Jezebel is no stranger to controversy. Although I’m sure the site has gained at least as many readers as it has lost due to the irreverent style and snippy attitude of many of its contributors, it is especially annoying when their commentary is grounded in economic fallacy.
Last week, in a post detailing some of the companies who are fighting against provisions in the Affordable Care Act that require companies cover various forms of birth control that these companies find offensive on religious grounds, Jezebel writer Katie M. Baker stated,
“When conservative blowhards argue that women should pay for their own damn contraception, they really mean women should pay for their own sluttish decisions; religious right talking heads never tire of asking why employers should subsidize sinful lifestyles. But here’s the real question: why should women bear the cost of their employers’ noxious moral beliefs?”
Here are some reasons Katie’s reasoning is not only bigoted, but also economically wasteful and dangerous to individual liberty.
Just because it exists does not mean it should be provided to you at a subsidized cost.
Compulsorily requiring any company or person to grant birth control of any form for “free” creates a price floor for that organization, much like minimum wage laws. Now, instead of having the flexibility to increase compensation with cash, employers are required to pay up more to insurance companies for benefits their employees may or may not use. I really freaking need a new car; mine is old and unreliable. Does that mean that my employer should buy it for me?
Similarly, health coverage of any sort is a form of compensation
I don’t know about Baker, but when I accepted my current job, I negotiated a certain starting wage. While they could have elected to pay me anywhere from the minimum wage (which would be about $18,000 a year) to infinity dollars, we came to the mutually beneficial arrangement of my current salary plus the benefits of health and life insurance. Health insurance is a cost that businesses incur and is factored into their personnel costs. While I am no more entitled to health insurance than I am any compensation not agreed to by the two parties involved, had my employer not offered health insurance, I would have negotiated for a higher salary.
Corporations are run by real people
While it is up for debate whether corporations should be legally protected as “people,” they certainly are owned and run by people with their own set of beliefs. How many times have I heard complaints of Christians “forcing” their morals on others? Is someone without religious belief pressing their ideals and convictions on Christians any more excusable? The right to practice your religion, or lack thereof, is protected by the Constitution. The government shouldn’t be able to tell business owners how to utilize their resources anymore than they should be able to tell you how to spend your money or time.
Your decisions regarding your sex life are, and should be, your own.
When making those decisions you should weigh the spiritual, physical, and economic consequences of your actions. Thus, when deciding to use birth control, that should also be your decision with its own set of ramifications. Taking the economic cost of birth control out of the equation certainly alters the decision you may make, but that doesn’t mean it should be an entitlement.
The organizations suing to be exempt from this provision are not just trying to be cheap
These companies all have histories of incorporating their beliefs into the way they run their businesses. One of the most visible examples, Hobby Lobby, is a privately held (not publicly traded) company whose stockholders all have the same convictions and beliefs regarding the matter of abortion. Hobby Lobby displays Bible verses, plays Christian music over the intercom, and is closed on Sunday; is there any question whether this company has certain convictions, regardless of their tax status?
It’s not really about abortion or the morality of contraception; it’s about ownership and religious freedom. When considering this issue, women shouldn’t ask whether or not a bunch of Christian “blowhards” are worried about their “sluttish” souls (Baker’s words, not mine), but if the government action on this issue has serious ramifications and implications for their personal liberty in the future.