Political Education

What does the Government owe us?

The self-righteous ramblings of twenty-something political writers who don’t know how to read a Supreme Court decision has gotten me thinking. What does the government really owe us as citizens?  What is the government responsible for?

In a simple founding fathers definition, John Locke said “life, liberty, and property,” although our good friend Thomas Jefferson changed it to, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  At the basic level, a government is designed to “protect the common defense,” and protect each other from, well, each other.  Man is an evil creature, and governments are created to take away a bit of natural right, for security, and that’s the balance that governments have been trying to find: the balance between freedom and security.

Where does healthcare come into this equation?  It has been argued that the high cost of healthcare in America–nobody can deny that’s a fact–hinders on our rights of economic security. Considering that the majority of bankruptcies in America, especially before the housing crisis, were due to medical bills, I can see their point.  So if unchecked costs of medical bills threatens economic security, then where does birth control factor into this argument?  And when I am discussing birth control, I am discussing it purely for preventing pregnancies, not for any medical reasons, reproductive or otherwise.

Unintended pregnancies happen largely to the young and under-educated.  So, having birth control available to these women would save the government millions.  Also. women who can control when they have children can rise higher up the corporate ladder and do more with their careers and generally have the same opportunities as men. That argument is for another article, though.  While all of this is true, do we want the federal government dealing with this?

I like the federal system.  America is a big place and the federal government would have a really difficult time dealing with all the different needs of each state.  I don’t think many people, if they though about it, would really want to get rid of the federal system.  So why can’t the states regulate birth control?  Why can’t the states have programs set up for women who cannot afford to pay for birth control?  Most states did.  Most states covered birth control for the low income or those who were under-insured.  State governments who pay for the food stamps and unemployment have a genuine interest in lowering the rate of unintended pregnancies in their state.

While I don’t like the idea of the boss in my bedroom, or the government in my pants, they are paying for birth control.  The real way to not have the government in your bedroom or your boss in your bedroom is to leave them out of it.  Pay for your own birth control.  And, yes, $40-$100 a pack can suck.  But, alas, we don’t really want them out of our bedrooms because $1200 a year is a lot of money–although it’s less than a baby.  What do we do, then?

We realize that the federal government shouldn’t be making broad laws infringing on freedom of religion.  I’m sorry, but if a small store run by two nuns were forced to provide birth control to its 3 employees, people would be up in arms.  Hobby Lobby is a much bigger store but it’s controlled by 5 people in the same family with the same beliefs.  It would be a horrible precedent for the government to set if it said, “we’ll protect some people’s freedom of religion but not others.”

This is where the state can step in and set up a program to provide low-cost or free birth control for those companies who do not provide contraceptives.

I am curious how all of this will come out in the next election.

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