Saturday, July 05, 2014

Move toward the light

By Capt. Fogg

Yes, it's easy to look on the dark side of the recent Supreme Court decisions allowing corporations to claim religious convictions and attendant relief from legal obligations. One can suspect that it's part of a progression toward full citizenship and voting rights for paper entities and perhaps even a superior status to the individual. If Subaru can claim that it builds cars with love, and a retail store chain to have religious scruples, then of course a corporation must be not only fully human in its own right, but an American citizen. More than an American citizen: a citizen not bound by the results of free elections to which we living breathing citizens are obliged to acquiesce.

Can't we see a bright side?  Perhaps now that a paper and ink 'person' can avoid obligations for religious reasons, a flesh and blood person can be forgiven for not reciting what constitutes a religious oath every morning and some evenings.  If a corporate store owner can refuse to provide insurance to pay for blood transfusions or vaccinations or indeed medical care of any kind if it files an affidavit stating such things to be a grave moral wrong, how then do I not have the right to a line item veto over my tax obligation?  There's a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel and it's the light of anarchy. Libertarians rejoice, we don't have to do anything we don't want to do.

It's not that the courts haven't made exceptions for individual moral and religious convictions in our history. Churches and Synagogues were allowed to use sacramental wine during Prohibition and conscience was allowed as an exemption from the draft, so long as one could document membership in an appropriate group. We have long given preference to group-think over individual conviction and the sun shines on little that is new.

Cynicism aside, do not the three recent decisions suggest that the problem hinges on the fact that we expect employers to pay directly for benefits to employees rather than to do as we do with Medicare: take it out of their paychecks?  Were we to pay for health care out of general revenue dissidents would have to claim the right to set their own tax obligations outside of  Democratic processes, making the shortcomings of  radical Libertarianism somewhat more apparent.  A single payer system would not overly burden certain employers and would not punish those out of work.  It would make organized sexual perversion less able to persist by calling itself Christianity while stepping on our lives.  It's time.

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OpenID duffandnonsense said...

I thought that "stepping on our lives" was more likely to occur if the government insists that people pay for other people to have abortions.

David Duff

4:29:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

The pill in question is not an abortion in my opinion nor the Bible's opinion, but I'm forced by our "Christian values" people to pay for executions and assassinations and wars and a host of other things that are distinctly immoral, but of course, Christianity in America being primarily a kind of sexual phobia, you're not talking about that, are you?

As I said, the burden of health care shouldn't be on employers at all - and it wouldn't be but for Republican and religious obstructionists, but whine and whimper all you want, believing something doesn't give you special status. If you wan't psychotics and liars and tyrants in office, vote for them. The government is us and if you don't like Democracy, there are other places.

7:41:00 PM  
OpenID duffandnonsense said...

You raise some interesting points. To avoid any misunderstanding I am a 'Christian' only in the sense of having been brought up in a Christian country but I am what you might call a 'fundamentalist' agnostic! (Although, I confess - mea culpa! - that I do cut the grass in my neighbouring church even if I never attend it!)

I'm not sure what pill you are talking of but if it destroys a foetus then in my view it is an abortion, or, as I prefer to put it, killing a human being. To me, life begins at the meeting of sperm and egg. I am happy to change my mind on that so long as anyone can come up with a proposition that pinpoints *exactly and precisely* when a foetus is simply a bundle of pulsating cells and when it is human. I stress exactitude because a minute one way or another and you are either involved in a minor medical procedure or a killing!

Whilst I sympathise with you being forced to be, in effect, an accessory to "executions and assassinations and wars and a host of other things that are distinctly immoral", unfortunately you live in a democracy where other people's opinions hold sway. I write "unfortunately" but, of course, in reality you are very fortunate, you could, for example, live in North Korea!

David Duff

6:39:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

The hobby store people in question were objecting to insurance plans that covered the modest cost of drugs like PREVENĀ® which inhibit the uterine implantation of a fertilized egg, thus making the woman temporarily infertile. It does not destroy that egg, it simply keeps it from finding a home.

I find it hard to call that "abortion" since I cannot really see such a tiny bit of protoplasm as a human being with civil rights any more than a stem cell in a test tube, being potentially human, is is therefore a human.

I think that such things are being called human for religious reasons only and by a religion I have no affinity for and which I blame for a substantial portion of human ills.

I believe the origin of this political movement is the notion that having a "soul" at the moment the nuclei of two gametes merge -- and a soul that will go to hell if some ritual is not performed over it, the thing needs to be "saved". This isn't the sort of voodoo government should be involved in. Souls are God's business, not the government's business. God can handle it as he pleases.

The history of religious meddling with civil law in America is long and sad, and freedom from it has been won at a price. Christianity has been at the heart of anti-Semitism. Christian objections to "race mixing" deemed my marriage a felony until 1967. Religious support for segregation is far from dead and Christianity in America is passionately involved in the marginalization and persecution of homosexuals. Some heavily Christian states forbid unbelievers to hold public office. Christianity is successfully opposing the teaching of science in America. I could go on, but while freedom of religion is defined as freedom only for the religious, I won't be quiet about it.

9:21:00 AM  
OpenID duffandnonsense said...

Thank you for that, it made conduct a quick internet check on *some* of the more arcane details.

I take your point that abortion, strictly speaking, is not involved in this case, only fertilisation prevention. However, I can also understand that that practice would be anathema to people with certain philosophical views. In other words, the government is forcing certain individuals (the directors and shareholders of a company who possess these views) to be part of an action they consider abhorrent on ethical grounds.

Another example would be any of the increasing number of Muslim Americans who would refuse any medical treatments containing pork fat and it is very probable that Muslim-owned companies would jib at providing medical insurance to their workers if there was any risk of a forbidden substance being used in their treatment.

I agree that such exceptions may be irritating, particularly to those enthralled with the notion of a 'Big Government' which always knows best but in a democracy you have to work these things out with some give and take on both sides.

David Duff

2:56:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

We're not talking about individuals since the individuals in question here are, by the very nature of corporations, NOT the corporation itself. They are not liable as individuals for the corporation's debts or for meeting its obligations and with some exceptions, not for it's actions. As an individual I do not have the legal right to edit my taxes for moral content. Why should a corporation have that right? Is there a difference between funds you are required to pay by law and a tax?

The principle I find dangerous was established recently when the court decided a corporation is a person and has the rights of a person and a person separate from the owners and directors.

If we have now established that a legal entity can have a certain religion of its own and so seek exemption from regulations and obligations, I think as one judge said - we've entered a minefield. If I'm a Jew, can I claim that a corporation I hold a majority of is Muslim? Who is to say otherwise? Can my Muslim corporation forbid employees to eat lunch during Ramadan? If my religion worships Ahura Mazda, can I refuse to provide fire extinguishers as an abomination to the fire god? This whole thing reduces to absurdity without any help from me.

Now, as an employer, can I censor what my employees do with their pay? Can I demand that they not buy pork with it or spend it on drink or, since my Corporation is Muslim, donate to Christian charities? Can I censor what they choose to receive as a benefit for insurance I'm required to provide? Wouldn't it be up to that individual alone to decide to use birth control or have any legal procedure? Isn't this the same question? Are we making the law, the tax code optional -- a buffet from which we choose according to our taste? Be careful of the mines!

Employees or their families are not obligated to accept any medicine or treatment any more than they are obliged to spend their pay on drink. Pay and benefits are the property of the employee and as the Christian Bible purports to say, the workman is worthy of his hire. Pay your employees and pay your taxes and shut the hell up, saith the Lord.

No one is requiring these stockholders to use birth control themselves or to lead a healthy or moral or holy life -- only to compensate their employees for their labor in a way determined by democratic processes.

10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I'm so late to this but, well said as always Fogg. Thanks so much for keeping this place alive while I'm in hiding.

2:03:00 PM  

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