Politics: A Prophylactic Against Honesty, Decency, and Good Sense

by Don Boudreaux on July 16, 2014

in Myths and Fallacies, Nanny State, Other People's Money

Here’s a letter to U.S. senator Tim Kaine:

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

Senator Kaine:

In your interview this morning on WTOP Radio you made two claims that must be challenged.

First, the Hobby Lobby decision does not “allow employers to deny women access to certain kinds of contraception.”  Instead, that decision prevents government from forcing employers to pay for employees’ access to certain kinds of contraception.  Hobby Lobby no more gives employers power to deny women access to certain kinds of contraception than would a court decision that prevents government from forcing you to buy me beer give you power to deny me access to certain kinds of libations.

Second, you justify government forcing employers to pay for all manner of contraception by asserting that contraception “is expensive.”  Let’s overlook your neglect of the fact that when employers are forced to pay for fringe benefits they reduce their employees’ non-fringe wages and salaries – and the more expensive the fringes, the greater this reduction in these wages and salaries.  Focus instead on the evidence that you cite for the importance of contraception – namely, the “substantial” (your word) reduction in unwanted pregnancies over the past two decades.  You plausibly attribute this reduction to contraception.  But if contraception for at least two decades now has substantially reduced unwanted pregnancies, how can you say with a straight face that contraception is so expensive that government must force employers to subsidize employees’ access to it?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030


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