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Reducing Health Care Costs by Reducing Pregnancies

Yesterday I posted a lengthy response to an article recently published in an ‘ethics’ journal arguing that newborn children are not fundamentally different than ‘fetuses,’ and if we agree it is alright to kill ‘fetuses’, we can kill newborn children for the exact same reason.  The authors attempted to make their argument in such a way that it would not apply to all people, putting a hedge between the rest of us and the completely defenseless;  I make that ‘hedge’ to be about 6 inches tall, and easily leaped.

Today I heard about Sebelius’s explanation for why the Obama administration is working so hard to cram ‘free’ contraception down the throats of every American:

In an exchange with pro-life Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Sebelius claimed, “The reduction in a number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception.” To which Murphy responded, “So you’re saying by not having babies born, we’re going to save money on healthcare?” The exchange becomes just another example of the Obama Administration’s willingness to trample on basic rights of conscience in order to pay for the massive 2010 federal healthcare law and expand abortion.

I chose this source to cite for the exchange because I think it shows how the pro-life community tends to miss the point.  And I like Steve Ertelt and LifeNews is an important and reliable source of information for me.

The type of thinking driving Sebelius’ comments here really have nothing to do with expanding abortion or paying for the health care law, except insofar as such things fuel into their real agenda.  It is difficult to keep this in mind because the proponents of such things rarely tell us the truth;  indeed, nothing about what Sebelius said here surprises me, except that she said it at all.  [this link has video of the exchange].  The issue is further complicated because the ‘people on the street’ think that the issue is ‘access to abortion,’ or whatever.  They are being used to further an entirely different agenda, which I would be willing to wager, they themselves would recoil in horror if fully implemented.  After all, the end of Sebelius’ logic is complete governmental control of who has children in this country, and who does not.

Such ideas are included in the Jaffe Memo, which I spilled 10,000 words on recently, in John Holdren’s (Obama’s current science czar) 1970s textbook, Ecoscience, and elsewhere.  Heck, my wife just saw someone on Facebook state that it was time to require people to get permits before having children.  And that’s mild compared to what the likes of Holdren have pondered.

The real agenda is based on several important philosophical premises.  For the purpose of this short post, the premise that the human race must be managed to conserve scarce resources for the betterment and sustaining of society, in a ‘fair’ manner, is of prime importance.  Precisely how your random secular humanist progressive atheistic liberal believes this premise is to be acted on will differ, but the ones pulling the strings at the highest levels of government and academia have concluded that the human population must be reduced and scarce dollars allocated only to those who will be the lightest burden on the State’s ‘resources.’

Such thinking was hinted at in the article I reacted to yesterday:

“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.  On these grounds, the fact that a fetus has the potential to become a person who will have an (at least) acceptable life is no reason for prohibiting abortion.  Therefore, we argue that, when circumstances occur after birth, such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”  (italics theirs, bold, mine)

The problem that these elite central planners have is that not quite enough of human experience has been brought under control to give them the ‘tools’ to make the changes they think needs to be made.  Any sane person can already see how government agency after agency has been erected to manage and micromanage every aspect of the human experience.  The final frontier is, in their eyes, the mother lode:  1/6 of the economy.  That’s what they say health care represents in America today.  It is in matters of life, health, and death, that the most money is to be ‘saved’ and control most efficiently exerted.  All this, by the way, anticipated in GK Chesterton’s Eugenics and other Evils. 

It is essentially all an application of Malthusian logic:  the fewer people, the fewer human problems.  Indeed.  If we killed off every human, that would in fact get rid of all human problems, wouldn’t it?   Certainly, the logic holds.

So, the elites are busily trying to ensure that the ‘state economically provides for [our] care,’ which they deem is absolutely necessary in order to manage scarce resources.  This is the point of Obamacare.  Paying for it is the least of their concerns.  Promoting abortion on demand at every turn, and ‘free contraception,’ are just means to an end.

This is the culture of death at work, and the culture of death is rarely honest about its beliefs and values.  All the more reason for those of us in the pro-life community to keep our eye on the ball.  If we got rid of abortion on demand, but erected the apparatus that the elites are trying to build, I assure you, the only thing that will change is the group of people that falls under their scrutiny.  Probably the old, most certainly the disabled.  But also targeted:  those who smoke, who drink, who eat sugar, or trans fat, or engage in ‘unhealthy lifestyles.’  I would say that tyranny is right around the corner, but that last sentence should give us the real truth:  it is inside the door, and sitting at our couches… and trying to make itself at home, at our own invitation.

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16 Responses to Reducing Health Care Costs by Reducing Pregnancies

  1. Add to abortion on demand and free contraception, the secular view apart from God, and you have a country like Japan whose citizens have placed productivity ahead of family and what do you have? A nation that is trying to boost their birthrate:

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2010-03-18/industries/30692707_1_dpj-allowances-tokyo

    So now what do they do? Implement the same logic that got them in trouble the first time! We’re going to pay allowances for every child and give you monthly payments to boot!

    Surely, if secular thinking is so “logical”, can they not apply logic to their logic not working?

  2. While it is quite possible for a smart guy like yourself to write an essay linking US government policy with radical Singerian philosophers as if to connect the dots of a vast conspiracy theory in which you know what they’re thinking but aren’t saying, to actually do so is silly and unproductive.

    Critique the Singer-esque bioethicists as much as you like, and I am happy to join you in doing so. But what your essay misses out on is the basic and non-radical notion which motivates many of the people you are aligning yourself against that every woman deserves the right to affordable contraception, if she chooses to access it, and no matter what the religious point of view of her employer is. That ain’t eugenics buddy, isn’t even close.

    Is some small subset of current left-wing thought on the subject of population control on a continuum with eugenics? Yes it is, and I wouldn’t criticise you for calling attention to it when it is. But an apparent determination to impute the most sinister of motives to an effort to widen access to free contraception, something which I certainly support for (I can only give you my word on this) non-evil-secularist-tyranny related reasons, doesn’t seem to me like it advances the national dialogue much.

  3. Dannyboy!

    I guess I should have guessed that if I neglected you long enough, you’d have to pop in here. :)

    I think you missed the mark on this particular essay. Other essays address the eugenics stuff more in detail, and I think you entirely misread that as well. I’ve documented all that in other places, and it is indisputable, really. The best that anyone can do is wave it off as a ‘small subset.’ This article only touches on eugenics on a tangent. You fail to take into account that the opening quote I’m addressing comes from Kathleen Sebelius, who perhaps you don’t know?

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

    She herself says, and I quote again: ““The reduction in a number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception.”

    Now, you think the ‘real’ issue is: “that every woman deserves the right to affordable contraception.”

    “Deserve” is a strong word, but it is really moot; in American every woman already has access to affordable ‘contraception.’ Just as every man, does, too, in their local Walmart. IN FACT, this may surprise you, but in America we also all have access to affordable Twinkies, and copies of Mark Twain books. Since women already do have ‘affordable access’ this cannot be the real issue.

    It’s almost like Obama arguing that every person deserves the right to breathe, and then implementing measures to assure that right. oh, the horror, if in fact we thought people were being denied this right! But when we find out that everyone everywhere is already to breathe, just fine, thank you very much, we must admit that the issue isn’t about a ‘right to breathe.’

    Sebelius gives us a good clue as to the nature of her thinking. It isn’t about ‘access’ to ‘contraception’ at all that drives them. Instead, its about money; fewer pregnancies means fewer people which means less burden on the health care system. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s a quote.

    You choose to view it as insignificant. I choose otherwise. But Sebelius is not some random person and the quote is not fabricated.

    FYI, I am at a point where I don’t give a rip about a ‘national dialogue.’ If you don’t think it advances a national dialogue, that doesn’t bother me a bit. You can understand why from the post I made just previous to this one: http://sntjohnny.com/front/after-birth-abortion-why-should-the-baby-live-or-what-is-the-proper-response-to-killing-newborn-children-because-they-are-a-burden-to-a-family-or-society/1883.html

    I refuse to accept the premise that it is ‘ok’ to have a ‘national dialogue’ in the name of ‘science’ and ‘public policy’ about how many months after a child is born its alright to have it whacked. Engaging the issue is accepting the idea that its a morally sane thing to talk about in the first place, a proposition I wholly object to. It’s like this guy I read about yesterday who is now talking about- though not advocating for!- using bioengineering of the human race to fight climate change:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/mar/14/human-engineering-climate-change-philosophy?newsfeed=true

    Well, if its just considering our options, and we’re not actually advocating for these things, let’s have a discussion about how to cut black people into little parts and efficiently incinerate Jews. You know, for purposes of the national dialogue. ;)

    If we’re going to have a ‘national dialogue’ then we should have it over the real issues, not the fake ones that get thrown out for public consumption. The real issue is not access to contraception, it is how much government we’re going to allow into our lives, and why, and what right we as the human race have to determine and dictate how the rest of humanity will live- if they will live at all, of course.

    Good to see you!

  4. heh heh, I was reading over that Guardian article, and saw this quote from one of them:

    “We are fairly typical liberal academics thinking about the world.”

    That seems about right, but flies in the face of your assessment of “small subset of current left-wing thought.”

    My guess is that Sandberg is right, not you. I’m reminded also of the reaction of the journal editors defending their publication of the ‘are children persons when cash dollars are in play’ article, where he says,

    “More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.”

    So, I don’t really buy your notion that this is just a small subset of anything. These people themselves attest that this is all part of normal ‘liberal’ thinking. Perhaps they are more in tune with liberalism than you are? ;)

    At any rate, these are two comments that explicitly say what is already quite clear for anyone who actually spends their time reading the writings of this people, which I have been doing quite a bit lately. Eg, Sunstein and Emanuel, as two cases in point.

  5. Tony,

    “I guess I should have guessed that if I neglected you long enough, you’d have to pop in here.”

    Yeah, as I recall the neglect started right after I stumped you on why the allegedly secular atheist Nazi regime would have banned books critical of Christianity. :-) But as it happens I have dropped in here a few times over the last couple of months, read some of your Jaffe memo stuff.  I always like to see what it is that’s getting you all fired-up this week.

    I vaguely know of Ms Sebelius, and the context that I had understood other discussions of the cost-effectiveness of free contraception was that it meant that insurance companies were happy enough to provide it, thus taking the burden off religiously-affiliated employers, because it was cheaper for them than covering the ante- and post-natal care for women who otherwise might fall pregnant.  So yes, a reduction in a number of pregnancies DOES more than compensate for the cost of contraception, which is why profit-driven insurance companies will cover it, but not the reason that it should be made available to all.

    Now you say that affordable contraception is already available to everyone in America, so this cannot be the real issue.  This glosses over the complexities of sexual and healthcare decision-making, which is not always as rational as it could be, and is strongly affected by cost and ease of availability.  There are organisations which provide free family planning in the US, but they appear to be constantly under threat from republican lawmakers, who (you would have thought) really ought to be in favour of reducing unintended pregnancies which often end in abortions, but apparently they aren’t.

    So, while (unlike you) I wouldn’t presume to know what the precise internal motivations of either Kathleen Sebelius or the President are on this issue, I definitely support the measure as something likely to reduce both socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare and unintended pregnancies as a means of improving the general quality of life.  Deeply sinister, I know!

    Also, if you review the video you’ll see that Sebelius was giving an answer to the republican representative who had expressed a concern about the costs of the measure.  So very far from being the primary motivational statement that you have implied, she was in fact explaining to a fiscal conservative why the plan was sustainable.

    “It’s not a conspiracy, it’s a quote.”

    I would say that it was a quote taken out of context because that way it better supports your thesis of the socialist baby-killing tyranny that the Obama administration is going to implement.  Any.  Day.  Now.

    You are very welcome to criticise the discussion of hypothetical scenarios by bioethicists as inappropriate, just as you did with the Jaffe memo.  I only feel the need to object when you start implying that my beliefs lead inevitably to some sort of genocide of the old or disabled, and perhaps you can understand why I might take issue with that.

    There is plenty of dialogue that I take issue with on the right of the political spectrum, but I will do so if possible without conflating the views of someone like yourself with those of white nationalist militia members.  I also wouldn’t take them especially seriously if they claimed for themselves the mantle of being “typical” right-wing thinkers.

    Seeya,
    Dan

  6. I confess, I didn’t see your ‘stumping.’ I’m a bad apologist, I know. Well, it will sit there until I get back there, which I guess is the advantage of a forum.

    Re: the GOP’s line of questioning, upon review (again) and as I recall, it wasn’t merely about ‘how to pay for’ but getting at this idea that the contraception is ‘free’ which is something you did as well: “the cost-effectiveness of free contraception”

    Your understanding of the context is way off. You may wish to consult the entire segment rather than the snippet I originally posted. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/304689-1

    If you start at about 1:36 you will get the full lead on. It is not just about ‘costs.’ It is, as Murphy tries to make crystal clear, about the first amendment and religious liberty, and his approach is through this idea of the contraception being ‘free.’

    Of course, this contraception ISN’T FREE, as Murphy is trying to say. SOMEONE is paying for it. What Sebelius was trying to do here was to avoid saying that Catholics are paying for it, by shifting it to the nebulous ‘insurance’ companies who will be paying for it. That’s obviously chaff; who pays the premiums to the insurance companies? For the record, I have already taken the Catholic Church to task on this for not thinking through their objection to its logical end. See here: http://sntjohnny.com/front/todays-splendid-dupe-the-catholic-church-and-possibly-you/1845.html

    So, she is trying to shift it to the insurance companies, and it is clear in me that what happens with Sebelius here is that she accidentally tells the truth, as she sees it. That is, she does not even believe the insurance companies are paying for it, because the additional costs to the insurance company she believes to be offset by savings. I expect that what she says to Murphy here she normally only says to the insurance companies.

    What are the savings? Why is the insurance company’s bottom line not effected? Well, that’s where we get into the exact quote that I cite. The ‘costs’ are offset by there being fewer humans to tax the insurance company in other ways. Since she and the rest of America’s liberals prefer a single payer health insurance system, this is precisely one measure they intend to use to balance the books at that time. This is just precursor.

    To help you understand this, consider this analogy.

    Let’s say that the government wanted to solve the ‘homeless’ problem. To do this, they decide that they are going to shoot them in the head. The logic for this is obvious to everyone, but they don’t tend to say it aloud… but obviously, fewer homeless people means more resources to go around. To carry out this program, they need bullets. Because it is a ‘public service,’ they believe that everyone ought to pay for the bullets. Those damn Catholics are opposed to murder, however, and they are unconvinced the the secular humanist’s determination that homeless people are not persons. So, first the government tries to get the Catholics to pay for the bullets through their insurance programs, but there is an uproar. So then, they get the Catholics to pay for the bullets through their insurance programs (I am deliberately repeating myself here, because factually speaking, the approach was always the same, it was just the messaging that was different. As I understand it, the rules that went into effect were exactly the same as before the hoopla began).

    Then a Congressman wants to know how it is that the bullets are not being purchased by the Catholics, since, well, duh, Catholics are paying the premiums to the insurance companies. Here Sebeliius says something really odd and strange, and even incoherent, if taken on its face. She says, “We know that shooting some homeless people in the heads leaves more state resources for the ones that are still alive; that’s how the bullets are really being paid for.”

    But that comment is incoherent, unless it is understood that she is at that point not thinking in terms of the individual, and rather in terms of the state. The ‘costs’ of the bullet program might be $1,000 but fewer homeless people saved $1,000; in her head, the bullet program was ‘free’ and nobody is paying for it.

    So, while there might be an invoice with “10,000 bullets” listed on it that the insurance company pays, Sebelius would say that in fact, the insurance company is not paying for the bullets, because the invoice that previous said, “Fed 10,000 homeless people” now would read “Fed 1,000 homeless people.”

    But I refuse to accept the premise that it is ok to whack homeless people, even if it is for the ‘public good.’ Likewise, I refuse to talk about whether or not newly born babies are persons or not, because the step to “are homeless people persons or not” is obvious and inevitable, just as naturally as it can become “are blacks, Jews, or gypsies persons.” All stem from the core assumption that we humans decide when people are persons.

    Now, if you had read the previous stuff, then you know that in fact I do not say, as you say I said, your “beliefs lead inevitably to some sort of genocide of the old or disabled”

    I have actually addressed this several times, and indeed I did once in this post, when I said:

    The real agenda is based on several important philosophical premises. For the purpose of this short post, the premise that the human race must be managed to conserve scarce resources for the betterment and sustaining of society, in a ‘fair’ manner, is of prime importance. Precisely how your random secular humanist progressive atheistic liberal believes this premise is to be acted on will differ, but the ones pulling the strings at the highest levels of government and academia have concluded that the human population must be reduced and scarce dollars allocated only to those who will be the lightest burden on the State’s ‘resources.’

    Now, if you have been reading what I’ve been writing, then you know that my assertion that academia has come to these conclusions is absolutely true. I referenced two instances of that already. Sebelius speaks to the ‘highest levels of government.’ But so too do Cass Sunstein (“Nudge”) and Ezekiel Emanuel, and John Holdren, to name three prominent members of this administration. It should be obvious that you do not fit into any of these categories (yet ;) ) so if you feel like they speak to you, that is your own dot connecting, not mine.

    You will find that this post has lots more nuance than you suggest I am implying: http://sntjohnny.com/front/jaffe-memo-part-10-religious-principles-that-secularists-have-and-why-it-matters/1835.html

    You do believe that it is we humans who decide when a person is a person, right?

    And you seem to accept this premise:

    “For the purpose of this short post, the premise that the human race must be managed to conserve scarce resources for the betterment and sustaining of society, in a ‘fair’ manner, is of prime importance.”

    I assume you do, from this statement:

    “definitely support the measure as something likely to reduce both socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare and unintended pregnancies as a means of improving the general quality of life.”

    Given your new career route, I presume that you take this sort of thing very seriously. But I note too that you have put yourself on track to be an expert on such things. Does that mean you will soon presume to be able to decide just what constitutes a ‘quality life’? Does this mean that you feel morally justified in trampling over the religious liberties of your fellow man in pursuit of ‘socioeconomic equality’?

    I take you to be a better man than that, but you will note that my point is that it is the premise itself that is dark and black. I am pleased that you yourself do not draw from it sinister things, but that provides me no comfort, because there are thousands of your compatriots who accept the premise and have different conclusions.

    And no offense, DB, but I don’t want any of you deciding for me or anyone else, what constitutes a ‘quality life year’, who gets care and who doesn’t, and who pays for it- and how it is ‘paid’ for.

    As they say, I know two things: There is a God, and I’m not him. I wish you guys would know those two things, too, but I’d settle for you just believing the latter. :)

  7. Tony,

    Ok, i re-watched the c-span segment and wondered how it would even be possible to satisfy the opponents of this bill. Murphy himself complains that “Whoever pays for it, if it [contraceptives] is available then it violates [employers'] faith”. So any attempt to make contraceptives – which he is also determined to equate with abortion services – available to everyone will “violate” the religious liberty of some employers?! The liberty, apparently, to control the reproductive choices of their employees. i can’t tell you how little sympathy i have with that point of view.

    This is a separate line from the “no such thing as a free lunch” objection. Actually, there are many public health interventions which reliably result in an overall saving. Bizarrely, paying people to give up smoking is one of these, because the later healthcare costs associated with smoking-related diseases are so huge. That’s a pretty contentious one though, because it can be seen as rewarding people for unhealthy behaviours. However, it can be plausibly argued, as Sebelius does, that free contraception is one such intervention. “Free” at the point of access, that is. Obviously someone pays for the provision of the service, but should recoup that cost later.

    “What Sebelius was trying to do here was to avoid saying that Catholics are paying for it, by shifting it to the nebulous ‘insurance’ companies who will be paying for it. That’s obviously chaff; who pays the premiums to the insurance companies?”

    To me, that is like suggesting that a pacifist Jain can legitimately cite the infringement of his religious liberty to stop America using his tax dollars to invade Iraq. What is the difference between a company’s federally-mandated insurance premiums and your taxes, whose use, you’ll notice, you don’t get to dictate the precise specifics of?

    “So, she is trying to shift it to the insurance companies, and it is clear in me that what happens with Sebelius here is that she accidentally tells the truth, as she sees it.”

    But the fact that some public health interventions pay for themselves in the long run is not controversial. Murphy pushed her into what he clearly, since he then yielded, thought of as a “gotcha” admission. OMG!!! Population control!!! But the actual reason that free access to contraception is good financial sense for the insurance companies is that if they have to provide these women with cover then contraception is cheaper than ante-natal and maternity care.

    “The ‘costs’ are offset by there being fewer humans to tax the insurance company in other ways.”

    i think that is a misunderstanding of what she said.

    “Let’s say that the government wanted to solve the ‘homeless’ problem. To do this, they decide that they are going to shoot them in the head.”

    i see that you’re sticking to established public health strategies for your analogies here. :-)

    “But I refuse to accept the premise that it is ok to whack homeless people, even if it is for the ‘public good.’”

    Ok, but why should your religious conviction that sperm and/or newly fertilized ovum are people (applying your analogy to the actual situation) affect the range of family planning options that low income people have available to them? While i understand the objections of conscience to being involved in actions which you consider morally unacceptable, it seems to me like the administration has made every concession short of allowing the religious to dictate the choices of the poor, which would also be a violation of religious liberty, no?

    “I do not say, as you say I said, your “beliefs lead inevitably to some sort of genocide of the old or disabled””

    i understand that you didn’t explicitly say that, but i do strongly believe in universal access to contraceptive services, which is something that you have placed on a spectrum with eugenics that i find unjustified, and frankly a bit objectionable.

    “You do believe that it is we humans who decide when a person is a person, right?”

    There’s no one else available, from my point of view, and the judgements which you attribute to God are, in my opinion, usually just rather inferior human attempts to answer the question. What i wont do is fore-go my contribution because other people believe that the question has already been answered by (from my perspective again) an imaginary being.

    “Given your new career route, I presume that you take this sort of thing very seriously. But I note too that you have put yourself on track to be an expert on such things. Does that mean you will soon presume to be able to decide just what constitutes a ‘quality life’?”

    :-) Without going down the relativist route (“maybe she likes being beaten by her father”), i think it is to some degree subjective but there are universal constants.

    “Does this mean that you feel morally justified in trampling over the religious liberties of your fellow man in pursuit of ‘socioeconomic equality’?”

    i would like you to recognize that the issue is more complicated than that. The religious also shouldn’t be able to dictate the behaviour or options available to people of differing views, or even within their own denomination. i think studies have shown that 98% of US Catholic women have used contraception at some point in their lives. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. But other people should get to make their own decisions, even if they are poor.

    “I know two things: There is a God, and I’m not him. I wish you guys would know those two things, too, but I’d settle for you just believing the latter.”

    *shrug* It’s a tricky one, because while i don’t believe that many secular policy-makers think they are God, they also don’t wish to leave all the decision-making in the hands of the religious just to avoid the accusation of making choices that “only God should be able to”. From our point of view, it’s just us down here, and if we want to get stuff done then decisions will have to get made, and not always perhaps to your liking. Sorry about that. :-)

  8. “From our point of view, it’s just us down here, and if we want to get stuff done then decisions will have to get made…”

    This seems to embody the main point SJ is trying to make. That you believe such decisions are up to you/human beings and you have a need to “get stuff done”. And because consistency necessitates rationality it follows that people will decide and will do something in accordance to such a belief.

    If it’s up to people, then that indeed opens the door for people (though apparently those only being liberal secularists) to decide who deserves to live and who doesn’t all in the name of ‘getting stuff done’. This is the logical conclusion, and as such one that can only inevitably lead to such policies of removing the ‘undesirables’ from society. After all people need to ‘get stuff done’ and it’s up to them to decide who is or isn’t ‘undesirable’ at any given moment and for whatever reason, right?

    So there’s no misconstruing DB. No mischaracterization. No conspiracy theory. Just a logical conclusion that follows from these simple premises people like you believe and are willing to “get stuff done” (and seen in the last century of ‘doing stuff’). You personally may refuse to not follow it to it’s logical end, but that’s a matter of your own personal squeamishness than any matter of logic. We simply note how those like Peter Singer, Alberto Giubilini, and Cass Sunstein also hold the same belief and have decided differently than you.

  9. Good post EB. And a new name. I don’t know Alberto Giubilini. So many rascals, so little time.

    Tony,

    “So any attempt to make contraceptives – which he is also determined to equate with abortion services – available to everyone will “violate” the religious liberty of some employers?!”

    Uh, no. Stripping away the abortion aspect- that’s a rabbit hole- his point is that if this is something that someone wants… eg, YOU, then feel free to fund it out of your own pocket. Don’t make religious orgs pay for something they don’t accept, and don’t lie to them by pretending having their insurance company pay for it is not actually them pay for it. Put your own money where your mouth is. That’s all this is.

    ““Free” at the point of access, that is. Obviously someone pays for the provision of the service, but should recoup that cost later.”

    Right. Like, having fewer humans around to insure allows the insurance companies to recoup the cost of the ‘free’ contraception. :)

    “What is the difference between a company’s federally-mandated insurance premiums and your taxes, whose use, you’ll notice, you don’t get to dictate the precise specifics of?”

    That’s a good point; for precisely this reason, there should not be federally mandated premiums. :)

    You understand that I am a limited government conservative, and it is precisely because of things like this that it should stay this way. Otherwise, it just becomes my pet projects versus your pet projects. Next thing you know, on your basis, I’ll get a bunch of conservatives together to vote in the requirement that federally mandated insurance programs should cover the costs of Bibles… er, I mean, make available free bibles. After all, is there any greater public interest than providing access to heaven? What? That’s a violation of the freedom of religion provisions of the 1st amendment? Bah! If American liberals are prepared to dispense with such anachronisms, then they have to allow us to do the same.

    A ‘big government’ republican, eg, Romney, is prepared to think in those terms (not the religious imposition terms, but the massive federal programs for all, terms), but I’m NOT one of those.

    At least I’m consistent. :)

    “But the fact that some public health interventions pay for themselves in the long run is not controversial.”

    That’s changing the point. She said what she said. You said that she didn’t say what I said she said. She did.

    “since he then yielded”

    I thought he was out of time.

    “But the actual reason that free access to contraception is good financial sense for the insurance companies is that if they have to provide these women with cover then contraception is cheaper than ante-natal and maternity care.”

    A lot of words that basically amount to agreeing with Sebelius, and conceding my representation was true. :) I recently took Alex to task for a similar tactic- fighting me tooth and nail about a proposition, only to finally concede the accuracy of X, but then argue for X. Why not just skip right to the argument for X and save us a lot of time? :)

    “i see that you’re sticking to established public health strategies for your analogies here.”

    I thought of a better one afterwards, but it was too late.

    “Ok, but why should your religious conviction that sperm and/or newly fertilized ovum are people (applying your analogy to the actual situation) affect the range of family planning options that low income people have available to them?”

    Once again, if YOU want to fund such things out of your OWN pocket, more power to you. I reserve the right to add nuance when and if the contraception comes to mean abortion, obviously, because I think that is murder. But that’s not in view here. My religious convictions do NOT affect the family planning options that poor people have, except insofar as I refuse to subsidize them, and insofar as the FIRST AMENDMENT of THESE UNITED STATES does not allow people to force us to subsidize such things.

    You understand that there is no logical end to this argument that you’re making, which is why despite your protestations, it is inevitable that some liberal somewhere will implement whatever God forsaken measure they think serves a public interest. As I argued in my Jaffe Memo series, this is because you guys don’t think your positions are ‘religious’ so you think you can do pretty much whatevertheheck you want, whilst we religionists must carefully toe the ‘separation of church and state’ divide.

    Again, the need for a limited government. Be generous with your own money. That’s all.

    “but i do strongly believe in universal access to contraceptive services,”

    Is that strong enough to rise to the level of a religious belief?

    “which is something that you have placed on a spectrum with eugenics that i find unjustified, and frankly a bit objectionable.”

    It is indisputable that it belongs on the eugenics spectrum. I have proved over and over again on this blog that it does. There is no question that there are those who do not have eugenical motives, like you, whose views dovetail with the eugenicists. If this makes you uncomfortable, I’m not really sorry. Margaret Sanger’s ‘Negro Project’ specifically was geared towards giving ‘free family planning’ to black people, because she specifically didn’t want black people, especially the poor ones. I’m sure its just incidental that your belief and your advocacy for it helps further her specifically and deliberately racist program.

    It’s just a fact that there is an overlap there. I’m not going to ignore that fact, just because it makes you uncomfortable. If it serves to awaken you to the possibility that some of the people partnering with you in that cause may not have the same agenda, I’ll consider my job done. I say that because I know you are an atheist. I’d have more work to do if you were a Christian.

    “The religious also shouldn’t be able to dictate the behaviour or options available to people of differing views, or even within their own denomination.”

    Asked and answered.

    “But other people should get to make their own decisions, even if they are poor.”

    Asked and answered.

    “they also don’t wish to leave all the decision-making in the hands of the religious just to avoid the accusation of making choices that “only God should be able to”.”

    Asked and answered.

    I do hope that after this reply, you will not continue to act as though refusing to personally subsidize things I find unsavory is akin to taking away the ‘choices’ of other people, or making decisions for them.

    “From our point of view, it’s just us down here, and if we want to get stuff done then decisions will have to get made, and not always perhaps to your liking.”

    EB just spoke well to that. I’d emphasize that they may make decisions not particularly to your liking, either. This cuts in two different ways. First of all, it means that if your liberal friends do decide to reduce the burden on the health care system by getting rid of the old people, you’ve really only got your opinion to throw against them. But second of all, on the same basis, then religionists also have the same right, and the fact that you don’t believe there is a God and they do is irrelevant. If they want to make a law saying everyone has to go to Church, then on your very own view, you have to be prepared to go along with ‘decisions you don’t particularly care for.’

    That is to say, your view only has any merit at all if there is a God at all. If there isn’t a God, then its every man for himself, and that includes the religionist men. :)

  10. “Good post EB. And a new name. I don’t know Alberto Giubilini. So many rascals, so little time”

    He’s one of the co-authors of that ” medical ethics” paper in your previous blog. Interestingly the article seems to be removed from the site.

  11. aha, thanks. I have it right here. Francesca Minerva, too. too bad, cuz I really liked the name Francesca.

  12. Tony,

    “Good post EB.”

    No, ridiculous post EB. As if putting scare quotes around the innocuous phrase “get stuff done” and then representing it as being a euphemism for every human rights abuse up to and including the final solution was any kind of substitute for a rational argument.

    “…his point is that if this is something that someone wants… eg, YOU, then feel free to fund it out of your own pocket. Don’t make religious orgs pay for something they don’t accept”

    So this becomes a microcosm of the tax debate, which you and i have had before. As i mentioned, there are obviously some things which you feel are sufficiently in the public interest that government money (that is to say, OUR legally-required tax money) should be spent on them, regardless of whether or not all the people who had to contribute have ethical, religious or any other kind of objection to said activity. The Iraq war was something i strongly opposed at the time and protested against, and even felt quite bitter about my tax money being used for, but what i did not ever entertain was the idea that i ought to have some sort of veto on the project.

    Anyway, if we agree that there are some things that are in the interests of the state to invest in regardless of the objections of individual citizens, then we’re really just haggling about what those things are. i personally think that the health and well-being of the general population is one of those things. You are free to disagree with that, but ought i be able to claim a religious objection to highway maintenance and thereby scupper the whole project of keeping our roads passable?

    i do understand that we will have different perspectives on this, what with me already living and working in the alleged tyranny of universal healthcare paid for by my taxes (among others) and not even really noticing it. It’s not a perfect system, but we have at least managed not to start cutting the throats of all the old ladies while they sleep yet, so i just wonder if some of your fears may be unfounded. Still, it’s only been sixty years or so – give us time.

    “I’ll get a bunch of conservatives together to vote in the requirement that federally mandated insurance programs should cover the costs of Bibles… er, I mean, make available free bibles.”

    That would be a slightly less research-based health strategy, but i know that it’s very popular in developing nations:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/povertystricken-africans-receive-desperately-neede,1915/

    :)

    “She said what she said. You said that she didn’t say what I said she said. She did.”

    She said that a reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception. That is a valid statement regarding the financial sustainability of such insurance cover, and the logic of sinister population control which you implied is wholly lacking unless you look at it with that assumption already in place.

    In your essay you claimed to have the correct interpretation of this statement, and went on to either say or strongly imply (in a single paragraph) that Sebelius has a secret agenda, that she and people like her are liars, and that their real agenda would horrify most people because it involves total government control over who can and cannot reproduce. This is a conspiracy theory, because there is nothing at all that could prove it false (they’re liars, after all), and if the Obama administration doesn’t in time become the totalitarian birth police that you imagine it will certainly be because people like you are keeping the pressure on, or (big favourite) he’ll definitely do it if he gets re-elected people! Get out the vote!

    So, my dispute with you is not over what she said, but the unnecessarily obnoxious interpretation that you put upon it.

    “I thought he was out of time.”

    Maybe, i’ve never watched one of those things before.

    “My religious convictions do NOT affect the family planning options that poor people have, except insofar as I refuse to subsidize them, and insofar as the FIRST AMENDMENT of THESE UNITED STATES does not allow people to force us to subsidize such things.”

    But would have nothing to say in the case of a religious objection to something that you approve of the country doing, for example, going to war? Or can i refuse to subsidize that?

    “It is indisputable that it belongs on the eugenics spectrum. I have proved over and over again on this blog that it does.”

    i suspect, although i obviously haven’t read everything you’ve ever written, that “proved” is an overstatement. i know that you’ve written about Margaret Sanger and the full spectrum of hypothetical options discussed in the Jaffe memo, and then you write pieces like this where you interpret the statements of contemporary liberals through nazi-tinted spectacles. i remain unconvinced, but maybe that’s because the lizard people have already injected me with the mind control chip! :-)

    “If this makes you uncomfortable, I’m not really sorry.”

    Ok. i am a little sorry if my thinking that you’re a conspiracy theorist makes you uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean that i like you any less.

    “Margaret Sanger’s ‘Negro Project’ specifically was geared towards giving ‘free family planning’ to black people, because she specifically didn’t want black people, especially the poor ones. I’m sure its just incidental that your belief and your advocacy for it helps further her specifically and deliberately racist program.”

    Have you got anything a little more current? Anything in the last half-century, say? Because it seems like what you’re saying is that a person who lived and worked in a time when American society was overtly and institutionally racist to a far greater degree than it is now,… wait for it… was a racist. i’m just not sure about how much personal responsibility i feel like taking for that.

    Hey, you’re a Lutheran – how do you feel about perpetuating a specifically and deliberately anti-Semitic ideology? i’ve got quotes and everything.

    “I do hope that after this reply, you will not continue to act as though refusing to personally subsidize things I find unsavory is akin to taking away the ‘choices’ of other people, or making decisions for them.”

    That’s really two questions. One is whether or not conscience exemptions are to be allowed on national government policies funded by tax/insurance money, and i am eagerly awaiting your verdict on that with reference to religious pacifists. The other is whether or not denying free contraception to the very poor counts as “taking choices away from them”. The degree of responsibility we put on people for their social circumstances is a whole other debate, and we’re certain to disagree, so let’s shelve that for now.

    “…if your liberal friends do decide to reduce the burden on the health care system by getting rid of the old people, you’ve really only got your opinion to throw against them.”

    Because it would only be me objecting in that situation. Right.

    “That is to say, your view only has any merit at all if there is a God at all. If there isn’t a God, then its every man for himself, and that includes the religionist men.”

    It makes no difference from a practical point of view whether or not there is a God, for all that he seems to be directly involving himself in our affairs, and the radically different human interpretations of his alleged political allegiances. So this is just one of those things that religious people say in an attempt to elevate the status of their beliefs over those of others. Human solidarity and empathy is the real engine of social progress, and religious beliefs can often seriously diminish both of those positive qualities in the individuals who hold them, with disastrous consequences for human well-being.

    Gotta go, i’ve got to go “get stuff done” [dum dum daaaa!!!!] :)
    Dan

  13. “No, ridiculous post EB. As if putting scare quotes around the innocuous phrase “get stuff done” and then representing it as being a euphemism for every human rights abuse up to and including the final solution was any kind of substitute for a rational argument.”

    As if ignoring that every human rights abuse… wait I’m sorry. I’m confused. Is it “human rights” or “person’s rights” and just who is deciding which applies where exactly according to you again?

  14. “Anyway, if we agree that there are some things that are in the interests of the state to invest in regardless of the objections of individual citizens, then we’re really just haggling about what those things are.”

    Well, I wouldn’t over state just how deep our agreement goes on that, but that was really my point, based on your own premises; on those premises, not only are we ‘just haggling’ over those things, but I have as much right to do so as you do. And- again, on your view- if my ‘team’ prevails, then, again, on your view, you’re just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.

    Maybe that works over in England/Europe, but over here in America, that’s not the way we roll. :)

    “but ought i be able to claim a religious objection to highway maintenance and thereby scupper the whole project of keeping our roads passable?”

    this sort of conflation lies at the root of the silliness of your position. As soon as one objection is made to liberal over reach, we’re back to roads and municipal water supplies. I wryly note that a strong military is never suggested as something we might agree is an appropriate role for government.

    “the logic of sinister population control which you implied is wholly lacking unless you look at it with that assumption already in place.”

    You keep using the word ‘implied.’ Maybe that’s what you’re driven to when my actual words don’t support your case. :) I thought you were going to avoid trying to tap into the inner intent of people and take them at their face value?

    “that Sebelius has a secret agenda,”

    Hmmm, no. EB got it right. Why didn’t you?

    “that she and people like her are liars,”

    I definitely stand by that.

    “and that their real agenda would horrify most people because it involves total government control over who can and cannot reproduce. This is a conspiracy theory,”

    It isn’t a conspiracy theory. Liberals are actually talking about those things. Maybe not specifically in those terms, but certainly over the notion of reproduction. If you’ve read my blog like you say you have, then you know that I have cited specific examples of people who have explicitly advocated for such things as global 1-2 child limits, etc. And not just the ‘old’ Jaffe memo. Your own Jonathan Porritt urged the same thing as an attempt to ‘save the planet.’ So, you are just absolutely and completely and utterly (fill in your own adjective here that leaves zero room for you to not be) wrong.

    It isn’t ‘conspiracy’ because it isn’t secret. It doesn’t require coordination, because it flows from their worldview.

    But that’s not what I accused Sebelius of. I didn’t accuse her of anything. I just pointed out where her logic goes. And it goes where I said it goes, as evidenced by liberals the world over actively and publicly trying to implement those policies.

    “if the Obama administration”

    You should say, “the Alinsky administration.”

    Indeed, henceforth, that is precisely what I’m going to do.

    “So, my dispute with you is not over what she said,”

    Oh, well, now you tell me. ;)

    “But would have nothing to say in the case of a religious objection to something that you approve of the country doing, for example, going to war? Or can i refuse to subsidize that?”

    I am more than happy to allow you to refuse to subsidize that.

    Sounds good to me.

    There; that’s 95% of your argument swept away in under 20 words. :)

    “Ok. i am a little sorry if my thinking that you’re a conspiracy theorist makes you uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean that i like you any less.”

    The next Brahman is on me. Did I spell that right?

    “Have you got anything a little more current?”

    Uh, yea. That’s why I have dropped names such as Cass Sunstein, John Holdren, and Ezekiel Emanuel. These are all prominent members of the current administration.

    But your point is meaningless in this case, because this same Margaret Sanger launched the ‘Negro Project’ c. 1939 and just about 2 years later officially founded the organization called PLANNED PARENTHOOD. I trust you’ve heard of it? Now, it is eminently reasonable to assume that her positions, goals, and attitudes up to that point were meant to be embodied in this organization of hers. Why wouldn’t that be unreasonable? I for one don’t go around founding organizations that are contrary to my goals and principles.

    From the beginning, PP talked about contraception and women’s rights etc, etc, etc. Now, you can believe that this was their real goal all you like, but the historical record suggests that this was just their cover for their real agenda. Do we have any reason to think that this CONTEMPORARY organization has abandoned the principles and aims of its founder?

    If we went through the list of Planned Parenthood’s “Margaret Sanger Award” recipients, how many eugenicists do you think we will find? Did you ever think to look?

    I have. Does it matter? To me it does.

    “The other is whether or not denying free contraception to the very poor counts as “taking choices away from them”.”

    Sure. Let’s see. In America, the 2nd amd says we have the right to bear arms. I suppose if we deny free guns to the very poor, that means taking choices away from them. The 1st amd says we have the right to free speech. Hence, if we don’t give every poor person a bullhorn, we’ve taken away their right to speech. The 1st amd says we have a freedom of religion. I guess that means that our country should pay churches the donations that the poor people can’t afford. Otherwise, its denying their right to religion. Maybe we should get into more basic human rights? We have a right to eat, I suppose. If we don’t feed every person on the planet, have we denied them their right to choose something? I’m sorry, DB, but where exactly does this line of logic end? I mean, besides your arbitrary and capricious sense of what is right and wrong? ;)

    “It makes no difference from a practical point of view whether or not there is a God,”

    And that is a bit of philosophy that makes all the difference in the world.

    It certainly does make a practical difference, for what we say about God has impact on what we say about man. Or, what we think we can do to man.

    This does elevate my belief over yours, because it necessarily entails limits on what I can impose or inflict upon my fellow man. Your belief entails no logically inexorable limits. The fact that you yourself do not extend them in certain directions doesn’t mean that others with the exact same starting points will refrain. History and the present show that they don’t, and won’t.

    “and religious beliefs can often seriously diminish both of those positive qualities in the individuals who hold them, with disastrous consequences for human well-being.”

    Surely you must admit that any belief can do that? The communists were expressly atheistic, but I don’t recall them being known for their empathy. I will gladly acknowledge that there are some religious beliefs that do as you say, and there is one that comes immediately to mind: Islam.

  15. this whole conversation reminds me of the exchange I heard on a local radio program back when they were passing Alinksycare. The one guy called in and said, “the government shouldn’t be involved in what people eat, etc.” The host said, “like it or not, as soon as the public is paying for people’s health, then people’s eating behaviors become subject to public dictation.”

    Yea, that about sums up the attitude.

  16. Tony,

    “Maybe that works over in England/Europe, but over here in America, that’s not the way we roll.”

    :) Maybe not. i guess we’ll find out in November.

    “I wryly note that a strong military is never suggested as something we might agree is an appropriate role for government.”

    Funny that was my other main example then. i also think that healthcare is an appropriate role for government, as well as national defense and, yes, highway maintenance.

    “It isn’t a conspiracy theory. Liberals are actually talking about those things. Maybe not specifically in those terms, but certainly over the notion of reproduction.”

    Hmm, how dare people discuss reproduction. Now i am unclear whether you are suggesting that such discussions should be outlawed, or merely that participation in them should bar one from holding high office. Regardless of this the discussions that you appear to object to by Porritt, Sunstein, Holdren et al are part of a wider human conversation about how we as a species can best survive, manage (sometimes) scarce resources, and reduce the inequalities that exist in our societies and also globally. i totally support the continuation of this conversation, while i fully agree that it should be governed by a strong ethical framework which would shoot down certain extreme proposals which you rightly object to.

    “It isn’t ‘conspiracy’ because it isn’t secret. It doesn’t require coordination, because it flows from their worldview.”

    So are you advocating banning liberals from holding elected office? Because that is what seems to “flow” from your worldview as expressed here.

    And obviously, i disagree that this is the case. i could as easily “prove” that racist and tyrannical policies flow from a conservative worldview by quoting some past and present figures on the right (sometimes even in context).

    “I just pointed out where her logic goes. And it goes where I said it goes, as evidenced by liberals the world over actively and publicly trying to implement those policies.”

    Of universal access to contraception. Still not seeing the evil.

    “You should say, “the Alinsky administration.””

    While i get that Alinsky is some sort of conservative boogie-man de jour, i haven’t yet been able to figure out quite why this is the case. Help me out?

    “So, my dispute with you is not over what she said,”

    “Oh, well, now you tell me. ;)”

    i told you from the start. As a supporter of free contraception i object to the suggestion that it is a step on the ladder to tyranny, and further, i think it is an absurd and foolish claim to make.

    “I am more than happy to allow you to refuse to subsidize that.”

    You realize that the numbers of extra staff required to administrate an entirely flexible individualized tax system based on what projects each citizen wanted to contribute to would actually radically increase the size of government? :)

    “There; that’s 95% of your argument swept away in under 20 words.”

    No, it just shows that you’re consistent. Bravo! You can still be entirely wrong. :)

    For example, the compromise of the Obama administration for insurance companies to be the sole providers of contraceptive cover seems to me to knock your religious liberty objection right out. Unless we’re talking about Catholic insurance companies now.

    “The next Brahman is on me. Did I spell that right?”

    Brahma.

    “From the beginning, PP talked about contraception and women’s rights etc, etc, etc. Now, you can believe that this was their real goal all you like, but the historical record suggests that this was just their cover for their real agenda. Do we have any reason to think that this CONTEMPORARY organization has abandoned the principles and aims of its founder?”

    Many protestant churches in the twenties and thirties had close links with the KKK, and were explicitly segregationist in their ideology. Is there any reason to think that these contemporary organizations have abandoned those racist principles?

    “I’m sorry, DB, but where exactly does this line of logic end? I mean, besides your arbitrary and capricious sense of what is right and wrong?”

    i don’t apologize for thinking that people have a right to healthcare, and that includes the right for women to decide if and when they want to have children independent of their decision about if and when to have sex (and regardless of their financial situation. The desire of some conservatives to forcibly impose the “consequences” of such behaviour on women, which technology has largely helped us to free them from, is a reactionary stance not dissimilar from the initial opposition to the use of analgesia during childbirth on the basis of Genesis 3:16.

    “It certainly does make a practical difference, for what we say about God has impact on what we say about man. Or, what we think we can do to man.”

    An inconsistent impact. Some people who believe in God think it is fine, even noble, to fly planes into buildings or gun down abortion providers. i am not saying that beliefs don’t matter, of course they do, but whether or not someone thinks there is a god is almost useless as a judge of their character, intentions and danger to the rest of us. And, since those beliefs are entirely independent of whether or not there actually is a god, that particular fact remains irrelevant.

    “This does elevate my belief over yours, because it necessarily entails limits on what I can impose or inflict upon my fellow man.”

    Thank you for proving my point. While there is no realistic way for me to disabuse you of this self-aggrandizing notion, a quick review of the things that have been done to human beings by people who most certainly believed in god would seem to be a good start.

    “Surely you must admit that any belief can do that?”

    Which would be kind of the point. Religious beliefs have no special privilege in terms of making people behave better. There are certain specific religious beliefs which do, but not just the mere fact of believing in God, which captures the fundamentalist Islamist and the pacifist Quaker, just as the label “atheist” can be applied equally to the Humanist and the Stalinist. Believing in god is not a useful distinction.

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