Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catholics, contraception and capitalism.

Lately, there has been a lot of debate about the recent decision by the Obama administration to require Catholic-based companies to offer contraceptive coverage in their employee healthcare plans.  This has, predictably, been extremely politicized and being pitched by conservatives and even a few liberals as a violation of the religious freedom of the Catholic church.  On the surface, it certainly appears to be a controversial move on the part of the Obama administration, to require a religion to seemingly go against it's own principles and provide a service it doesn't believe in to it's employees.  However, like all things debated during the 24-hour news cycle, there is a lot of misinformation and outright distortion over this issue and the culpability for this situation doesn't actually lie with the white house.

First, the claim that Catholic employers are being "forced" to provide contraception to their employees is not accurate.

They aren't being mandated to personally hand contraception to their employees, which would obviously violate the religious principles of the Catholic church.  Rather, they're being required to allow the inclusion of contraceptive coverage in their health plans - like every other private employer in America is required to do under the provisions of "Obamacare".  The difference here is pretty significant.  Nobody is "forcing" the Catholic church to give contraceptives to their employees.  The requirement isn't that the Catholic church has to provide contraception, only that contraceptive coverage must be a part of the healthcare plans they provide to their employees.  Put another way, any practicing Catholic who is employed by a Catholic business can choose to abide by the teachings of their faith and abstain from using contraception and no Catholic employer has to personally make any form of contraception available to their employees.  Thus, no actual violation of the teachings of the Catholic religion are being imposed upon any Catholic employer or employee.

The second issue with this decision is a problem that is unique to American Catholic businesses and has nothing to do with the current administration and everything to do with our capitalistic private healthcare industry.

See, the moral quandary that American Catholic businesses are facing is one that only American Catholic businesses have to deal with.  No other Catholic employer in any other country on the planet has to worry about being mandated to provide a healthcare plan to their employees that includes contraceptive coverage because no other country on the planet requires employers to provide healthcare coverage to their employees.

In every other country on Earth where the Catholic church runs businesses and hires employees, the government provides healthcare to it's people.  This means that the government is the agency who provides the contraceptive coverage - not the church.  However, because America is the only industrialized nation in the world that has a private healthcare system, the responsibility for providing healthcare falls on the employers instead.

This proves something very important about "Obamacare" - that it is NOT "government-run, socialized healthcare".  If it was, then the government would be providing the contraceptive coverage under the government's healthcare plan and the Catholic church would have nothing to do with it - just like they don't have anything to do with it anywhere else on Earth.  However, since "Obamacare" is NOT government-run, socialized healthcare, the responsibility for providing employee healthcare falls on the employer and therefore American Catholic businesses are faced with a unique and completely unnecessary moral dilemma.

Now, whether you agree with my first argument that the Catholic church itself isn't being forced to provide any contraceptive service that would violate it's teachings, there wouldn't be any issue at all if the Catholic church wasn't required to be the party that provides healthcare coverage to it's employees.

If we had true government-run healthcare available to every citizen, then the Catholic church could provide any level of healthcare coverage - or none at all - that it wanted to, because people who individually made the choice to seek out contraception would still have access to a healthcare plan that provided for it.  However, since we don't, the responsibility must fall upon the employers and that creates this situation that is being deliberately mischaracterized by conservatives as "Obama's war on religion".

Obviously, the issue of providing a "public option" of government-run healthcare to all Americans is a controversial one.  Many people fear the imminent socialist dystopia that would surely result if we, as a nation, took on the responsibility of making sure that all legal citizens had access to basic healthcare services.  America is the only industrialized nation on Earth where your access to healthcare is directly tied to your employment - if you lose your job, you lose your healthcare.  Now, those who support the current healthcare structure would argue that this is simply capitalism at work, fiscal and social Darwinism where those who desire adequate healthcare for themselves and their families will work hard enough to insure that they maintain gainful employment at a business that provides suitable health coverage to its employees, and those who are lazy or unwilling to do what it takes to have a career that provides this security are making the conscious and voluntary decision to go without these benefits.

Now, obviously, if you are one of the millions of Americans who works full-time for a business that doesn't provide an affordable, comprehensive healthcare plan, then you understand that all the hard work in the world won't grant you access to more affordable or higher quality healthcare at your present job.  In this economy, you also understand that simply walking away from that job and looking for something "better" isn't really an option.  There are many reasons why having access to a public healthcare option is beneficial to the majority of the American people.  However, this new controversy over Catholic businesses having to accept the fact that the healthcare coverage they were already providing to their employees must now include a provision to pay for any contraception that these employees may choose to use on their own, without any personal intervention or involvement by the church itself, may provide a unique argument for why a national, public healthcare option is actually in the best interests of employers.

Basically, the whole debate boils down to a couple of simple truths.

1.  The Catholic church is not being "forced" to provide contraception to anyone.  The change in law affects the services covered by their healthcare plans and forces no moral judgement call on the part of the employer whatsoever.

2.  This wouldn't even be an issue if America wasn't the only country on Earth that forces employers to provide healthcare to it's people, instead of assuming that responsibility at the government level.


  1. This is the argument to have. Great job. I enjoy how your mind works.

    Now, I have to be blunt. Because I was an English teacher and because I was a professional writer and editor. And because I read what you write every day.

    Did you not learn that "it's" is a contraction for "it is?" Yep. Every time.

    The other "its" is possessive like "his" or "hers." Really.

    You write too well for grammatical errors like that. It really does make a difference and is important.

  2. Hmm, I thought I caught all my "it's vs. its" errors in this one, mea culpa. :)

  3. Not one mention of whether the mandate is constitutional? Shouldn't that be the base at which the argument begins?? And by hiding behind the language of the mandate, you're dodging the reality of how the policy works. If the policy holder requests contraceptives, the insurance provides them at the expense of the employer. If you're my employee, no, I don't physically have to hand you condoms. I just have to physically pay for them once they're handed to you... or I go to jail. Tyranny - 1, Liberty - 0

  4. The mandate is constitutional, that's an argument that continues to be made but has yet to be proven, and frankly when the SCOTUS rules, I am confident they will agree. However, that is a separate argument, if the mandate is found to be unconstitutional, then it will be repealed for ALL employers, not just religious ones.

    "Hiding behind the language"? That's a terrible argument, especially when made right after a constitutionality point, which would, in itself, be "hiding behind language" given your own test. The language is what it is.

    Lastly, you don't have to pay for contraception, you have to pay for the POLICY that pays for contraception. If you, as an employer, don't like that, then perhaps you, as an employer, should revisit why America is the only country on Earth where there is no government option to take that moral dilemma off your hands for you?

  5. Please cite which Article, Section, Clause, or Ammendment that provides the President or Congress the authority to force private institutions to provide a good or service, regardless of how confident you are in SCOTUS, as they have a history of ruling against the constitution. And I wasn't citing it strictly for religious institutions but for ALL employers.

    Hiding behind the language of an unconstitutional law to deny the reality of employers or religious institutions having to pay for is not a terrible argument. What's terrible is your attempt to dismiss it so quickly.

    The reason I as an employer, cannot take that moral delima off my hands is because of the employer mandate, another unconstitutional law that requires me to carry health insurance. Oh wait, you were talking about the public option. I don't need to ask myself that. If America is indeed "the only country on Earth where there is no government option", it's because America is indeed the only country on Earth who doesn't want to destroy the pricing mechanism completely in the distribution of healthcare goods and services, and resort to rationing.

  6. Cite the article, section, clause or amendment that provides the president or congress the authority to force people to pay taxes? Now, after you don't find anything allowing forced taxation in the constitution, don't pay your taxes this year and see how that turns out. Better yet, ask Wesley Snipes. ;)

    Are you now saying that there is a "rationing" of health care services in other countries without a pure capitalist healthcare framework in place? Because my friends in Canada, Europe and Asia might disagree. :) Talk about terrible arguments...

    Besides, didn't this already get resolved? The White House proposed an exemption that completely frees the Catholic church or any other religious organization from obligation to provide contraceptives and puts it on the insurer instead. Case closed for everyone except the conservatives, who are now going to try to fight to get contraceptive coverage eliminated for all employers entirely, because we all know it was never about the church in the first place, it's always about taking whatever side is opposed to Obama, which is what makes the conservative argument about ANYTHING having to do with executive policy completely worthless.

  7. 1. By failing to cite the answer to my question, it is presumed your answer is, "It is not in the Constitution, therefore it is unconstitutional."

    2. Now to answer YOUR question: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1, "Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes..." Maybe you should try reading the Constitution instead of trying to insert Wesley Snipes jokes.

    3. Yes.. it did get resolved... because it's unconstitutional.

    4. If your argument against a purely capitalistic healthcare "framework" is because you have friends in other countries, well I have MORE friends in other countries who are smarter than YOUR friends. Talk about terrible arguments.

    5. Lastly, if you want to take an emotional argument about republicans and what "they care about", you're talking to the wrong person. I don't rubber stamp anything a republican does or says.

    6. I think you owe it to everyone who has donated money to this site to give them their money back.

  8. 1. Create whatever response you want to hear in order to make your own argument to yourself, it doesn't matter to me, I'm not doing this for your own personal benefit. :)

    2. You keep having a theoretical constitutionality argument over a decision that has not been made and all I keep thinking is, why do conservatives hate the idea of providing healthcare to people who have no other means of getting it so badly?

    3. It got resolved in a manner that doesn't speak to the constitutionality of the healthcare law itself in any way, so... ?

    4. My argument against a purely capitalistic healthcare framework is based on THIS country and our dismal rankings in both coverage and cost per capita. I gotta say though, it's worth it just to see you use a "my friends are better than your friends" comeback and then call MY arguments terrible. ;)

    5. You don't? Nothing you have said so far leads me to believe that's true for a second. I am willing to accept evidence to the contrary, however. :)

    6. So now you're a socialist, redistributing my wealth as you see fit? That's the good old conservative hypocrisy I like to see!

  9. It is obvious you don't understand Capitalism by stating this country runs on purely Capitalistic healthcare, which it does not, and has not for 60 years.

    Socialism is governmental ownership of scarce resources as opposed to Capitalism, private ownership of scarce resources. Asking a private individual to give back all his donations to the other private individuals who have been duped into thinking he has any clue what he's talking about has nothing to do with governmental ownership of scarce resources. You have shown you don't understand Socialism either. In fact, it's probably safe to say you don't understand anything about economics in the same sense you don't understand anything about the Constitution.

    I would be happy to shift this debate to a market based healthcare system as opposed to a central planned healthcare system, but judging by the fact that I absolutely destroyed you in the Constitutional argument, and your refusal to acknowledge this, and actually try learning from someone who is obviously more educated than yourself, I feel it would be a complete waste of my time. However, if you show me you are open to learning, I may be willing to continue this conversation. I'll check back periodically and respond if necessary.

  10. The only thing that's not understood here is basic reading comprehension by yourself. I can't have a debate with you when you keep telling me what I'm saying, assuming you know what I'm saying and then dismissing everything else. I'm glad you feel so smug and superior, I'm sure you can wrap that around you like a blanket and keep warm at night with it. Have fun destroying people in internet arguments, I'm going to just keep doing what I do and lose literally no sleep wondering if my points will be strong enough to sway the mighty "anonymous" guy who is posting on MY blog. :)

  11. I dismiss everything??????

    Me: Please cite the constitution
    You: No Answer

    Me: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 (Tax clause)
    You: That's a "theoretical argument"

    Me: We haven't had a purely capitalistic healthcare system for 60 years
    You: No Answer

    Me: Socialism is a governmental ownership of scarce resources.
    You: No answer

    You're last post has nothing to do with anything other than personal attacks against me, which is always a means of last resort, and the reality is you can't debate me because you have no substance to your arguments. You're frustration in the fact that i'm anonymous, which makes it harder to create personal attacks against me, is because I don't have any of the other available accounts to post. You can call me Brian, though.