Sunday, December 1, 2013

McMegan Strikes Again

Megan McArdle on the Hobby Lobby case for Bloomberg News, showing off her unique ability to completely miss the point on anything big:

Social media was on fire over this when it happened, and I confess that I am struggling to see why. There was a lot of outraged talk about how corporations aren’t people, of course, but a lot more about employers trying to control their employees’ sex lives, treating women as second-class citizens and so forth. To judge from these reactions, you would think that birth-control pills were a scarce resource that could only legally be obtained through employers. In fact, generic birth-control pills are available for $25 a month through a Costco pharmacy, $50 if you want a brand name
“But that’s expensive for a young woman on a budget!” you are about to cry. And I am about to answer that it doesn’t get less expensive because an insurer buys it. 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. 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. There’s obviously some cross-subsidy from your fellow employees who don’t use birth control, but overall, there’s no particular reason to force insurers to cover a minor and predictable expense.
If Megan would get over her privilege long enough to realize that A) plenty of employers -- including Hobby Lobby -- were covering birth control through insurance plans before the PPACA, B) it still represents an expense that no male employee has to worry about, and C) birth control is far less expensive than pre-natal, birthing, and post-natal care, she'd stop making such pathetic excuses to explain down to "those people" why they should just pay for it their damn selves if they want to open their legs.

The administration didn’t force employers with a religious objection to offer contraception because it made financial or medical sense; they did it because it had great symbolic value to Barack Obama’s political base. And much of that symbolic value seems to actually come from the willingness to coerce people who object to buy the stuff. You can imagine that in an intra-left debate over what mandatory services should be covered, some of the people now professing outrage at Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. (one of the parties involved) would see the logic of ditching birth control if it lowered premiums by $15 a month and thereby increased access.

To recap, the professional economics pundit can't come up with a single reason why an employer offering birth control would make financial sense to the employer.  (Here's a hint, it involves suddenly having another child to cover under the plan.)

But, in fact, if you want to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act viable for the long term, you’re going to need the support of folks like Hobby Lobby as much as you need low premiums. There are many religious people in America, and if you want to keep stirring up active opposition to the law, one good way is to suggest that this law forces them to pay for something they are convinced is morally wrong. (Hobby Lobby’s objection is not to contraception in general, but specifically to products that could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.) If you want to still be fighting Obamacare in the trenches 40 years from now, the best way I can think of is appending it to the argument over abortion.

Why, which is exactly the reason the GOP is making a big deal out of this.  It doesn't matter than Hobby Lobby is scientifically wrong and financially ignorant, the religious issue itself is the major problem, and McArdle just dismisses it as "Hobby Lobby is right" and clucks her tongue.

What puerile vapidity.  At least admit it's Obama Derangement Syndrome, and being used to punish female Hobby Lobby employees who voted for Obama.

I understand that you may think Hobby Lobby’s position is ridiculous, or that contraception is a fundamental human right, but here’s the problem: Hobby Lobby’s owners, and millions of other Americans, hold the opposite opinion at least as strongly. In a pluralistic society, they have the right to fight you on it every step of the way. To state the obvious, Obamacare is probably not going to survive many more such battles.

Substitute "civil rights" for "contraception" and either "The Civil Rights Act" or "The Voting Rights Act" for Obamacare and read that paragraph again, and you'll find why Megan McArdle really does need to be fired for staggering incompetence.

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