Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why the Hobby Lobby case matters so much

Not to me, actually, but to the Left.

There was a comment on this thread at Rod Dreher's, which I can no longer track down: without cheap, easy contraception, the modern woman ceases to exist.

In other words, the reason the Left can brook no compromise, no deviation from the party line on birth control is because without chemical contraception (which will still run you less than your cable bill), women don't get the broadened options of sleeping with attractive strangers who make terrible husbands and fathers. Without birth control, a lot of traditional mores come crashing back.

The same thing, tragically, can be said for antibiotic treatment of venereal diseases (now increasingly antibiotic-resistant).

Same with welfare, which means matriarchal black America can raise net tax-consuming broods with street corner lotharios.

Same with Title VII, which provides HR and other bureaucratic sinecures for women which a healthy, competitive market would not otherwise bother to create.

Birth control also degrades the interactions of young, bourgeois individuals into a brutalized sexual marketplace, and all the legislation and whining of sexually undesirable feminists won't change it. Some honesty on this point is needed: what we are talking about with the contraception-mandate is a subsidy for younger, sexually attractive people who are gainfully employed at mid- and large-size companies.

It's astounding how much of the modern world is devoted to making women feel comfortable and enabling them to have the same options as men. Of course, all this depends on men still being willing to pay taxes and produce enough surplus for all these wonderful things.

I don't mean to pick on women here. Men don't like having to make hard choices either. We have an entire monetary system dreamed up by men to avoid things like having to produce before we consume.

Interestingly, according to David Stockman, the Federal Reserve as originally implemented had little to do with the grand, macro-economic engineering which it now regards as its prime directive.
Thus, in an age of balanced budgets and bipartisan fiscal rectitude, the Fed’s legislative architects had not even considered the possibility of central bank monetization of the public debt, and, in any event, had a totally different mission in mind.

The new Fed system was to operate decentralized “reserve banks” in 12 regions—most of them far from Wall Street in places like San Francisco, Dallas, Kansas City and Cleveland. Their job was to provide a passive “rediscount window” where national banks within each region could bring sound, self-liquidating commercial notes and receivables to post as collateral in return for cash to meet depositor withdrawals or to maintain an approximate 15 percent cash reserve.

Accordingly, the assets of the 12 reserve banks were to consist entirely of short-term commercial paper arising out of the ebb and flow of commerce and trade on the free market, not the debt emissions of Washington. In this context, the humble task of the reserve banks was to don green eyeshades and examine the commercial collateral brought by member banks, not to grandly manage the macro economy through targets for interest rates, money growth or credit expansion—to say nothing of targeting jobs, GDP, housing starts or the Russell 2000, as per today’s fashion.

Even the rediscount rate charged to member banks for cash loans was to float at a penalty spread above money market rates set by supply and demand for funds on the free market.

The big point here is that Carter Glass’ “banker’s bank” was an instrument of the market, not an agency of state policy. The so-called economic aggregates of the later Keynesian models—-GDP, employment, consumption and investment—were to remain an unmanaged outcome on the free market, reflecting the interaction of millions of producers, consumers, savers, investors, entrepreneurs and even speculators.

In short, the Fed as “banker’s bank” had no dog in the GDP hunt. Its narrow banking system liquidity mission would not vary whether the aggregates were growing at 3 percent or contracting at 3 percent.

All very practical stuff. Of course, it couldn't last when, again, men wanted the ability to wage industrial-scale war and not actually have to pay for it.

Can any of my more literate readers tell me if there's a classical, comprehensive term for the universal vice of trying to live without consequences? It doesn't seem to be covered by the Seven Deadly Sins.


Philopater said...

Augustine's "Morals of the Manichees" is a good place to start.

IA said...

I think modernism is more sinister than living without consequences. That's too Sans Souci, by Boucher. Today Prometheus attacks divine order and prohibits questions. The opening of the soul to transcendence was called by Plato, periagoge. ( Vogelin - Science, Politics and Gnosticism, has a lot to say about this.) Now, modern man can only move horizontally by the will to power. But, we/they play a game of masks, pretending to believe in cunning and cruel deceptions we are all too familiar with.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

It seems to me one of the central tenets of modernism is the assumed need to rethink traditional norms in light of technological advances which remove former consequences from certain human actions. We can tax the surplus wealth generated by increasing productivity to fund a welfare state, enabling people to survive despite poor impulse control. We can use antibiotics and oral contraceptives to mitigate the consequences of promiscuous sex. The internet and video games reduce incentives for socially or emotionally stunted individuals to improve their condition. Persons with confused gender dimorphism can avail themselves of advanced surgical procedures and synthetic hormones to correct their condition (pretermitting the morality or efficacy of such procedures).

The Amish seem to think the fundamental problem is when technological advance or, concomitantly, civilizational scale enables sin. But I don't think having a council of elders pass on technologies or the degree of division of labor is at all realistic or even desirable.

Philopater and IA: if you could expand on your comments, it would be much appreciated.

I may even post this on some forums from which I've previously resigned to try and get more input.

Dystopia Max said...

I think it's attached to the philosophy of evolutionary biology: the idea that following any one advantage today will totally result in the eventual creation of a better race years or decades down the line.

It is the sort of unsaid but widely agreed-upon something that would cause both the business and bureaucratic classes to move within the same spirit in proposing Third World immigration to their own advantage.

Darwinism was at least a very definite philosophy as well as scientific theory. Science can be your ally in this one, but only when you watch his processes closely:

"Thus it is of no help to Darwinists, who require a mechanism that will construct new, functional systems. What’s more, unlike Lenski’s results, the mutated system of Thornton and colleagues is not even advantageous; it is neutral, according to the authors. Perhaps sensing the disappointment for Darwinism in the results, the title of the paper and news reports emphasize that the “complexity” of the system has increased. But increased complexity by itself is no help to life — rather, life requires functional complexity. One can say, if one wishes, that a congenitally blind man teaming up with a congenitally legless man to safely move around the environment is an increase in “complexity” over a sighted, ambulatory person. But it certainly is no improvement, nor does it give the slightest clue how vision and locomotion arose."

Modernism still has Darwinism as one of its primary inspirations, remember.

Metonym said...

For the deadly sins perhaps some or many cover avoiding-consequences as a group. Sloth--avoiding consequences. Avarice--avoiding consequences. And so on.

I offer it in the spirit of seeing if hewing to the Sins as relevant can still serve. To keep things simple. A bit of inspiration from Bob Wallace here.

The sins all have consequences and avoiding consequences is simply avoiding the warnings of all the sins, is the idea. This would be sort of championing Wallace's idea the Sins are relevant, still-important, and comprehensive. "It's the sins, stupid," he might say.

Gyan said...

But Hobby Lobby was providing 16 types of birth control. They had problem only with 4 abortificants. The owners are Protestant, not Catholics.

Birth control anyway is not expensive. The subsidy part is trifling and frankly and merely an excuse to crush religious liberty.

You have fallen into the Left propaganda of War on Women,

Trifon Kupanoff said...

Hobby Lobby makes a tiny challenge to the universally accepted dogmatic faith in the myth of progress. We made contraception, it's an essential part of the world now, and to merely question whether it's a necessary part of modern life is heresy that must be stamped out, lest any cracks in the fa├žade begin to appear.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Gyan - do you read ANYTHING I write?

IA said...

I've entertained the idea (which I read in a comment at PJ Media) that before cheap and easy birth control men had to bear 50% of the responsibility for pregers. Now, its 100% on the women and in an effort to avoid responsibility they are shifting it to the state. Sounds plausible.

Bert said...

"You have fallen into the Left propaganda of War on Women,"

What the fuck are you even blabbering on about, you retarded halfwit?

IA said...

I wouldn't rely too much on Wiki to describe modernism. They are the good white people at war with those bad racist white men, and our tradition.

Modernism to me is a denial of the sacred, at least in euro lands. Alienation from their past follows. Modernists, of course can't say this, or maybe be consciously aware of it.

A big problem with understanding modernism is that we are all modernists to some degree. Its hard to see oneself clearly, if not impossible. Therefore, we need to study and interpret cultural artifacts as signs of our existential condition.

If technology has altered human beings so much why do we have self-conscious "modern" art galleries like the Museum of Modern Art in the first place? After all, Andrew Mellon (who paid for the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and donated the initial works) wasn't Amish. Why do we have the Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre, and dozens of other self consciously "modern" museums? Certainly, artists feel the need to avoid kitsch, but even modern art itself has become kitsch, or that is, predictable faux emotion. They do not "make it new".

Idle Spectator said...

Justice Scalia’s past jurisprudence stands contradictory to his legal rationale in the Hobby Lobby case. In 1990, he wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith. Two men from Oregon sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits. They had been fired by their employer for ingesting peyote, which according to them was in line with their religious beliefs as members of the Native American church. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company, for the First Amendment “does not require” the government to grant “religious exemptions” from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. Indeed, as Scalia wrote in the 6-3 majority decision, specifying that “[T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability.”

He penned, “[A]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy…The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind…ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”

Fast forward to the Hobby Lobby case. Justice Kagan took Scalia to task during oral arguments. She noted this particular argument offered by Scalia in that 1990 case–judges are unqualified to evaluate the “centrality” of beliefs to a faith, or the “validity” of interpretations brought forth by individuals seeking exemptions from the law.
She expressed the sentiment to Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing on behalf of Hobby Lobby. “Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard. So another employer comes in and that employer says, ‘I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws.’ And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative. If you look at that parade of horribles — Social Security, minimum wage, discrimination laws, compelled vaccination — every item on that list was included in Justice Scalia’s opinion for the Court in [the Smith case].”

Her remarks are eerily similar to Scalia, who alluded to the same examples in the 1990 case if religious entities are permitted to claim exemptions from generally applicable laws.

Interesting, since he also wrote in that 1990 case “[the court has] never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate.”

While the legal decision was narrowly crafted to afford “closely held businesses their religious right to deny specific contraceptive devices to their female employees”, legal analysts are astounded that, for the first time in American jurisprudence. companies are afforded religious protection under the First Amendment.

So much for strict interpretation of the Constitution by conservative justices! Apparently, conservatives are equal to the task to legislate from the bench!

The Anti-Gnostic said...

As I've noted, an actually conservative governing institution wouldn't be passing on such minutiae.

Five Catholic justices probably have as much to do with this result as anything.

Bob Wallace said...

Arthur C. Clarke, in "Childhood's End," made the comment that cheap, easy contraception would destroy marriage. As a drunken pedophile, Clarke seemed to think this was a good thing.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I was hoping you'd give me the pithy, learned, (probably) Greek term for "trying to avoid consequences."

Idle Spectator said...

"Five Catholic justices probably have as much to do with this result as anything."

Partly true. But the undeniable fact remains that conservatives, the brand that YOU advocate, YOUR partners in crime, legislated from the bench.

Bob Wallace said...

"I was hoping you'd give me the pithy, learned, (probably) Greek term for 'trying to avoid consequences.'"

I wish I knew one. The closest I can is "selfish, irresponsible, impulsive and cowardly," like when I was 11 and some kid burned down the barn behind my house, ran away after setting the fire, and blamed it on me.

It appears to be covered by the Four Cardinal Virtues - if you lack one you lack them all.

Bob Wallace said...

Now that I think about it, "avoiding consequences" would almost always mean blaming your problems on other people. "I'm not responsible...they are."

Anonymous said...

I don't know how pithy or learned it is, but I think the word you're looking for is "evade."

HEL said...

"But the undeniable fact remains that conservatives, the brand that YOU advocate, YOUR partners in crime, legislated from the bench."

It's quite easily deniable because it isn't true. Ever hear of RFRA? It's only mentioned 100 billion times in the opinion. It's a piece of legislation passed by, of all things, congress, in 1993. (For the chronologically-impaired, 1993 came after 1990, when the Smith decision was issued.) It was flatly intended to overrule Smith. Post-RFRA, the biggest federal-related "drug-in-religion" case was Gonzales v. O Centro Espiritu, wherein the court unanimously allowed the use of the otherwise illegal drug under RFRA. (Simplification, but that's the basic idea.)

Here the court didn't claim that the First Amendment required this outcome, they concluded that RFRA did. It can be argued whether or not RFRA really requires it, I suppose, since RFRA involves nebulous concepts like "substantial burdens" and "compelling government interests," but any analysis of supposed inconsistencies on the court that fails to even mention RFRA is utterly useless.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Here the court didn't claim that the First Amendment required this outcome, they concluded that RFRA did. It can be argued whether or not RFRA really requires it, I suppose, since RFRA involves nebulous concepts like "substantial burdens" and "compelling government interests,"

Ah, I'd forgotten about that.

I didn't read one letter of the opinion. I could care less about the opinion. This, of course, is just what I was talking about. The government crafts these silly, rococo statutes. Hyper-creative lawyers file suit. SCOTUS does something with the mess and naturally, somebody out there in the Great Plurality ends up with their feelings hurt. A serious government would not be tripping over this mouse poop.

Anonymous said...

"The government crafts these silly, rococo statutes. Hyper-creative lawyers file suit. SCOTUS does something with the mess and naturally, somebody out there in the Great Plurality ends up with their feelings hurt."

That seems to be a pretty consistent theme in Justice Scalia's dissents over the years- "Stop crafting vague and opaque legal standards that just result in more crap being dumped on the legal system in the future." Of course, that will never happen- the fuzzier and more complicated the legal standard for what is and is not permitted, the more work there is for lawyers. How many times has Affirmative Action been kicked down the road?

"Augustine's "Morals of the Manichees" is a good place to start."

Reading Augustine describe the habits of the Gnostics of his day makes clear to me the basic appeal of these doctrines, both ancient and modern- they give one a complex and refined moral code that does everything except simply and straightforwardly restrain one's baser animal impulses. Only sociopaths can go through life without ever worrying about morality, so there's always going to be a big market for a substitute morality that excuses one from one's favorite sinful indulgences while congratulating one for abstaining from the sins that don't interest one to begin with.

"Go ahead and screw anything that moves, just don't make babies."
"You can extravagantly spend more than you can afford on luxury food, but make sure it's organic, fair-trade, cage-free, locally-sourced food."
"Sure, I never bothered to hold a steady job and I do nothing to feed my wife and children, but that's because I'm busy fighting the Great Struggle of the Oppressed Proletariat."

Porter said...

there's always going to be a big market for a substitute morality that excuses one from one's favorite sinful indulgences while congratulating one for abstaining from the sins that don't interest one to begin with.

That's well said.

Visibilium said...

The Fed learned about open market operations from the Bank of England.

Your Kakistocracy said...

It is only due to the congenital limitations of my own goyishe kopf that certain sentiments continue to amaze me.

In the video below, Harry Reid, the majority leader of the US senate, in discussing the Hobby Lobby decision states that it is his responsibility "to ensure that women's lives are not determined by virtue of five white men."

I'll concede to perpetual flummoxery at such bald racial antipathy spoken openly by the highest officialdom. It still floors me.

Men generically aren't the problem.

And certainly, absolutely not jewish, black, or hispanic men.

White men. The term is now actually deployed as a slur. And the only response is from the crickets. It requires no visionary extrapolation to discern where this bland acceptance of anti-white demonization will progress. And Harry Reid is plainly too obtuse to comprehend that his own posterity is lashed to the same tracks.

Alia D. said...

The literary reference "evading consequences" calls to my mind is following the God of the Market Place. In Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook headings they promise a paradise where “all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins” with the predictable outcome.

Idle Spectator said...

"I didn't read one letter of the opinion. I could care less about the opinion."

Yes, you DO care about this opinion, because you had a blog posting on it.

"The government crafts these silly, rococo statutes."

No, people REPRESENTING citizens writes laws to address the concerns of their constituents.

"Hyper-creative lawyers file suit. SCOTUS does something with the mess and naturally, somebody out there in the Great Plurality ends up with their feelings hurt."

It's not called feelings, it's called constitutional law.

"A serious government would not be tripping over this mouse poop."

You really don't know how government works, do you?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

It's a case involving the interpretation and application of RFRA not the Constitution.

Again, highly diverse societies have to legislate on all sorts of minutiae. And you need an all-powerful central government, because these are not the sorts of things that can be decided by a vote.