Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday Brain Teaser 1-8-12

Not a brain teaser in the traditional sense, but a question I'd like an answer for....

Is there any reason why we can't use the military model of conscientious objection as a compromise solution for the contraception mandate part of the Affordable Care Act?  Wouldn't it make sense to allow organizations to apply, show that their objections stem from a deeply held religious belief that has influenced their business/organization in many ways, and offer up a different public service in lieu of the coverage they found objectionable?  Say, a donation to a child health program in the state?  

I try not to get political here, but I don't see why we're having a national fight over Faith vs Public Good when we've actually already had this discussion and come up with a solution that seemed to work relatively well?  

Someone get me Mitt Romney's email address...he's more than qualified and I hear he's not busy right now.

Please raise objections, I'm honestly curious why this wouldn't work.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I see where you are headed but the metaphor is problematic. That would make using contraception a patriotic duty. Hmmmm...

    1. Not true. If this were a metaphor, it would make providing coverage for contraception the patriotic duty.

      But I really wasn't going for metaphor. I was just trying to think of a situation in which something made compulsory by the government violated deeply held religious beliefs and how that was handled.

      I have this fear that there are two protests that are getting mixed up here: people who don't like the ACA itself, and people who have a religious objection to part of it. If I were to find a metaphor, it's would be like the later years of Vietnam. There were those who were opposed to us being there, and those who were opposed to all war. While there's obvious overlap, we seem to have held as a society that the latter group deserves special consideration while everyone else fights it out the usual way.

      What I liked about this idea is that you do put up some barriers so that not everyone who opposes the bill in general can suddenly claim religious exemption, while trying to allow those who have always held this belief some relief.

      It's an imperfect solution, but it's a lousy situation. I think we need some sort of compromise position on a few things, since this whole one side crushing the other to their will thing is going to bring nothing but bitterness.

  3. I highly doubt the Obama administration would accept that anyone could conscientiously object to their mandate. Or, actually, could accept it. Clearly a right-wing plot!

  4. There's a lot of reasons why this is a non-starter-- first of all, because the administration can simply reply: "you don't have to provide these services, you just have to pay the financial cost of providing them to the government" i.e. $2000/worker. See, no ethical issue! You're just greedy!

    Larger questions: why does being a Catholic plumber, or shopkeeper, or educator, suddenly make you responsible for providing "equivalent public services" in healthcare? How would said plumbers, shopkeepers, etc. show that Catholicism "influences" their businesses? Why is founding and running 10% of America's healthcare system not "public service" enough for Catholics to avoid being slandered as a group opposed to providing legitimate access to healthcare for all?

    One more comment: this is a great example of what happens when government tries to take on a role that it is utterly unsuited for. There's no reason to believe that the federal government has any particular talent for writing the details of insurance policies. Remember the arguments about whether ketchup is a vegetable when served in a school lunch? The root of that problem is that the federal government was trying to do something (arrange for school lunches) that somebody else (the parents) actually should be doing. Even if some parents do it badly (or not at all), there's still no reason to think that the federal government is going to do it better-- and plenty of reason to think that it will end up being 1) worse for the average person, 2) not fix the actual worst situations, 3) be very expensive, and 4) waste enormous amounts of time on unanswerable questions.

    1. To be clear, my actual solution to the whole problem is to get rid of the employer based healthcare system entirely. I think people should buy health insurance themselves with the coverage they want, much like auto or life insurance. So I agree with you there.

      The above solution was an attempt to sidestep the impending court battle over whether or not a secular business can have religious freedom or not. I think both sides need to be pondering contingency plans if the court rules against them.