This one Grow’d Like Topsy

    1. Corporate religion
    2. Your Federal Government at work
    3. The Emperor finally gets his new clothes
    4. This started as whimsy


I really didn’t set out to collect a series of anecdotes about oppression and incompetence in the Administration of President Hope N. Change, nor do I think Turkey makes me surly, but with the exception of item 4, which started as whimsy, today’s offering just kinda grow’d like Topsy.

1

The ObamaCare mandate never should have happened under both the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which requires the federal government to meet a higher legal standard for any law that interferes with religious liberty. Regulations must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest and be the “least burdensome” option.
The Administration claims it wants to promote public health and gender equality, but it could have served those goals without forcing people to commit what they consider grave moral wrongs. The honest way to do so would be to ask Congress to finance Planned Parenthood even more than it already does and give away birth control for free, but it knew that couldn’t pass.

(Wall Street Journal) That’s a pretty good summary of how the employer contraceptive mandate should be held, again and again and again, unlawful as applied to one employer after another after another – unless it can just be stricken down because it infringes the religious freedoms of so many, and infringes them calculatedly (this problem was foreseeable and foreseen) and intransigently (Obama won’t back off).

This is, however, a separate question from religious freedom rights of corporations. I was leaning toward the view that corporations had no religious freedom rights, but then I saw a Hobby Lobby corporate pledge:

Unlike so many companies today that put profits over people, Hobby Lobby pledges to “[s]erving [its] employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals, and nurture families.” . . .

So the question becomes:  does the First Amendment provide the protections necessary for businesses such as Hobby Lobby to exist?  Or, to frame things differently:  are individuals free under the U.S. Constitution to follow the dictates of their consciences into the private sector, and to start businesses with practices that are religiously informed?  Businesses around which workers, customers, and investors with shared religious values and beliefs can coalesce?

(Emphasis added; Ron Colombo via the Center for Law and Religious Freedom) Then I thought back to my days with ServiceMaster, founded (and still led in those days) largely be devout Evangelical Protestants, many with Wheaton College connections. It’s corporate goals, as I recall them, were:

  1. To honor God in all we do.
  2. To help people develop.
  3. To grow profitably.

Whiffs of this remain in its values today.

And I think of how often I have lamented the hypocrisy of professing one thing on Sunday, living to the contrary Monday through Friday.

I’m rooting for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties now, corporations or not. I don’t think the Federal Government can legitimately say, in effect,

  • You are a fictitious creation of your state of incorporation;
  • You have no soul;
  • You are not allowed to have any purpose beyond making money.

The first is true. The second is a theological opinion the government is not allowed to have or enforce. The third is the one that had me enthralled for a while, but I’ve been disenthralled now.

2

I would not ordinarily post and discuss the Minutes of a Non-profit Organization, but this is one way to confirm a story, behind a paywall, that was hard to believe.

So here’s a link to the July 11-13 Minutes of the Music Teachers National Association.

You’re welcome.

Oh. What do you mean “I don’t get it”? Can’t you recognize the fingerprints of the FTC, the Federal freakin’ Trade Commission, which had caught and brought to justice this band of anti-competitive outlaws?

That’s right, the FTC versus the Music Teachers National Association:

The association’s sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow—a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues’ studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.

That’s a common enough provision among professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), yet the FTC avers that the suggestion that Miss Sally not poach students from Miss Lucy was an attempt to raise prices for piano lessons. Given that the average lesson runs around $30 an hour, and that some devoted teachers still give lessons for $5 a pop, this is patently absurd.

It availed MTNA nothing to argue that FTC lacked jurisdiction over non-profits or that the anti-poaching provision was merely aspirational. MTNA’s Executive Director “estimates he has spent “hundreds upon hundreds” of hours since March complying with this federal colonoscopy.”

An FTC spokesman told me the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations. The organization to this day has no idea how it became a target, nor will it ever because the FTC doesn’t have to provide it.

(Wall Street Journal, Piano Sonata in FTC Minor)

Did you really think that we want those laws observed? . . . We want them broken . . . . There’s no way to rule innocent men.  The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals.  Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them.  One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws.  Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens?  What’s there in that for anyone?  But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of lawbreakers — and then you cash in on guilt.

(Atlas Shrugged)

3

Timothy Egan, a columnist for the New York Times, redirects our attention from the unprecedentedly incompetent Federal insurance exchange website roll-out to suggest that the nefarious Koch brothers are trying to sabotage Obamacare.

It’s hard to remember a time when a major political party and its media arm were so actively rooting for fellow Americans to lose. When the first attempt by the United States to launch a satellite into orbit, in 1957, ended in disaster, did Democrats start to cheer, and unify to stop a space program in its infancy? Or, when Medicare got off to a confusing start, did Republicans of the mid-1960s wrap their entire political future around a campaign to deny government-run health care to the elderly?

Of course not. But for the entity of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart.

Theres’s some plausibility to that, of course. And it oddly puts the GOP in the position of the revolutionaries who shrug off devastation with the quip that you’ve got to break eggs to make an omelette.

It seems to be we really are in a terrible pickle, but that Obama bears most of the blame. The wretched, non-functioning Federal website combined with the outlawing of health insurance policies his bureaucrats deem inadequate leave countless Americans who were covered before, with policies they liked, facing no coverage and an inability to buy the spiffy new policies they were promised.

And the GOP, however badly they’ve behaved over the last 69 months, didn’t do that. Obama

is reported to have said, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” One who so misjudges his own merits will likely forfeit the possibility of taking advantage of the counsel of others. And just look at the quality of the counselors with whom the president has surrounded himself today. Is any of them counted a wise counselor, a serious thinker? Would that be Jay Carney? Dan Pfeiffer? And even if there were such persons, is the leader someone prepared to listen to advice? There is nothing in the course of events of the past few months to indicate that any effective system has been established, and little hope that one will be.

(Our Prince)

4

Speaking of Turkeys, do you think this is what we’d get if Our Prince left to his bureaucracies implementation of a law that said “let the bird chill in the sink for a few hours”?

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.