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June 30, 2014

This One Weird Accounting Trick Made Everything Copacetic

...unless of course you're a Leftie pining for a righteous government smackdown of those womyn-hating, snake handling religious nutjobs:

At the heart of the majority’s opinion is this: The Department of Health and Human Services has already developed a way to exempt religious non-profit corporations—such as churches, charities, and hospitals—from the legal mandate to pay for employees’ contraception coverage. In what amounts to an accounting trick, they permit those corporations to purchase plans without such coverage, and then require that insurance companies themselves independently provide it to the uncovered employees. Because pregnancy is quite a bit more expensive than contraception, this apparently ends up not imposing any additional net cost on the insurers. The result is that employees of religious non-profits end up with no-copay contraception coverage, exactly as if the employer were required to provide it directly, but the employers are satisfied by this ledger shuffling that they aren’t being compelled to violate their most deeply held moral convictions.

The blog princess particularly enjoyed this:

If what you are fundamentally concerned about is whether women have access to no-copay contraception, then there’s no obvious reason to invest such deep significance in the precise accounting details of the mechanism by which it is provided. You might even be heartened by a ruling that so centrally turns on the premise that accommodation for religious objectors is required when no women will lack such coverage who would have enjoyed it under a mandate.

The outrage does make sense, of course, if what one fundamentally cares about—or at least, additionally cares about—is the symbolic speech act embedded in the compulsion itself. In other words, if the purpose of the mandate is not merely to achieve a certain practical result, but to declare the qualms of believers with religious objections so utterly underserving of respect that they may be forced to act against their convictions regardless of whether this makes any real difference to the outcome. And something like that does indeed seem to be lurking just beneath—if not at—the surface of many reactions. The ruling seems to provoke anger, not because it will result in women having to pay more for birth control (as it won’t), but at least in part because it fails to send the appropriate cultural signal. Or, at any rate, because it allows religious employers to continue sending the wrong cultural signal—disapproval of certain forms of contraception—when sending that signal does not impede the achievement of the government’s ends in any way.

So here's a bonus annoying question. If it violates an employer's religious convictions to indirectly provide so called "emergency" birth control methods by offering a blanket policy that covers those methods, why doesn't it violate their religious convictions to provide exactly the same policy, but pass the cost of the birth control coverage along to the insurer?

They're still providing a policy that provides female (but not male) employees with the objectionable birth control methods at no cost. Someone else will pay for that tiny part of the policy, though it's by no means clear that the price of the policy will change. And we're guessing that eventually, insurers will find some way to pass the administrative costs occasioned by the religious exception along to everyone. Including companies like Hobby Lobby.

There seems to be no legal way for religious employers to avoid offering a policy that covers these birth control methods. They're included regardless. The only way I see to avoid participating in the system is to refuse to offer any insurance at all. Which would trigger the fines referred to earlier.

In which case, aren't we back to square one? Or am I missing something?

Feel free to ensmarten me in the comments.

Posted by Cassandra at June 30, 2014 09:13 PM

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Comments

I can't speak for Hobby Lobby, but in the Catholic Church providing material support for an abortion (e.g., paying for one) is automatic excommunication. That's a pretty serious burden. Putting that burden on a non-Catholic third party may not improve the morality of the abortion, but at least it doesn't excommunicate anyone.

Posted by: Grim at June 30, 2014 10:41 PM

I'm not sure the "accounting trick" cited in the Cato article is a done deal. It is my understanding that there are lawsuits pending challenging the Obama administration "accommodation" and seeking a full exemption. I haven't paid a lot of attention lately but some of the points in this Volokh Conspiracy post seem to back up my understanding.

Posted by: Elise at June 30, 2014 11:04 PM

Well, even if this 'accounting trick' doesn't work out, the government can still just buy the stuff via taxpayer dollars if it really wants to do so. The government can make this happen if providing free birth control of every possible type, without exception, is a major national priority.

Are we still paying for the drugs in those cases? Not exactly; once the money has been seized at gunpoint, what gets done with it is not your fault.

Posted by: Grim at June 30, 2014 11:18 PM

I should have said, in keeping with Cass' point, "if providing free birth control for women of every possible type," etc.

Posted by: Grim at June 30, 2014 11:19 PM

My only comment is that it apparently works in DC. The Cato Institute is primarily a political DC based organization.

"Here's some political cover." In my experience, a board of directors, shareholders, and contributors don't operate on a DC basis. They tend to be a little more particular.

There is an underlying set of assumptions there.
1. It works here.
2. It should work there.
3. The font of money and wisdom resides here.
4. Money is fungible, it doesn't matter where it goes.

Posted by: Allen at June 30, 2014 11:57 PM

Elise, thanks so much for that link. It addresses pretty much all of the questions that were going around in my pea-brained noggin.

As I've said before, I'm still not sure I buy the Court's rejection of the "attenuation" argument. But *if* you reject it, it makes no sense to pretend that adding a few fig leaves constructed from bureaucratic BS changes the fact that the employer is - by signing the waiver - still actively participating in the very act they've said violates their religious faith. "But for" the signing of the waiver....

The employer's still in that attenuated chain.

So in my mind, the only logical outcome is that the accounting fiction gets struck down, too. Glad to hear it has already been challenged.

To Allen's earlier point (wanted to address this last night but had limited time), I do think it's possible to take these companies' religious scruples seriously and still find against them. FWIW, that's not what I want to happen. What I want is for this whole mess to be overturned on far more fundamental grounds that apply to *everyone* - it's impermissible under the Constitution for Congress to force individuals to buy a commercial good absent a truly COMPELLING (in all caps) national interest.

I take religious faith and matters of conscience very seriously and can easily see why even indirectly participating in a chain of events that results in the ending of a human life would feel like an intolerable violation of conscience.

Here's the problem: people who sincerely believe - because their religious faith teaches this - that war is evil/wrong/bad still have to support the Department of Defense. People who sincerely believe meeting force with force is evil/wrong/bad still have to support the police. And both institutions absolutely violate these people's religious scruples. We do allow conscientious objectors because here, the chain is direct. We won't ask a Quaker to pick up/fire a gun but we can and do ask them to pay for guns and far more indiscriminate weapons.

We've decided in these cases - repeatedly! - that the interests of the rest of the nation outweigh that individual's conscience AND their right to freely practice their religion. In the case of the Quaker woman, she faces heavy fines if she doesn't pay her taxes or pays less than she owes (imagine she deducts out 20% or whatever she reasonably claims goes to fund armed conflict). Isn't that also a substantial burden? It is, I think.

Now in this case, I completely agree that providing free birth control to women confers nothing like the benefits conferred on the nation by having a national defense or police on the streets. It's not really a "compelling interest" - it's a partisan PR stunt cloaked in demagoguery and appeals to emotion. And I completely agree that the government hasn't shown that they tried other, less intrusive means to this end (required by RFRA) first, and only came to the mandate because there was no other way.

I also agree that the government doesn't really respect anyone's faith, and were gobsmacked by the predictable backlash just as they're gobsmacked by pretty much everything that happens in a world that stubbornly refuses to conform to their theories and ideology.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 1, 2014 07:07 AM

I still do not understand why employers should have to pay for anyone's--male or female--birth control. Birth control does not address the restitution or maintenance of a normal human bodily function (that would be my working definition of health care), so should be an individual expense like all those other individual expenses based on personal choice e.g. haircuts,manicures, tattoos etc. I suppose there should be an exception for prostitutes, who by the nature of their employment are required to engage in fornication, but for everyone else, it's a choice, not a requirement.

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 1, 2014 09:09 AM

I can make a case that an employer would be smart to pay for birth control rather than to pay for actual birth (given the costs of maternity leave, not to mention just how expensive the whole pre-natal through childbirth thing is by itself). But the issue in the past has always been, they can't deny that kind of coverage or avoid the expense of maternity leave, compounded with the fact that individuals would pay for birth control out of their own pockets. So while it might be cheaper to pay for one over the other, it never was an either or proposition anyway.

Now, I object to the government intervening in this at all, save for those regulations which are necessary to prevent predatory behavior, but to the birth control provision for one very specific reason. Left to my own devices, I would choose a health care insurance plan that did NOT cover birth control. Why? I no longer need it. I'm fixed. So if I could have a plan that didn't cover it, then I could save money on the amount I pay monthly to carry the plan. But here comes the government telling my employer that they MUST offer it. No option for me to opt out, nope, I MUST have a plan with birth control coverage.

And here I thought I was supposed to have control over my "freedom of choice". I guess you do unless you make the "wrong" choice.

Posted by: MikeD at July 1, 2014 10:37 AM

I can make a case that an employer would be smart to pay for birth control rather than to pay for actual birth...

I can make a case that a wise public policy would be to encourage more childbirth and family formation among American citizens, rather than focusing on providing free contraception.

Posted by: Grim at July 1, 2014 10:48 AM

We've decided in these cases - repeatedly! - that the interests of the rest of the nation outweigh that individual's conscience AND their right to freely practice their religion.

I think the cases you cite were decided correctly. There is a compelling national interest and there appears to be no workable way to satisfy that interest without violating someone's religious beliefs. The Hobby Lobby case fails on both those criteria to my way of thinking and even if one accepts that paying for contraception coverage *is* a compelling national interest, it still fails on the second criterion.

I do agree that the Obama accommodation (the "accounting trick") doesn't really address the underlying issues - it's form rather than substance. However, I don't think there is any way to address the underlying issue while leaving Obamacare in place. I said when it was passed that if we had all sat down and tried to come up with the worst possible version of universal health care we would not have been able to top Obamacare.

Posted by: Elise at July 1, 2014 10:51 AM

I can make a case that a wise public policy would be to encourage more childbirth and family formation among American citizens, rather than focusing on providing free contraception.

I'm not actually talking about public policy, I'm talking about monetary cost/benefit to a particular company. Sure, they've got an interest in having a good society, but for their bottom line, the monetary cost of birth control is lower than childbirth.

Posted by: MikeD at July 1, 2014 11:40 AM

" can make a case that an employer would be smart to pay for birth control "

Yup. Agreed. It's the compulsion by government that I find objectionable. If a company wants to pay for tattoos, manicures and for that matter sex "Change" surgery--that's up to them. An entitlement, however, it's not.

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 1, 2014 12:17 PM

I still do not understand why employers should have to pay for anyone's--male or female--birth control. Birth control does not address the restitution or maintenance of a normal human bodily function (that would be my working definition of health care), so should be an individual expense like all those other individual expenses based on personal choice e.g. haircuts,manicures, tattoos etc. I suppose there should be an exception for prostitutes, who by the nature of their employment are required to engage in fornication, but for everyone else, it's a choice, not a requirement.

Capt. Mongo, I happen to agree with you but let me see if I can give you a good faith argument for providing birth control to women.

During their childbearing years, women face a number of challenges men simply don't have to deal with. If a man gets his wife (or any woman) pregnant, he *may* find that his salary doesn't go as far as it used to now that he has another mouth to feed.

But his *ability* to work is in no way impacted. No one expects men to stay home and watch the little ones. Men don't have to worry about pregnancy-related health issues that can keep them from working. I've had several friends who were on total bed rest for months of their pregnancies.

Even as a SAH wife and mom, I was acutely aware that during the 6 years between the birth of my first son and my second son's 3rd birthday (the very MINIMUM age I would ever have considered going back to work and placing him under someone else's care during the day), the simple biological reality of being female and the monthly fear of an unintended pregnancy were seldom out of my mind even for a moment.

It seems to me that few men truly understand what it's like to live with the constant knowledge that a single mistake - forgetting to take a pill, etc. - could seriously impair your ability to support yourself and any children you already have.

As a military wife who was dependent on her husband's income, this fear was with me all the time. If my husband died or became disabled, how would I support our children? We had insurance (a LOT of insurance), but that wasn't enough to allay that fear because like most people we knew, we also owned a home. And car loans.

I truly felt like a "dependent spouse". There was also the fear that my husband would be unhappy if I forgot to take a Pill and we had an unintended pregnancy. Having been married in college with no medical insurance and being (at least according to the fedgov) well below the poverty line for almost 3 years, we wanted to plan and space out our children.

All around us, other 1st Lieutenants were being forced to leave the Marines b/c they hadn't been augmented. It was a bad economy - we were in the middle of a recession and jobs were scarce. I was lucky b/c my husband worked hard to place at the top of his class, so he got a regular commission. But most of our friends had that knife hanging over their heads.

Keep in mind that we had decided he would work and I would keep the home fires burning. And yet, I worried constantly. So much so that once our second son was born, I had my tubes tied.

I got pregnant so easily that I simply could not imagine spending the next 25 years in constant worry and anxiety over the possibility of an unintended pregnancy. Again, this was a hard decision because I was very young (only 23) and I actually wanted more children.

For women, our ability to support ourselves and our families (and take home enough money to live on) is directly related to pregnancy and the number of small children we have. Men don't face the same problems - they really don't. And I have found most guys, having never experienced any of this firsthand, are a little too quick to dismiss what I view as a completely legitimate fear.

You don't have to be a single Mom to experience this anxiety. You only have to ask yourself, "What would I do if my husband couldn't work anymore?"

What if he lost his job? What if he were in an accident and (on top of everything else) I had to care for him 24/7? Think of all the wounded warriors out there - this isn't an illusory fear. How on earth would I be able to afford someone to care for him and the kids while I was working at a low wage job because I chose to have children before earning a degree and getting more work experience under my belt?

I think this accounts for a lot of the emotion in this debate, and frankly I understand it completely because even though I was lucky enough to be in a strong marriage with a supportive husband, I have felt it too.

I am not completely convinced that I even had to be in the same room with my husband (much less have sex) to conceive. The month we finally decided I should go off the Pill and try for Son #2, my husband was only home for one night.

That's all it took. Son #1 was conceived under quite similar circumstances, except we were actually using birth control. But it didn't work. After two statistically unlikely conceptions in a row, even *I* got the point :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 1, 2014 02:23 PM

I knew a Naval Petty Officer with two kids he said were Tupperware. Both were "rubber made".

Posted by: MikeD at July 1, 2014 03:37 PM

I never needed to worry about getting pregnant. I was using the one, sure-fire, 100% effective method. Now that I am married, I still don't use artificial bc. We are doing our best to follow Catholic teaching on that, and neither my husband nor I want me ingesting those chemicals (no risk of the possible side effects and no need to worry about getting off the pill when we think we can try to get pregnant). We are using natural family planning. People assume it is the old "rhythm method". They've learned a lot about female fertility in the past 100 years, with the modern sympto-thermal methods first being taught in the early 1970s. Funny, I don't ever recall being taught that as an option to help avoid pregnancy (all I ever knew was either abstinence or artificial bc). I doubt that has changed in current sex ed instruction in school. When used properly (just like any bc method), it is just as effect as those other methods. Using it just means we have to do a little work (remembering to take my temperature every morning before I get up and noting it so it can be charted) and we can't have sex any old time we might feel like it, so long as we are aiming to avoid getting pregnant. Charting can also reveal possible undetected health issues (such as thyroid problems). NFP is two sides of the coin: how to (naturally) avoid or achieve pregnancy. After taking the course (1 class a month for 3 months, for obvious reasons), it doesn't cost us anything. I don't have to put chemicals in my body that interfere with my hormones, it's "green" (nothing to throw away), and - for us - the bonus of the Church's teaching that we be "open to life". After almost a year of marriage (using this method from the start), I've not gotten pregnant. It's a little funny to me that "self-control" when it comes to sex doesn't seem to be mentioned in the "how not to get pregnant" debate. Regardless, I think people (men and women) should pay for their own method of bc if they are sexually active, not expect someone else to pay for it.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 1, 2014 03:37 PM

Here's the problem: people who sincerely believe - because their religious faith teaches this - that war is evil/wrong/bad still have to support the Department of Defense. People who sincerely believe meeting force with force is evil/wrong/bad still have to support the police. And both institutions absolutely violate these people's religious scruples. We do allow conscientious objectors because here, the chain is direct. We won't ask a Quaker to pick up/fire a gun but we can and do ask them to pay for guns and far more indiscriminate weapons...

Now in this case, I completely agree that providing free birth control to women confers nothing like the benefits conferred on the nation by having a national defense or police on the streets.

For that matter, making an anarchist pay any taxes at all for anything whatsoever may violate his conscience....

You've halfway answered your own question, but I'll add -- some kind of answer to the "police and military" (and court) function is necessary to the existence of the state -- I mean, a government that couldn't defend its borders or enforce its laws wouldn't be a government at all. So I think there's a difference in kind, not just degree, between this and "someone else paying for your birth control."

Posted by: Joseph W. at July 1, 2014 07:05 PM

(failed to italicize the paragraph beginning "now"...which is quoting Cassandra)

Ed. Note: fixed it for you :)

Posted by: Joseph W. at July 1, 2014 07:06 PM

As Ace commented today:

"Get your government out of my bedroom!"

"OK, let me just get my wallet."

"The wallet stays, bigot!"

Posted by: Texan99 at July 1, 2014 08:30 PM

...some kind of answer to the "police and military" (and court) function is necessary to the existence of the state -- I mean, a government that couldn't defend its borders or enforce its laws wouldn't be a government at all. So I think there's a difference in kind, not just degree, between this and "someone else paying for your birth control.

I would agree with that formulation. The point I was trying to make is that there are other rights that supercede individual religious liberty.

I knew a Naval Petty Officer with two kids he said were Tupperware. Both were "rubber made".

Heh :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 1, 2014 09:58 PM

If these fools really want the government out of their bedrooms, then they shouldn't be asking the government to pay for their birth control.

Aye, chihuahua :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 1, 2014 09:59 PM

"see if I can give you a good faith argument for providing birth control to women."

Cass: Roger the feelings; and I am not unsympathetic; however saying that women should have access to birth control--for all the cogent reasons you list--is not the same as the government forcing employers to provide it for free IMO. Yeah, I'm a man, so I can "Never understand". Still....

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 2, 2014 08:52 AM

I agree--providing birth control gratis wouldn't be high on my list of national funding priorities, but by the same token there is a long, long list of other things I'd cut from the budget first. It's not merely a question of whether birth control should be free. It's a question of whether employers should have to provide it. That's a notion that completely baffles me; we don't expect employers to provide food or housing for free, and surely those are more critical needs, as well as being almost equally predictable and regular.

It's also a question of whether even those employers who are inclined to provide routine medical services for free should be forced to provide what they consider to be tantamount to abortions. I'm not even sure an ordinary taxpayer should be forced to do that. As Joseph W. says, it's hard to imagine a national government without some kind of military, but the same argument can't be made for abortion or abortifacients or, frankly, any kind of publicly funded or publicly administered birth control.

I think the issue arises from the general fondness for income redistribution. People decide that a whole list of things are so essential to human existence that it would be criminal for society to stand by while some individuals can't afford to buy them. One solution is to redistribute the wealth so everyone can afford the basics. Politically, however, it's often easier to sell a taxpayer-funded program that provides the necessities for free. Unfortunately, that approach requires everyone to focus on what programs their tax dollars are subsidizing, and opens the door to arguments over whether the support is immoral, intolerable, or unconstitutional. It's even worse when the taxpayers shift the burden to some private institution like employers, because it's a lot harder for employers to tell themselves that they're not buying something they consider to be wrong. They can't distance themselves by paying the employee money and living with the knowledge that the employee is, of course, spending the money on whatever he judges right, regardless of whether the employer would agree--a task that most people deal with pretty well.

I think it's reasonable to draw a line between "taxpayer-funded (or employer-funded) benefits provided to individuals at no charge" and "money spent on activities of the national government that are intended to benefit the state as a whole, even if you have personal qualms about whether it's really a benefit."

Posted by: Texan99 at July 2, 2014 10:20 AM

"I think it's reasonable to draw a line between "taxpayer-funded (or employer-funded) benefits provided to individuals at no charge" and "money spent on activities of the national government that are intended to benefit the state as a whole, even if you have personal qualms about whether it's really a benefit."

Very reasonable indeed. Now if we can just get people to agree where to draw that particular line.... ;-)

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 2, 2014 12:38 PM

I'm just curious, what product(s) or service(s) would you consider ok for the government to force every citizen to purchase for themselves?

Posted by: DL Sly at July 2, 2014 02:22 PM

saying that women should have access to birth control--for all the cogent reasons you list--is not the same as the government forcing employers to provide it for free IMO. Yeah, I'm a man, so I can "Never understand". Still....

Yikes! I didn't express myself very tactfully, did I? :p

I'm sorry. What I should have said was that it's always hard to understand why certain things elicit strong emotion if you have never experienced them (and frankly, sometimes even when you have). Before I experienced being pregnant, I wouldn't have understood how it feels and I'm pretty sure I was female for at least 19 years before I got pregnant :p So it's more a case of not having had that particular experience than of being male. I didn't understand the stress of being a breadwinner that my husband has lived with all his adult life until my income grew enough to be a big part of our finances. In my mind, making sure we had enough to live on was not his job, but *our* job (however the actual breadwinning broke out by mutual decision). He saw it as "his job", though.

I tried to explain the dependency thing to my husband once and he said, "But you should know I will always take care of you and would never allow our family to be destitute". And I *did* know that. It surprised me, how vulnerable I felt simply b/c all of a sudden working wasn't an option held in reserve, because I had no expectation of reacting that way to being pregnant.

I completely agree with you that access to birth control free birth control. I think maybe the reason some women conflate them is that perhaps they think, "Without birth control, poor women are even more at risk of becoming dependet on others than they already are, so society should provide it for free." Of course to me, that sounds like "To avoid being dependent, you want to make women dependent??? Huh?" Needless to say, I don't agree that it should be free for anyone.

We were below the federal poverty level the first few years of our marriage, and not only did we pay for birth control from our own funds, we also paid for the delivery w/no insurance, and the pediatrician, and the doctors' visits needed to get an Rx when I was on the Pill.

It just wasn't a strain, and I'm pretty sure things were *more* expensive then, not less.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 2, 2014 02:38 PM

People decide that a whole list of things are so essential to human existence that it would be criminal for society to stand by while some individuals can't afford to buy them. One solution is to redistribute the wealth so everyone can afford the basics.

We have a lot of friends who are Democrats, and this is exactly what I've heard them argue. In their minds, the "cost" to individuals and societies of providing these things is fairly small, relative to the benefits.

In my estimation, the costs are higher than they think and the benefits are offset by significant harms in the form of moral hazard, disincentives, etc. But whenever someone wants X, they offer up the fictional Best Case where a Deserving Person Is Helped and No One is Harmed.

I see this tendency all the time, regardless of political leanings.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 2, 2014 02:42 PM

I'm just curious, what product(s) or service(s) would you consider ok for the government to force every citizen to purchase for themselves?

National security/defense.

Law enforcement.

Major infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.)

Courts.

All these things are funded through confiscated income in the form of taxes. I'd say that amounts to "forcing people to buy goods/services", though none is individually owned.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 2, 2014 02:45 PM

Which is why I specifically included for themselves. While I agree with your premise, that really wasn't the heart of my question.

Posted by: DL Sly at July 2, 2014 03:07 PM

But whenever someone wants X, they offer up the fictional Best Case where a Deserving Person Is Helped and No One is Harmed."

That is where Charity is supposed to come in. Not the government.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at July 2, 2014 04:06 PM

"Yikes! I didn't express myself very tactfully, did I? :p"

No umbrage taken here. I do (having been there) understand the stresses of a junior officer family.

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 3, 2014 08:58 AM

Which is why I specifically included for themselves. While I agree with your premise, that really wasn't the heart of my question.

Thanks for the clarification. I interpreted your comment as "for themselves... (and incidentally, also for others)" because I do think that regardless of whether people agree we need national defense, they still benefit from its existence.

I guess that's how I interpret the objection to subsidizing the military, for instance: "I don't believe we need a military in the first place, and I don't think I actually benefit from it".

Libertarians sometimes argue that we don't need X paid for from public funds, and then the argument branches off in two directions. The first goes something like this:

"I do understand that a lot of people might be worse off without X, but in my view the benefits of not publicly funding X outweigh the costs"

...which I sometimes disagree with, but which also seems like a reasonable argument in which we differ only on the cost/benefit calculation.

On the otter heiny, I have also see this form of the argument:

"If publicly-funded X were abolished tomorrow, we'd be no worse off because The Market would step in to provide X at lower cost."

Sometimes I agree with this line of argument, and sometimes I don't. It depends on what X is, and how likely I think it is that The Market would provide it better/more cheaply. It also depends on how much I value X in the first place, and how much I believe general availability of X benefits society.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 3, 2014 09:13 AM

I do (having been there) understand the stresses of a junior officer family.

You know what's funny? I remember those years as being such happy ones. The first year the Spousal Unit was in, we made about $11K. We thought we had won the freaking lottery.

The few other wives I knew in Basic School were complaining about how they were broke all the time (even on two incomes!), and how expensive uniform payments were even at the Exchange. We had no trouble getting them from the Marine Shop where they cost more, and we had one child and another on the way! And because I had a 2 year old at home, I didn't work.

I didn't mean to make it sound so fraught, because that's truly not how I remember it. I was just trying to step outside my way of thinking for a moment and explain how it might seem to someone else, who might feel the anxiety more and the excitement and sense of adventure less.

I hear a lot of that viewpoint coming from fairly affluent liberals who have never really experienced any serious personal privation. To some of them, doing without seems a terrible fate but if you haven't lived that way yourself, you don't understand the sense of joy and challenge that goes with the territory.

I think maybe that gives some progressives a very skewed view of what it's actually like to "struggle", as the Obamas like to describe what I always thought of as just plain life: work hard, plan for the future, try to get ahead and build some security for your family :p

Posted by: Cassandra at July 3, 2014 09:27 AM

"...but if you haven't lived that way yourself, you don't understand the sense of joy and challenge [and accomplishment] that goes with the territory."

You said a mouthful, sista! At one point in my early, very dark years, I was homeless. Just me and my dog. Digging myself out of that, by myself, was the greatest feeling I'd ever felt at the time. I still remember the pride I felt cashing my first paycheck after that. I walked down the street standing taller, head held higher, looking people straight in the eye instead of avoiding their gaze out of embarrassment. And it built inside of me a rock solid foundation that I count on every day - I know I can not only survive, but as MH's beloved Corps teaches, can also adapt and overcome.
Not too many of the privileged have such knowledge. They rely on their parent's money, influence and power to *fix* their problems, and they never get to gain the wisdom that comes from making bad decisions.

Posted by: DL Sly at July 3, 2014 11:29 AM

"I think maybe that gives some progressives a very skewed view of what it's actually like to "struggle", as the Obamas like to describe what I always thought of as just plain life: work hard, plan for the future, try to get ahead and build some security for your family :p"

Nailed it Cass. Have a happy--and safe-- 4th!

Posted by: Capt Mongo at July 3, 2014 01:16 PM

Observations:
- screw 'compelling' state (fed govt) interest. If a power was not expressly granted to fed govt by the constitution, then that power was expressly reserved to state govt or the People.
- miss ladybug is spot on in noting that human female cycles are indeed able to be closely tracked by diligent use of a simple thermometer. Same technique is also the primary 'go to' method to help couples seeking a child.
- hafta admit, I'm a little nonplussed by the heat of the argument over the cost of birth control, which modern medical technology & the free market has made kinda cheap. It's obviously not about the 'nickels & dimes.'

Princess' list of core (federal) functions is dead spot on.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at July 6, 2014 03:35 AM

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