Situational Values (a.k.a. Religion)

At the risk of further abusing a decayed and desiccated equestrian cadaver, I’ve had it up to here (crap—you can’t see my gestures through text. Bah, just imagine it) with the “contraceptive coverage violates my religious liberties” argument. Here’s the latest one, courtesy of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s twitter feed:

The Obamacare HHS mandate takes effect today that requires Americans to violate their religious beliefs to implement the president’s health care law. The mandate compels religious employers to pay for and refer women for abortion-causing drugs, birth control, contraception and sterilizations.”

Let’s ignore, for a moment, the absurdity of the notion of an “abortion-causing drug” and—oh nevermind, let’s not. This one’s so stupid, it needs its own paragraph. What is an abortion?

a·bor·tion   /əˈbɔrʃən/
noun
1. Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
2. any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

And contraception?

con·tra·cep·tion   /ˌkɒntrəˈsɛpʃən/
noun
the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control.

Abortion is an intervention, either surgical or medical (85% and 15%, respectively, per the CDC), to terminate a pregnancy. Contraception, by definition, cannot be abortion because abortion can only occur after impregnation. An abortion can be done, realistically, at any point in a woman’s pregnancy, all the way up to the final (ninth-ish) month of pregnancy, although third trimester abortions are exceedingly rare (91% occur in the first trimester, and most of that remaining 9% in the second). Contrast this with the notion of “abortion-causing drugs,” by which the author is presumably referring to ella, a “Plan C” pill that a woman can take up to five days after sex to prevent pregnancy (it also triggered a good deal of outrage in the wingnut lobby). It should be obvious—but apparently it isn’t—that swallowing a pill is radically different from undergoing an invasive surgical procedure. One cannot merely swallow a pill six months into her pregnancy and consider the whole ordeal over. The implication that these drugs are fundamentally equivalent to a surgical procedure is at best a gross misrepresentation of the facts (and is more likely a deliberate distortion intended to compel people with more emotion than sense to yell vociferously). Comparing abortion to contraception serves only to demonstrate an unwillingness to engage in rational discussion. It is a red herring, meant only for deception.

* * *

Okay, now that that’s done, here’s their argument: the government requiring Christians’ money to be spent on contraceptive healthcare for women is a violation of Christians’ religious liberties. (Sometimes there’s also an additional “it’s fine if women want to spend their own money on this, but I shouldn’t have to subsidize them.”) Since this is such a big deal to them, this argument presumably stems from those Ten Commandments that Christians value above all other rules, so let’s find the relevant commandment.

1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
5. Honor your father and your mother
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
10. You shall not covet

Um, okay, it’s not totally clear which commandment applies here. I guess they’d reason that number 6 is applicable to abortion (although I vehemently disagree), but I don’t see how this gives any sort of grounding for an objection to contraception, which by definition cannot be murder because it prevents the creation of human life. (Frankly, the suggestion that an implanted egg is human life worthy of all the same rights as an autonomous developed human is astounding and a bit perplexing. To say that a drug that causes it not to implant in a woman’s uterus might somehow be murder is outrageous.) To some anti-choicers, however, this reasoning must miss the mark because even contraception is seen as murder:

“Last year, the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the clear influence of Planned Parenthood, announced that it was defining the “preventive services” provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to include “all FDA approved contraceptives.” As AUL has repeatedly documented, adopting such a broad definition forces private health insurance plans to fully-cover, without a co-pay, life-ending drugs and devices, including ella, an abortion-inducing drug,” it said.

So if I follow this reasoning, because there’s a pill that you can take up to five days after having sex to prevent pregnancy, and because some devices prevent implantation, covering contraception is bad? So because money will be spent on contraception broadly, the healthcare law violates religious liberty, and religious liberty trumps individual liberty. Well, that’s interesting. I wonder what else we might want to apply this reasoning to…

How about that sixth commandment? Even if you view contraception as immoral, there can be little doubt that actual murder is worse. If you think that taking a hormone pill every day is a moral harm worse than—or even morally equivalent to—the deliberate ending of a live human being’s existence, you’ve simply become morally unhinged; your religion has blinded you to the consequences of your beliefs. It is consequences that determine are more important to determining the moral evaluation of any given action, so someone who adopts this stance is incapable of making moral judgments.

Birth control means no killing can occur because life isn’t involved,* but murder means that sentient life was ended by deliberate external intervention.

The natural consequence of this disparity is that every dollar spent on US military operations abroad contributes to a greater moral harm than incurred by the increased healthcare coverage in the Affordable Care Act. If the Christians who oppose contraception coverage want to exempt themselves from healthcare on moral grounds, they must also demand to exempt themselves from defense spending. Failing to do so is an admission that their moral values are inconsistent; it is an admission that they care more about a few dollars than they do about upholding their god’s sixth commandment.

But wait,” the pro-war anti-choicer might say, “some wars are just wars! The deaths happening overseas are a terrible tragedy, but they are necessary to prevent further harm!

Great, I’m glad we’re on the same page. If preventing greater harm is a priority for you, this means you value human life over adhering to your own religious tenets. The vast majority of people we’re fighting in the Middle East are not Christians, which means they do not hold themselves to your interpretation of the Ten Commandments. As far as I know, God’s list of rules does not include “go into foreign lands and prevent nonbelievers from murdering other nonbelievers.” This intervention is not the product of religious reasoning (although it may very well be justified post-hoc through Biblical references). Instead, it stems from a secular desire to see all people have equality and be free from oppression.

Altruistic military intervention, for all its good intentions, may be able to achieve morally good ends, but it costs a lot of money. Contraception, on the other hand, prevents future harm at next to no cost at all. Which is worth more, a few dollars, or human life? Only a sociopath would place a greater emphasis on the money. And guess what? That’s exactly what the anti-choice lobby is doing right now. These people are advocating for the wholesale repeal of the ACA (“Obamacare”), which would result in the denial of healthcare coverage to 33 million people as well as a reduction in coverage to everyone who doesn’t lose their healthcare policy as the result of the repeal. Due to the very real harm that this would cause, the only possible conclusion is that the crowd of people insisting “Obamacare must be repealed because it infringes on my religious liberty by mandating that everyone have access to coverage that includes optional contraceptive services” values their money over human well-being.

Supporting war is supporting murder. Supporting contraception is not. Furthermore, anyone who believes abortion is murder is morally compelled to support contraception, which prevents abortion by virtue of preventing pregnancy.

Pleas of religious liberty do not withstand scrutiny—this argument is over equality, not religious freedom. What opponents of the law want is not fairness but instead a special exemption that allows them to force their beliefs on other people. This isn’t even a fight between Christians and non-Christians! The majority of Christians support the contraception mandate (and within the most vocal group, Catholics, a full 98% of Catholic women admit to using or having used birth control), so this is a very small, disproportionately vocal minority fighting against everyone else. This selfishly short-sighted group is seeking to deny individual liberties to everyone else while simultaneously calling their efforts “religious freedom.” The argument makes me feel a bit like I’m living in the prequel novel to Nineteen Eighty-Four, watching as anti-choicers try to establish a Ministry of Freedom and implement the first version of Newspeak. “Religious freedom means giving up your right to choose things for yourself in order to please a minority people who follow a radical religion. You must support freedom by opposing freedom.

This must not be put up with. Freedom does not mean that you have a right to make my choices for me—this would be the antithesis of personal liberty.

The Congressional Republicans who repeat their Repeal Obamacare! mantra are not doing so in support of religious liberties for the common folk. Their priority is merely to score political points. In repeating it so consistently, however, they seem to be convincing some that the inclusion of contraceptive coverage is somehow a threat to everyone’s First Amendment rights. It isn’t. Indeed, the real threat to the First Amendment comes in the form of their advocating for a governmental policy that allows the denial of care to the majority based on the harmful extremist views of a minority. You couldn’t possibly find a better example of doublespeak in today’s political discourse—by denying your religious freedom, we are reinforcing everyone’s religious freedom. As long as you interpret “everyone’s religious freedom” as “the right of everyone else to follow my religion,” I guess this argument would be valid. I do not, however, see any reason to prefer that absurd interpretation. Apparently these Republicans do, but thankfully, the Constitution does not.

   

* Realistically, both sperm and eggs are life, so life is involved. Countless millions of these
instances of human life die naturally every day, but no one gets up in arms about that. I offer
this as evidence that people who view human embryos as "human life" hold a fundamentally flawed
interpretation of what "life" means.

As an afterthought, I have previously written on this subject. It's frustrating to see the same
bad arguments still floating around.
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13 responses to “Situational Values (a.k.a. Religion)

  1. I would like to point out that I know of no Christian who argues that preventing pregnancy is murder. Those who object to contraceptives object for different reasons. What they do say is that when a sperm cell and an ovum unite, they form a living organism. This organism is a human being because living thing reproduce after their own kind. If this new cell is not implanted in its mother’s womb, it dies. A drug that prevents implantation is thus different from a drug that prevents fertilization. But you already knew that. It is therefore wise to differentiate between both kinds of drugs. As yet, I have no problem with supporting the latter.

    That is where the religious freedom thing comes in. It is one thing to say that women can buy whatever type of contraceptives they wish but it is another to demand that their employers (who aren’t using these drugs) must provide them with it. The employers are not trying to make every woman stop using these contraceptives (at least not in this case, as far as I know). They are merely demanding that they not be forced to violate their moral values. If you don’t believe that Jews and Muslims should be forced to eat pork or Christians should be forced to make sacrifices to Caesar or anti-theists should be forced to venerate the virgin Mary or liberals should be forced to donate to crisis pregnancy centers etc. etc. then you should have no problem with that. After all, no woman has the right to have her employer buy her contraceptives. They pay her so she can buy her stuff herself.

    Another problem with your article is your definition of murder. you may define any word however you wish, but when you engage with Christians, it is advisable to be correct (in their view). As far as I can see from my Bible reading, not all killing is murder. The man who shoots and kills a robber breaking into his house is not a murderer, but the one who lies in wait for an innocent man and takes his life is. It’s an important distinction. That’s why the sixth commandment is more accurately translated “you must not murder” as opposed to “you must not kill”. That’s also why republicans can support war and oppose abortion. They believe that one can be justified and the other cannot. Perhaps the law defines ‘murder’ differently.

    I’ll read your other post.

    P.S. I like that your prompt says “Your feedback is welcome and encouraged”. It makes me feel like I’m doing you a huge favor whenever I comment. 🙂

  2. I would like to point out that I know of no Christian who argues that preventing pregnancy is murder.

    I believe you contradict yourself here (relevant section italic):

    A drug that prevents implantation is thus different from a drug that prevents fertilization. But you already knew that. It is therefore wise to differentiate between both kinds of drugs. As yet, I have no problem with supporting the latter.

    You have a problem with drugs that prevent implantation. Because pregnancy is the state of having an implanted fertilized egg, you seem to have a problem with preventing some pregnancies (specifically those that make it impossible for a fertilized egg to implant).

    They are merely demanding that they not be forced to violate their moral values.

    I guess I have two responses to this one:
    1) Tough shit. The US constitution demands equality under the law for all. That means it is not acceptable to receive a lesser protection because your employer belongs to a certain religion.
    2) This law does not require employers to pay for contraception, abortions, or any of that. This law requires that insurance companies provide a certain kind of coverage.

    I don’t believe people should be forced to act in contradiction of their religious values unless those religious values cause harm. If there is harm, those values must be violated. I do not accept a follower of an ancient Mayan religion’s argument that he should be permitted to offer the heartblood of virgin teenagers to quell the gods’ rage; I also do not accept the Catholic’s argument that he should be permitted to deny insurance coverage to his employee because the employee might use that insurance for birth control.

    That’s why the sixth commandment is more accurately translated “you must not murder” as opposed to “you must not kill”.

    This is an instance where I couldn’t care less about the translation. “Thou shalt not murder” is a far more moral pronouncement than “thou shalt not kill,” and I was talking specifically to the issue of the “murder” version. Drone strikes in Afghanistan murder people. You may argue that this murder is a moral act (and indeed, it probably is in some/many cases), but it is still murder.

    The man who shoots and kills a robber breaking into his house is not a murderer

    This is a distinction I cannot agree with. The man who shoots and kills a robber is a murderer. He may or may not be morally culpable for his murder, depending on the specific circumstances, but he has still committed murder–the deliberate killing of another person.

    That’s also why republicans can support war and oppose abortion. They believe that one can be justified and the other cannot. Perhaps the law defines ‘murder’ differently.

    I find this deeply hypocritical. Furthermore, if Republicans truly opposed abortion, they would support measures to prevent pregnancy. Seeking to deny both contraceptive care and abortion care means they don’t oppose abortion–they oppose women’s rights (most notably the right to control one’s own body). I don’t really feel like writing an angry Republican rant, so I’ll just stop here.

    P.S. I like that your prompt says “Your feedback is welcome and encouraged”. It makes me feel like I’m doing you a huge favor whenever I comment.

    I’m glad you enjoy it! In a way, you are doing me a favor because I enjoy having rational conversations about these things.

  3. 😡 What I am saying should be obvious. “I know of no Christian who argues that preventing fertilization is murder.” Or alternatively, “I know of no Christian who argues that preventing pregnancy is necessarily murder”

    “The US constitution demands equality under the law for all. That means it is not acceptable to receive a lesser protection because your employer belongs to a certain religion.”

    Then this law will violate the demands of the constitution. After all, if it only requires that insurance companies provide coverage for contraceptives, those employers who find this unacceptable will simply insure themselves and their employees won’t have coverage for contraceptives. The only way to solve this is to either demand that contraceptives be covered no matter what or stop requiring employers to provide health insurance. Both will provide this equality, but the present law won’t.

    ” I also do not accept the Catholic’s argument that he should be permitted to deny insurance coverage to his employee because the employee might use that insurance for birth control.”

    Because this causes harm? Employers do not cover groceries for their employees. Does this cause harm? People definitely need food more than they need ‘ella’ but your argument that employers must violate their conscience to provide contraceptives for their employees because refusing to do so causes harm means that employers must also buy groceries for their employees. While we’re at it, we can make them buy internet service too because I hear that that’s now a basic human right (or was it need?)

    No, employers do not harm their employees by refusing to provide contraceptives anymore than they harm them by refusing to provide food. They pay them a salary. They’re supposed to use that salary to buy what they need.

    As a fun experiment, imagine that in a parallel universe, President Obama declared that since everyone needs food and some people cannot afford it, employers must buy groceries for their employees. These groceries must include meat and Hindu and Vegetarian employers are not exempted. We must all be treated equally, after all. All this is, in fact, true in a possible world. 😀 (I’m sorry if you don’t find possible world semantics funny. I think they’re hilarious.)

    Sadly, the US constitution does not demand charity. If it did, my poor Hindu friends won’t have to do something they consider immoral.

  4. https://subjunctivemorality.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/moral-evaluations/
    Please consider this post my answer to the moral objection argument that Catholics and the like are making. In sum, the law is perfectly constitutional, and no undue imposition is made on religious sentiments.

    Because this causes harm?

    Yes, this causes harm. It does so morally by imposing the employer’s religious proclivities on the employee, financially by forcing the employee to pay significantly more money (and time) securing alternative insurance, and legally by needlessly elevating the rights of one religion over the rights of all others.

    Employers do not cover groceries for their employees.

    They most certainly do, just not through insurance. Employers must pay their employees, and this goes to food. This is a legal matter surrounding insurance, not physical goods.

    People definitely need food more than they need ‘ella’

    Red herring. That there may be differing levels of “need” does not render lower levels irrelevant.

    your argument that employers must violate their conscience to provide contraceptives for their employees

    Straw man. Employers do not provide contraceptives. See the post I linked at the beginning of this comment.

    They’re supposed to use that salary to buy what they need.

    Indeed. People need health care, so people need health insurance. That includes contraceptive care because adults in the free world have the right to decide exactly what to do with their own bodies. Banning a woman from having an abortion or from using contraception because your religion condemns these things is completely unacceptable.

    As to your “parallel universe” example, I would refer you to the ‘substantial burden’ test I reference in my linked post.

    Sadly, the US constitution does not demand charity. If it did, my poor Hindu friends won’t have to do something they consider immoral.

    I’m not sure what you mean by this.

  5. Perhaps you can clarify something for me. Employers provide food for their employees because they pay them money, which they then use to buy food. However, employees do not cover contraceptives (despite the fact that they pay their employees). Can you explain that? Don’t employers provide for health care in the same way they provide for food – by paying a salary?

    The comparison between health insurance and food was in response to your claim that employers harm their employees by refusing to provide them with health insurance. I reasoned that if employers harmed their employees by refusing to provide them with this good, they must harm them by refusing to provide them with the other.

    In response, you said that refusing to provide employees with health insurance harms them in three ways: ” It does so morally by imposing the employer’s religious proclivities on the employee, financially by forcing the employee to pay significantly more money (and time) securing alternative insurance, and legally by needlessly elevating the rights of one religion over the rights of all others.’

    But the same can be said for food. That the employer’s refusal to cover the costs in the same way as health care imposes the employer’s moral convictions (“I’m not spending my money on your stuff when I already pay you”) on the employee, forces the employee to spend more money and time buying their own food. Your third point makes little sense to me. What right of the employee is being trampled on? The right to have your employer buy you contraception? You’re being terribly unclear.

    Finally, you seem to be missing one point: The employer has no obligation to provide health insurance for his employees when he already pays them. The employee has no right to demand health insurance from his employer – he works for a salary. You act as if the employee has that right.

    Do tell me, what gives the employee the right to demand that her employer pay for her health care (especially contraception) directly? He pays for her food and other needs indirectly by paying her a wage. What right does she have to demand more?

    I’ll read your post when I get the time.

  6. I’m having one of those days so I cannot accurately judge the tone of my previous comment. Do notify and forgive me if you take issue with it.

  7. Sorry for the confusion. Buying a product (e.g., food) and buying an intangible service (e.g., insurance) are radically different actions. You’re completely right that an employer is required only to provide one thing from the former category: money. This money can be spent on anything, which may or may not include food. It’s not appropriate to compare the two categories directly because they’re not equivalent. Employers are obligated to provide a host of intangible services to their employees, however, such as a safe work environment, maternity leave, time off for illness, and so on. This list of intangibles includes health insurance.

    What I should have said was to ask you what the moral difference is between employer money that goes to the employee’s food (employer->paycheck->food) and employer money that goes to insurance, contraception, abortion, buying a new car, and so on.

    Finally, you seem to be missing one point: The employer has no obligation to provide health insurance for his employees when he already pays them. The employee has no right to demand health insurance from his employer – he works for a salary. You act as if the employee has that right.

    The ACA, a federal law, says that employers have the obligation to provide health insurance (if they have 50 or more employees), so employees working for such a company do have the right to demand it.

    Do tell me, what gives the employee the right to demand that her employer pay for her health care (especially contraception) directly?

    Nothing… but that’s not what the law does, so I don’t see the relevance of this question.

    ~

    From a legal standpoint, employers are required to include insurance on the list of intangible services they offer their employees. From a moral standpoint, what’s the difference between these things?
    1) money going to prevent pregnancy
    2) money going to make war
    3) money going to buy a Hummer H3
    4) money going to pay for a traffic fine
    5) money going to pay for a hotel room for a night of adultery

    Are they all moral evils? For the ones that are, how would you rank them in terms of severity? Would it be appropriate to establish a law forbidding any of these things?

  8. “What I should have said was to ask you what the moral difference is between employer money that goes to the employee’s food (employer->paycheck->food) and employer money that goes to insurance, contraception, abortion, buying a new car, and so on.”

    That’s an odd question. Did you mean to ask what the moral difference is between money that buys food and money that buys other things, or did you mean to ask for the difference between money that goes towards paying an employee (which the employee may use as he desires) and money that goes towards buying those things? I’ll respond to both.

    Employees usually work for pay – at least in a capitalist economy. An employee may decide to work for nothing (as in the case of a volunteer), but the majority do not. Prior to employment, the employer and prospective employee agree on a wage; a sum of money, goods, services, hell, even health insurance sometimes. When both parties have come to an agreement, the employee is obligated to work for his wage and the employer is obligated to give him his wage. I imagine that it works like this in most (if not all) scenarios. The key is that both parties agree.

    If the employee wants to work in exchange for meat, but the employer doesn’t support the eating of meat or doesn’t care to pay such a wage, they’ll probably have to part ways. This changes when the government declares that the employer must pay that wage. The prospective employee goes “Yay!”, the employer goes “booo!” and I go “Why?” because such an intrusion would be wicked if done without good reasons.

    From a moral standpoint, there is no difference if the employer pays money or provides goods because either of those things can constitute a valid wage. However, sometimes, paying for something wrong is wrong e.g. financially supporting a terrorist organization. I don’t think I really understood your question.

    On to your list.
    1. it is immoral to support a wrong action when there are other moral options which you know of or ought to know of. If using contraception is immoral, then it is immoral to knowingly purchase it for someone if you have other choices. However, if you simply pay the person’s wage, you are fulfilling your obligation and cannot be held responsible if the person does a wrong thing with it.
    2. Same as the above.
    3. Is there anything wrong with the car? If not, then you’re just buying goods. Nothing wrong done.
    4. The money is being used to fulfill an obligation. Carry on.
    5. If you are the one who rented the room, you are fulfilling an obligation. The owner of the hotel is entitled to his money regardless of what you did with the room.

    I know that 4 and 5 are obligatory actions and 3 is not wrong. The jury is still out on 1 and 2.

  9. Perhaps I should bypass the question I was trying to ask and address the motivation I had in asking it: I find it very strange that some take the stance that it is the employee’s right to spend their earnings exactly as they see fit without restriction while simultaneously holding that issues of healthcare and bodily integrity should not be so libertarian.

    The fact is that when the government is requiring that you spend money on something, that money is not “your money.” Just like when an employer pays an employee, that money ceases being the employer’s money; they can decide to spend it however they like. Similarly, the government can use taxed money for its own secular purposes. In this case, that money is being spent on healthcare, a very small percentage of which includes contraceptive services.

    This changes when the government declares that the employer must pay that wage. The prospective employee goes “Yay!”, the employer goes “booo!” and I go “Why?” because such an intrusion would be wicked if done without good reasons.

    I think you’re neglecting the possibility of governments setting wages too low. I’m not aware of any government that mandates specific wages for specific jobs, but I confess that, because I don’t live in such a country, I don’t have any real reason to investigate it. It seems silly to me. The US does have a minimum wage, but such a wage is hardly livable, so I don’t regard it as applicable to the situation you’ve laid out.

    However, sometimes, paying for something wrong is wrong e.g. financially supporting a terrorist organization.

    As usual, I apply a standard of harm/well-being here. Funding a terrorist organization is indeed wrong, but only because they use that money to hurt other people. (Of course, part of the definition of a “terrorist organization” is that it causes harm. In the absence of that, one might be an “extremist” group, but not a “terrorist” group.)

    I think this conversation is very nearly coming to a point where we’ll be talking in circles. I agree that it’s wrong to support a wrong thing when you have real alternatives that aren’t (as) wrong, but I cannot agree that contraception is wrong. That covers 1 and 2.

    There are some people who would argue that buying a Hummer is immoral because it results in significantly more greenhouse gases than other cars. Similarly, there are some who feel that traffic tickets are inherently immoral because the act of speeding doesn’t hurt anyone. I’ll make no attempt to defend either of these beliefs; I was merely curious how you thought about them.

    For the hotel room, I don’t see how that’s an obligatory action. One isn’t obligated to rent a hotel room to sleep around. If the purpose is expressly to cheat, I don’t think you can consider this the same as a traffic ticket.

  10. “I think you’re neglecting the possibility of governments setting wages too low. I’m not aware of any government that mandates specific wages for specific jobs, but I confess that, because I don’t live in such a country, I don’t have any real reason to investigate it. It seems silly to me. The US does have a minimum wage, but such a wage is hardly livable, so I don’t regard it as applicable to the situation you’ve laid out.”

    Actually, I was talking about the case in which an employee wants to work in exchange for meat and the employer doesn’t want to pay in meat and then the government decides that the employer must pay in meat. The government can do that, of course, but they should have good reasons for demanding that the Hindu employer violate his conscience. It does speak to this situation. Just replace meat with health insurance and Hindu with Catholic

    For the hotel room, I was writing with the assumption that the person had already used the room and was contemplating paying for it. Of course, you should pay it!

    “The fact is that when the government is requiring that you spend money on something, that money is not “your money.” Just like when an employer pays an employee, that money ceases being the employer’s money; they can decide to spend it however they like. Similarly, the government can use taxed money for its own secular purposes. In this case, that money is being spent on healthcare, a very small percentage of which includes contraceptive services.”

    That seems to depend on how you think of the government. Some people think that the government should be the servant of the people, not the other way around. And they think that they are not paying the government something the government is entitled to (like the employer gives his employee a wage). Rather, the government is taking their money to help them. If the government was entitled to the money, it would be free to do as it wishes with the money like the employee.

  11. For the hotel room, I was writing with the assumption that the person had already used the room and was contemplating paying for it. Of course, you should pay it!

    Ah! I’m used to paying in advance for hotel rooms, so I had the opposite presupposition. That’s kind of a funny difference. 🙂

    And they think that they are not paying the government something the government is entitled to (like the employer gives his employee a wage). Rather, the government is taking their money to help them. If the government was entitled to the money, it would be free to do as it wishes with the money like the employee.

    Well I certainly won’t be arguing against the idea of the government existing to serve its people. The difference is that I think it should serve all people equally whereas the Catholics are asking to have their employees exempted from the protection of the law based on the employer’s religion.

    As for the meat analogy, I really don’t think it applies. Employers can pay their employees in meat if that’s what the employee wants and the employer is willing to do so. Money as “legal tender” is just a way of normalizing the market; it doesn’t exclude other forms of tender, but everything else is purely opt-in. You can’t really substitute something tangible (meat) for something intangible (insurance coverage) and expect the analogy to hold.

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