Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sandra Fluke

Sandra Fluke has one set of values. The Jesuits who founded, fund, and run Georgetown University have another set of values. The Jesuits are celibate. Sandra might not be. The Jesuits care a lot about religious freedom. Sandra cares a lot about sexual freedom. The Jesuits wear black. Sandra wears... also black.

None of these values, freedoms, or choices are in conflict with each other.* When Sandra chooses her attire, she doesn't consult the Jesuits. When the Jesuits chose theirs, Sandra can't object. So why the big argument over health care?

Because health care is, bizarrely, chosen by the employer on behalf of an employee! Of course there are conflicts over health care. If the Jesuits had to buy Sandra's clothing for her (or if she had to write their prayers), they'd probably do a miserable job at it.

Religious liberty and sexual liberty are only at conflict in a deformed healthcare system which requires employers to choose health insurance on behalf of their employees. In sensible systems such as the ones discussed here, Sandra wouldn't be forced to outsource her health provision to a bunch of old men wearing black. And life-loving people, galled by the Stupak Surrender to Obamacare, would be free to buy healthcare without subsidizing abortion.


Chops said...

* Footnote: Religious and sexual/personal liberty are at conflict over abortion. Human procreation involves a problem similar to the deformed-healthcare-system problem: new humans are formed inside of existing humans, and the latter have to make all the decisions for the former. Where do the rights of the one trump the rights of the other?

Religious people generally hold that the right to life trumps other rights. Pro-abortion people (don't call them pro-choice: they're often anti-choice when it comes to healthcare plans or international trade) hold that the right to privacy trumps the right to life.

Chops said...

This is why abortion is not resolved by political cleverness, but the contraception debate can be.

taoist said...

But don't you know? The very thought that people should pay for their own contraceptives means we're imposing our sexual morality on everyone else.

Chops said...

What Sandra Fluke doesn't realize is that if Georgetown were forced to cover contraception, her tuition would go up concomitantly. So she pays for it either way - but under the current system, she doesn't get to choose what to pay for.

Matthew said...

But surely if Georgetown pays, she pays less than she would have otherwise (subsidized by the students who don't use contraception, and also enjoying an economy of scale)?

Chops said...

Yes, that's true, and it's the best argument in favor of forced contraception coverage.

However, that's an externality that only exists for a small subset of the U.S. population: people who are sexually active and not in a committed relationship.

Given the proportions, it's probable that requiring all to pay for contraception will lead to greater unintended harm (in economic efficiency) than intended gain.

There's also reason to believe that sexual relationships are very fluid in terms of power dynamics: e.g., who pays for what, who has the power in the relationship, who begs and who chooses. With that flexibility, women who pay out-of-pocket for high-end contraception can probably recapture the external benefit.

Matt said...

Chops, just caught up on a few blog posts. I haven't been here for a few months, and it's refreshing. Thanks!