Assorted links

by on July 1, 2014 at 12:11 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Bryan Caplan on private sector vs. public sector workers: “Last month, I read most of the academic literature on this topic.  The more I read, the more confused I became.  As far as I could tell, researchers reached a clear answer: federal employees really are paid more than equivalent workers in the private sector.”

2. Slate on Srugim.

3. Megan on Hobby Lobby, on the mark.  The current discussion of this issue is chockful of mood affiliation.

4. Why don’t we have more telecommuting?  And Airbnb and the evolution of trust.

5. The earlier baby boom for Southwest native Americans.

Willitts July 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

3. Too polite a reaction to the din of leftist hysteria surrounding this limited and reasonable ruling. Nothing has been taken away.

“Access” now means “other people paying.”

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NathanP July 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

It’s as if they think they’ve been banned from purchasing these things privately.

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RG July 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

If access were so important, maybe they’d work to make it over the counter.

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NathanP July 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

But that means they have to pay for it out of their own pocket.

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Careless July 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

And we’re mostly talking about morning after pills, which are OTC

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libert July 1, 2014 at 8:32 pm

That’s fair. I think the far more troubling issue is more that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent. The ruling suggests that anyone may now exempt himself from whatever law he sees fit, so long as they cite religious objections. In fact, the court decided that such an objection need not be based in fact, so long as the criminal claims that he sincerely holds the belief.

For the same reasons, it also violates legal precedent: in Employment Division v. Smith, the court ruled that the state has no responsibility to tolerate illegal behavior justified by religious belief. But then again, the “religious beliefs” in that case weren’t Christian.

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Cliff July 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

You completely misunderstand the case. Try reading the short summary on volokh

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libert July 2, 2014 at 12:07 am

Actually, my opinion has been influenced by Volokh. For example, see this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/07/01/is-rfra-unconstitutional/ and this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/06/30/the-religious-freedom-restoration-act-and-complicity-in-sin/

To be clear, I think the contraception mandate is bad policy, but I don’t see any reason why it could be considered unconstitutional.

Anyway, I understand how the court ruled, and how it they claim it is restricted to contraception and to “closely held” corporations. But the precedent is clear. Given the judicial history of campaign finance, do you really think that activist judges will restrict themselves to only leveraging the precedent that they didn’t fabricate themselves? Again, I don’t think that loose campaign finance laws are bad policy, but the judicial process that led to them is very troubling.

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The Lunatic July 2, 2014 at 7:35 am

You apparently didn’t read either Volokh very closely, because you’re under the completely wrong impression that the Hobby Lobby case ruling was a matter of finding the contraception mandate unconstitutional.

Careless July 3, 2014 at 9:25 am

EV weeps to have such readers

Kitty_T July 2, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Uh, the legal precedent that you believe was violated (that religious belief and practice does not exempt people from obeying laws of general applicability) was affirmatively overturned when Congress nearly unanimously passed the RFRA, which was the statute under consideration in Hobby Lobby.

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Dick King July 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I would take the left’s apoplexy over cost sharing of women’s contraceptives if ACA covered men’s contraceptives.

From the horse’s mouth: https://www.healthcare.gov/what-are-my-birth-control-benefits/ .

-dk

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Art Deco July 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Women have options; men have obligations.

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Dbltap July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I would take the apoplexy seriously if trivial little things like antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs were considered as important as IUDs.

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Boonton July 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Men’s contraceptives? If someone invents a male pill I see no provision in the ACA that wouldn’t require it covered.

Are you saying condoms are ‘male contraceptives’? Hows that again? They aren’t covered whether men or women are the ones buying them.

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Joshua Lyle July 3, 2014 at 9:43 am

Boonton,
you should at least acknowledge that female sterilization is covered and male sterilization is not, as is quite clear from the link. Both are surgical procedures, although the later is usually less invasive and has an easier recovery. I’m not saying that it’s a particularly significant policy issue, but please be informed.

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I have no idea why you people think “mood affiliation” is such a knock-down name to call your opponents, but whatever. Please clarify: why is Hobby Lobby entitled to government subsidies to provide “health insurance” that doesn’t meet the standard of actually insuring its employees’ health? I really don’t get why libertarians believe that Hobby Lobby is entitled to those subsidies. Is it because the owners subscribe to a particular religion? That’s a strange argument for a libertarian to make.

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The Anti-Gnostic July 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm

What subsidies?

What do birth control pills have to do with “health?”

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm
The Anti-Gnostic July 1, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Corporations collect taxes; the benefit of the tax break goes to the employee.

The second link is the one which actually demonstrates a subsidy.

I can tell already you’re about to blow a gasket on this First World, middle-class problem so I’ll leave things here.

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Ah, so the compensation actually belongs to the employee? Then how does it impinge on the religious conscience of the corporation and its owners? Should they also be empowered to prevent the employee from spending money on a statue of Satan to worship?

Hobby Lobby’s entire case rests on the fact that the tax break does not go to the employee, so thank you for gutting it on this website.

As for this being a “middle class problem,” as the poster below who points out the expense of IUDs reminds us, that is not the case (though of course one shouldn’t expect libertarians to know anything about the poor).

Z July 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

It is a pity he does not literally explode. At least the Muslims have the decency to blow themselves up. Our fanatical lunatics stick around.

Finch July 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

> Corporations collect taxes; the benefit of the tax break goes to the employee.

It’s split between the corporation and the employee. Economically, it allows the corporation to pay less as well as allowing the employee to take home more. How exactly the split is made is a function of the marginal demand for the labor and the marginal propensity to supply it. There’s a whole study of pass-through rates for things like taxes and other costs.

But otherwise I’m on the “this never should have been in a mandate” side of things.

derek July 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm

It keeps people like Marshall exercised.

Why should Obama be carved into Mount Rushmore? He fought tooth and nail to force people who disagreed to buy four contraceptives. The dozen or more they already buy wasn’t enough.

RG July 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

And condoms help prevent STDs, yet they weren’t covered. Men? How do they work?

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Cliff July 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

+1

Marshall July 2, 2014 at 9:48 am

You know what else? Fathers don’t get a say about whether women do or don’t choose to give birth, but they still have to pay child support! Unfair!

Go back to Reddit.

Craig July 1, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Some women take the Pill to moderate the pain of menstrual cycles so they can actually hold a job instead of being completely incapacitated one week every month.

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George July 1, 2014 at 10:16 pm

You realize this case wasn’t about The Pill right? Hobby Lobby doesn’t care about normal birth control, just morning-after pills and IUDs.

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prior_approval July 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Corporations have a soul – a true revelation, and a path to salvation for the individual. As noted in the opinion – ‘…the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees. Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them.’ http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

The ‘free exercise rights of corporations’ is the sort of article of faith which makes America so exceptional. In the rest of the world, corporation are considered mere creations of legal fiction, unlike in the U.S., where the law of the land grants corporations rights derived from the “penumbras” and “emanations” of other constitutional protections – such as the right of free exercise.

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Mark Thorson July 1, 2014 at 1:10 pm

The next important milestone in the establishment of corporate rights will be the recognition that the Thirteenth Amendment applies to corporations. Management has the right to emancipation from shareholders. Free the corporations!

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Alan Gunn July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

You have this exactly backward. A corporation is a legal fiction, so it has no rights. The law (in this case) therefore ignores the corporation and says that the people who really own the business are entitled to an exemption because of their religious beliefs. If the business had been a sole proprietorship or a partnership. this would have been plain. the court simply says that the result shouldn’t change because the form of the entity is a corporation. It’s really a trivial case, because it doesn’t apply to publicly held corporations. And anyway, the right in question is granted by a Federal statute, so if Congress disagrees it can change the law. The Supreme Court held years ago that the right of free exercise does not give people exemptions from laws. It is only a statute that created the “right” in this case. Nothing to do with “penumbras,” “emanations,” or “free exercise.”

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prior_approval July 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

‘The law (in this case) therefore ignores the corporation’

Well, if it wasn’t for this exact citation from the opinion – ‘Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations’ (which admittedly goes on to explain that by protecting corporate rights, individual rights are also protected). Nonetheless, corporations are given ‘free exercise rights,’ and are in no way ignored.

‘the court simply says that the result shouldn’t change because the form of the entity is a corporation.’

Wait, first you say the opinion ignores corporations, and now the crux is that the entity is a corporation?

‘It’s really a trivial case, because it doesn’t apply to publicly held corporations.’

The thing about those penumbras and emanations, as any conservativgve can tell you, is they don’t stop, because once an activist court goes looking for a way to get what it wants, it opens the door wide to further changes. Start with a right to privacy in a case like Griswold v. Connecticut (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griswold_v._Connecticut), and see where you end up just a decade later – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

Something I am fairly confident that five Catholic justices have heard occasionally mentioned at Mass.

‘“or free exercise.”’

Alito disagrees – ‘Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations…’ is what he wrote, after all.

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Alan Gunn July 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

You are taking quotes out of context. Do you really not understand that this is not a First Amendment case? That the Court (opinion by a Catholic Justice) held in Employment Division v. Smith that the First Amendment free exercise clause does not give people who object to a law on religious grounds an exemption from that law.? That Congress then responded by passing, almost unanimously, a law giving people this right (under some circumstances), a law that President Clinton then signed? It was the government in Hobby Lobby that wanted to make corporate personage essential (i.e. “the crux,” as you put it, by saying that a business organized as a partnership or sole proprietorship could have an exemption, but one organized as a corporation could not? The Court just interpreted the law as saying that the form of organization doesn’t matter (so long as ownership is not widely held). Seems sensible enough to me.

I don’t like exemptions for religious people either: But our quarrel is with Congress, which could have rejected this law but didn’t.

Cliff July 1, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Alan is exactly right. You completely misunderstand the case. Why bother to comment on something you plainly do not understand?

Urstoff July 2, 2014 at 11:32 am

Posting about things he understood would be out of character.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

“The law (in this case) therefore ignores the corporation and says that the people who really own the business are entitled to an exemption because of their religious beliefs.”

But aren’t the people who “really own” the business the bondholders?

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Finch July 1, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Not unless there’s a default. Bondholders are very clearly not owners. Equity holders are owners.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Maybe but I used to have a boss who liked to always say “Bondholders are the real owners.” He would say it and then he would whistle. I don’t know why. We worked at a carnival.

Finch July 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I am pleased to know there is such a thing as carnival bonds.

And, I don’t know you from Adam so forgive me, but I respect you a little more for having worked at a carnival.

Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

A corporation is a legal fiction, so it has no rights.

Great. When we take over, The New York Times Company is history.

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Kitty_T July 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Yeah, silly newspapers thinking they get protection under the 1st Amendment….

Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:06 pm

The Court was simply ruling that closely held firms deserved the same legal treatment as sole proprietors and partnerships. This ruling has no effect on widely held public corporations. This ruling guarantees the free exercise of religious rights of a small group of easily identifiable property owners.

Recall that before this year, none of the employees of the affected firms had these benefits. Nothing was taken away from these employees except popping the thought bubble of an empty promise. No budgets were hurt in the making of this decision. And let’s not forget that insurance companies would have repriced premiums to pay for the expected/guaranteed payouts.

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prior_approval July 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

‘This ruling guarantees the free exercise of religious rights of a small group of easily identifiable property owners.’

The joke almost writes itself – a Muslim, a Catholic, and a Hindu walk into the court to have the court decide whose free exercise rights, as represented by their closely held corporation, are the only ones that need to be considered when choosing what appears on their corporation’s cafeteria menu.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm

They own the corporation, they haggle amongst themselves. This is not that difficult.

Willitts July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

This is about a government mandate, NOT about squabbling over corporate control.

lxm July 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I’m not quite sure why Hobby Lobby’s hypocrisy is not more widely noted.

They sell tons and tons of stuff made in China. In China abortion is legal and is in fact the law of the land. Therefore, Hobby Lobby is supporting China’s abortion policies by buying from Chinese companies. But they are able to close their eyes to this fact.

So why is buying stuff from China which supports China’s abortion policies different from providing some birth control devices to its employees? Obviously, Hobby Lobby can make money from selling Chinese goods, but is afraid that it will cost it money to provide free birth control to its female employees.

So this is what Christianity stands for?

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libert July 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm
Cyrus July 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Because, company includes passive index funds among employees’ 401k investment choices, wouldn’t nearly have been the clickbait.

libert July 2, 2014 at 12:16 am

Do you see any inconsistency in the fact that the company offers, as part of its compensation package, funding for contraception in one case (401ks) but not another (healthcare)? If the latter’s refusal is due to religious conviction, why is the former any different?

Cyrus July 2, 2014 at 7:00 am

Of course there is inconsistency. The categorical imperative is a myth, and real moral decision making usually involves weighing competing, context-sensitive claims against one another.

Assertions like: Your boycott is insincere unless you also divest from the secondary securities market, amount to a cheap debate tactic. It moves the standard of proof to an impossible place.

And making a distinction between boycott and divestment isn’t even arbitrary. In theory and practice, boycott is at least marginally effective, while divestment is on average pointless and sometimes counterproductive.

Hasdrubal July 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm

So… Hobby Lobby is allowing their employees to choose how to invest their money even if it might not be the same choices the owners of Hobby Lobby would have made?

Doesn’t this actually undermine the “They took our pills!” hysteria? Hobby Lobby isn’t preventing anyone from doing anything, they’re just not spending their own money on certain things.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

We aren’t really buying stuff from the Chinese government. And even if we are, they are their fault, they aren’t our fault.

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lxm July 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm

And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

andrew' July 2, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I cant tell if you are makink fun. But Go read the volokh link.

Where people draw the line is the thing and they get to decide.

Ad Nauseum July 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

That’s akin to saying that if Hobby Lobby hires a woman who has taken morning after pills, and will do it again if need be, they are being hypocritical. Or if a Mormon who does not drink alcohol, gets his car fixed by an atheist who is a known alcoholic, that is hypocrisy. Do you see the flaw in that logic?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Take all my government subsidies…PLEASE!

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Marshall, just because you don’t understand “mood affiliation” doesn’t make us opponents and doesn’t mean you need to get mad.

It is nearly unanimous among economists that the employer-insurance complex is…to put it in bottom line terms… is not a net subsidy.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I like everything about the concept of “mood affiliation” except the name. But it has that vaguely misleading quality of other powerful economics concepts like “moral hazard” and the like, so we are likely stuck with it.

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Richard July 1, 2014 at 1:42 pm

The problem with “mood affiliation” is that “mood” suggests a transient feeling, not a reliable tendency to react emotionally in a certain political direction. A person can have opposite moods over the course of one day, but she will almost never have opposite mood affiliations.

But hey, I use the term “rent-seeking” all the time, even though the term “rent” makes no sense to me there.

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Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm

The meaning of rent has changed over the years and has different meanings in different contexts. Other examples include investment, capital, unemployment, corn, innovation.

Mood Affiiation is so frequently used here that it deserves a linked icon on the right hand side of the page. Unless you were around this blog when it was first discussed (I wasnt), it is insider jargon that you dont really grasp. Hence, the definition appears to change. I dont think the definition is dispositive of transitory moods.

Ideology spans multiple dimensions of preferences. For example, a union iron worker who votes consistently Democrat might be for a strong military, for gun rights, and against gay marriage.

In another sense, the opinions of thinking people can change in the course of one day of inquiry and listening to other opinions. Ive seen several people soften their opinions on the Court decision since yesterday.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Mood affiliation initially bothered me for the same reason, but then I decided maybe the point was that, while we all have a wide range of changing (competing?) moods, we affiliate (or anchor) our core identities — or at least our political identities — more with some than others. Most people feel “outrage” from time to time, but only some affiliate “outrage” with their political beliefs. Most people also feel “judgemental” from time to time, while only a smaller set of people affiliate their “judgemental moods” with their political identities.

Richard July 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

“The meaning of rent has changed over the years and has different meanings in different contexts. Other examples include investment, capital, unemployment, corn, innovation.”

Wow Willitts, that’s so profound! And it totally refutes my observation that “rent-seeking” is a confusing term!

“Ideology spans multiple dimensions of preferences.”

So deep!

nl7 July 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

“Mood affiliation” basically means that the argument or policy serves some emotional need (signaling sympathy with some cultural or ethical value) rather than serving some more substantive purpose. In this case, it means the debate is mainly used as an excuse to complain about sexism, corporations, abortion, welfare, or whatever. But this is a relatively marginal issue, whether you’re using it to complain about “misogynist policymakers” or “welfare-loving moochers.”

There are certainly other areas of public policy or social custom that have far greater impact on whatever one’s pet cause is. But this is topical, so it’s as good a reason as any to unload and let your tribal flag fly.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

It’s like taking “zeitgeist” and cutting it with a chain saw right down the middle of the median voter.

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Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Very well put.

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Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Well said. At first, one of the most confusing things to me is that this is, in fact, such a marginal case. The financial impact is small on the “losers”, and the legal arguments are pretty much slam dunk against the admin. But, more and more, I’m coming to believe that this administrations primary aim is to Troll the right, in an attempt to permanently move the voting base left. From immigration, to this decision, gun control, Citizen’s United, Fast and Furious, voter ID laws… There’s really very little other way to understand so many of the odd positions they’re taking, very extreme, but very minor at the same time.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Electing a new people is doubtless a long-term Democratic Party goal. As for the rest, wagers they have no conception that these views are out of the ordinary or have any contrary arguments against them. Has the President ever given you the impression of someone who could prosper during an unscripted point-counterpoint?

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CKB July 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

I think the “mood affiliation” bit is where
–five conservative Christians
–decide that other conservative Christians get a “religious liberty” card
–that only applies to one pet issue,
–because FREEDOM,
–but other religions can go pound sand because their beliefs about transfusions or vaccinations are absurd* and obviously don’t fall under “religious liberty,”

and Libertarians are dancing in the streets over this because, hey, a win’s a win, and the hippies got SCHOOLED.

(*”Absurd” here means “not part of Antonin Scalia’s personal religious creed.”)

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Finch July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I think you meant to critique libertarians here, but if so, it’s an odd critique. They argued for a long time that nobody should be mandated to buy any specific health insurance. Did you miss that?

Perhaps you meant to argue that the problem with this decision is that it’s too narrow, in which case I misunderstood your comment and apologize. I don’t like that only religions get the exemption.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Yes, I’d like to not have to buy things other than contraception, like, yeah, everything. But if someone, somewhere who really really really hates having to buy contraception doesn’t have to, I’ll take it.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 2:06 pm

The law was passed by a Democratic congress with all the big Liberal names written all over it. The court decided that the HHS regulation, not legislation transgressed the law.

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Wonks Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

The decision was written by Alito, who had a track record of broadening religious exemptions (including for non-Christians) ever before he joined SCOTUS:
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-01/alito-s-day-in-court
As mentioned in the above article, he seems to have a rather different point of view on the issue than Scalia.

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The Lunatic July 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

It wasn’t Republicans who controlled the House, Senate, and White House in 1993, which is when the statute establishing this “religious liberty” card passed, to the cheers of the New York Times.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I think we should have a federal law that requires employers to buy assault rifles for their employees, and make double-sure that Quaker employers are required to comply.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:54 pm

But what if I prefer scout rifles?

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Clover July 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Libertarians(I am not one) never favored Obamacare anyway, but since the left thinks birth control is a “right” they don’t see why it should be the employer paying and not the government, especially when the employer has a religious objection to paying.

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libert July 1, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Interestingly, the ruling specifically argued that, if the government wanted wide access to contraception, it should have paid for it out of taxpayer funds, and that would have been perfectly legal.

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Cliff July 1, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Not that it “should have” but that forcing the company to pay for it was not the only reasonable way to accomplish its objective, since the government already pays for it for many other entities-it would be a simple matter to pay for it in this case as well.

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Boonton July 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Good question Marshall, Hobby Lobby is not mandated to provide coverage. They are taxed one way if they do provide full coverage, they are taxed another way if they don’t.

I’m taxed one way if I give a lot of money to charity, another way if I don’t. If I’m a member of the ‘Ayn Rand Church’ that holds charity is evil, I’m perfectly free not to donate. But I don’t have a right to claim my ‘religion’ requires me to be taxed the way a heavy donator is.

If you want to say contraception shouldn’t be part of what the law defines as ‘full coverage’, fine. How about an employer who decides anything that is the result of animal testing and as a result excludes lots of essential things like, say, chemotherapy and life saving drugs. I’m fine if an employer wants to offer such a scaled down type of coverage based on their offbeat religious beliefs. I’m not so fine treating them the same as an employer who provides a real insurance policy that covers employees medical expenses without using the idea of insurance as a tool for the employer to try to force his beliefs on the patient.

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Larry Siegel July 2, 2014 at 11:44 pm

umm….Marshall, please edit your posts for accuracy and choice of words.

You can’t insure anyone’s health. All you can do is pay for preventative or curative medical treatment.

Pregnancy is a natural function, not a disease, so preventing pregnancy, however desirable it may be, is not a preventative or curative medical treatment.

There is no subsidy for health benefits. Corporate income used to pay employees’ benefits is not subject to tax. There is a big difference between not taxing something and subsidizing it.

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The Anti-Gnostic July 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm

#4 – “Centralized agencies don’t know what to make of decentralized trust networks.”

They know exactly what to make of them: they’re a competitor for citizen loyalty to the centralized State. That’s why institutions like Family must be deconstructed.

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Gabe Harris July 1, 2014 at 12:59 pm

truth.

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Z July 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

A man who chases to rabbits catches none. Our central planners strive to kill all the rabbits, thus relieving us of this burden.

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Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:21 pm

An ironic metaphor given the recent topic.

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Jeff R. July 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Being relieved of the obligation to pay for other people’s medically unnecessary drugs has become an “entitlement” or “subsidy” now? You, sir, have either a strange mental dictionary or a tenuous grasp of the specifics of the case.

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Really? Did Hobby Lobby offer to forego the tax advantage attached to the health insurance they offer their employees?

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Z July 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Maybe you should stop trying force your values on people through the tax code. Then you would not have to poke your nose in their business when they exercise their rights.

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

ACA says that employer-provided health insurance has to meet minimum standards, including covering birth control (broadly speaking). If you consider that “forcing [my] values on people through the tax code,” then what you really need to do is win an election, not hide behind the skirts of the Supreme Court. Because the argument from corporate religious personhood is a crock o’shit.

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Z July 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I see. Win an election and you and your goons get to push everyone around. Thanks Adolph for reminding me why I loath fascism so much.

RG July 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Apparently, the concept of checks and balances is unimportant when your side is winning elections.

Marshall July 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm

My point is not that it’s impossible for legislation to violate individual rights; it is that the ACA clearly does not do so in this case, and the ACA’s political opponents have ginned up an ersatz argument from constitutional rights to defeat part of it. If you **actually** cared about the threat posed by fascism and tyranny of the majority generally, you wouldn’t go around endorsing every bullshit argument that expands the scope of individual rights willy-nilly (provided it comes from your political allies–which I assume is what is meant by “mood affiliation”)

Z July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Marshall, there’s no need to go on. You revealed your colors quite clearly. To quote myself, scratch the paint off a liberal and you always find a swastika.

Marshall July 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm

LOL. No wonder you guys win all the debates.

Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm

The last time I checked, the Supreme Court was an important component of our government’s checks and balances, and the court’s composition reflects elections that had been won.

Wonks Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Marshall, the case was not decided on constitutional grounds. It was instead a statutory decision resulting from the RFRA, brought to you by a Democratic President & Congress in reaction to Scalia’s ruling in Smith.

HL July 1, 2014 at 3:24 pm

The “They’re the REAL Nazis” line is so lame, Z.

Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Marshall,
Winning elections includes the Legislative branch, and I think you’re forgetting a little guy called Scott Walker, and the narrow shenanigans required to pass this law in the first place.

If this issue was so important, and you have the electoral backing, then they could have easily written an exemption to the RFRA into O-care. But they didn’t have the electoral backing, so they couldn’t. Meanwhile, established law (RFRA) trumps regulation every time.

This decision is about as clear-cut as any the court has taken up.

Boonton July 2, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Marshall, there’s no need to go on. You revealed your colors quite clearly. To quote myself, scratch the paint off a liberal and you always find a swastika.

Z, being the first to bring up Hitler, automatically loses.

Careless July 3, 2014 at 9:38 am

is there a “fails to understand Godwin’s Law” law? There probably should be

nl7 July 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

The tax exemption for employer-provided health insurance came about in the 1940s during WWII wage controls. The mandate for covering contraceptives in health insurance was created in 2011 by regulations under PPACA. Why should these two provisions be read together?

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Willitts July 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Because taxes and subsidies are the measures of control they wish to impose on private property.

My economics professor once said that you can induce almost any behavior you want with the appropriate taxes and subsidies.

Why bother owning the resources of production when you can control them?

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Clover July 1, 2014 at 4:56 pm

It’s a false choice that democrats purposely created.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Why would they offer to forego the “tax advantage” (that nearly all economists agree should be abolished)?

Because the latest president spent his legacy ramming it through a couple years ago?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I like the implicit “you aren’t forbidden from paying more” argument that somehow doesn’t apply to birth control buyers.

Paging Arnold Kling! Oppressor/oppressed mood affiliation alert!

Okay Marshall. We are now officially opponents. Nice to meet you.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:58 pm

They just don’t want to pay for those contraceptions.

Why on earth does that preclude them from the government created health insurance tax deduction?

Not that they’d be allowed to, but then they don’t offer any health coverage. How is this proposal anything other than sour grapes?

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Justin July 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

There is so much misinformation surrounding the Hobby Lobby case. Even Mrs. McArdle seems to think it eliminates “generic birth control pills,” which it does not, even though she has claimed to read the decision. It does however, eliminate IUDs, which are very expensive and one of the only options for people who are incompatible with hormonal birth control. Her entire argument rests on the fact that the pills only cost a few dollars. The pills are still covered!

A much bigger issue is how many other companies will try to be granted exceptions to regulation via the RFRA, and the ways in which that will privilege “religious” for-profit corporations over secular for-profit corporations.

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nl7 July 1, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Hobby Lobby was willing to pay for the pill, but this issue is about more than just employees of Hobby Lobby. The decision could easily apply to protect employers who claim heartfelt religious objections to the pill, which is a common Catholic position.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

And this law has been on the books for how long, and how many times has your dire prediction come true?

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I don’t buy that not buying insurance for employees which covers relatively uncontroversial contraception pills is a “common Catholic position” today. I highly suspect if this case had only been about the more garden variety pills the ruling would have gone the other way. That Hobby Lobby made a distinction between which pills they would pay for and which they wouldn’t seems to have been the strongest element in their case because it demonstrated exactly where their beliefs caused them to draw the line.

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Marshall July 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Unfortunately for your argument, the court just said exactly the opposite: that the ruling applies to all the other religious plaintiffs who object to ALL birth control, not just laughable “abortifacients.”

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:51 pm

OK, I’m wrong. I was just guessing.

Turkey Vulture July 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

That reasoning would not be neccesary to the decision, making it dicta with persuasive but not precedential value.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm

I think it might not matter what you buy or don’t buy about THEIR beliefs.

Personally, I’d love to start an Indian reservation whose sole religious tenet was not screwing up the healthcare market with the current flawed insurance system that ACA further entrenched. But that’s not what is happening.

And I’m only being partially tongue-in-cheek. Thou shalt not steal is a thing.

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Ad Nauseum July 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Only “closely held private corporations”. A narrow definition of employer.

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Ad Nauseum July 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Ok, that and sole proprietorships, etc…

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PLW July 1, 2014 at 12:47 pm

The question that must be asked in the wake of Hobby Lobby: What does this mean for compliance with and the long-term viability of the individual mandate?

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Ad Nauseum July 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm

If anything, it says the individual mandate can survive both legally (as some time ago) and politically. The employer mandate on the other hand? We’ll see.

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Cyrus July 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Nothing. The individual mandate explicitly contains exemptions for religious groups who object to health insurance, and for communities who collectively self-insure.

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PLW July 2, 2014 at 9:46 am

I wasn’t suggesting that the mandate wouldn’t hold legally given that we’ve already tested that with the 2012 ruling, no? If young folks are having trouble convincing themselves to purchase insurance to comply with the mandate, removing contraception from the insurance package may reduce the demand for insurance all things equal. It seems that coverage for contraception is (or at least was) a big reason that younger women (those under 35) would buy insurance. If younger women lose interest in health insurance, they may also begin to care more about the individual mandate penalty. The mandate wasn’t too popular before(http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/march-2013-tracking-poll/). This can’t help.

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Careless July 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

Spending $300 or so a month on health insurance to get $15 a month in pills seems stupid

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Urso July 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

#1, the word “federal” does a ton of work in that post. What percentage of government workers are federal workers? A small percent.

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NathanP July 1, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Good point

2013 figures:
Local: 14.1 million
State: 5.0 million
Feds: 2.8 million
http://op.bna.com/gr.nsf/id/llbe-9hjq5l/$File/Private%20and%20Public%20Sector%20Workers.pdf

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a Michael July 2, 2014 at 9:38 am

So you don’t think local government employees are overpaid?

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:14 am

It depends on how much debt the local government has.

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Brian Donohue July 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Gotta start somewhere. Curiously, state and local governments of borne the brunt of the 1 million of government jobs cut so far, because, outside of pensions and health care, states can’t run deficits. I’m pretty sure all in (including job security) these guys have much more attractive compensation packages than private sector peers, but they’re also more visible, people you know in the community, not the Imperial Empire coalescing around DC.

I envision a long, slow attrition.

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Brian Donohue July 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm

By the way, on the issue of government job cuts, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wisconsin has not cut government employment, but, given the choice, unions distressingly and consistently prefer job cuts to pay cuts.

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Urso July 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

That’s like saying let’s get a census of the average income of Americans, but we’ll only focus on Westchester County. It’s just not representative.

I would bet a large sum of money that the average federal worker is significantly better paid than the average state or local worker. I’d also bet, based on my own experience, that the average federal worker is significantly more competent at his/her job than the average state or local worker.

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Brian Donohue July 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Don’t understand your first paragraph.

Nothing I said conflicts with your second paragraph.

Wisconsin was illuminating. The Governor faced a recall over collective bargaining. When people started comparing notes and seeing what public sector workers pulled down, the left shut up real fast on the issue and spent the recall trying to kick up other dirt.

These were real people, not the Washington elite or Wall Street bankers, but every conversation around here on the topic goes straight for the rarefied circles, not the meat and potatoes jobs, public and private, that are the bulk of the flyover experience.

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Careless July 3, 2014 at 11:45 am

Wisconsin, adjusting for cost of living, paid its teachers quite well.

Labor Market "Data Scientist" July 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I remember that this point was made once several years ago at an FCSM (Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology) meeting. One of the presenters was from an multi-state association and said that “unlike you, the state-level guy who’s using your data probably won’t have a Ph.D., or even a master’s. You need to resolve any data issues before you release anything because they won’t be able to.”

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Urso July 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Right, I was thinking more along the lines of the local version of the EPA or Fish & Wildlife Services but same concept. In DC it’s a bunch of Yale Forestry guys. In state capitals it’s guys who were bio or chem majors at directional state U and couldn’t score high enough on the MCAT. Whether the federales do a better job may be an open question, but they’re certainly better credentialed.

Thomas July 2, 2014 at 5:22 am

On the other hand, the GS scale doesn’t seem to care if you earned your degree from Yale or Phoenix. Hiring, perhaps.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

It’s hard to understand how providing whatever insurance the ACA told Hobby Lobby to provide their employees violated Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs. What religious belief would that be? I’d put the p > .95 that the ACA only troubled their political beliefs.

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RG July 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The ACA said nothing on what had to be covered. They punted it to HHS to do it via regulation. If it were so darned important, maybe they should have read the bill before passing it.

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Regardless, what’s the religious belief in question here regarding providing certain types of insurance for employees?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Depending, corps often provide insurance that is administrated by someone else. So, if you get a sex change and it is paid for by your “insurance” the company is paying for it. Some people don’t want to do that.

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

OK, so whatever companies don’t want to do is their religious belief. I do understand that. I DO.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:04 pm

That would be totally fine. It really would. Go work somewhere else if someone else sees covering that as an employment incentive.

But that’s not what is happening.

Adrian Ratnapala July 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

As far as I understand it (from reading legal blogs about the decision, not the decision itself).

(a) The act demands the government give religious exemptions unless the rule is the least restrictive way of achieving a compelling government interest. Leaving it to the HHS rather than legislating it directly was one of many hints the government itself did not treat it as “compelling”.

(b) The owners of Hobby Lobby believed that purchasing insurance covering these techniques made them complicit, whereas merely paying ordinary salaries from which employees could buy it themselves did not. This line is arbitrary, but the whole point about religious objections is that it is the objector herself who decides that line. Judges can only try to judge if the objection is sincere, not whether they agree with it.

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Michael B Sullivan July 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm

The belief in question is that birth control is immoral.

This has been an edition of “ingenuous answers to disingenuous questions.”

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derek July 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

More precisely, certain birth control is immoral, specifically drugs which prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. They, Hobby Lobby, cover other types of birth control.

The drugs at issue are available at a pharmacy near you.

enoriverbend July 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

“The belief in question is that birth control is immoral.”

Come, now, be honest at least.

The family that owns Hobby Lobby was willing to pay for birth control methods like the contraceptive pill. In fact, they already covered 16 birth control methods. They did not, however, want to cover 4 other methods that they felt were essentially abortifacients — Plan B, Ella, etc.

You may still believe the case to be wrongly decided but you do not have to mislead about the nature of the case.

Michael B Sullivan July 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Sure, correction accepted. That drugs that prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus are immoral.

I don’t think the case was wrongly decided, and I wouldn’t particularly care if it was all kinds of birth control.

Finch July 1, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Is it not generalizable to other deeply held beliefs, like, for example, some Catholic beliefs about birth control?

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

How hard is it to understand, exactly?

And is it possible also for political, moral, and religious beliefs to be related in some way?

It is unfortunate that the government now narrowly defines “religious beliefs” as contraception. But to me this is a known issue.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:23 pm

It is analogous to only professiona journalists (are there any of those anymore?) having freedom of the press (and increasingly freedom of speach and privacy). It’s not that hard to understand.

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I didn’t understand any of that.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Okay, but my contention is you are working hard at it.

The Anti-Gnostic July 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

The argument that constitutional rights can’t be claimed by people doing business in the corporate form would mean, e.g., that the New York Times actually has no freedom of the press.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:45 pm

No, since they ARE “the press” they get that one. We don’t get that one. They don’t get any of the other ones.

Joe in Morgantown July 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Dirk,

Hobby Lobby was willing to provide 16 of the 20 required birth control methods— all the contraceptives.

They were unwilling to provide the aboratafacents.

Your religion may be fine with baby killing, theirs is not.

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Interesting. OK, so neither McArdle nor the “ingenious answer” above successfully get to the heart of the issue. This turns out, despite all the hype, not to have been about contraception at all.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm

The Catholic church didn’t bring THIS lawsuit.

Again, you seem to be working really hard at not getting it.

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dirk July 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I think I get it now. It’s about The Abortion Debate. I wasn’t getting that somehow a brand new Contraceptive Debate had broken out in this country. I get, however, that the abortion debate is ongoing.

Finch July 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Do I not get it? In this particular instance the belief is something about abortion, but the point is easily generalizable, no? It would clearly cover, say, Catholic hospitals not wanting to cover birth control, provided they met the closely held criteria. I guess if your religion forbade stimulants, maybe you could not cover ADHD meds.

Somewhere below in the comments there’s a good point made that this seems to leave a lot of room for future judicial wiggling. But I have not read the actual ruling.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Just as politics is not about policy, Supreme Court rulings are not about interpreting the law. They are about bowing to public opinion in a sophisticated manner. They bowed to Hobby Lobby supporters in this case because The Abortion Debate reared its ugly head. So, no, this ruling will not be generalizable to other cases involving birth control, because, unlike abortion, public opinion is overwhelmingly pro birth control (as long as someone can’t argue the method of birth control is tantamount to abortion.)

At least that’s my reading of events.

Finch July 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Huh? I think you’re reading too much into it. Time will tell.

It would seem awfully hard for a lower court to rule against a Catholic hospital whose owners did not want to pay for birth control after this precedent. But I’m not a lawyer.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm

“I think you’re reading too much into it.”

Probably. 99% of my knowledge about this case has been from this comments section today.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm

dirk,

You almost have me convinced that you are really confused about this.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:31 pm

“Supreme Court rulings are not about interpreting the law. They are about bowing to public opinion in a sophisticated manner”

This part I kind of agree with btw.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I’m not in “the abortion debate” but it is illustrative that to you it is “the abortion debate.”

I’ve talked to the people who think it is about killing babies.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm

And remember, I’m never attacking you, dirk (or anyone), just the revealed mindset.

Seriously, why can’t you put yourself in their position and believe that these people are very committed to their sincere beliefs?

Maybe it is because they sell that green foam that you put fake flowers into, which admittedly is a stumbling block.

dirk July 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm

“Seriously, why can’t you put yourself in their position and believe that these people are very committed to their sincere beliefs?”

3 hours ago when I posted that I gave it p > .95 this isn’t really about their religious beliefs but their political beliefs, I didn’t know as much about the case as I do now. For instance, I didn’t know anything about “aboratafacents”, had never seen that word before… then I reacted too quickly and thought this all turned on “pills which some think murder babies” which, if that’s the real issue, indeed my belief is that it is likely the Hobby Lobby majority owners’ sincere beliefs that drove this case to the SC. My experience has been that many people are truly passionate about the “murdering babies/abortion issue” but I’ve rarely met anyone who was truly passionate that “other adults outside my religion shouldn’t use birth control” (though I’m sure some such person exists somewhere and is probably online reading this.)

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Just to complete a discussion…

They aren’t passionate about denying other people, they passionate about not paying for it themselves.

It may be a subtle difference and you are in good company!

Wonks Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Most people would put “abortifacents” in scare-quotes. But SCOTUS precedent from the Jehovah’s Witness in the tank factory says its the subjective beliefs that are important.

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Brandon July 3, 2014 at 9:50 am

They aren’t abortifacients

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

1. First. Of course. But of course the main problem is value destruction. Second. Is there really that little literature?

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Labor Market "Data Scientist" July 1, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I find it difficult to believe that a trained economist like Bryan Caplan doesn’t understand distributions. The earnings distribution has changed substantially in the last 30 years while the federal government pay scale hasn’t. Therefore it’s common that low-demand employees (HS education or less, few IT skills) are “overpaid” in the federal government while in-demand employees are paid more in non-federal government jobs. Anyone who goes to the AEA’s can see that federal agencies are consistently short-staffed for Ph.D. economists if Mr. Caplan wants to make a switch. Anyone who feigns “confusion” on this point is tough to take seriously.

I’m also shocked that Caplan doesn’t seem to understand the data issues. When people mention “benefits” they just mean “tax advantaged benefits” because that’s what they have data on. Usually that is only health insurance or pensions. But not everything that’s measured matters and not everything that matters is measured. When my boss takes the office out to Prime Rib, that’s a benefit but it doesn’t get picked up in statistics. I’ve yet to work in a private-sector office without free coffee, but that doesn’t exist in the government. Whenever I’ve visited their offices I’ve had to pay for my own. That sounds small but it easily adds up to at least $600 per year. Including “benefits” when making these comparisons should be viewed very skeptically by anyone who understands labor market data.

For full disclosure I used to work for the Federal government but more than doubled my salary when I left. The benefits are better in the private sector too.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Are you referring to PhD economists, or overall averages?

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Labor Market "Data Scientist" July 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

In my own case, I’m referring to Ph.D. economists. But the trends hold for other professional degrees and for those with high-demand skills at all educational levels.

There’s a review of some of these issues here: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/01-30-FedPay.pdf

If I had only a HS diploma, then I would definitely want to work for the Federal government or at least a state government. For most others though, it’s much harder to justify the pay cut.

There’s also the issue of whether the “average” worker has an “average” effect on firm efficiency. Is it better to pay line-level workers highly and management/technical staff poorly or the other way around? The private sector’s answer to this is pretty clear and shows up in the income distribution. I remember reading somewhere that “average is over” and that it was important to attract “high value” workers.

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Emily July 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

When it comes to federal government vs. private sector pay and benefits, the breakdown is not “only HS diploma” vs. “most others”, but rather “professional degree or doctorate” vs. “most others.” That’s what the CBO report shows. (For state/local government, it’s a different story.) So, yes, there are some distributional issues – but they don’t invalidate that conclusion that federal employees really are paid more than equivalent workers in the private sector because most federal employees aren’t in that top educational category.

And, yes, we can’t count the free coffee. But we’re also not counting the job protections, which are a lot better than free coffee for most people. If they weren’t, we’d expect to see employees leaving federal jobs at much higher rates than we actually see.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

“But the trends hold for other professional degrees and for those with high-demand skills at all educational levels.”

Again, the “high-demand” sounds like a caveat/subset.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Your link on page 6 breaks it down by gross degree (i.e. HS, MS, PhD). I can argue this until I’m blue in the fingertips but the best analogy I can think of to criticize this approach is the teacher’s certificate. The public school teacher’s MS and PhD and other advanced certifications might hardly even exist if it weren’t for the considerable bumps in pay (and job security). Those teachers that have gotten on-the-job PhD degrees might be paid considerably less than the average PhD, but it doesn’t mean they are underpaid.

Now, I don’t claim it means they are overpaid (maybe people without the certification are way underpaid). But the use of that, to me, without efforts to find comparables (which I have never seen with my own eyes) completely blows up the analysis.

Using “gross” degree attainment is in my estimation the exact opposite of comparing comparables.

For some reason other people don’t see this as utterly obvious. I am baffled as to why. My only explanation is they have an agenda, while at the same time realizing they think me pointing this out means I have an agenda. Except that if turns out that the federal government employs a a lot more doctors, finance MBAs, and engineers (from top universities) I’d still be right because all I’m saying is that actual comparables are those things and not the two or three letters in front of the degree.

Maybe someone has done the actual work. But every time the issue comes up I see the same gross degree attainment comparisions.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm

That was to LMDS.

Anyway, when I was going into college I didn’t know if I wanted to do engineering or pre-med. I was told that engineering is a good degree IF you can get a 4.0. Get it?

Okay, try this. Say someone told you you had to get a government job or they would kill your hamster. Then they said you could pick any major on campus but you have to get a job and to get the job you have to get a pretty good GPA. Which side of campus are you going to go to? Liberal arts or hard sciences? Again, think of your hamster.

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm

addendum: Chemical Engineering is a good “pre-med” degree if you can get just as high a GPA and do as studying for the MCAT as those taking Pre-Med. In other words, good luck with that.

Thomas July 2, 2014 at 5:31 am

Andrew’, you have a terrific point: The Federal General Scale rewards degrees without regard to origin and quality, except to ask whether the school is accredited.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:52 am

Thanks, but rather than compliments (or misplaced criticisms)

I’d rather have Nobel Prize winning economists not make poliltically motivated claims that actual comparable comparisons have been done.

Z July 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm

#3: Count me as someone who think the court made a big steaming pile of awful, more steamy and awful. As soon as they gave a green light to organized thuggery through the mandate, attempts to carve out exceptions will only lead to mischief. Now the court will be deciding what is and what is not a legitimate religious belief. But, this is what happens when you let a collection of lunatics get control of your country. We’re becoming a different version of Iran.

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nl7 July 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm

They already have exceptions for religiously motivated non-profit corporations. That means there’s a less restrictive option available, so this seems like a correct application of RFRA. There’s no particular reason to distinguish between corporations with shareholders and corporations without shareholders.

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Z July 1, 2014 at 1:53 pm

There’s no reason to compel business to do any of this, but here we are anyway. The endless hairsplitting that will go on until this thing collapses will keep the lawyers and lunatics busy so I guess that’s a positive.

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Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm

The endless hairsplitting that will go on until this thing collapses will keep the lawyers and lunatics busy so I guess that’s a positive.

I’m fairly sure that this is the point of about 90% of the Democrats’ policies anymore.

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deconfused July 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Is it so confusing to understand that pensions and other forms of deferred salary come with an element of risk, and that people expect to be compensated for risk–even if you get paid in the end?

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Brian Donohue July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

You want risk? Here, try this 401(k).

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Thomas July 2, 2014 at 5:32 am

Risk? Sovereign Risk? Credit yourself at the risk-free rate. Meanwhile don’t forget those generous expense ratios in TSP.

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:16 am

The major risk comes because governments can’t afford to pay them. This doesn’t in itself prove they were too generous

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

3. Look, most right-leaning or libertarian-minded people are going to agree with the HL decision, because they don’t like the government telling people or employers what to do with their money, not because they agree with the SC’s analysis of the circumstances of this particular case. Supporting this is for them just another way to re-litigate the ACA and reinforce their small government worldview.

Megan is right that this is a fairly small exemption with limited practical impact for most women right now, but she is deflecting from the overarching problem. Despite the assertion that this is limited to birth control, the ruling opens up future challenges for “religious” exemptions for all kinds of treatments. The opinion offered no legal basis or compelling rationale compartmentalizing the decision to just birth control. Believe me, more cases are coming. And it could even go beyond health insurance mandates. The potential scope of religious beliefs, especially “deeply held” ones, knows no bounds. That is the problem.

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The Anti-Gnostic July 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

As somebody else mentioned, that’s what happens when government embeds itself so deeply in private transactions.

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Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:24 pm

*ding*ding*ding*

It is sad that there are no Liberals left in the Democratic party anymore.

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RG July 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

People’s belief systems are the problem?

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm

No. The problem is that there is no compelling rationale for why the exemption ought to be narrowly limited to birth control. They say it is limited and therefore it must be? One day those who fundamentally oppose human breeding may be able to not cover maternity care one–because it is a deeply held religious belief.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Okay, accepting the ad absurdum: and so what?

What is wrong about not forcing people to forcing people to do things they strongly disagree with?

If the answer is “because the more powerful will oppress those who can’t pay for birth control out of pocket” we simply don’t agree with that paradigm.

If your answer is “people will pretend to have religions that coincide with their political preferences” that’s different.

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Finch July 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

> What is wrong about not forcing people to forcing people to do things they strongly disagree with?

Andrew Prime, I like this point and I think it’s smartly stated. It’s pithy.

Somewhere there’s a line. I’m okay with compelling people not to murder, but I’d prefer government compulsion take as small a role in our lives as is reasonably possible. The mandate itself is a bit much, but if it had mandated insurance covering the bare essentials – the healthcare cost-effectiveness slam dunks like vaccines, antibiotics, and broken bone setting or had been basically a high-deductible catastrophic coverage plan – I think more people could have gotten behind it.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

They put this in there specifically to troll the right.

It’s politics.

Barkley Rosser doesn’t get it. I only wish he would get it.

derek July 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Jan, do you have any strongly held beliefs? Religious or otherwise, ones that you really feel define you and you are willing to fight it whatever the cost?

Maybe pacifist. Say you oppose war, hate it, and would not support any war effort. Imagine that speaking out against a war, a war that is popular, a situation where the government has a deep interest in maintaining public support and will do whatever it can do to prevent any opposition. And they will draft people to conduct the war, young men obviously, but skilled professions, one that you have. You are drafted. Or maybe your blog post opposing the war gets attention and you are visited by nice people, or your means of communication is cut off.

I take that illustration because this very issue has been fought out in the US. Wilson organized mobs to harass his opponents and imprisoned some. During the second world war the religious freedom jurisprudence was hammered out in a number of important cases. It was found that people had the right to their religious beliefs. The limits of these rights were also established.

The US successfully waged both wars in spite of the people who conscientiously objected or wrote things in opposition to the war. I would posit that the freedoms defined in the bill of rights made the US a more formidable foe to the authoritarian tyrannies because they acted with the consent and support of the people.

You want the government to force these hypothetical religious people to do something against their strongly held beliefs. If Hobby Lobby took a stand, didn’t pay the fines, disobeyed the law someone would be imprisoned. Why don’t you just buy he damn contraceptives and give them to the women who want them, and leave these people alone?

Why not define what you actually want, that women who are pregnant get insurance coverage for their costs, and find a way to accommodate the deeply held beliefs of people and accomplish what you want to accomplish?

Why are you intent on forcing people to do things that contravenes deeply held beliefs?

As I said in another comment, if you really want to do that you should not trust yourself with power.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm

This law has been on the books for a long time and your dire predictions have not come to pass. The change was the HHS who applied a political election plank through regulation.

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm

I don’t know what you are referring to, but you are missing the point.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Sebelius (or whoever, I really don’t give a f&($) deciding that people had to provide contraceptives because to fail to do it would be providing aid an comfort to the enemies in the war on women.

That might still sound confusing, but I think it is the most accurate way I can think to sya it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraceptive_mandate_%28United_States%29#ACA_mandatory_coverage_for_contraceptives

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Urso July 1, 2014 at 1:51 pm

“Despite the assertion that this is limited to birth control, the ruling opens up future challenges for ‘religious’ exemptions for all kinds of treatments.”
Yeah, you’d almost think that Congress had specifically passed a statute with that very purpose.
“The potential scope of religious beliefs, especially “deeply held” ones, knows no bounds. That is the problem.”
Wow, that certainly is a problem. Freedom of conscience is a dangerous thing – what if other people believe different things from what I believe :O

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Obama’s religion involves not believing in expensive procedures for old people.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

>The potential scope of religious beliefs, especially “deeply held” ones, knows no bounds. That is the problem.

History begs to differ. Prosperous liberal societies are characterized by respect for religious beliefs. The fact that the Obama administration pushed forward with this regulation (not legislation) shows them to be illiberal. This is something akin to the fight in Quebec recently over what they called a values charter which would have prohibited the exhibition of religious affiliation by public employees.

You should not trust yourself with power if you have that attitude.

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Respect versus preferential interpretation of certain beliefs.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

The change was that the HSS decided, preferentially, that the beliefs of those who opposed certain drugs were not valid.

This law has been there for a long time, and the definition of religious freedom, it’s limits have been litigated and hammered out over two generations. All the objections you raise have been answered in various court cases.

The change here was that the Obama administration, not through legislation but regulation writing by the HSS decided to disregard the deeply held beliefs of certain people. This was part of their election campaign, the Democratic Convention was notable for a speech on this issue. Existing law, as the court found, prevents them from doing this. It wasn’t a constitutional issue that decided it.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm

See, by losing Obama still wins. He gets to say he tried but the meanie conservative justices were meanies.

I still haven’t said these people aren’t clever.

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JWatts July 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

“Jan – Respect versus preferential interpretation of certain beliefs. ”

That’s actually a pretty accurate comment both ways. The Obama administration should have shown respect for other religious beliefs and the existing law (the RFRA) instead of attempting to impose their preferences through HHS regulations.

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Chip July 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Exceptions to govt control are problems, are they?

As an atheist its interesting that today the greatest opposition to separation of church and state comes from the left.

The notion that believers like Romney were going to foist their gods on us is widespread – but ridiculous.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Again, I take no pleasure in attacking liberals, I would really prefer to have nothing to attack them on. But they seriously think they can take a chunk of my money, pass a law that my kid has to go to “free” school (paid for with aforementioned chunk of my money) and then call attacks on fairly innocuous religious practice in the “public” school as “separation of church and state” and they can’t conceive any problem with this whatsoever. I’ve had numerous conversations and have never been able to get any light of recognition in a real-life liberal’s eyes on this kind of thing.

It’s weird to think that a government that is in everything wouldn’t step on some religious freedom toes. It is also unfortunate that the “protected class” of religion is now defined as opposition contraception. If it is a strategy to alienate and marginalize religion, I guess it is working.

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joan July 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and in the same decision state the beliefs of Jehovahs Witnesses would not justify them refusing to cover transfusions is already getting too close for comfort to establishing a religion

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prior_approval July 1, 2014 at 2:31 pm

‘is already getting too close for comfort to establishing a religion’

Alito is nodding in sage agreement. And looking around to see if there are any more rings he needs to be kissing.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 2:46 pm

What if there was a way to accomplish the same thing without forcing people act contrary to their deeply held beliefs? In this case the government could not show convincingly that it wasn’t the case, so they lost.

Is setting up a conscientious objector status, with laid out obligations and restrictions establishing a religion?

Liberal governments do this by nature. Illiberal governments don’t, and are characterized by trampling on those who disagree with them.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Then don’t work for someone who denies you transfusions and you want transfusions.

Or if I’m a liberal “gahhhhhh! single moms need their paycheck from the Jehovah’s Witnesses!”

I’m really not being snarky.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm

No one’s going to deny anyone any transfusions. It’s just that in some hypothetical company, the insurance plan does not cover transfusions and the expense is forwarded to the customer.

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:56 am

Also, after some reading they might be different. If you accept a blood transfusion you are excommunicated. This is qualitatuvely different from an employer not wanting to directly participate in abortion-like activities.

Art Deco July 3, 2014 at 6:58 am

The employer is a Witness, not the employee.

Z July 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

The Red Team is cheering because the Blue team is sad. The Yellow Team, as usual, does not what to do. It seems to me that the conservative position should favor clarity, which this decision works against. Either the state can dictate the terms and conditions of employee compensation or it is barred from meddling in these relationships. If the state is going to decide then the legislature can hash it out. If not, then the people figure it out on their own. Either way, the will of the people is respected.

This decision just makes a big mess and makes it messier.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I’m not cheering. But it’s also not the SCOTUS’s job to not make things messier. Not that I assume they did their job. I’ll have to read it, which I’ve scheduled for just after pouring salt into my own eyes.

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JWatts July 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

“3. Look, most right-leaning or libertarian-minded people are going to agree with the HL decision, because they don’t like the government telling people or employers what to do with their money, not because they agree with the SC’s analysis of the circumstances of this particular case. ”

That’s true to the same degree that: Left-leaning or progressive people are going to disagree with the HL decision, because they like the government telling people or employers what to do with their money, not because they agree with the SC’s analysis of the circumstances of this particular case.

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Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Despite the assertion that this is limited to birth control, the ruling opens up future challenges for “religious” exemptions for all kinds of treatments.

No, the idea of religious exemptions in this case was created by a twenty-plus year old law. This decision didn’t open up any future challenges or exemptions that didn’t exist long before Obama was elected.

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Watcing you all tie yourselves in knots trying to defend this decision has been interesting. But but but these are deeply held FUNDAMENTAL beliefs. But but but you have to believe there is some line, you don’t agree with MURDER do you? But but but I support the principle of LIMITED government. 

None of you provide any reasonable rationale for the preferential exemption of some beliefs over others. Give it 25 years and see where we are as a nation on this issue. 

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:51 pm

1. The court is interpreting a statute. That’s the statute.

2. Whether you fancy it or not, case law has long treated religious affiliation and practice as a special case. See school prayer decisions. There’s lots of offensive things that schools do, but only prayers generate a cause of action.

3. The law’s mandates are gratuitous. The abuse of Hobby Lobby is merely a graphic illustration of this.

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Jan July 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm

1. The statute must always comply with the Constitution. Yes, this was interpreted in the context of a particular law, but the Court proactively decided to apply a narrow limit to this particular case, irrationally.

2. Yes, and it is inappropriate, without rationale. The Court should look forward in this case and read the law in the context of the beliefs of the whole country, and perhaps even potential beliefs, as they have done with gay marriage.

3. I don’t agree, but that does not mean Hobby Lobby should receive a special exemption. I may have a special religious belief that holds men should not receive care for heart conditions and that would get struck down, absolutely.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

1. You’ve read the statute and are familiar with principles of construction and interpretation applied in common law countries. Did I get that right?

2. That’s nice, Jan, but that’s case law in this country. For the last five decades the people who got gored by it are the ones arguing against you. Now your side says it’s ‘inappropriate’. Make up your stupid minds.

3. I don’t agree. I get it. You’re grotesquely wrong and a menace to decent people.

Jan July 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Sorry but this reads as a desperate, grasping defense.

Your responses are:
1. Oh, so YOU’RE a better lawyer than I?

2. Things are the way they are because they are and that means you’re wrong ( non specific reference to past decisions)!

3. I get you disagree with the first half sentence of my statement and I will ignore the rest your substantive argument.

Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm

1. Jan, you’re pretending to be more familiar with American statutory law and modes of construction and interpretation. The pretension is tiresome.

2. We have case law and precedent in this country. Sorry it bothers you, but that’s how business is done in common law countries.

3. You cannot defend your position because that position stinks.

Cliff July 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Jan,

Yes, I am a better lawyer than you are. WTF is your argument supposed to be? That somehow the constitution prevents them from interpreting the statute in this way? It’s got nothing to do with the constitution.

andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:31 am

In principle it is very simple. You don’t give up your freedom if religion while running your (basically) family business. Go public ownership and things ate different. In practice it is also pretty simple. You will know what your insurance does and doesn’t cover. I think it is troubling because a non one size fits all looks complicated. This doesn’t mean anything goes, and I’m not even sure I should have a problem if it did.

So I don’t think you are passing the caplan-turing test yet.

Michael July 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Jan,
Pretty much everyone defending this decision would prefer not having to need any exemptions in the first place, or go through the sticky business of what is and is not valid. It is important to note that this entire problem is created by Obamacare, not some newfound religious beliefs that materialized out of nowhere. It is progressive policies which require employers to be inserted between employees and their physicians.

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:59 am

In fact people aren’t defending the decision ad much as understanding and explaining.

We just aren’t attacking it. Nor are we attacking people for not attacking it. This is why we must be attacked.

That is mood affiliation.

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 3:01 am

I wonder if I can just join the angry parade while not agreeing with their logic but I have plenty of stored anger.

Brian July 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

#1 – isn’t the relevant issue the relationship between marginal (social) benefits to marginal (social) benefits?

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 3:05 am

Good point. There are a few issues. The main one is keeping governments solvent.

Then there is just the purely academic question of if one is compensated more and why and how it could be.

If one has more social value that still doesn’t explain how the compensation disparity came to be, just whether we might be more accepting of it.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm

4. The informal methods of communcation, incentive offering, alignment of goals is far more valuable. I remember reading something about computer programmers working in different locations. They would accomplish far more during the taxi ride from the airport than weeks of online communication.

There may be some fields where it is not necessary, but wouldn’t having someone working remotely require a somewhat predictable or laid out path for them to accomplish what needs doing? I know my workplace is quite chaotic by nature; I need to debrief my employees every day at one point, and the conversations are not formal at all and would be a nuisance to schedule and conduct over some teleconference thing. Even on the phone it isn’t as effective. I can tell by how they describe what they did what help or training they need.

The article posits that it is about building political tribes within the organization. That may be the case, the people not there are ignored or overly delegated. I suspect it is far more simple.

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ChrisA July 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

If I need something done by one of my employees, from the least effective to the most is email, then texting, then a phone call and then Skype and finally a face to face. Emails are quickly disregarded nowadays, people get so many of them. But a face to face leaves people in no doubt about what you want and how important and urgent it is.

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Bob July 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

There are some fields within federal jobs where pay is definitely below marketplace, lawyers, some types of IT and engineers, accountants, PHD economists. But for your average bureaucrat working to keep a process in place there is no competition. In a corporation when times get tough companies get lean on their mid-level managers and overhead expenses. The federal government can’t. Because the government has a hard time leaning out you are stuck with a very experienced overpaid labor pool. The government then helps to over qualify their people by paying for advanced degrees. There is plenty of demand for those jobs but the very few that become available go to the people with the most experience, not necessarily the best able to complete the job.

I work as a federal contractor in a staff augmentation contract where I am doing a government job with a pay check from a corporation. I have been out of college for 6 years and I’ve completed a Masters to check the box. I do the same job with similar or better quality as people 15 to 20 years my senior.

Open up the market some and you will see wages fall.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I’m guessing hedge fund managers who work for the federal government make…mmmmmm…just a smidge less than in private sector. Again, it’s a desperate illustration crying for help screaming “does no one else see the blaring need to do the actual comparables analysis?”

Remember, we also have a labor market and a signaling education system, so any difference is going to be understated in the actual comparables analysis.

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RAstudent July 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Federal employees do not get paid more for having advanced degrees. You may qualify for a higher level job with advanced degrees but education levels are do not affect the payscale at all. I don’t know why people think it does.

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andrew' July 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I’m not exactly sure to what you refer but max Ed attainment is what people use when they do a first apples to apples.

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Adrian Ratnapala July 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm

#4: Regarding the likely customers of AirBnB.

They vote left, They vote left, but click right.

Which goes to show that politics might be all about tribalism, but real life
is about the context menu.

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dave smith July 1, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I think “mood affiliation” means “it brings out the douche bag in everyone.”

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Barkley Rosser July 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Previously there was a fairly clear legal line between single proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. The former had the right to impose their religious views on their workers, but the latter did not. Now five white Catholic males, whose selection to SCOTUS clearly reflects the long string of presidents we have elected who are white Catholic males in the last half century, have decided that the crucial boundary line is between “closely held” corporations and those not so closely held. Has anyone noticed that this is an utterly arbitrary line, defined by the IRS as a corporation where not more than five people hold more than 50% ownership? Just who is making these decisions on the religious views of these corporations anyway? Do those five or less vote on it? Probably it is the CEO. So, why not just go whole hog and let any old corporate CEO impose his or her religious views on his workers? I mean, hasn’t SCOTUS already decided that they are “people” already, and those who work for them should just shut the you know what up if they disagree?

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Why not suggest that employees pay for their own rubbers? Contraceptive expenditures are discretionary, not risks against which you insure. Neither is contraception medical care. It make use of the technology of medicine.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

“impose their religious views on their workers”

See, “mood affiliation” means BR says it that way and I should say “workers can impose their religious non-views on their employers” and never the twain shall meet.

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JWatts July 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

“Now five white Catholic males…” That’s laughably wrong. They weren’t all white nor all Catholic. Furthermore, this comment “the long string of presidents we have elected who are white Catholic males in the last half century” is almost unbelievably ignorant.

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Bob from Ohio July 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

“five white Catholic males”

Thomas is White?

“clearly reflects the long string of presidents we have elected who are white Catholic males in the last half century”

We have elected exactly zero Catholics in the last half century.

I am sure the rest of your comment is equally accurate.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:14 pm

We are moving through this interesting time of the opposition is not legitimate and I sense it is even that they barely even exist.

It is really weird how the liberals seem baffled that anyone could even possibly disagree with them or that they are only capable of disagreeing because of secret duties to the Catholic church or some other shadowy organization.

It’s getting creepy, especially considering you can come in here and get an earful of actual arguments any time you want.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

(this is not an attack on liberals, per se, I just don’t get the same vibe from conservatives right now. Maybe liberals felt the same way when they were painted as communists, but I wasn’t around and I didn’t do it.)

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Barkley Rosser July 1, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Ooooops! Forgot about race of Thomas. Mea culpa.

Bob from Ohio, I was being sarcastic about the presidents, responding to someone earlier who was pronouncing that SCOTUS reflects past presidential elections, and I picked a half century because the only Catholic prez ever died just over a half century, and he promised to keep his church views out of his politics, unlike what we are seeing with some of these justices. And I would note that the current balance on SCOTUS is partly due to a past partisanized SCOTUS that imposed a president on us in 2000 who had lost the popular vote (and according to some reports had lost the Florida vote too, although it was never fully counted), with that president appointing the justice who wrote this decision.

Andrew,

I can just as easily charge all of you who think this ruling is great with “mood affiliation.” Why are you all so for this? What is to stop companies from refusing to pay for blood transfusions? This ruling opens the door wide open, as Justice Ginsburg points out. You all are going to look pretty silly on this, which is gong to prove to be massively unpopular.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I’ve probably posted 100 comments here. Find one where I say it’s “great.”

I’m really confused as to why you don’t understand my point, and I apparently can’t make it up on volume!

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:12 pm

e.g. what does “popularity” have to do with it except to prove the point of 15% of my comments here?

Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 5:13 pm

(no, I don’t expect you to have read my comments)

How am I going to look silly?

I’ve been the one calling the Supreme Court a bunch of hacks. I can’t lose on this one.,

Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm

unlike what we are seeing with some of these justices.

They’re interpreting a federal statute passed in 1993 which is superordinate to administrative regulations issued by HHS. What is wrong with their interpretation?

While we’re at it, quite a number of traditional Catholics would be amazed to learn that Anthony Kennedy is our cat’s paw.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Andrew, I can just as easily charge all of you who think this ruling is great with “mood affiliation.” Why are you all so for this? What is to stop companies from refusing to pay for blood transfusions?

Why would one compel commercial companies to pay for blood transfusions?

If you actually want an answer, it’s this: once upon a time a critical mass of Democratic Party politicians would have had the courtesy to not incorporate abusive mandates like the one under discussion into legislation. That was then. So it amuses me when bad people get their manure tossed back in their lap. And I have no reason to believe that the Court’s interpretation of the statute in question is indefensible (unlike much of what the appellate courts have to say).

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:59 am

“What is to stop companies from refusing to pay for blood transfusions?”

Well, first because they aren’t that religion. Next, common sense. After that, well, tons of companies don’t because they don’t provide any insurance at all and it’s no big deal. After that, something that actually matters would be dealt with legislatively.

I think someone has been drinking.

Thomas July 2, 2014 at 5:44 am

Barkley,

It didn’t take you more than three sentences to blame what you don’t like on white catholic males. You’ve been in the academy too long if you fail to recognize prejudice and racism when you utter it. Shameful.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:22 am

Try this BR,

Just this.

How is a one sentence comment a “rant”?

Just answer that and I’ll consider it square.

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mofo. July 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

“Previously there was a fairly clear legal line between single proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. The former had the right to impose their religious views on their workers, but the latter did not.”

Was there something sacrosanct about that distinction? Your post is written as if we should be shocked, shocked i tell you, that the SC occasionally draws an arbitrary line, but why should we care?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:02 pm

“Previously there was a fairly clear legal line between single proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. The former …but the latter….”

3 vs 2.

Which is former and which is latter?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Also remember, economists are nearly unanimous that employment and insurance should be disentangled, so the ability of employers to “impose” anything WRT insurance is/should be non-existent.

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mofo. July 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Also, “impose their religious views on their workers” in this case means only paying for 16 kinds of birth control, so we arent exactly living in a theocracy just yet.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I realize I was born without the mood affiliation gene, but I really can’t understand why someone like Barkley Rosser would come up in hear and say something like “impose their religious views on their workers”.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I mean, hasn’t SCOTUS already decided that they are “people” already, and those who work for them should just shut the you know what up if they disagree?

I understand the faculty are ever under the illusion they own the place, but it does not work that way for anyone else. You very seldom have a cause of action when your employer declines to purchase something for you, even uniforms.

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andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

I tacitly accepted this criticism from the left.

But volokh explained that in the few amendments that don’t make it explicit otherwise that individuals within a corporation do not give up their rights simply because they incorporate.

The court is trying to find the right balance. Shame j me for taking the left’s talking point at face value.

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derek July 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

You mean like Netscape?

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So Much for Subtlety July 1, 2014 at 4:19 pm

The former had the right to impose their religious views on their workers, but the latter did not.

This is a spectacularly bad post. Unexpectedly bad too. You usually can be relied on to do better. No one is imposing their religious views on their workers. Hobby Lobby is not saying their workers cannot have abortions. They are saying that their owners should not have to pay for it personally. That is, the only people imposing their religious beliefs on anyone are those who have made abortion the central plank of their world view.

Now five white Catholic males, whose selection to SCOTUS clearly reflects the long string of presidents we have elected who are white Catholic males in the last half century

Four White males and one Black male, remember. What is more this is just bigotry. It is like saying Abortion was brought to us by Jewish judges. After all, Thomas has been divorced. Alito has two children. Kennedy has three. None of them look remotely pious except Scalia. Although Roberts could go either way. So you are simply saying that someone’s religious origins ought to disqualify them for government jobs?

And as other people pointed out, America has not elected a Catholic since Kennedy. Which was some time ago.

Has anyone noticed that this is an utterly arbitrary line, defined by the IRS as a corporation where not more than five people hold more than 50% ownership?

What else are they going to do? A line has to be drawn. It is bound to be arbitrary.

What is so funny about this is that this comes directly from a law passed by Clinton and voted by the entire Democratic party starting with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi – the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Not the actual Constitution. The RFRA was passed because Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was dangerous to allow religious belief to trump the law of the land:

To permit this would make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

So Clinton passed the law that is now being used to protect the Religious Right. As opposed to peyote-taking or hallucinagenic-tea-drinking Latinos.

The irony.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Thomas has been divorced. Alito has two children. Kennedy has three. None of them look remotely pious except Scalia. Although Roberts could go either way.

Alito married at 35 and Roberts at 41; Roberts’ children are adopted; it’s not surprising that neither one has a generous brood of children. Anthony Kennedy is with little doubt a non-active Catholic or suburban slob Catholic. Thomas’ case is more opaque, as he married during a long interlude when he was outside the Church; if he were married in a civil ceremony, that would generally be adjudged defective of form.

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Barkley Rosser July 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm

With this many replies to my comment, I shall have to be selective.

Andrew,

I read all your comments, and they amount to not only being the most numerous but probably the most stupid in aggregate here. You make so many outright false statements it is not worth bothering with. You may not have called the decision “great,” but you are clearly sympathetic to it and show your position when you started ranting about “baby killing.” Sorry, while it is a Catholic Church position that life starts at conception, that it is not the position of scientists, most other religions, or the majority of the population.

Regarding the Catholicism of those making this decision, three of them have close links to Opus Dei, and the reasoning used by Alito regarding “complicity” is straight Catholic Church doctrine.

Finally, I shall reiterate my two main positions. One is that it is meaningless and arbitrary and unwise to draw the line where it has been drawn. It is very possible for a “closely held corporation” to be making decisions on these matters even if the owners of a majority of the shares do not support the position, Five people own 51%, with the rest diffused, if three support the decision and two do not and the majority of the diffuse ownership does not, well, there is a problem, but not one that this collection of justices nor many of you commenting here notice. Frankly, I suspect that most of you ranting about mood affiliation (a concept only taken seriousliy on this blog, where it was invented, btw), and baby killings would have no problem with extending this to all corporations, so of course you do not give a hoot about this line being drawn where it is.

Finally, it is in fact the case that what is going on here is precisely that the owners or whoever is running these closely held corporations are being given the right to impose their religious beliefs on their workers. This is a hard fact that no amount of ranting or mood affiliating can get around. The answers to this have generally been along the lines of cost, that it will not cost these workers all that much not to be insured for this, so they should just shut up and take it. There has been nothing about the principle involved, until we get people like Andrew drooling on about baby killing, in short, those who agree with the religious views of those bringing this suit are just fine that these views are being imposed.

Deal with it. If this ruling is libertarianism, then I am the Pope. It opens the door to corporatist religious oppression.

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Art Deco July 1, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Sorry, while it is a Catholic Church position that life starts at conception, that it is not the position of scientists, most other religions, or the majority of the population.

Whether or not it is the ‘position’ of ‘scientists’, life does in fact begin at conception. Sorry to break it to you.

albatross July 1, 2014 at 11:56 pm

The sperm and egg look pretty alive even before conception. There is a moral question about what things are morally wrong to kill through action or inaction. That is a question on which science can’t really shine any light at all.

Barkley Rosser July 2, 2014 at 12:01 am

Sorry to break it to you, Art Deco, but life started a long time before conception, which is about life ending, namely that of the sperm. The ovum was already alive before conception. Every cell in your body is alive. You have been listening to too much propaganda.

So, while I am at it on the core issue for those of you who like to rant about “killing babies,” the theological issue involves “ensoulment.” On that opinion varies from conception, the view of the Catholic Church and its famously celibate experts on such matters, through 40 days after conception. to the taking of the first breath at birth. If you are not into ensoulment, then it is a gradual process, which may support the widely held views that there is a stronger case for outlawing abortion the later in a pregnancy one goes.

There is also the matter of what the Bible says about abortion. If you listen to lots of people, they are convinced that this “abortion is murder” view is pronounced in the Bible. It is not, and in fact the only passages in the Bible make it clear that it is not remotely close to murder in evil. So, the only passage in the Bible about this is in Exodus 2: 21-22 (might be slightly off on that, but it is just before the famous “eye for an eye” passage). While murder and such other things as children disobeying their parents and couples having sex while the wife is having her period are all punishable by stoning to death, if a man physically attacks a pregnant women thereby causing her to miscarry, this is punishable by….him paying a fine to her family. Really. Not murder, not even close. More like a parking ticket.

BTW, good luck with your studies of biology, “Art Deco,” (and I have seen you making a total fool of yourself here previously).

Thomas July 2, 2014 at 5:58 am

Barkley,

What more should we say to you? You claimed to opposed this ruling on the merits, then posted extensive diatribes to attack strawmen opponents’ distaste for, and to confirm your support, of abortion. You lob useless ad hominem attacks at your opponents here, all the while representing yourself, your profession, and your employer. And, most important, you betray your prejudice and racism toward White Male Catholics, when your need to scapegoat them is so urgent that you can’t even stop to realize that one of “the five” is, in fact, African-American. Who knows, maybe in addition to blaming the problems of this nation on White Male Catholics, you intentionally meant to imply that Justice Thomas had lost his ‘black card’?

You may be able to write, but you can’t devise an effective argument here: your position is a tangled, contradictory mess.

So Much for Subtlety July 2, 2014 at 6:59 am

Barkley Rosser July 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm

With this many replies to my comment, I shall have to be selective.

Selective? Evasive more like it.

Sorry, while it is a Catholic Church position that life starts at conception, that it is not the position of scientists, most other religions, or the majority of the population.

I am not sure that is true. Scientists have a debate on this issue but usually it is not about whether life starts at conception – and it clearly does – but whether that life is valuable or worthy of rights until some later point, and if so, at what point.

Regarding the Catholicism of those making this decision, three of them have close links to Opus Dei, and the reasoning used by Alito regarding “complicity” is straight Catholic Church doctrine.

Oh my God! You mean they got secret decoder rings! The terrible thing is you don’t see what an utter bigot you are. You would not say that Ginsberg has a close relationship with a Jewish organization. Why would you say it about a Catholic one? A legal group at that. Any evidence Opus Dei is secretly writing their opinions? Not that I can see. There is no evidence any of them except Scalia is even a practicing Catholic. What is the evidence for this alleged link?

Finally, it is in fact the case that what is going on here is precisely that the owners or whoever is running these closely held corporations are being given the right to impose their religious beliefs on their workers.

No they are not. Now you’re lying. This ruling allows management to NOT do something. Not to impose their views on anyone. Anyone at Hobby Lobby can go out and get an abortion. Take all the Plan B they like. They just can’t ask someone who thinks it is murder to pay for it.

The only people trying to impose their religious beliefs is you and people on your side. You think that abortion is such a holy sacrament that it has to be forced on everyone.

Deal with it. If this ruling is libertarianism, then I am the Pope. It opens the door to corporatist religious oppression.

Any decision that limits the power of government and increases the choices among ordinary people to live their lives as they see fit is more liberal than what you want. Liberal Fascism indeed.

Art Deco July 2, 2014 at 9:06 am

Dr. Rosser, a Zygote is a distinct entity and performs metabolic processes. At the end of its gestation process, you get a human being, not a cell. Sorry you’ve elected top lose yourself in sophistry.

Art Deco July 2, 2014 at 9:11 am

With this many replies to my comment, I shall have to be selective.

And then you proceed to ‘selectively’ devote a third of your verbiage to lobbing insults at people and the rest to irrelevant red herrings.

Barkley Rosser July 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Just two comments, and then I think I shall quit this thread, which has pretty much gone off the rails.

On the matter of the religiosity of current justices, it is not just a matter of attendance, but several of the justices are associated with extreme movements and branches of Catholicism. I have no problem with them attending where they want to or associating with whom they want to, but when they interject their religious views into court rulings as happened in this case, then I object.

The second is a point in Justice Ginsburg’s dissent that I believe has not been mentioned so far. All the arguments you people proclaiming this a triumph of religious liberty when it is a triumph or religious oppression should keep in mind that exactly the arguments you are making, exactly, are ones that were made before the passage of the civil rights act a half century ago regarding the “rights” of businesses not to serve blacks. The claim was made then by some of them that they did not wish to do so for religious reasons, and they had Biblical support for their position based on an old argument that God cursed the descendants of Ham for shaming his father, Noah, and that Africans were the descendants of Ham and therefore did not deserve equal treatment. Very frankly, there is more Biblical support for that position than for the position that abortion is “baby killing” that several of you (including Andrew, go check your own posts, please) seem to support.

And now, I am outtahere.

Art Deco July 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm

On the matter of the religiosity of current justices, it is not just a matter of attendance, but several of the justices are associated with extreme movements and branches of Catholicism.

There is nothing particularly ‘extreme’ about Opus Dei (it’s mainline orthodox Catholic and old-school traditionalists tend to be leery of it) and you’ve cited not one reputable source which would indicate that any of the justices are Opus Dei supernumeraries (and the idea is quite incredible re Anthony Kennedy). Only Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas attended Catholic colleges for any component of their schooling and neither one attended a steadfast institution. The notion that Anthony Kennedy is any friend to the civic activities of serious lay Catholics is laugh-out-loud funny and the advocate in front of the court for one of his more dubious decisions was none other than John Roberts during his days in private practice. As for Samuel Alito, whose unmarried late 20s spawn are employed in law firm and p.r. firm respectively, his brood does not look any different than any other professional class family.

And none of this matters. Were talking about what is required under a federal statute enacted in 1993 and you’re lobbing ad homs at a bunch of judges with which you have only cursory familiarity (as well as confounding just who is attempting to coerce who).

andrew' July 3, 2014 at 2:46 am

Oh, so you are now just a troll and provise an insult but can’t even dispute a single comment. I have no rant on baby killing. I was making a point to dirk that people actually do have sincere strongly held beliefs that bleed into their personal business decisions and don’t mean they are just playing at politics.

Now that you are just a pompous troll that is how I will treat you.

Careless July 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

So we found the subject that turns Rosser into a moron. Weird.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:37 am

Barkley, you can’t even get your first sentence about one of my comments correct.

I did not rant against “killng babies.”

For the record, the whole discussion is about how people cannot relate to the views of others. And when Dirk attempted to ironically dismiss this case as not being about sincerely held beliefs but about some secret aspect of “the abortion debate” I pointed out that to people on the other side of the “debate” they think it is more than a debate.

That’s all.

Otherwise, your criticism might bother me. Alas it doesn’t. AT all.

The scary thing is that you hold signaling certs that means other people have to (or used to) take you seriously.

Did you ever read closely?

All my comments are completely open to response.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:39 am

For example, when Paul Krugman makes a stupid comment about comparable pay, I point out that probably no one and certainly not he has done actual comparables.

Anyone is welcome to respond. No one can. Least of all Krugman or any of his sycophants. and teamies That’s why they don’t, not because I make too many comments to respond to.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:46 am

Btw, government draws arbitrary lines. It’s what they do.

I’d prefer a market, maybe like, employers and employees being free to decide their own benefits.

No one here said anything about the rule being libertarianism or anything else you claim.

You still don’t see you are choosing your side first, and then turning on your broken record player.

Benny Lava July 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm

You guys were fast to fulfill Godwin’s Law. I guess that means the libertarians lose this round?

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Touche`

You win this round!

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mofo. July 1, 2014 at 4:13 pm

People who cite Godwin’s Law are like the Nazis.

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So Much for Subtlety July 1, 2014 at 4:20 pm

First they came for the people who cited Godwin’s law …..

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albatross July 1, 2014 at 11:57 pm

…but they were a bunch of goddamn nazis, so I said nothing….

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm

“The court’s latest decision promises to reignite a national debate over women’s health and access to contraception ahead of this fall’s midterm elections. It is likely to force House and Senate candidates to answer for whether they supported the contraception coverage, a provision that’s more politically popular than the law itself. Advocates have promised to make it an election issue.”

Red pills, get ‘cher red pills here, red pills!!!

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm
cheesetrader July 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Been thinking about this whole contraception mandate thingie – isn’t discriminatory in a way? The “right”/privilege/whathaveyou is necessarily restricted to a single beneficiary sex.

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cheesetrader July 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Re #3 – no discussion about Megan’s veiled and wonderfully cynical assertion that the administration set this up as a massive fundraising and outrage machine? See the last couple paragraphs wherein she notes A) this could easily have been avoided and B) the gov’t had to know they were likely to lose.

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Andrew' July 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

How did you miss my insinuations of same? But I doubt they did it with that much foresight. It’s more like a play-option where the linebacker bites.

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cheesetrader July 1, 2014 at 4:50 pm

My bad – didn’t read up thread perhaps as deeply as I ought to have.

Never let a good controversy go to wa$te

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

I was kidding.

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Michael July 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that everything that this administration does anymore is simply trying to Troll the right.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

I told you this too.

Also kidding. I did, but still kidding.

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Shep July 2, 2014 at 12:43 am

Of course, something has been taken away. It’s the something called money. After all, the insurance all employers offer is paid for with money not given to employees. It’s only in this country that we permit employers to not give us money so we can’t do what we wish (like purchase insurance with or without coverage for contraception). Instead it’s the employers–another faux father–who knows what’s best. What would you say if a pickpocket bought you something you didn’t want with the money he took from you and said that was not only legal but his right?

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carlospln July 2, 2014 at 3:15 am

The McCardle post is the most inarticulate word-salad I’ve read for quite a while. (I’ve successfully avoided her since she got fired by The Atlantic).

Why DOES the blogger here afford her oxygen?

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Nigel July 2, 2014 at 5:00 am

Why DOES the blogger here afford her oxygen?

Mood affiliation ?

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cheesetrader July 2, 2014 at 8:34 am

I’m guessing b/c he’s of the opposite mindset.

Just a hunch

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

If you don’t see the talent of Megan McArdle, you are a dumbass.

It may be because of mood affiliation clouding your rationality, but who cares why, really.

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Art Deco July 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

Agreed.

She’s always been a polite and temperate voice, never strongly aligned, and does not play games with her readers. For all that, she’s engaging enough that her work garners three and four digit comment threads day after day. Yet, she has for baffling reasons had vitriolic critics some of whom formed themselves into a stalker site. None of that crew seemed terribly knowledgeable about her subject matter. It was personal.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

You are right, I was kidding.

I don’t really care what that dumbass thinks.

I’m done dealing with jackasses. That’s why I stick to the obvious observation.

I say Michael Bay makes shit not for any other reason that Michael Bay makes shit. His next movie will be shit (Pain and Gain was a clean no-wiper, but still shit).

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm

For example, my first exposure to Megan McArdle was her flawed criticism of Ron Paul. Even she had some trouble seeing the obvious, which I commented on her site. I’m sure she’s still completely wrong due to mood affiliation reasons, but it doesn’t make me be wrong about her for mood affiliation reasons.

Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

See how I don’t even make friends with the people I defend by making conciliatory appeals?

No mood affiliation gene.

So, dumbass, what do you have to say for yourself?

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:05 am

Well, here is one thing that represents about 23.6% of my comment content that now Ezekiel Emanuel is finally on-board with, a little late to the party of nearly all other unanimous economists. But I guess I should update my priors and assume that now that Emanuel agrees with one of the no-brainer comments I’ve made now I should suspect it is wrong.

Ezekiel Emanuel, a former health care adviser to Obama, told CNN that the Hobby Lobby ruling raises awareness among Americans of the challenges and limitations in having most people get their health insurance through their employer.

Obama’s health care reforms introduced the public to government health insurance exchanges, and now people might be more open to other options instead of depending on their employer for health coverage.

“There does become, I think, an increasing argument that, look, the best thing is for individuals to decide how they get their health insurance now, without employers telling them what’s on the services being covered and the services not being covered,” said Emanuel, the brother of Chicago mayor and former Obama top aide Rahm Emanuel.

“I think this adds one more pebble to the balance between is it better for employers to continue to cover or is it better for people to, say, get a voucher or a defined contribution from their employer and shop in an exchange on their own, so they’re not restricted by their employer as to what they can buy and what they can’t buy,” he told CNN.

Despite the chorus of reaction, Rauch of Brookings said Monday’s ruling launched a debate on limits of policies and legislation rather than reinterpreting the Constitution.

“The bottom line is nobody should hyperventilate about this ruling,” he said. “It’s the beginning of a conversation about where to draw these lines, not the end of a conversation.”

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

(in other words, gfy)

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

Hint ^^^^

(and who told you that Obama was going in the wrong direction 3 years ago)

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:14 am

And not because of “me,” so don’t get it twisted. Anyone else can listen to the near unanimity of economists and recognize there is a near unanimity of economists. Why don’t they though? That’s the point. Again, my whole schtick is just saying things you know are true but refuse to believe.

For example, it took this ruling for Emanuel to “add another pebble to the balance” that insurance shouldn’t be employer linked. Why?!?!

Mood affiliation.

Yes, we know it was invented here. And thank god.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-01/hobby-lobby-ruling-complicates-obamacare-birth-control.html

“This was a political objective that was being put out by the White House that was put on the shoulders of HHS,” Ferguson said. “They said, ’You guys figure it out,’ essentially.”

While the system may work for TPAs that are owned by insurers, Ferguson said that no independent TPA — there are more than 300 in the U.S. — has found an insurer willing to join with it. Since the birth-control benefit began Jan. 1, the costs to independent TPAs are potentially in the millions of dollars, he said, with no certainty they’ll ever be paid back.

Ferguson’s association asked the health department in a February letter to pay the TPAs directly; the agency doesn’t believe it has legal authority to do that, he said. He said he plans to raise the issue with the government again this week.

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Andrew' July 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

So, that’s another 15.7% of my comment content.

So, to summarize, this is a new thing, not Hobby Lobby looking for a fight, foisted ham-handedly for political purposes by an adminstration wanting to make political hay.

The only question is why are these observations so non-obvious to some people? Mood affiliation!

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Larry Siegel July 2, 2014 at 11:40 pm

4. David Brooks’ article on airbnb is pretty good – it’s not one of his masterpieces. But I made the mistake of clicking on “view comments” on the NY Times web site. The comments consist of several dozen pages of idiotic hate mail. If I were Brooks I wouldn’t be able to write the column. AARGH.

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