Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Two books to note, one from here on a mix of faith and humor from Moscow.
  2. And for fans of Sewer, Gas and Electric … Matt Ruff has a new book. So get it and read it.
  3. About that “worst case” Iran  straw man scenario.
  4. When you believe spending and income need not match … and people get too used to sucking on the government teat.
  5. Either they (requiring viewing ultrasounds and requiring Catholic hospitals provide free contraception) are both totalitarian or neither are.
  6. Speaking of which, an atheist libertarian is not impressed.
  7. Speaking of that topic, Mr Obama’s so-called compromise. Frankly, calling that a compromise is an outright lie.
  8. Also see this pdf, on this topic you’ll see the left whacking lots of straw men in this kerfuffle. That pdf links to some actual arguments, which alas you will not see mentioned by any Congressional or White House defense of their policy.
  9. Al Qaeda merger.
  10. Suicide and legality.
  11. Of big “O” and calculus.
  12. To avoid spoilage? Hmm. One recipe for great bacon is to take frozen bacon, fry it directly without thawing on a very low heat for a long time until crisp. It will melt in your mouth (hint: this is a good thing taste-wise).
  13. Bike tricks (done by the bike not so much by the rider).
  14. Waterboarding and Mr Washington.
  15. Are the tea party and ows the nucleus of something that will emerge in decades?
  16. Lots of links to this, Himalayan non-warming.
  17. Our future in adventures in state medicine.
  18. Not likely.
  19. And it’s a bad thing.
  20. What is tradition? (hint: not just a song in Fiddler).

22 Responses to Monday Highlights

  1. 7.Speaking of that topic, Mr Obama’s so-called compromise. Frankly, calling that a compromise is an outright lie.

    From what I understand, the insurance company is required to contact the insured person and offer them coverage if they wish it. Insurance companies like this idea because contraception, more often than not, reduces medical costs more than the price of pills, iuds or whatnot.

    Over on First Things I’ve been working a concept I call the ‘moral condom’. The idea is basically claims of conscience have a tipping point where they cease to be everyone else’s problem and start being your problem and your problem only.

    To use a small example, suppose you’re an Orthodox Jew or Hindu at a big corporation. At a company event, you decline food that is made out of pork. The company ‘accomodates’ this by usually offering a vegetarian alternative. If the company insisted on serving only pork at its events, while that may not violate any laws people could rightly complain that this seems like going out of the way to pressure people whose conscience forbids them from eating pork. OK

    Now what if this same person has a job at the National Pork Council? At that point we would tell the person something like “look, we understand your conscience but it’s not reasonable to expect a lot of non-pork products here…you’ll have to adjust if you want to be here or not”.

    With this in mind, how does one approach being in a insurance policy with others? If I’m really big on population control, I might object to your and your wife deciding to try for a baby. Yet ‘my money’ covers that. Likewise you may object to my decision to use contraception or abortion. The sensible way to address this is the concept of the ‘moral condom’. I buy insurance coverage, what I do with that coverage is my affair. if I use it to have many kids or to have lots of random sex by getting viagra or to use contraception is my choice. Just because you are buying the same policy doesn’t give you any special claim over my decisions. End of story.

  2. Boonton,
    OK. Consider the situation where a car manufacturer offers collision insurance to its employees, with the understanding they drive cars made by that company. The company can replace/repair those cars cheaply, they do it in house for a lot less. Big hospitals (I’m pretty sure) do similarly. They can offer their employees far cheaper medical insurance by just handling medical needs of their staff by just taking care of them in house. This then is a problem for requiring coverage for things the Hospital, for reasons of conscience or belief, might not wish to offer at all at that facility.

    Insurance companies like this idea because contraception, more often than not, reduces medical costs more than the price of pills, iuds or whatnot.

    And … you read the pdf linked to see why that is not the good idea you think it is?

  3. They can offer their employees far cheaper medical insurance by just handling medical needs of their staff by just taking care of them in house.

    This isn’t a very good example. Most employees do not want their fellow employees to be their doctors. You may not realize this if you don’t have family members that work in the medical field. It’s also not clear that it would be cheaper for a hospital to do this. While some procedures may be able to be done ‘cheaper’ by a hospital for its own staff, the full range of things you would want covered with health insurance almost certainly wouldn’t. I suppose this example might apply, say, to dental coverage offered by a large group practice of dentists to their staff….but then dental coverage tends to be less board than general medical coverage.

    It wouldn’t be very hard for a hospital to work something out with the above, though. What it would probably do is offer the services it could do very cheaply for free and the insurance company would respond by waiving co-pays or providing other incentives for patients to use the hospital for those particular services. Since group health premiums are based on the total health spending by the covered population, this would reduce the cost of covering employees to the hospital for cheap to do procedures (cheap for the hospital that is) while using the premiums to pay for the procedures that are cheaper to be ‘outsourced’ from the hospital.

    This then is a problem for requiring coverage for things the Hospital, for reasons of conscience or belief, might not wish to offer at all at that facility.

    No conscience issue should result. Since the procedure isn’t offered that the hospital the insurance can’t pay the hospital to perform it, can they? This would apply equally to procedures the hospital just doesn’t specialize in. For example, a major breast health center may offer free mammograms to its employees but won’t offer treatment for 3rd degree burns.

    And … you read the pdf linked to see why that is not the good idea you think it is?

    Ahhh yes, he doesn’t understand what health insurance is. That flaw is pretty fatal to just about any argument he might want to make.

  4. Funny how conservatives want to talk about supposed government overreach instead of how fucking moronic it is to oppose contraception in 2011. WTF!

  5. JA,

    Speaking of effing moronic, how about liberal/progressives who confuse “not for free” with “oppose use of”. WTF indeed.

  6. The position staked out here only makes sense if you’re opposed to all contraceptive use regardless of who pays for it.

  7. Boonton,
    And that position only makes sense if hospitals cannot self insure and that contraception is expensive. Both alas don’t hold up.

  8. Mark,

    Speaking of effing moronic, how about liberal/progressives who confuse “not for free” with “oppose use of”. WTF indeed.

    I was referring to the Catholic (and probably Muslim, etc.) organizations who do “oppose use of”, not to the political stuff.

  9. Hospitals don’t self-insure. At most what they would do is offer the services that are available at the hospital for free letting insurance cover the balance of costs that patients would get at other hospitals or doctors either because they aren’t offered at the hospital or because patients don’t want people they work with to work on them.

    If this is what you think the debate is about then you don’t know what you are talking about.

  10. Boonton,
    Don’t or you don’t think they do.

    At most what they would do is offer the services that are available at the hospital for free letting insurance cover the balance of costs that patients would get at other hospitals or doctors either because they aren’t offered at the hospital or because patients don’t want people they work with to work on them.

    And what service aren’t offered at a typical major hospital? And you do realize that still don’t need outside insurance for those services they don’t provide, the hospital just has to pay for those things.

    because patients don’t want people they work with to work on them.

    You’ve brought this up a few times. You’re just making stuff up. The doctors I know don’t have a problem seeing their own system for their services. Why do you think that’s the case?

  11. JA,

    I was referring to the Catholic (and probably Muslim, etc.) organizations who do “oppose use of”, not to the political stuff.

    I’m confused. The issue is payment. Yes these organizations have issues with contraception, but oddly enough they (Catholics at least) aren’t preventing people they just don’t want to pay for it. You seem to conflate the two notions.

  12. And what service aren’t offered at a typical major hospital?

    Routine medical exams for one. You also are aware that doctors at the hospital are not the hospital itself, aren’t you? They have admitting rights to the hospitals they are affiliated with but they get paid by billing you or your insurance directly, not through the hospital’s bill. Even the world’s largest hospital is not comprehensive enough to ‘self insure’ if by that you mean just offering employees free services in liu of insurance.

    Speaking of which, what exactly do you think you do if you are on vacation in another state and have a heart attack? Drive all the way to the hospital you work at? No you get care where you are, which if the hospital is providing coverage, it has to provide some type of insurance.

    You’ve brought this up a few times. You’re just making stuff up. The doctors I know don’t have a problem seeing their own system for their services. Why do you think that’s the case?

    My wife works in the medical profession, while I can’t speak about doctors directly support staff typically will not want their bosses or co-workers having intimate knowledge of their medical conditions. Maybe some you know are ok with it but that would be an issue with a hospital that tried to do what you’re suggesting.

    The way this would work is a ‘self-insuraning’ hospital would still work with an insurance provider like Horizon. The insurance provider would issue cards, track co-pays, deductibles and so on. Services the hospital was willing to provide for free would simply be billed at a $0 co-pay to the patient. For services provided outside the hospital the patient would use Horizon’s network and the providers would be paid whatever rates Horizon is able to negotiate with them. Horizon would then turn around and bill the ‘self-insuring’ hospital for the costs incurred by the patients plus a markup to cover their admin. costs and profit.

  13. I’m confused. The issue is payment. Yes these organizations have issues with contraception, but oddly enough they (Catholics at least) aren’t preventing people they just don’t want to pay for it. You seem to conflate the two notions.

    They don’t want to pay for it BECAUSE they oppose it. I’m just lamenting the fact that we still have to deal with this superstitious nonsense in the 21st century.

    Besides, they’d probably prevent it if they could! You can’t give them credit for not doing something that’s not in their power to do.

  14. JA,

    Besides, they’d probably prevent it if they could! You can’t give them credit for not doing something that’s not in their power to do.

    I’m not. Likewise you can’t accuse them of doing something that they haven’t done. You seem completely oblivious to Christian notions of conscience. Orthodox (like Catholics used to do) fast. When the church has a dinner in fasting period, they don’t provide food which is not part of the fast, e.g., no meat on fasting days. And while they encourage everyone to fast, they don’t prohibit and wouldn’t if they could breaking the fast by individuals.

    Not free != prohibit. Get that into your noggin.

  15. From my POV they aren’t paying for anything. They are giving health coverage as compensation to their workers. It is the workers who are opting to use that coverage for contraceptives, or childbirth, or whatever. The principle of the ‘moral condom’ asserts, and it is undeniable, that once the day’s work is done the compensation ceases to belong to the employer and belongs to the employee. A hospital has no more right to say it’s ‘paying for’ an employees contraceptives than it has to say it’s paying for an employee who uses her paycheck to buy a hotel room to carry on an extramarital affair.

  16. Orthodox (like Catholics used to do) fast. When the church has a dinner in fasting period, they don’t provide food which is not part of the fast, e.g., no meat on fasting days. And while they encourage everyone to fast, they don’t prohibit and wouldn’t if they could breaking the fast by individuals.

    This is all well and good but has nothing to do with the debate. Fasting is understood to apply to the faithful, the Roman Catholic position on contraception is more akin to its position on abortion. It’s against it for both faithful and nonfaithful. So it is fair to ask how much of this is legitimately about ‘conscience’ versus a social engineering desire to make contraception less accepted in the wider society. The Church has every right to advance the latter motive, but the assertion that is part of ‘religious freedom’ or ‘conscience’ should be rejected.

  17. You’re missing my point, Mark, which is that opposing contraception (even if one didn’t act on that opposition) is MORONIC.

  18. JA,
    There speaks the modern open minded multi-cultural liberal. People’s who’s ideas differ than yours are morons. Riiiiight.

    Boonton,
    Show me Catholic teaching that holds that their contraception teaching applies to non-Catholics. You’re making things up again.

  19. I suggest you start with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_contraception In the Roman view of things, contraception is ‘intrinsically evil’. That means it is not simply a rule particular to the Roman Catholic Church (such as not eating meat on Friday’s during Lent) but a view that should apply to everyone, a little bit like the idea that prohibiting theft is a issue that applies to everyone, not just Catholics. It doesn’t mean that the Church feels it has to support the exact same type of laws against contraception that it does against abortion, but it clearly does not view the issue as one that applies only to Catholic faithful.

  20. There speaks the modern open minded multi-cultural liberal. People’s who’s ideas differ than yours are morons. Riiiiight.

    LOL I thought you were supposed to argue that liberals are cultural relativists that think all cultures are equally true! Don’t you argue that sometimes?

    There’s nothing closed minded about calling moronic ideas moronic. Obviously not all ideas that differ from mine are moronic. I’m talking about this specific idea, which is moronic.

  21. JA,
    This word “moronic” it does not, I think, mean what you think it means.

  22. And of course if it was just about ‘conscience’ there wouldn’t be an issue. Just suppose a Catholic enterprise just happened to also own a supermarket and opted to pay 10% of salary in the form of food vouchers that could be redeemed for anything the person wanted from the supermarket.

    Would they feel a need to pull meat from the shelves on Friday’s during Lent? Errrr, no. Employes that are Catholic would be expected, on their own, to refrain from buying meat on those Fridays (or buy meat to store and eat for the future). The Church wouldn’t care to tell non-Catholic employees not to eat meat. The fasting requirement is not good in itself but is good as part of the practice of a devoted Catholic. A Muslim, say, who just didn’t eat meat on those Fridays with no particular knowledge of Catholic doctrine would not be ‘a better Catholic Muslim’ than one who did eat meat. The Church would not care about his meat eating habits, it would care about trying to convince him to join the Church.

    In contrast, consider something the Church considers intrinsic evil…say pornography. A Catholic run supermarket would not want to sell porno mags, even if it somehow was only selling them to people it knew were non-Catholics. It’s position on pornography is not particular to members of the Catholic faith but a position it thinks should apply to all of society, Catholic and non-Catholic. If a law was proposed outlawing pornography, it would very likely support it, or want to find a way to support it. In other words, on pornography the Church would have two issues. One would be conscience, it wouldn’t want to see a law forcing it to sell pornography…of course. The other is social engineering. It would want to see policies that discourage pornography. Maybe those policies would be laws, maybe just cultural norms. It may grant that other values may trump the desire to limit pornography (such as the need to preserve free speech) in some arenas of policy but it would want to see social engineering.

    Social engineering is fine, but in a democracy you win or loose based on whether or not you can convince people. Most people in the US think contraception is fine and think it should be part of a standard package of what we would call ‘health coverage’. The Church would like that view to do a 180 and it’s fine that it try to lobby that way, but if society does not accept that, then there is no violation of ‘conscience’. You may root for the Bears or Jets but if the Giants win the Superbowel then the Giants win, you’re out of luck until the next go around.

    So I appreciate that you constructed a fantastic hypothetical where you think someone may be forcing a Catholic hospital to provide contraception. Your hypothetical, though, has nothing to do with the facts. Your ‘self-insuring’ hospital would continue to not offer contraception. Employees who want it would have to get it elsewhere and that’s all there is to it.

    Returning to the porn analogy, it’s fine if the ‘Catholic Supermarket’ opts not to sell porn. It’s not so fine if it tries to control the paychecks of its workers in such a way as to prevent them from using porn with their own money. IMO ‘health coverage’ is your own money, so to speak. You earned it and just as your neighbor might be using the same health coverage to have another baby, you are free to use your health coverage to keep from having another baby.

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