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December 09, 2013

Comments

"My personal theory is more along the lines of: that's a nice tax break you have there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it. Maybe you should contribute to my PAC, so's I can see about protecting it?"

Those theories are not at all inconsistent. My theory? Both are true, with a little bit of actual good governance mixed in. A very little bit.

Ugh, my 4:52 is a mess of misspellings and misunderstandings. Probably better for all to ignore it. Sorry.

that, after all, is the whole purpose of tax breaks -- to obscure the costs of doing things.

This seems like an overstatement, to me.

My impression (perhaps naive) has always been that tax breaks are often used to encourage desirable behavior.

Which you may or may not see as a good thing, or appropriate for the government to be doing, but it's not really the same thing as obscuring costs, deliberately or otherwise.

For example, what cost does a charitable deduction obscure?

You're correct, russell. It was definitely an overstatement. Not wrong in far too many cases, but still an overstatement.

I'm not understanding the stock option part...is it about how the treatment they get as income?

With that example, I was simply trying to point out that there are in fact constraints placed on compensation that dictate what can be done with them after that compensation has changed hands.

Because there seemed to be concerns about the employer dictating what the employee could do with compensation in the form of insurance. Which isn't what was being proposed, so: confusion.

Call it fodder for discussion, rather than any kind of imagined, telling, point.

For example, what cost does a charitable deduction obscure?

The cost to the taxpayer of encouraging people to give to charities, is my answer.

And now I suspect myself of having argued my way full circle around the tax-deduction question. Over a period of years, I mean; not over the course of this thread.

You're going to have to deal with me and people like me on the soapbox, at the ballot box, and in the jury box. And I'll have to deal with you and people like you. And both of us will have to deal with people neither of us agree with.

Not only did you misunderstand my point, but you also failed to notice that I was responding to a particular philosophical point addressed by Charles WT.

I wouldn't be here if I weren't interested in exchanging views. You seem to identify as a "libertarian," but despite all of your many comments, I'm not sure why you object to a health care system that requires everyone to chip in, and in return yields a more equitable health care system (where taxpayers aren't asked to pay for overpriced emergency room care for the uninsured).

It's interesting to me that the people who objected to universal health care in the first place are the same ones having a hissy fit over contraceptive coverage. I've lost track of whether you fall into that category, thompson.

I will say that people who accuse "government" of interfering with their ability to accumulate wealth, without recognizing the role that government plays in creating the conditions for wealth in the first place, are seriously missing something.

With that example, I was simply trying to point out that there are in fact constraints placed on compensation that dictate what can be done with them after that compensation has changed hands.

Well, I first raised them in response to

A company can, at any time, change any part of your compensation package.

Where the point was that the government does, in fact, have considerable control over what changes can be made to compensation already. So it's not a legal novelty that they might add another requirement.
I think you're now using it to argue that *employees* can expect some strings on their compensation, and that whether they're in the hands of government or business isn't important. Is that correct?
[I actually can't offhand think of any post-facto control that corps have over benefits; even those exercised through the corp (eg blackout periods) are derived from government regulation].

Which makes me wonder (in light of the Amish opt-out for Social Security) whether HL supporters think employers could opt out of *other* current legal requirements. Could a Satanist refuse to provide ADA accommodations on the grounds that helping the weak is against their religion? Could a Christian Identity believer discriminate against nonwhites in hiring?

thompson- this goes back to my concern about judging 'sincerity'; Im just about certain that neither of those would be permitted even if Hobby Lobby wins. Either because majority religious beliefs will be considered 'more sincere' or because the state's need will conveniently become more 'compelling' when used against a religious minority.

"This seems like an overstatement, to me. My impression (perhaps naive) has always been that tax breaks are often used to encourage desirable behavior."

It's probably a little overstated, but I don't think they are mutually exclusive. Some things can be both to encourage good behavior and also obscure the cost of doing so.

Tax expenditures can be a useful tool, but since many of the budget debates in DC and around the country are cast in terms of how much we spend vs. how much we take in, and tax expenditures are typically rolled into the equation as a loss on what we take in, this can obscure the cost of encouraging desirable behavior.

For example, charitable giving is a noble goal, and the government decided to fund it. But instead of allocating funds, they instead decide to take a hit in revenue.

Really, this shouldn't make a difference, except at passing glance, spending isn't increased but our revenues are down. DC gets to look fiscally responsible ("no new spending!"). It's not something that holds up to scrutiny, but sadly much of the public debate doesn't involve scrutiny.

I'm not saying its without value, frex It's probably a convenient way to do the accounting for both sides...it's way easier to fill in a number on your 1040 then it is to sign an affidavit or what have you and get the government to mail you a check.

However, as the CBO blog (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/42919) says:

"But because they are not readily identifiable in the budget and are generally not subject to annual reauthorization, tax expenditures are much less transparent than spending on entitlement programs."

"Not only did you misunderstand my point,"

Sorry, sapiant, I understand that its frustrating to have your point misunderstood. Maybe you could clarify it? It was that taxes (or other revenue generation for the state) is an integral part of having a functioning state, I'd agree.

"but you also failed to notice that I was responding to a particular philosophical point addressed by Charles WT. "

I noticed you quoted him. But you said "you libertarians". Unless Charles is actually several people, it seems your comment was aimed at more than just him.

But even if you weren't aiming at me and just at Charles: I've haven't gotten the impression that Charles was advocating for an anarchy...I was under the impression he didn't like the way tax law was being discussed. I think wishing him to leave was unwarranted.

"I wouldn't be here if I weren't interested in exchanging views."

I know! That's what I'm saying! I'm just thought your comment was not indicative of that, and quite possibly indicted something else entirely.

"but despite all of your many comments, I'm not sure why you object to a health care system that requires everyone to chip in"

I made many comments about that on a different thread. My recollection was that you said you were uninterested in another rehashing of the ACA.

Which is fair.

But if you're curious about my views on it, I'd suggest starting there.

"having a hissy fit over contraceptive coverage. I've lost track of whether you fall into that category, thompson."

I like to think I'm not having a hissy fit. If your point is that there is a purely politically motivated drive backing HL...I'd agree it's likely. That doesn't mean that HL and all of its supporters are insincere. Any case against any facet of such a controversial law is going to have pundits climbing out of the woodwork.

"I will say that people who accuse "government" of interfering with their ability to accumulate wealth, without recognizing the role that government plays in creating the conditions for wealth in the first place, are seriously missing something."

What Charles said: "No, the government is foregoing taking something it could otherwise take. That is, unless you believe all wealth belongs to the government except for such wealth it magnanimously allows us to keep."

You replied, in part: "Do you honestly think that without government, your wealth would be remotely the same as it is now?"

I'm really unclear how you got there from his statement (which, I also think was a little snarky). If I had to interpret his views, I'd say he was going for people own their wealth, and he objects to the characterization of the government taking less of the wealth as "giving".

Not that he would have equivalent wealth if the government was not present, or that the government isn't a factor in the environment that allows him to keep and accumulate wealth.

But I'm not him, and he wouldn't be the first person I've misunderstood.

Carleton:

"thompson- this goes back to my concern about judging 'sincerity'; Im just about certain that neither of those would be permitted even if Hobby Lobby wins. "

I think you're probably right. Minority positions are always going to be at risk of disenfranchisement. I'm just not sure of a better way of protecting them than our courts.

Call it fodder for discussion, rather than any kind of imagined, telling, point.

OK to leave it at that, but I'm still a bit confused about it...I find that happens more often now that I'm north of 60. Hopefully Medicare covers this and nobody expresses a deep conscientious objection.

If your point is that there is a purely politically motivated drive backing HL...I'd agree it's likely. That doesn't mean that HL and all of its supporters are insincere.

I would certainly doubt it sincerity.

I think wishing him to leave was unwarranted.

This is what I was referring to about missing my point. Apparently you failed to read my comment carefully enough to know that I wasn't advocating "loving or leaving" the U.S., but just that people might put some muscle into their professed beliefs by giving it a try. Not because I don't want to interact with them, but because it might be a good experiment. My impression is that "libertarians" typically don't have the courage of their convictions. They live in a country with the advantages of a bureaucracy, a tax structure and a safety net, and typically aren't starving or having to make ends meet by working from scratch. Still, they profess not to support bureaucracy, taxes, or safety nets. They seem reluctant to go to the many areas of the world where they could live their freedom. I'm not demanding that they leave; I'm just wondering why this country is so attractive when so many places exist where they could pursue their dream.

Sorry if that offends, but this is a forum where people can speak their mind.

As to your other gloss on my exchange with the other commenter, I'll assume he can fend for himself.

They [extreme libertarians] seem reluctant to go to the many areas of the world where they could live their freedom. I'm not demanding that they leave; I'm just wondering why this country is so attractive when so many places exist where they could pursue their dream.

So much better put than my attempts earlier. They profess to love the country . . . just nothing about the way it is actually run.

I think you're probably right. Minority positions are always going to be at risk of disenfranchisement. I'm just not sure of a better way of protecting them than our courts.

Then, as sort of a corollary- if it's not an unbearable burden for a Muslim woman to have her picture taken for a driver's license, and it's not unbearable for a Christian Identity believer to have to hire a black worker, then I don't see a reason to view HL's burden in paying for a healthcare plan than includes things that they (ostensibly) have a religious objection to be so significant as to require protection.
The worst case scenario for the First Amendment in my book is if it not only doesn't protect minority views, it also becomes a battering ram for pushing majority religious viewpoints into the public sphere- limiting government action to what large religious blocks find acceptable.

The cost to the taxpayer of encouraging people to give to charities, is my answer.

OK, I see where you (and wj and thompson) are coming from.

It took a couple of hours, sometimes I'm slow like that. Thanks for your patience.

wj:

"[extreme libertarians]"

I think that is the key. And I think extremism from all aspects of the political spectrum is pretty much as damaging.

I know several self-described libertarians who advocate in lower taxes, limited government, end to the drug war, no foreign wars of aggression, etc, etc, etc

The "extreme libertarians" you speak of do not represent the views of (in my experience) most libertarians. Nor my understanding of the libertarian party platform.

I have yet to meet an actual person that is extreme enough to advocate for anarchism or anything that should be confused with it. They exist, I'm sure, but I don't think they represent mainstream thought.

Medicare for all. Private secondary insurance. Uniform federal standards for who qualifies for Medicaid, with COLAs based on locality. Employers pay money to employees, taxes to governments, and get to spend zero time and zero dollars on anyone's health insurance except their own.

States and localities are free to experiment with their own plans as long as coverage to residents is not less than what the federal government would provide, allowing smaller governing entities to (possibly) achieve greater efficiencies in health care delivery and cost control.

Never going to happen, it wouldn't be utopia if it did. But is sure seems like it would work better than the ACA or the pre-ACA status quo.

I know several self-described libertarians who advocate in lower taxes, limited government, end to the drug war, no foreign wars of aggression, etc, etc, etc

I don't know about "extreme" or whatever, but most libertarians I know don't want to pay taxes. Basically, they don't want to pay their share, but want to participate in a society that is safe, and where their property is protected. They're not keen on the government helping poor people or anyone else, including those who live abroad.

In terms of being able to grow stuff in your own backyard and smoke it, that's okay with me (and it's okay with a lot of people who agree to pay taxes and support a social safety net).

Priest, sure, what you suggest is fine, and I'm for moving in that direction. Maybe all at once would be pretty difficult for the 2.5 million people who work for the insurance industry (including mostly middle class folks). Migrating in that direction is a great thought, and probably something that's occurred to a lot of the folks who supported the ACA as a first step.

The cost to the taxpayer of encouraging people to give to charities, is my answer.

Depends. For those who make these sorts of contributions and itemize (90% of those in the top bracket), the cost (savings to them) is quite obvious to the point of starkness.

And since we all know from Mitt Romney, those are the folks who "pay all the taxes".

If I had to interpret his views, I'd say he was going for people own their wealth, and he objects to the characterization of the government taking less of the wealth as "giving".

That presumes that individual accumulation of wealth is independent of government policy to begin with. Quite often that accumulation is the direct result of a consciously adopted public policy that shifts wealth or income from one group to another.

In such instance, just "whose" wealth is it?

McKinneyTX: you said:
no one on Team Obama is saying one way or the other, but if BC and morning after were the end of the story and if abortion wasn't on the undisclosed horizon, then the easy and smart thing to do would be to pre-empt: to tell everyone, mainly Catholics, that no-way, no-how is abortion ever going to be on the table. No one is doing that. Ergo, the reasonable inference is that once this current round survives judicial scrutiny and once the dust settles, abortion is next.

I am gobsmacked. No, this is *not* a reasonable inference. I can't speak directly for people in the White House, but this is *not* what pro-choice activists are telling each, this is *not* what we're all thinking.

Maybe Obama hasn't said that abortion won't be on the table because IT'S NOT ON THE TABLE, because THAT'S NOT WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. IUDs and Plan B aren't the slippery slope to abortion, they're how we PREVENT abortion.

The problem is that the anti-choice side has re-defined abortion, to include things that happen before there is a pregnancy. To quote from the amicus brief, again:

Abortificient has a precise meaning in the medical and scientific community and it refers to the termination of a pregnancy. Contraceptives that prevent fertilization from occurring, or even prevent implantation, are simply not abortifacients regardless of an individual’s personal or religious beliefs or mores.
The slippery slope runs in the other direction, toward increased control by other people over women's bodies and lives.

You need to realize that your reasoning here is the very essence of paranoia. Because Obama isn't making an extra effort to deny a plot that exists only in your head, you conclude that you've uncovered HIS CUNNING PLAN.

Or, you know, *my* cunning plan -- I haven't exactly made a secret of my backing for Planned Parenthood, among others.

Your logic -- that since Obama isn't disavowing making abortion covered by mandated insurance, it must be what he's planning -- would lead to me, for instance, saying that anyone (you, the Greens, whoever) who claims to be opposed to the contraceptive mandate has to ritually deny agreeing with Limbaugh about Sandra Fluke, or I'll assume that you do, in fact, believe that women just want it so we can be sluts and prostitutes.

The difference is that Rush Limbaugh's statements are not a figment of my imagination.

McKinneyTexas hates abortion. He hates it to pieces. He hates it so much that the mere thought of any of HIS money ever ending up in an abortionist's till is anathema to him.

I accept that he's sincere about that, within limits. McKinney has been railing against Obamacare here for some years now, so I can safely say that he didn't need the abortion-coverage-is-next excuse to rail against "executive fiat" one more time. But I do accept that abortion is repugnant to him.

To his credit, McKinney says he has no objection to birth control. Sensible. Pregnancy is a necessary condition for abortion. Preventing pregnancy certainly prevents abortion.

You'd think that someone who wants to actually prevent abortions (as opposed to merely outlawing them; there's a difference) would be all in favor of birth control being as widely available as possible. You'd think he'd see that the "executive fiat" is in fact an abortion-prevention measure.

You'd think that, but you'd obviously be overlooking something. I know I must be.

The Greens, keepers of the conscience of Hobby Lobby, are objectively more pro-abortion than McKinney. And yet, somehow, their pro-abortion position must be defended in order to forestall an abortion coverage mandate -- which would become more necessary if the Greens prevail. Like I said, I must be overlooking something.

--TP

...birth control being as widely available as possible.

...by cutting out the middleman doctor and making BC over-the-counter.

bobbyp:

"That presumes that individual accumulation of wealth is independent of government policy to begin with."

It really doesn't.

"Quite often that accumulation is the direct result of a consciously adopted public policy that shifts wealth or income from one group to another."

True, that does happen.

"In such instance, just "whose" wealth is it?"

You seem to have someone in mind...and I'm not feeling up to guessing. But I would be surprised if the answer somehow led to a conclusion that:

Objecting to calling tax rebates giving "presumes" accumulation of wealth is independent of gov policy.

thompson: I know several self-described libertarians who advocate in lower taxes, limited government, end to the drug war, no foreign wars of aggression, etc, etc, etc

The "extreme libertarians" you speak of do not represent the views of (in my experience) most libertarians. Nor my understanding of the libertarian party platform.

Being of a somewhat libertarian bent myself, I will accept that there are also lots of other mildly libertarian folks out there. Who subscribe to most of the things in your first paragraph. But there are also (as sapient notes at 9:01) a lot of self-described libertarians (and some who merely describe themselves, somehow, as "conservatives") who basically expect all the benefits of a stable government without having to pay anything for it or be even mildly inconvneienced by it. Personally, I would include them among the "extreme libertarians." (And, I must say, among the delusional.) But perhaps you have a different set of criteria for how anti-government institutions one can be without meriting the label "extreme."

sapient:

"most libertarians I know don't want to pay taxes. Basically, they don't want to pay their share, but want to participate in a society that is safe, and where their property is protected. They're not keen on the government helping poor people or anyone else, including those who live abroad. "

I can't contradict your personal experience, but you'll forgive me if I don't allow it to overrule my own.

If it helps resolve this, I don't support that view. I've never met someone that does, but you say you have. If I met them I would disagree with them.

"In terms of being able to grow stuff in your own backyard and smoke it, that's okay with me (and it's okay with a lot of people who agree to pay taxes and support a social safety net)."

I think that's great. We're not going to agree on everything, but I think it is really important to find common ground.

I reject the implication that I am unwilling to pay taxes (I do) and support a safety net (they do).

"As to your other gloss on my exchange with the other commenter, I'll assume he can fend for himself."

I'd assume he can as well. However, just because someone can defend themselves doesn't mean its not right to step up anyway.

wj:

"But perhaps you have a different set of criteria for how anti-government institutions one can be without meriting the label "extreme.""

I would imagine we all do. People tend to have varied opinions about such things.

The details of where person X falls on the scale of "libertarianism" doesn't really matter. What bugs me, perhaps unreasonably, is that an objection to calling a tax rebate 'government giving' [not direct quote] resulted in what is basically, 'if yah don' like 'murica, yah can git out!'.

If someone wants to condemn anarchy, great. But if you do it in response to a comment, an obvious implication is that you believe that comment was advocating anarchy. It becomes more obvious if you than wish the commenter would leave the country and go somewhere where there are no protections of the US government.

I think reasonable people can have disagreements on tax rebates. I don't think a disagreement on tax rebates is the same thing as wanting the government to disappear.

"a lot of self-described libertarians (and some who merely describe themselves, somehow, as "conservatives") who basically expect all the benefits of a stable government without having to pay anything for it or be even mildly inconvneienced by it."

So, what, exactly? There's some grade-a a-holes in the world so we should be very aggressive about asking anybody that might sorta display some sympathies in that direction to leave?

I've met some extreme liberals, some extreme conservatives. That doesn't mean I 'really, really, wish you liberals/conservatives would leave'. Because that would be ridiculous.

If you want me to condemn libertarians of the 'screw you all, I got mine' variety, sure, I'll do that. But if you want me to say

"I really, really wish that all of you libertarians would try your luck in a part of the world where your wealth and privileges weren't so solidly protected."

is a reasonable and constructive response to Charles comment, or that its made reasonable because some self described libertarian somewhere is an a-hole...I think we will have to agree to disagree.

Something which I'm quite good at, so no pressure.

Carleton:

"if it's not an unbearable burden for a Muslim woman to have her picture taken for a driver's license, and it's not unbearable for a Christian Identity believer to have to hire a black worker, then I don't see a reason to view HL's burden in paying for a healthcare plan than includes things that they (ostensibly) have a religious objection to be so significant as to require protection."

Well, I'm not the one to make that argument. I've said a few times I find HL's case uncompelling. In terms of the legal issues, my understanding is this:

(1) you need to show sincerity. The belief and how ludicrous it sounds is not supposed to be an issue
(2) you need to show burden.
(3) than the gov needs to show they have a compelling need on your case specifically (i.e. Native americans smoking peyote doesn't mean the government doesn't have a compelling reason to regulate peyote in general...but that narrow case there isn't)

under the RFRA, which may not apply, pending ruling, etc etc

"The worst case scenario for the First Amendment in my book is if it not only doesn't protect minority views, it also becomes a battering ram for pushing majority religious viewpoints into the public sphere- limiting government action to what large religious blocks find acceptable."

I think a reasonable fear. That's why I, as a libertarian, would like to limit government action across the board :) But seriously, it's an important point, and one we can look to our history for examples of. I just don't know of a better mechanism...I think Leg and Exec, unchecked by the courts, leave you in an even worse position. And our history is full of examples of congress and the executive marginalizing, or worse, minorities.

I wish I had a better answer for you, but I don't.

concerning McKinneyTexas's stated assumption that abortion is next on the mandate list because the administration does not swear holy oaths on a daily basis that it has no such intention: There is nothing the administration could do to dispel that notion, if we take several other examples of the administration ritually denying intent resulting in getting accused of lying and just biding its time to lull the vigilant into a false sense of security before striking hard as a guide.

"(3) than the gov needs to show they have a compelling need on your case specifically (i.e. Native americans smoking peyote doesn't mean the government doesn't have a compelling reason to regulate peyote in general...but that narrow case there isn't)"

IMO, that's the point where, if the government loses, they lose: Because they haven't been relentless in the application of the ACA, they've been handing out waivers like candy on Halloween. Which is hard to square with it being so important that Hobby Lobby not get one.

...they've been handing out waivers like candy on Halloween. Which is hard to square with it being so important that Hobby Lobby not get one.

and now the 'waviers' buzzword appears! yay.

no, it's quite the opposite of "hard to square". the waivers granted thus far have had nothing to with the conscience of for-profit corporations. the waivers granted thus far have been along the lines of temporarily reducing requirements helping to ease the transition from existing plans to those compliant with the ACA.

of course if HL wants to recast itself as a church, so as to get the religious exemption (and the blessed tax breaks), we'd all love to watch it try.

Reading some of the back and forth here, you'd think there was no problem needing to be solved regarding access to and the costs of health care in this country.

IMO this is the most apt comment in this whole thread.

Most of the comments here (including my own) have been dancing around the legal fine points, but we live in a country that allowed a young boy to die from untreated dental caries.

True story.

And that offends my moral, ethical, and religious beliefs. And, makes me wonder WTF is wrong with us, as a nation.

And if your response is that that's regrettable, but is simply outside the scope of what government, and / or society at large, is responsible for, then I'll reply that I find *that* idea deeply repugnant, and in strong conflict with my own strongly held religious, moral, and ethical beliefs.

Crap legislation, passed without transparency? There's an EPA exemption specifically exempting oil companies from disclosing what's in fracking fluid. Which gets pumped into the groundwater, and which makes people's tap water flammable. And, none of us are allowed to know WTF is in it.

Trade secret.

If find that profoundly repugnant, on so many levels that you don't even want to get me started, not to exclude the religious, ethical, and moral.

And it's there to facilitate the extraction of fossil fuels, deepening our dependence on their use, and making it that much more likely that we will do nothing of consequence to limit our use of them. Because now all of that gas is a realizable asset, on the books of the oil companies, and they will see us all dead before they'll give up a penny of it.

In my understanding, that means we're that much further from reducing the impact of climate change, and that in turn means a lot of people, measured in millions, are going to suffer, profoundly.

Those are my deeply held beliefs on the topic, and they're rooted in my religious, ethical, and moral convictions.

Rules passed by executive fiat, outside the democratic process? Those rules govern what weird crap can be dumped in the water, or pumped into the air, or what exploitative destructive use can be made of millions of acres of public land, or what weird unpronounceable junk can be put in our food.

Quite a lot of which I find offensive, on religious, ethical, and moral grounds.

The entire current-day libertarian project, for that matter, I find deeply repugnant, and profoundly offensive on religious, ethical, and moral grounds.

The fact that the writings and ideology of a misanthropic freak like Ayn Rand can find their way into public policy, that *I have to live with and pay for*, is not only deeply repugnant to me, it's profoundly obscene.

For reasons rooted in my own religious, ethical, and moral convictions.

From my point of view, Ayn Rand's beliefs approach something like the spirit of antichrist.

None of your business why I believe that, but you can trust that I do.

You can disagree with any of the above, and I have no problem with it. But it's none of anyone's business why I hold the beliefs I do, nor is it your place to stand in judgement on them.

They're mine, just like the Greens' conviction that they are complicit in murder if they contribute to an insurance policy that one of their employees uses to cover the purchase of an IUD.

Speaking personally, I LIVE EVERY DAY with the deep realization that I live in a country and a culture that holds values that I find in many cases morally hideous, for reasons rooted in my own quite deep religious convictions. And, the values I find profoundly wrong and bad are woven into every fabric of our public life.

Laws. policies, practices.

I live with them, I pay for them.

So, I'm sympathetic to the Greens, but it's hard for me to see why and how their situation is different from mine, or that of almost everyone else in the country.

Everyone's got something they can point to and say "that's wrong, and it disturbs me deeply to be complicit in it".

The legal issues are interesting, but we live in a country where a young boy can die from freaking dental caries, because his family is poor and that makes the simple care he needed unavailable to them.

The ACA is an attempt to do something about that. It's good to keep that in mind while we're all dancing around the legal nits, and pontificating about what Our Conscience Will Not Allow.

People's consciences live with stuff that ought to curl your hair, each and every day. If we're gonna get along and live together in one society, we're all going to have to deal with the fact that we don't all get our way.

You can't always get what you want.

Thanks, russell.

In case people are confused about the tenets of the Libertarian Party, the first sentence of their party platform is this:

"As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others."

The platform is full of gems. I'd highly recommend reading the whole thing.

There you go again, Russell, saying what needs to be said so that I have to write "what Russell said".

I'm not so concerned that this thread has been dancing around the legal nits contained in this Supreme Court case, because that's where the original post led us, but I too welcomed the comment regarding "you'd think there was no problem regarding access to and the costs of healthcare in this country", because in my gut I believe the Green's case (and the organizations promoting and furthering the case) is merely part of a piecemeal effort to repeal the ACA (an imperfect vessel, there is no doubt) and vanquish once again (going all the way back to Truman) any effort to ameliorate this ridiculous healthcare system that keeps more than 50 million Americans from affordable access and the rest of us on the anxious cusp always of joining those 50 million.

I'll go farther than that onto the steepest of slippery slopes (McTX has his slippery slope toward mandated abortion in healthcare plans, which he is entitled to, this being an entitlement state, and I've got mine; I don't implicate McKT in my forthcoming slippery slope however) and write that in fact those who are against the ACA and want it repealed in toto and your little dog too have as their only plan that young boys in fact SHOULD die of complications from caries because THAT, people, is FREEDOM in all of its glory.

What good is the freedom to work hard, and make money, and be able to afford health insurance if any little boy can just have his caries taken care of free of charge, or worse, because his parents MIGHT have been able to afford a government scheme like the ACA as an alternative?

Hunh?

Just yesterday, I read that some jackdaw Tea Party carnivore (from South Carolina maybe, or was it Texas, I don't know, why don't those two states merge so I can quit trying to remember which is which) believes that folks who don't work shouldn't eat, in a peroration against unemployment benefits.

If the jackdaw doesn't like it, then quit firing and laying people off, ya jagoff.

If you get heating subsidies, were going to cut your food stamps. And on and on.

It never effing stops.

It's not minority rights being trampled on, to address another point made up thread, it's factionalism.

We're at about 1847, maybe 1852, in this country, and something Antietam this way looms.

thompson:
I think reasonable people can have disagreements on tax rebates. I don't think a disagreement on tax rebates is the same thing as wanting the government to disappear.

Completely agree. I apologize for having missed the context of your remark.

One of the features of long wandering threads like this one is that we get off into discussions of (sort-of) related topics, and (I, at least) don't always keep track of the context of where the digression started. I will try to do better.

count: in my gut I believe the Green's case (and the organizations promoting and furthering the case) is merely part of a piecemeal effort to repeal the ACA

Well, the fact that they didn't bother to read their employee health insurance policy, which already contained the features that they are now suing over, does tend to suggest that. However deep the Green's personal beliefs on the matter, they weren't worried enough to check their policy until the ACA came along. What does that say about them and their case?

What does that say about them and their case?

they're frauds.

throw them out on their ears.

(my apologies if this has already been covered)

wj: "I think Carleton pretty much nailed it. If the Court rules for Hobby they are pretty much allowing any company to opt out of any law, due to the beliefs of its owners. Medical care, taxes, gun control, drug laws, etc., etc., etc. "

Actually, this has already been litigated, back in the 60's and 70's, over non-discrimination laws in employment and accomodations. An employer in general can NOT discriminate on the treatment of their employees, based on religious beliefs.

I'm a bit worried about this, since the Roberts/Salia/Thomas/Alito/Kennedy court has just overturned long standing law restraining voter suppression - I no longer rest on the idea that they wouldn't undercut decades-old law on discrimination.

wj:

" What does that say about them and their case?"

In my view? It leads to it being uncompelling. But government lawyers are probably crafting that case. Although they didn't question sincerity in the injunction for some reason.

"Completely agree. I apologize for having missed the context of your remark."

No, quite alright. Threads like this involve a lot of people talking across each other. The price of accessing such a diverse spread of opinions.

Hypothetical: What if the Greens hadn't been providing the coverage they're now objecting to and knowingly excluded it from the insurance they provided their employees from day one? Would that make it okay for them to not to provide it after the ACA took effect?

And would it make it okay for me to type phrases like "to not to"?

Barry:

"Actually, this has already been litigated, back in the 60's and 70's, over non-discrimination laws in employment and accomodations. An employer in general can NOT discriminate on the treatment of their employees, based on religious beliefs."

What's changed is the RFRA. HL is arguing this covers their corp, although that's hardly settled law.

In addition, even if they are covered by the RFRA, blocking employment discrimination would probably reach "compelling interest", and would continue not to be allowed. The same thing could be ruled for the BC requirement, that is that its a compelling state interest. In which case, HL loses, regardless of their standing under the RFRA.

hsh, if the Greens had previously been deliberately excluding the coverages that they are now objecting to, it wouldn't necessarily make it OK. But it would certainly strengthen their case for why they should not be required to do so now. Consistency being, IMHO, an important part of making a case for sincerity of belief.

I have yet to meet an actual person that is extreme enough to advocate for anarchism or anything that should be confused with it.

Not to accuse you of this, but I do relatively often meet libertarians willing to deploy *arguments* that lead to anarchism, but only follow them partway down the path. eg "taxation is theft" (or similar statements about how taxation is illegitimate), but then some taxation is acceptable if it funds programs they approve of.
Which mirrors this case, in a way- an argument about religious freedom is deployed that if followed to the letter could force us to discard quite a lot of what the government does today, but no chance that the genie will be allowed to escape the bottle. It has one job to do, and successful or not it's not going to see the light of day unless it's needed again for a specific role.

I suppose in one sense we all do this- when we pick the balance point while weighing competing interests, we often locate it at our preferred policy outcome. This just seems like too much of a nakedly egregious case (just as with the Supreme Court- I understand that judges generally jsut follow their political preferences, but it's ugly when the best argument they can deploy is a gesture at the Constitution and "it's sort of implicit in the structure of the document").
[Also, it's easy for me to rail against principle, since Im more of a pragmatist towards government. But then, Id not be a pragmatist if I thought there were principles that could be followed sincerely that lead more or less unerringly to good outcomes...]

What's changed is the RFRA. HL is arguing this covers their corp, although that's hardly settled law.

I think the RFRA just gets us back to the Sherbert(?) test, which is what would've been used in that period. Of course, it's technically different which at a minimum mean stare decisis wouldn't apply (directly, anyway).

I think you're now using it to argue that *employees* can expect some strings on their compensation, and that whether they're in the hands of government or business isn't important. Is that correct? [I actually can't offhand think of any post-facto control that corps have over benefits; even those exercised through the corp (eg blackout periods) are derived from government regulation].

Medical benefits are of course a special case, but corporations can and do change coverage coincident with annual enrollment.

Also, corporations can add to your wages as they please. I don't have any personal knowledge of pay cuts, though, so that may or may not be possible.

Anyway. Not all compensation is alike, and some compensation does in fact have controls on it. That's a compact restatement of my point.

Which makes me wonder (in light of the Amish opt-out for Social Security) whether HL supporters think employers could opt out of *other* current legal requirements. Could a Satanist refuse to provide ADA accommodations on the grounds that helping the weak is against their religion? Could a Christian Identity believer discriminate against nonwhites in hiring?

All good questions that I don't have any answers to. It can get complicated. But I don't think you're permitted to discriminate based on race or disability, irrespective of your own personal beliefs.

Consistency being, IMHO, an important part of making a case for sincerity of belief.

So let's say everyone in the universe agreed that they were sincere. I guess we'd just be back to whether or not there's a compelling state interest.

Or is there some sort of "reasonableness" argument to be made, such that objecting to contraception only presents a true hardship of belief if one is either forced to use contraception or to provide it directly - kinda, sorta getting back to what russell and some others have mentioned?

How oblique or indirect an affront to your beliefs can you claim is truly harmful to your free practice of your religion?

Not to mention whether or not your religion is also your for-profit company's religion...

How oblique or indirect an affront to your beliefs can you claim is truly harmful to your free practice of your religion?

This gets into the question of "distance" raised by Sebastian.

At a certain point, at some number of degrees of separation, things like this start to get kind of homeopathic.

Not saying the issue isn't real for the Greens (or whoever), just pointing out that in most matters of interpretation of law, a standard of some kind of "reasonableness" usually applies.

Maintaining a pure conscience, unsullied by any taint of association with what other folks do or do not do, may require a degree of separatism that is simply incompatible with operating a two-and-a-quarter-billion dollar retail enterprise.

You can't have everything. Or, at least, not exactly the way you want it.

The other thing I'd say is that if the Greens can have this, there are lots of the other things that lots of other folks are going to believe they deserve as well.

And those other folks will have a strong point.

Be careful what you wish for.

Bryan Fischer, yeah that one, was giving off force fields of sincerity when he said this:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/11/1262027/-Bryan-Fischer-If-we-say-religion-really-just-means-Christian-we-re-done

Only Christian sincerity is permitted in the public sphere. Satanic sincerity can go blow, and it can as far as I'm concerned, but do it over there with the rest of the religions, including Christianity, not that there is anything wrong with Christianity.

What I love about America, and I do love America, and I mean that sincerely, is that our commercial culture relies on battalions of Eddie Haskell-like car salesman to sincerely put forth the insincerity of sales pitches for every conceivable product (the basement does not leak, why would would I be insincere about that? Four out five dentists agree; yes, but it is that fifth one the SINCERE one) and televangelists can sincerely fake healing on TV and collect millions of sincerely believed dollars in the prosperity gospel ruse (a sincere ruse, I don't doubt) and yet, the green's expect to combine religion and a for-profit enterprise.

Who do think they are, the Vatican? ;)

If Hobby Lobby wants everyone under their influence to practice the Green's sincerity regarding values, put steeples on all of the Hobby Lobby stores and tell us the cost basis of Chinese labor of each and every knick-knack in the stores and then give the stuff away to the needy, who could use a hobby.

I know my rant sounded quite sincere (must be the volume), but only portions of it were, I mean, who would believe it let alone defend it's substance in the Supreme Court when really only every other word or so is sincere and the rest is a negotiating position, a first offer, if you will, a mere pretense of a lie of a pretense.

By the way, I think this new Pope is sincere. I notice the conservative Catholic community is this country has gone pretty quiet about sincerity and Pope, preferring the sincerity of the last Pope, except for the painfully sincere Larry Kudlow, who lectured the new Pope from his perch on a business channel, where sincerity is measured by price, which changes every millisecond at the hands of Wall Street traders, a sincere bunch if there ever was one.

Oh, and by the way, if sincerity is Hobby Lobby's hallmark and the limbo bar by which all of us must be inflexible, then why don't the stores have lobbies, I ask you?

They have something that might be construed as a foyer of sorts, a sort of mudroom, but no lobby in the sincere sense of the word.

Not like Walmart, which HAS walls. Now, to their credit, there's a sincere for-profit corporation if there ever was one.

You know a sincere guy? George W. Bush. You could always tell when he was being sincere when he smirked.

Not like Walmart, which HAS walls

Yeah, but go ahead and try to BUY one.

What kind of a wall mart is that?

And how much luck (and what varieties) can you find on offer amongst the groceries at Luckys? ;-) Too bad, I could probably use some.

Carleton:

"Not to accuse you of this, but I do relatively often meet libertarians willing to deploy *arguments* that lead to anarchism, but only follow them partway down the path. eg "taxation is theft" (or similar statements about how taxation is illegitimate), but then some taxation is acceptable if it funds programs they approve of."

Yeah, and I think there are two things going on with that.

One, there are a lot of people out there that are unreasonable and have principles of convenience (I personally don't think libertarians are special in this regard, and not saying anyone is making that argument).

Two, a perfectly reasonable, logically consistent person can overstate (or fail to appropriately qualify) a stance. Which is a problem, but really, you can only add so many qualifiers before the cable news cuts you off.

I think Two feeds into a lot of the 'echo chamber' effect that has been mentioned recently (along with other things). It's really easy to converse with people that mostly agree with you and your assumptions. They are unlikely to call you out on an overstatement that basically agrees with their beliefs. If you say something that involves a lot of underlying value judgements, and they make the similar value judgements, you will not be challenged.

It's much harder to talk with people you disagree with, in part because you don't have a set of shared assumptions that people take for granted, and misstatements can't be glossed over with a 'eh, I knew what you meant'.

hsh:

"Or is there some sort of "reasonableness" argument to be made, such that objecting to contraception only presents a true hardship of belief if one is either forced to use contraception or to provide it directly"

My understanding of the law, which is very limited and heavily colored by the opinion on the injunction (so don't attach any particular weight to it), is that there isn't a reasonableness standard separate from establishing sincerity. In other words, a belief does not have reasonableness associated with it.

I think practically, a very foreign belief will fall victim to what Carleton pointed out...a judge would probably just say, 'I can't imagine someone being sincere about that.'

Than you get to burden, and compelling interest, and those both have to be reasonable.

For example, if instead of a 26m/400m+ fine, it was the HHS refused to give their stamp of approval to the HL health plan, they probably would not be reasonably burdened. I don't know that I would consider the 26m a burden for an organization of that size, but its a good chunk of change.

And than the government can argue, sure, we're burdening them, but we have a compelling interest to do so.

And, as always, all that depends on the RFRA applying, which is not settled law.

"Yeah, but go ahead and try to BUY one."

Heh. At least we still have radio shack. Which in my experience at least both has radios and is generally a shack.

See what happens to you when you ask to speak to Wendy at Wendy's. Some guy named Carlos is in your face.

There's one joint on I-70 somewhere between Denver and Pittsburgh that swears up and down with ever more emphatic signs that they will serve the biggest Best Hamburger in the world.

Did I say one? I meant hundreds. Put the sincerity meter on these people and connect it to cattle prod and we'll find out all of them have the same marketing and advertising firm: Honest Pete and Sincere Associates, esq.

Maybe Consumer Reports, sleuths of sincerity can do a full issue on for-profit religious corporations and the relative authenticity of their sincerity, along with the relative price of their sincerity and you can get what you pay for.

You may not beable to speak to Wendy. But at least there was (is) a real Wendy after whom the founder named his first restaurant. Which puts them ahead of the game.

But do they have the Double Meat?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublemeat_Palace

Has anyone seen the Count and Belle Waring at the same time?

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