Monday, March 5, 2012

Sorry You Took Offense - But We're Tired of Paying for Your Bad Behavior

On Twitter, I got sucked into a debate on the intersection of government mandates and religion which got started because I objected to the hypocrisy of advertisers dropping Rush Limbaugh while continue to sponsor left wing hate speech of Ed Schultz, et al. Somehow the requirement to force insurers to cover contraception, even if their customers, like Catholic institutions, objected, got equated to the use of "In God We Trust" on U.S. coinage which might offend some atheists. (I won't discuss my moral objections to FDR being on the dime.) This is why twitter isn't such a good platform for discussions of this nature.

First, the federal government is granted a monopoly on certain activities. Coining money is one of them. National defense is another. Defending the border would be a third, but don't get me started. The manner in which the government carries out its constitutionally mandated duties is bound to offend someone. Failure to use the traditional phrase, "In God We Trust" would offend far more people than its inclusion. I argue that the health care regulation by the federal government is not required constitutionally, is not wise and certainly did not have to be crafted in a manner more reminiscent of commissars used to producing five year plans.

Second, there is a constitutional test when the government intrudes on the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, called "compelling state interest." The rights enumerated in the first ten amendments to the Constitution are not unfettered. However, when the government intrudes on them, it must demonstrate that a compelling state interest in somehow restricting the right. In the most famous example, the compelling state interest of public safety restricts one's right to yell fire in a crowded movie theater. When one considers contraception, no such compelling state interest exists. Birth control is not terribly expensive in the first place and is a normal and expected expense. Including normal and expected expenses in insurance is a bad practice in the first place. Some of those arguments are repeated here:
  1. Insurance that covers known and expected expenses end up causing those services to be delivered at higher cost because of administrative expense and lack of price competition. This is true of contraception.
  2. Even though the goal of the bill was to reduce the cost of health care, mandating coverage of routine services drives up the cost.
  3. The purported goal of providing access to contraception is a smoke screen. Birth control isn't outlawed in the U.S. Poor women who can't afford it, aren't in employer sponsored health plans.
  4. It's unfair. The elderly, gay and infertile pay higher premiums. "Let's mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to "help" some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone."
As the above list shows, there is no compelling state interest in forcing individuals and institutions to violate their consciences by forcing them to pay for such coverage.

So, sorry, there is no moral equivalence between the mandate and "In God We Trust." Further, we will find that as government intrudes more and more in our personal economic choices, it will intrude more and more on our personal ethical and moral choices. Sandra Fluke's personal behavior, however ridiculous, was of no interest to me until she asked me to subsidize her dementia through my insurance premiums. Further, I'll bet big bucks that she is in favor of single payer, that is government paid, health care and would be in favor of the taxpayers subsidizing her "need" for birth control. Sorry, since I get stuck with the tab, I have the right to ask her not to have sexual relations outside of marriage. I didn't bring it up, she did.

I think this goes to the crux of why the benighted slobs of flyover country are in an uproar. We are tired of paying for the stupidity of other's bad behavior. Alcoholics get paid for life with SSDI. Government employees spike their pensions in the last year of employ. Illegal immigrants use the emergency rooms of our hospitals after dehydrating in the desert. In some cities, addicts are offered free needles. You might argue that there is some cost savings in that list, but we doubt it, because it only encourages the others. Meanwhile the people who work hard and pay their taxes are expected to shoulder the burden of people of whose behavior we disapprove. Given the chance to blow off some steam about the matter, a little bad language might slip out. So we're f***ing sorry if some leftys took offense, but we've been offended for a lot longer.

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