The Supreme Court ruled this past week, in a 5/4 verdict (of course), that the company known as “Hobby Lobby” does not in fact have to provide certain kinds of contraceptives to their employees as the Affordable Care Act mandates; so long as those certain contraceptives are in conflict with the religious beliefs of the company owners. Many are claiming that Hobby Lobby is “forcing its religious beliefs down its employee’s throats”. Others are stating that Hobby Lobby is “blocking their employee’s access to contraceptives”, and that their employee’s contraceptive needs and usage is just plain “not their boss’s business”. Sounds perfectly reasonable, right? That’s because it is, and we all know it. That’s why this point about their employee’s contraceptive needs and usage not being their boss’s business is a perfect display of demagoguery. You’d have quite a bit trouble finding anyone on either side of this debate who would claim, plainly and simply, that the intimate details of an employee’s personal life are in anyway the direct business of their employer. The argument being made is far different than that.
First and foremost, let’s make it clear what the ruling actually was, as given all of the politics surrounding this situation, the real, true details may be somewhat elusive to people: Hobby Lobby currently provides 16 out of the 20 contraceptives mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Given the Baptist beliefs of the company, they challenged the requirement to provide the other four, as those four are often associated as “abortion pills”, and complicate the pregnancy after the pregnancy has occurred, and this is in direct conflict with the religious beliefs of the company. The Supreme Court simply ruled that for that reason, Hobby Lobby may opt out of providing those four contraceptives to its employees. Hoppy Lobby does though, still provide its employees 16 forms of contraceptives (as well as pays them $15/hour, more than twice the federal minimum wage).
As was previously stated; critics of this ruling say that the religious beliefs of the company should not affect its employees, and that their birth control isn’t any of the company’s business. What we need to remember though, is that the money made by the company; in this case, Hobby Lobby, is rightfully that company’s money. That may seem obvious (because it is), but just acknowledging that shines a great deal of light on the topic. Hobby Lobby must pay for the contraceptives that it provides to its employees; if that concept is extrapolated into any other context, it becomes painfully clear that it is the business of the company, as its profits are being used to provide the contraceptives. Money that, if the company wasn’t using to pay for contraceptives, the company could use for something else. Basically, it becomes an extra cost for the company, and not a modest one. Clearly, it is ridiculous to claim that a commodity paid for and provided by a person or group is in no way the business of that person or group.
It has also been said that Hobby Lobby is “blocking its employees’ access to contraceptives”. Is that really true though? Hobby Lobby still provides 16 forms of contraceptives to its employees. That can hardly be called “blocking access to contraceptives”. In fact, Hobby Lobby is not even blocking its employees’ access to those four particular contraceptives; the employees may still purchase and use them at will. Hobby Lobby is only choosing to not be the provider of those particular contraceptives, and is in no way making it so that their employees cannot obtain them. The “Plan B Morning after Pill”, is one of the contraceptives that Hobby Lobby will not provide for its employees. However, a single morning after pill runs roughly $50. Granted, it’s not exactly change you’re likely to find lying on the sidewalk, but certainly not an insurmountable cost for those wishing to obtain it.
And so, even if Hobby Lobby, or any other company for that matter, were to not provide any contraceptives at all, access to them by their employees is still not “blocked”; those contraceptives are readily available for purchase, by anyone, at any time. Let’s even take an extreme example and say a company were to make a rule that none of its employees could purchase contraceptives for any reason. Well, aside from the murderous conviction that company would certainly suffer in the court of public opinion, each employee working for that company would have voluntarily signed a contract formally agreeing to those terms. Why? Because they feel as though that they are better off in doing so than in not. After all, nobody has to work for one company versus another as ‘employment’ is simply a mutually beneficial and contractual series of voluntary interactions. Even if somebody only has the job they have because it’s either that or be unemployed, then that is still a choice they make, and we should be happy that they can. A job is a wonderful thing, especially in times like these. No one forced Hobby Lobby’s employees to work for their present employers.Mutatis mutandis no one’s forcing them not to buy the Pill.
Lastly, let’s remember that the more costs passed onto businesses, in whatever way, succeed only in making matters worse for smaller businesses. Big companies like Wal-Mart will have no trouble at all in covering all sorts of mandatory costs for their employees, or paying ever taxes. These sorts of laws hit the small businesses the hardest because those businesses don’t already have mass quantities of money accumulated from past decades of business. Keep regulating, keep mandating, keep taxing, and before long we’ll find ourselves in a situation where nearly every aspect of our lives is controlled by a small handful of massive corporations, and their friends “serving” us in congress. There may not be that long to go until that fateful day is upon us.