Maybe someone can explain to me how, exactly, conservatives are the aggressors in the culture war? In the conventional narrative of American politics, conservatives are obsessed with social issues. They want to impose their values on everyone else. They want the government involved in your bedroom. Those mean right-wingers want to make "health care choices" for women.
Now consider last week's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider two cases stemming from Obamacare: Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Democratic politicians and their fans on social media went ballistic almost instantly. That's hardly unusual these days. But what's revealing is that the talking points are all wrong.
Suddenly, the government is the hero for getting deeply involved in the reproductive choices of nearly every American, whether you want the government involved or not. The bad guy is now your boss who, according to an outraged Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would be free to keep you from everything from HIV treatment to vaccinating your children if Hobby Lobby has its way. Murray and the White House insist that every business should be compelled by law to protect its employees' "right" to "contraception" that is "free."
I put all three words in quotation marks because these are deeply contentious claims. For starters, the right to free birth control -- or health care generally -- is not one you'll find in the Constitution. And even if you think it should be a right, that is hardly a settled issue in American life.
The right to own a gun is a far more settled issue constitutionally, politically and legally in this country, but not even the National Rifle Association would dream to argue that we have a right to free guns, provided by our employers. If your boss were required to give you a gun, your new employer-provided Glock still wouldn't be free because non-cash compensation is still compensation. The costs to the employer are fungible, which means whether it's a pistol or a pill, the cost is still coming out of your paycheck -- and your coworkers' paychecks.
"Regular, predictable expenses such as birth control pills cannot be defrayed by insurance; they can only be prepaid, with a markup for the insurer's administrative costs," writes Bloomberg's Megan McArdle. "The extra cost is passed on by the insurers to your employer, and from your employer to you and your fellow workers, either by raising your contribution or lowering the wage they are willing to offer."
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