Friday, January 20, 2012

Why We Don't Need Free Birth-Control

In 2008 I was at a Christmas party given my one of my ultra-Catholic friends. These are the kind of people who sing Christmas carols in Latin, say Rosaries for the unborn, and hold prayer vigils outside of Planned Parenthood clinics. These are people who do not use contraception, home-school their kids, and would never wear anything so revealing as a sleeveless dress.

This was right after Obama was elected, but before he was inaugurated and, naturally, there was a good deal of speculation about what he would do. Healthcare was obviously on the table and I would say that two-thirds of the people there favored socialized medicine. That’s right; more than half the people in that room, people as culturally conservative as it is possible to be, favored a Single-Payer System – but with one proviso: you had to keep abortion out of it.

The next day, I wrote President-elect Obama a letter with this simple message: you can sell a single-payer system to conservative Americans if you keep abortion out of it. (I also sent this same letter to David Axelrod, whom I actually know and have done business with.)

Since then, exactly the wrong things have happened.

  • Instead of a Single-Payer System, we got a warmed over version of Romneycare. The whole point of healthcare reform was to save money by eliminating the bureaucracy that rationed healthcare, but this system would simply add yet another layer of bureaucracy.
  • When push came to shove in Congress, Obama caved in on the Public Option, but went to the wall to defeat the Stupak Amendment which would have kept abortion out of it, thus turning every loyal Catholic (and many other people of faith) against it.
  • And now Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans. This is hugely problematic for Catholic employers who believe that even paying for someone else’s contraception is immoral.
These developments are just the tail end of a long trend.

Until the McGovern nomination in 1972, the Democrats were the party of Labor. They fought hard for union rights, equitable tax polices, high minimum wages, and government programs like Social Security and Medicare that ensured a reasonable minimum standard of living for retired workers. Sure they were little bit more liberal than the Republicans on social issues, more progressive on civil rights, against prayer in the schools, but these were small issues that only rarely decided an election.

And then along came the Counter-Culture and the Democrats abandoned their working-class base. They became the party of abortion, de-criminalization of drugs, and the normalization of homosexuality. Carter, despite being a social moderate, began the process of deregulation that has wreaked havoc with American finance, causing one speculative bubble after another (S&L, Dot-Com, Housing) and has caused whole industries to collapse (since 1978 every major airline has filed for bankruptcy and the top ten interstate trucking firms are all out of business). And then along came Clinton and they began instituting trade and tax polices that shipped jobs overseas wholesale.

Wages are down 30% since 1972, our trade deficits are super-colossal, and the rich now control more of this country’s wealth than any time since the Gilded Age of the 1870’s.

And where are the Democrats?

Making birth-control coverage mandatory so that people can fornicate on their employer’s dime.

Why not fight for full employment, high wages, and real healthcare so that workers can afford to buy their own damn birth control?