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    see here:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774473.html

    in 1960 (and in 1996 constant dollars) the minimum wage was $5.30/hour. 2013 is equal to $4.87.

    1968 was the year where the minimum salaries was worth the much i.e. $7.21 about $3/hour more than today.

    And from this calculator:

    http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm

    The minimum salary of $1.60 would represent $10.84 today. While the minimum salary today is $7.25. Raise the minimum salary and you will reduce the need for food stamp and other welfare expenses.

  94. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Sheri,

    Plan B pill are sold over the counter and shouldn’t be covered to begin with since they require no prescription. I’m not sure why the victim of a criminal act should have to pay for it though.

    By the way I don’t read Huff post. It is simply commonsense.

    Having known women that were rape, the psychological trauma is quite horrible, the feeling of guilt, the stigma, and the shame is often to much to process and to make good decision.

    Biology makes the women able to bare the child. But she need the male to get pregnant. The male need to be forced to accept the consequences of his action.

    Socialism and communism are very different things. socialism give more opportunity to poor people while letting the chance to people to succeed if they work hard enough.

    Capitalism and communism have more similarities than socialism with either of them. They both create an elite class that treat the mass of people as slave.

    Hobby Lobby pays over the minimum wedge in current $ not in constant $. the majority of their employee make less than 10$ an hours.

    Yes people have to live with the court decision. And soon owner of the companies will have to live with it also. I just can’t wait to see someone hurt by a Hobby Lobby product who will sue the green family directly for selling that product. It will be comically ironic to see these people say that they can be sued personally, just Hobby Lobby.

  95. No, Sylvain, I am not talking current dollars.
    http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42973.pdf

    Cost of living is affected by many things besides wages. As minimum wage rises, prices quickly rise and that “extra” buying power is erased very soon after the rise.
    If everyone earns $20 an hour, then McDonalds can charge $10 for a burger and people will be able to pay. So the price goes up. Saw that with a foreign exchange student we had. She made $14 an hour in high school. She paid $100 for a pair of jeans that cost $20 here. Houses cost far more in her country than the USA. That $14 sounded good until you paid out $100 for the jeans.

  96. Guess my stats don’t match your stats. As for food stamps, etc, if we want to reduce dependence, we would have to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 to keep a family of two off food stamps. For a family of three, we would need $25,000 a year as a minimum to keep the family off food stamps. At four, $30,000 minimum. And it just keeps keeping higher and higher as we add family members.
    As the minimum wage increases, the number of people employed at that wage decreases, which I think would then throw the unemployed onto the food stamp wagon.

  97. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Yes their are many things that affect cost. And wages are a small part of it.

    Hamburger cost more in New York than in San Francisco even if there is $2.55/h difference. The biggest impact is cost of energy and rent. rent is incredibly expensive in Ny while more affordable in SF.

    The cost of gas is higher today even though there are more production and less demand than 4 years ago.

    In Canada we pay more taxes yet we have a net salary average higher than in the USA and we don’t have pay for medical insurance out of our net salary.

  98. My guess is there are various statistics on Canada versus US wages, so I’ll just skip the “dueling statistics” part. I pay only for 40% of my health insurance—company pays 60%. Some companies pay the full amount, some don’t.

    Yes, gas costs more today even though there is more production and less domestic demand. Exports may be driving it (actually, nothing drives the cost of gasoline—it’s completely random….). Production provides very high paying jobs, so that in itself should be a plus.

  99. In Canada, if someone breaks into your house and steals your stuff and damages things, does your insurance pay 100% of the cost or do you have a deductible?

    Biology still says the woman bears the brunt because she bears the child. It would be vey nice if men were responsible, yes. It would also be nice if women would be responsible and pay for the baby she chose to make. She didn’t say no, except in the case of rape. She knew the risks. She made the decision to risk pregnancy.

    Socialism takes money from people who produce and gives it to everyone whether they produce or not. Capitalism lets everyone earn what they can. Communism takes everything and keeps the population poor while the dictators are rich. If you think Stalin was comparable to Bill Clinton, then there is probably nothing that can be done for your complete lack of contact with reality. If you think North Korea is like the US, I’m positive you cannot be put back in touch with reality.

    Really, you know people who work at Hobby Lobby and how much they make, do you?

    Again, what kind of sick, twisted person wants to cost thousands of people their jobs and close a business just to prove how fair and caring he is??????

  100. Sylvain Allard

    July 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    “if we want to reduce dependence, we would have to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 to keep a family of two off food stamps. For a family of three, we would need $25,000 a year as a minimum to keep the family off food stamps. At four, $30,000 minimum.”

    A $10/ hour job correspond to $20k. Having a couple work 60h a week is $30k which is good enough for a family of four.

    A $7.25/hour job is $14.5k at 60 h a week is $21750 for a couple which is barely enough to keep a family of two off food stamps.

    Minimum wage jobs are found in retail and fast food. Previously these jobs where occupied by teenagers. Now they are occupied by factory workers that lost their jobs with the 2008 financial crisis. Many of them works up to 80h/week and still need food stamp to put food on the table. Notice that food stamp represent on average less than $200.

    Now if a higher minimum wage prevent the creation of job as his claimed. Why do you find over 300 hundreds Walmart in Canada and in Quebec where labor laws are much more restrictive and only one province has a minimum salary lower than 10$/hour (Alberta 9.95).

    You have all the minimal working condition in Quebec here:

    http://www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/en/home/index.html

  101. Sylvain: How interesting. You are advocating having a couple work 60 hours per week to stay off food stamps. Wow, advocating actual labor.

    Walmart is not the only minimum wage employer, so your statement about Walmart and minimum wage is pretty much irrelevant. Fast food is one place where minimum wage abounds, unless you live in a state with a booming economy, like North Dakota or Texas.

    From the CBO: “The increased earnings for low-wage workers resulting from the higher minimum wage would total $31 billion, by CBO’s estimate. However, those earnings would not go only to low-income families, because many low-wage workers are not members of low-income families. Just 19 percent of the $31 billion would accrue to families with earnings below the poverty threshold, whereas 29 percent would accrue to families earning more than three times the poverty threshold, CBO estimates.”
    So we are not really helping “the poor” here at all, are we?

    From BLS:
    “The proportion of hourly paid workers earning the prevailing federal minimum wage or less declined from 5.2 percent in 2011 to 4.7 percent in 2012. This remains well below the figure of 13.4 percent in 1979, when data were first collected on a regular basis. (See table 10.)
    Looks like things are improving to me. Improving a huge amount.

    If we want to use only one province in Canada, let’s use one in the US: Washington with a minimum wage of $9.32. That looks better, right?
    It’s quite easy to make things look good if you pick one state and monetary measure. Gets far more complicated if you add in other states and other factors.

  102. Sylvain Allard

    July 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Sheri,

    When did I said people shouldn’t work. I advocate helping people when they’re down.

    If being on welfare was so great why did my cousin who received it for about 2 years in is early 20s went out to find a job. From receiving welfare he now works and pay taxes. last year he won $24k.

    In Quebec, we have good year/bad year 300k people on welfare. Last I heard the average time people that receive welfare is less than 10 month before they find work. Only 15% will receive social benefit lifelong, and those are the elderly and people with handicap that can’t work.

    The number of workers receiving the minimum wages is irrelevant. What is important is that millions of people would see a raise in there income. Where was the tragedy the other time they rose it. Also In the USA people that receive food stamp have to work (at least in most state) to be eligible to receive them.

    Here is an article you should find interesting:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/08/02/the-real-change-in-the-cost-of-a-big-mac-if-mcdonalds-workers-were-paid-15-an-hour-nothing/

  103. Sylvain: You didn’t actually say people shouldn’t work, but you seem to advocate for every program out there that helps them not work. I realize in Canada you may not have 2 years of unemployment benefits (or do you?) and millions going on disability (or do you?) but we do here. Well. not the unemployment any more because Obama said the recession is over. Now we just have people jumping on disability. So if in Canada, people don’t drop into welfare and stay there, that’s good. Maybe the US will get back to that state someday. (I don’t know why being on welfare is so good, but I have a neighbor who hasn’t worked for a year and seems fine sitting at home……. There were others I have known who went on disability to avoid working.)

    No, the number of people earning the minimum wage is not irrelevent. If only a small portion are paid minimum wage, that would indicate that most jobs pay more and there is opportunity to make money if you change from the minimum wage job to another. Plus, as you pointed out, you can work 60 or 80 hours a week and earn more.

    Obama suspended the work requirement for food stamps. My neighbor gets food stamps and does not work. Obama also suspended (as far as I know) the requirement that people on welfare look for work. So in the US, you can get welfare and food stamps and never have to worry about a pesky job search.

    I did read the Forbes article. If you want to still sell a Big Mac for $2 after paying more to workers, you have to reduce the number of workers and/or automate. There are no other options. So, in paying more to some workers, we cost the jobs of other workers. Actually, the state of Washington will provide us with real life evidence soon, as they plan on raising the minimum wage to $15. So for now, I’m waiting to see how this plays out in real life.

  104. Sylvain Allard

    July 4, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I had not seen this comment before:

    “In Canada, if someone breaks into your house and steals your stuff and damages things, does your insurance pay 100% of the cost or do you have a deductible?”

    It depends on your insurance some will have deductible others none.

    “Capitalism lets everyone earn what they can. Communism takes everything and keeps the population poor while the dictators are rich.”

    One thing I’ve learned in my last class “History of economic thought” is that ultimately capitalism could lead to 1 person owning everything. The idea that in capitalism you keep what you can is one of the biggest lies their is. Unless you are mega rich you don’t keep anything in capitalism since you always owe money to someone richer.

    If you want to avoid revolution you want some kind of redistribution. The progressive movement in the early 1900s is what prevented such a revolution in the USA. Now they want to go back to the 1800s. Where people were treated as slave in factories.

    “Again, what kind of sick, twisted person wants to cost thousands of people their jobs and close a business just to prove how fair and caring he is??????”

    We have minimum wage higher than $10 dollars here and any retail or restaurant have about the same amount of employee than what you see in the USA. except in that in the US they receive food stamps. Why do you think people would loose there job because the minimum salary would be raised.

  105. Sylvain Allard

    July 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    “You didn’t actually say people shouldn’t work, but you seem to advocate for every program out there that helps them not work”

    You say programs that help them not to work. I say programs that help them while they are not working. Since the collapse of the economy in 2008 the rich a recoup all their losses but they never judge it a good idea to share it with the rest of the USA.

    I don’t think that the people in the USA stay on welfare by choice, and most of the people that may stay there are the 50+ folks that have low education and worked for a long time in manufactories, if they stay there by lack of choice. In Canada, unemployment insurance got stricter in the last few years, and no one is better for it, more people lost their home and went on welfare because of it. Two years of unemployment is too much, the most we were ever eligible for was 50 weeks. But the number of hours to be eligible has tripled. Even though the program was never in deficit the benefit and accessibility were cut and the surpluses were transferred into other account.

    The statistic you provided are the same as I did. Between the minimum wage of $7.25 and going back to constant value of 1968 which is about $10.50/h there are a lot of people that that would have a raise and again not all at once but in several increments. People always think they deserve more than the next person that they work harder than everyone else. To say that the other have a easier job is very easy to do, but the reality is very different. Trying to find another job is easier to say than to do. Even more if you go from a minimum wage job to another one at that still pay only $1 more.

    Obama has not suspended the job requirement for food stamps. He transferred more power to state to determine the need of their population. They had to fulfill some requirements to do it which I don’t remember since it was about 3-4 years ago.

  106. Brandon Gates

    July 5, 2014 at 3:23 am

    Briggs,

    We seem to be missing our usual Left cohort. Some sort of holiday, perhaps?

    I’ve been taking a break on Usenet to try and convince atheists to use “unborn child” instead of “just a fetus” to argue the pro-choice position. If you imagine that’s near impossible and tiring, you’d be correct.

    People (and families) should be responsible for their own health. The idea of subsidiarity should be implemented so that control of health care (such as for those who cannot afford it) remains at local levels.

    Well now, as I see it that’s quite a bind to put yourself in. Individuals responsible for their own health is a libertarian view. Then you say, if subsidy, then local, which sounds like the State’s Rights view of the 10th amendment. I make no argument here about either of those concepts. I am noting that they don’t seem mutually compatible, so I’m flummoxed.

    Have I misunderstood something?

  107. Fletcher Christian

    July 5, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Brandon Gates – Your campaign to rename foetuses isn’t getting anywhere because non-fanatics don’t agree with you. Early-term foetuses aren’t unborn children. They look nothing like humans (at least in the very earliest stages), at various stages don’t have a heart or nervous system (including the lack of a brain) and are completely non-viable outside the womb.

    Describing a foetus as an unborn child works (IMHO, natch) only for fully-formed foetuses that actually look like humans. Which happens at around 16 weeks.

  108. Well now, as I see it that’s quite a bind to put yourself in. Individuals responsible for their own health is a libertarian view. Then you say, if subsidy, then local, which sounds like the State’s Rights view of the 10th amendment. I make no argument here about either of those concepts. I am noting that they don’t seem mutually compatible, so I’m flummoxed.

    I probably shouldn’t speak for Briggs, but I personally don’t see any incompatibility. You are correct that the two aren’t commonly put together, but that doesn’t say anything about their potential compatibility.

    It’s also possible that Briggs holds those views for different reasons than you’re used to. For instance, the idea of solving problems at the local level when possible is often referred to as subsidiarity. Yes, sometimes people support subsidiarity for states’ rights ideals, but some people support subsidiarity more because they believe that the states (and cities) are laboratories of democracy (a related, but distinct view).

    Personally, I am unable to see any reason for the federal government to care about increasing access to contraceptives. Recent studies have shown that literally 99% of people who want contraceptives manage to get them. I don’t see that as a crisis that needs federal intervention or a federal subsidy. I could imagine pockets of “contraceptive deserts” (to coin a phrase, c.f., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert ), where it might make sense for a local government to subsidise contraceptives. In fact, many cities **do** provide free condoms, but that’s part of the war against STDs and isn’t really about contraception.

  109. Sylvain: What I learned in real life is that classes usually are clueless and teach whatever the professor believes. Capitalism has not been shown to lead to one rich person–anywhere. Only dictatorships end up that way. Of course, as long as you believe that, you’re happy to hand over money and let the government redistribute.

    The progressive movement kept the US in a depression for years beyond what it needed to last. FDR and LBJ were very detrimental to America. The most prosperous years were under Reagan, where capitalism did rule.

    Seriously, NO ONE except illegal immigrants are treated as slaves in factories. We have labor laws and they are enforced. If you ever really left the classroom and checked out real life, you might learn something. People have good-paying jobs, nice homes, some even are smart enough to save for emergencies, etc. What the nightly news and your classes tell you is not reality. Not at all.

    No, we do NOT want redistribution. That’s what Mao and a huge number of communists and socialists taught. It was a way to get people to hand over money out of fear of a revolution. Apparently, it works on some people, enough that they still teach it.

    I don’t owe money to someone richer. Actually, I owe very little money at all. And if I wanted to do the work, I could be a millionaire. No one except the government is taking my money. The only threat to my success is the government. Period.

    Last comment:
    “Again, what kind of sick, twisted person wants to cost thousands of people their jobs and close a business just to prove how fair and caring he is??????”
    Not referring to minimum wage but rather your cruel and sadistic wish that Hobby Lobby owners be sued and lose everything. Wanting to cost thousands there jobs so you can be happy Hobby Lobby was “punished” because they disagreed with you is really frightening. Punishing thousands so you can feel powerful and vindicated.

    Again, leave the classroom and see real life. The RICH are the rulers in Washington, especially the progressives, and they are the ones regulating people out of work. Capitalism is not the enemy–the government is.
    Perhaps you should try actually living in the USA before deciding how many people live on welfare by choice. It looks different when you see people with cell phones, new cars, 100 lbs overweight getting free groceries all with the taxes they took from working people.
    Yes, two years of unemployment is too much. That’s my point. Things are encouraging people not to work.
    It depends on where you live and how determined you are to find work. Where I live, there are help wanted signs everywhere. You can have a minimum wage job by nightfall and a high paying one within a week. You have to be willing to work hard and in work that is physically demanding sometimes. North Dakota and Texas are the same way.
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/day-8-obama-edict-repealed-1996-welfare-reforms-work-requirement/article/2536341
    You can look up the actual legislation if you want verification.

  110. Caught in moderation again. Sigh.

  111. Sylvain Allard

    July 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    “What I learned in real life is that classes usually are clueless and teach whatever the professor believes.”

    This does explain a lot about your belief system. It seems that you never seek outside of your small world of idea and put you knowledge to any test. I don’t take anything a teacher says for granted but I do listen to argument and make up my own mind.

    “Capitalism has not been shown to lead to one rich person–anywhere.”

    This Idea comes first from the classical economist like Adam Smith, Riccardo, Malthus, etc. given enough time it would happen. The problem is that before it happens you would have a revolt.

    “The progressive movement kept the US in a depression for years beyond what it needed to last. FDR and LBJ were very detrimental to America. The most prosperous years were under Reagan, where capitalism did rule.”

    The reality is much different than your belief. The most prosperous years, where under Eisenhower, i.e. when the highest tax level was in the 90%, while under Reagan inflation, deficit and military spending exploded.

    In the 1930s the depression lasted longer than it was necessary because the New Deal was too modest. Just like the present recovery is weak because of the lack of government stimulus. Your infrastructure is going to shit because of lack of investment.

    “Seriously, NO ONE except illegal immigrants are treated as slaves in factories.”

    Why do you think these labor laws were needed in the first place? Why do you think there are anti-trust laws, if not because trust were preventing any kind of free market. Only government can provide the safe condition to establish a free market. Most progressive laws were passed before WWI by Teddy Roosevelt and Wilson, like anti-trust laws, union laws.
    “What the nightly news and your classes tell you is not reality. Not at all.”

    You’re confounding a tree for the forest; a few anecdotal situations don’t make reality. Since 2008 you have millions of responsible people that had good jobs, good pay. They were very responsible folks paying their mortgage, sending their child to school, living honest life. Like these folks:
    http://bainport.tumblr.com/

    The company owned by Bain Capital (Romney’s company) was making millions of dollars in Freeport. It was not enough for the boss at Bain who decided that they could make more money by transferring the company to China. These folks now either are on unemployment insurance, food stamps. Some have lost their homes or will soon. Most will lose their entire life savings.

    Morgan Chase provides food stamp on debit cards in several states. With these cards they made over $300 million dollars in profit last year. You would think that they would be thankful enough to establish there call center in at least in the US instead of Mumbai.

    http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/food-stamps-jpmorgan-banking-industry-profit-misery

    Communism and socialism are two different things and by the way Mao was the revolution. When social benefits in Québec were first established in the 1930s people had to do supervise work to receive benefit. It was fast discovered that it increased bureaucracy and prevented too much money to reach the actual people who needed it. So in Québec and in many other countries a check was sent to the actual person that needed. That person can then spend that money as she want, even alcohol. Guess what very few of these people actually by alcohol. They mostly spend it as wisely as they can on food and rent. On average, 85% of these people find a job within a year and pay taxes within a few years.

  112. Brandon Gates

    July 6, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Max ,

    It’s also possible that Briggs holds those views for different reasons than you’re used to.

    As a social liberal, when I speak of libertarianism I mean as the opposite of totalitariansim.

    When social conservatives speak of libertarianism, it tends to be in reference to the economy.

    For instance, the idea of solving problems at the local level when possible is often referred to as subsidiarity.

    Which is a good idea, and it apparently works quite well for us. Doing more of it might make sense, but recall that we got away from the Articles of Confederation for reasons of defense against European colonial powers — united we stand, divided we fall.

    Personally, I am unable to see any reason for the federal government to care about increasing access to contraceptives. Recent studies have shown that literally 99% of people who want contraceptives manage to get them.

    Interesting way to frame the issue. Much access to contraception already comes from employer-sponsored health benefits. That’s why there is no crisis.

    None of this is really about that. Contraception is a minor economic issue and invoking subsidiarity to address it is like swatting a gnat with a sledgehammer. The social issues are what are important to Briggs. As I see it, the establishment clause of first amendment keeps him from speaking plainly about it.

  113. Really, Sylvain, you’re arguing that your fantasy classroom has more reality than my life? You have no idea how old I am, what I studying in school, if I went to college, what I’ve done for a living, where I’ve lived, how much I’ve read and studied current events but you can say with confidence that your teachers know more than I do. Wow………Also, that tired “you never go out of your comfort zone”–is there some kind of book you get this from because that seems to be the standard response, I was accused of living in my mother’s basement–my dead mother, three states away from where I live–because I disagreed. I’m sure it’s easier to just dismiss someone than actually think. How many jobs have you held? How many houses have you bought? Filled out your own tax forms? Voted in elections? Want to compare life experiences. Bring it on.

    You’re pretty much quoting Marxist philosophy. There’s never been a revolt due to capitalism. The system was new when Marx wrote his philosophy and there was no basis for the belief other than to convince people they were helpless on their own and the government was needed to fix everything. So far as I can tell, Marxism has not been a utopia and capitalism has not fostered any revolts.

    No, Sylvain, my beliefs about FDR and LBJ are based on actual US History before someone revised it to praise socialism and capitalism. I have lived through seven president terms and the best were under free market capitalists. Granted, that did decrease after Reagan, but it was still best. I know the tax structures under them, I know the employment numbers, I know what things cost. I lived it.

    Historical need for laws does not mean the situation exists now. Other than illegal aliens, there are no slaves in factories in the US. So the problem no longer exists. I have never argued for a completely libertarian society.

    Sylvain, I live in this country and I know what goes on. The fact that you are arrogant enough to tell me you know more about my country than I do is just braggadocios. Would you believe me if I started telling you what happens in Canada and insisting I know more about Canada than you do? I have all kinds of articles no the problems with health care, the credit down ratings, the overspending in Quebec and Ontario that threaten credit ratings again, etc, etc. But I don’t live there and I’m arrogant enough to think I understand.

    Yes, communism and socialism are two different things. Communism is poverty for all except the ruling. Socialism is mediocrity for all, except the ruling class. As for benefits in Canada, read about the early 1990″s and see what happened before you brag so much about how wonder the handouts are in Canada

  114. Brandon Gates

    July 6, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Fletcher,

    Your campaign to rename foetuses isn’t getting anywhere because non-fanatics don’t agree with you.

    What I’m finding is many can’t argue it period.

    Describing a foetus as an unborn child works (IMHO, natch) only for fully-formed foetuses that actually look like humans. Which happens at around 16 weeks.

    The toughest case is third trimester. If you can argue that one, then you’ve thought hard about it. Which is the point of the exercise. As I’m for voluntary euthanasia and against capital punishment, I don’t have the out of calling born humans foetuses.

    To each their own, but I prefer to make it as hard on myself as possible to argue life/death decisions. Life is worth the consideration, and death most certainly is worth the extra hard work.

  115. Gates:

    The social issues are what are important to Briggs. As I see it, the establishment clause of first amendment keeps him from speaking plainly about it.

    Again, I can’t and shouldn’t speak for Briggs. I agree that social issues appear to be important to him. And, in fact, I enjoy reading his political posts because he is willing to support causes based on what he thinks is likely to lead to an acceptable social outcome (what some people refer to as “legislating morality,” but those people generally don’t realize that nearly all existing laws are based on moral judgements; e.g., the tax laws are based on who has a moral obligation to pay for government).

  116. Sylvain Allard

    July 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    “You’re arguing that your fantasy classroom has more reality than my life?”

    No I’m arguing that your personal experience is anecdotal i.e. limited in scope and not representative of the global picture. Yes there are bad and sometimes idiotic paper that comes out from University scientist like Briggs point out from time to time. Those studies are only a small part of all the good papers that are published. Most studies use very simple math, no p value, no regression.

    “It’s easier to just dismiss someone than actually think.”

    If I was dismissing you I would not take the half-hour or more of my time to answer you. At 45, I’ve held over 40 jobs in my life. I’ve been bullied at school and at work. I’ve got seriously hurt at work which caused PTSD 15 years ago. I still struggle with it today. I spend the majority of my time alone reading, watching the news. I fill the tax form for me and several people. I vote in most elections. What about you

    “Historical need for laws does not mean the situation exists now.”

    I’m anything but a Marxist and Marxism has not been a utopia which is why I disagree with Marx. The reason there has never been a revolution is that socialist laws were passed to better the condition of working people. Without does laws there would have been a revolution. These laws are the reason why people are not treated like slave today. In the 1830-1880s people were treated like slave by capitalist. Their working conditions were horrendous. They spent their time working and after a day’s work they could barely afford to eat and sleep. Even if the father, mother and children were working in the same household. This is what true Capitalism is like, hardly a utopia.

    It is really bad that people want to go back to the 1830s working condition.

    From what you write it seems that what you read and studied is one sided self-reinforcing. You seem to have never read a book that didn’t reinforced your point of view. The interpretation of the New Deal has not changed since the 1940s in any developed including the USA. Yes there are books that put it in questions, but these books have never represented mainstream thought about the effect and its scope.

  117. Sylvain Allard

    July 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    damn moderation.

  118. Sylvain: I wasn’t really talking global–only the US. However, I am quite aware of what goes on in the world and do have contact with those in other countries. I have also worked with those from other countries. Yes, it’s anecdotal, but no more than your classes are. Also, you seem to think I never read or take in anything but what happens in the US. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Held no where near the number of jobs you have–maybe 10. I by definition was bullied, but since I never bought into the idea that someone controlled my life, I don’t actually call it that. Sexually harrassed, too, thought again, never really considered that to be a problem. Never injured at work, but should have PTSD due to childhood. Again, did not buy into someone else messing up my life. Did not buy that PTSD was a disorder, but rather a normal response that keeps people safe. I do spend much time at home due to health problems and because that’s my job—I’m one of those “housewives” at the moment. I garden, mow my 2 acre lawn, work on the internet, etc. Always did my own taxes except under special circumstances like when my mother died and there was an estate. Should have done them then, too. Accountant was not good. Vote in all elections.

    You are looking at conditions over 100 years ago. Yes, we did need some labor laws, but labor laws are not socialism. No, your example is NOT what true capitalism is like. True capitalism is what happened during the Reagan years (which by the way, cost my husband and I both our jobs, but we did sit around and whine. We went and got new jobs.).

    Really, I have read plenty of books that tell me how bad things were. And they were bad at times. All systems are bad at times. Actually, the whole history of the US is being rewritten. Children are now taught that Columbus was a bad person. The second amendment has been abbreviated in some text books. Now there is an argument over a period in the Declaration of Independence (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/us/politics/a-period-is-questioned-in-the-declaration-of-independence.html?_r=0). So now they can claim the government was the save-all for the country–except it was in no way written as such. If you doubt that history can easily be rewritten, my mother was from the South and was very surprised to find out that in the North, people didn’t call the Civil War the “War of Northern Aggression.”
    (I could say the same thing about your reading—seems one-sided.)

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123353276749137485
    Not everyone sees the FDR years as a boon–If you look, you can probably find all kinds of such articles out there. It’s not an uncommon view.

    (If only we knew what tosses us into moderation….)

  119. Okay, this is probably going to have to end because so much keeps getting moderated. Sigh…….

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