Hobby Lobby Decision

Thousands of years from now Archeologists might conclude Hobby Lobby the tipping point responsible for America’s demise. Who can say – personally, I believe a few right wing circuses will pass through town before the curtain falls. Pondering the U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday on Burwell v Hobby Lobby is troublesome – this is my third post attempt. Ponders one and two, filed away under “Hysterical knee jerk preachy rants”.

Politely walking away, making the sensible decision 24 hours to simmer down was preferable to posting shreds of my blown mind, recognizing I loathed reading my previous rants  – I maturely stepped back, believing today would allow intelligently reasoned writing.  Sometimes even the most admirable intentions fall short. Determined to deliver a “rant free” ponder, a new approach –  facts in point form.

* On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, in Burwell v Hobby Lobby. The ruling allows “for profit” companies to opt out of providing employees  contraception benefits under Obamacare  based on religious objections.

* Hobby Lobby is a Oklahoma City based company operated by the Evangelical Christian Green family. It has 600 craft stores in 41 States, with over 15,000 full time employees.

* “We doubt that the Congress that enacted [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] — or, for that matter, ACA – would have believed it a tolerable result to put family-run businesses to the choice of violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or making all of their employees lose their existing healthcare plans,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy.

* The court’s four liberal justices called it a decision of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

* The court’s conservative justices accuse the Obama administration and the dissent of questioning the religious beliefs of the families that own the two closely-held companies, in particular the owners’ position that providing the contraceptive coverage would put a substantial burden on their religious views.

“[Health and Human Services] and the principal dissent in effect tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed. For good reason, we have repeatedly refused to take such a step,” Alito wrote.

* Justice Ginsburg countered –  “The Court levels a criticism that is as wrongheaded as can be. In no way does the dissent ‘tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed,” she wrote. “Right or wrong in this domain is a judgment no Member of this Court, or any civil court, is authorized or equipped to make. What the Court must decide is not ‘the plausibility of a religious claim…’ but whether accommodating that claim risks depriving others of rights accorded them by the laws of the United States.”


Dangerously close to launching an epic rant – I leave you to ponder Burwell v Hobby Lobby



Understanding America

Every so often I play a little game called “try to understand America”. Not so much a game as my attempt to put headline American issues into perspective. The “game” demands I remain undaunted by logical dead ends. Rookie game play led to bouts of snippy remarks, indignant preaching and knee jerk tirades. Age has mellowed this opinionated Canadian – thankfully allowing objectivity be heard – even for the briefest of moments. Reaching a point where temperance dictates a “I understand why it’s like that” rather than ” are you out of your freakin’ mind”  – a game move I hope leads to higher levels of understanding.

Take Obamacare for example. I can’t possibly know all the ins and outs – I’m Canadian. My understanding is limited to these observations – Hospitals and insurance is “for profit” in America – “big medicine” likes things just the way they are. Big medicine, big insurance, big pharmaceutical companies have big money at stake. The Koch brothers backed Americans for Prosperity has spent upwards of 30 million dollars on anti Obamacare ads. In July of last year Kantar Media reported ad campaigns for and against were on track to reach a billion dollars by 2015. No surprise is lop-sided distribution at five to one spending by “anti” medicare interests.


America has a deep seated fear of Communism – any idea deemed remotely socialist sends propaganda mills into overdrive. Ad campaigns worthy of cold war hysteria warn of “socialized” government run health care. Perish the thought – a nation where each and every citizen received equal treatment! The horror unleashed if medical care was available to all, regardless of income – followed by laughable comparison to the Veteran’s Administration – Americans asked if they wanted to be treated like the soldiers fighting for their country. Holy crap.

Media stories warn of social medicine catastrophes in Canada and the UK. Dire tales of government bureaucrats dictating when and where citizens receive treatment, long waiting times for scare or limited treatment – absolute hogwash. Sure, we might have to wait a while for non life threatening surgery. That said, cancer treatments, chemotherapy, heart specialist – no problem. Canadians can even register on line to receive results from blood or urine lab tests  at the same time as your doctor. Socialized medicine isn’t perfect, nor is it a detriment to anyone other than profit driven egg heads – there’s a reason why busloads of Americans cross the border to fill prescriptions – costs are controlled.

Attempting to understand health care in America is depressing – money spent on advertising, lobbying and mud slinging alone could finance a small nation. Fear mongering plays directly to the heart of American psyche – I get it. I get it and understand “profit” is king. The Obama administration never stood a chance, the American political structure binds the hands of change as fear, spin doctoring and misinformation muddy the waters.

This Canadian understands. This Canadian is proud to list Tommy Douglas – the founder of Canadian social medicine as one of her heroes. Douglas, a Baptist minister who left the church over their troubling obsession with “life after death”, in favor of politics – a place where he could help people before death.