By SHELDON RICHMAN | The Future of Freedom Foundation
As far as it went, the Supreme Court generally got it right in the Hobby Lobby-Obamacare-contraception case. Unfortunately it didn’t go nearly far enough.
The court ruled that “closely held corporations” whose owners have religious convictions against contraceptives cannot be forced to pay for employee coverage for those products.
I wish the court could have said this instead: (1) No one has a natural right to force other people to pay for her (or his) contraception or anything else (with or without the government’s help), and by logical extension, (2) everyone has a right to refuse to pay if asked.
For people celebrating the Fourth of July, these principles ought to be, well, self-evident.
A group of politicians cannot legitimately have the power to compel one group of people – employers, taxpayers or insurers – to pay for things that another group wants. That’s immoral, and it violates inalienable rights. Moreover, when government has the power to issue such commands – always backed by force, let us never forget – it sets off a mad interest-group scramble for control of the government machinery – because control is a license to steal. Is it any wonder that people are willing to spend billions of dollars to influence who makes government policy? If people face the alternative of controlling the government or being controlled by it, those who have resources will buy power and influence, even if only in self-defense.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act say the court decision permits the favored employers to make health-care decisions for women. No it doesn’t. It only prohibits, unfortunately in only a narrow set of cases, women from being able to use government to force their employers to pay for those decisions. When did we start equating the right to buy contraceptives – which hardly anyone disputes – with the power to compel others to pay? It is demagogic to insist that prohibiting the latter violates the former.