Obama's Big Government Mandates

Why no one should be forced to act against his conscience

A question arises from the recent controversy between President Obama and the Catholic Church that aches for an answer: If Catholic institutions have a right to abstain from paying for what morally offends them, why don’t the rest of us?

The initial ObamaCare rule held that all employers, in fulfilling their new legal requirement to provide health insurance to their employees, must include contraception (and other “preventive” health services) in the coverage at no cost. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is sinful. The Department of Health and Human services was willing to exempt churches but not church-operated institutions that pursue a broader mission than religious teaching, such as colleges, hospitals, and charities. This brought protests from Catholic officials, who claim that their religious freedom would be infringed by a mandate that they buy services that they teach are morally abhorrent.

As the political controversy mounted, the Obama administration devised an “accommodation”: those institutions would not have to pay for birth-control coverage; however, their insurers would still have to offer free contraception.

Many objections can be raised against this policy. In a society that thinks itself free, how dare the government force employers to provide health insurance? How dare it mandate that coverage include contraception—or any particular service? How dare it mandate that any coverage be free? (It can’t really be free; the coverage necessarily reduces employees’ cash wages.) How can contraception use be insurable when it is a chosen act, not the kind of low-probability, high-cost event that insurance was designed to protect against? Is there really a moral difference between forcing a Catholic institution to pay for employee contraception and forcing it to arrange a match between its employees and an insurer that will provide the contraception?

These questions are daggers at the heart of ObamaCare. But let’s leave them aside. What has gone largely unnoticed is that the principle invoked by the Catholic Church and largely endorsed by the public—that freedom of religion, as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, rules out forcing a church to pay for what it regards as morally abhorrent—applies beyond this instance. If a Catholic institution should not be forced to pay for contraception because it regards birth control as morally repugnant, why should anyone be forced to pay for what he or she finds morally repugnant?

It does no good to say that the First Amendment is about religion. The Constitution and Bill of Rights did not create rights; they acknowledged preexisting rights. Moreover, we are entitled to make reasonable inferences from the Framers’ language, because they could hardly have created an exhaustive list of implications. For example, by specifying the free exercise of religion, the framers can’t be construed as intending to exclude atheists from the protection of freedom of conscience.

Logic drives us to conclude that government should never compel anyone to act against his or her moral convictions. The good sense of this becomes clear when we get down to particulars. If a Catholic may not be forced to pay for birth control in violation of conscience, why should that Catholic—or anyone else—be compelled to finance mass murder in violation of conscience? No one can reasonably insist that personal convictions should be disregarded in the case of mass murder.

This is no hypothetical speculation. Americans have been forced, without their consultation—much less permission—to finance mass murder. It’s called war, invasion, occupation, and special operations. U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere have directly or indirectly killed over a million people who never threatened Americans at home. Those missions have ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands more through injury and the destruction of their homes and societies.

The president of the United States refuses to take war with Iran off “the table” ostensibly because the Islamic republic won’t end its nuclear-enrichment program—although the International Atomic Energy Agency says no weapons are being produced, and U.S. and Israeli officials say no decision to build a weapon has been made. War against Iran would constitute mass murder.

The U.S. government should be stopped from engaging in such brutality. But short of that, those with a conscientious objection should be free to opt out of financing these crimes.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va., author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • fish||

    Canada grows a set!

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2.....-registry/

    Oh yeah! FIST!

  • Ska||

    A historic?!

    WTF Canada?!

  • ||

    "A historic" is correct.

  • ||

    As ProL says, "a historic" is correct because we pronounce the "h".

    WTF Ska?!

  • Gojira||

    What's with this "we" business, Komrade Kollective?

  • ||

    Do you say "'istoric, guv'nu", you limey scum?

  • Gojira||

    No, I say, "Blow it out your ass you elitist scumfuck."

    Which means, "historic" in my language.

  • ||

    Ass?!?

  • ||

    Ok, arse. Better?

  • ||

    Ok, arse. Better?

    That's bullshyte, and you know it.

  • ||

    This is an American blog. Use American English and conventions, or we'll send in the drones of correction.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Just don't say "zed"

  • ||

    Frenchified bullshit (zed comes from zede). If it were zeta, it would be cooler, but still wrong, because that's Greek.

  • Zeb||

    Oh for fuck's sake. A/an are for comfort of pronunciation. Try saying it out loud. If "an" sounds better, then "an" is correct. Maybe we should just drop "an" from written English altogether.

  • ||

    "A" before consonant sounds; "an" before vowel sounds. For grammar, this is amazingly simple.

  • Zeb||

    H is kind of a weird sound, not really like other consonants. I think that variations in pronunciation mean that there is no correct answer in some cases.

  • ||

    You are grammatically dead to me, Zebulon. Dead!

  • Untermensch||

    H is an unvoiced vowel used as a consonant, so it is weird as a consonant.

  • ||

    Heresy!

  • Zeb||

    Yeah. See, Untermensch knows the score. My phonology kicks the ass of your grammar.

  • Artie||

    "Historic" is an adjective, like "large". So as you would say "It is A large event", so to, you would say, "It is a historic event."

    Simple?

  • ||

    It's not exactly that simple - try saying a/an uniform - which sounds correct?

  • db||

    Now if only they could get some sane laws on handguns and repeal their machinegun prohibition.

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  • Tim||

    "How dare it ..."

    Fuck you, that's how.

  • Team Blue||

    Sit down and shut up. It's what's best for the collective, as determined by us, the Top Men.

  • Team Red||

    Sit down and shut up. It's what's best for the collective, as determined by us, the Top Men.

  • cw||

    See, Team Red and Team Blue aren't so different.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere have directly or indirectly killed over a million people

    CITATION NEEDED. And if you're counting Iraqi-on-Iraqi deaths, that's really stupid of you.

    This is a great piece that is marred by this clearly erroneous "fact".

  • Joe M||

    How's this?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Despite the rounds of professional criticism, very little blame should be placed on the shoulder of the United States Government for the Iraqi Civil War that commenced in the post-Hussein power-vacuum era. Blaming the USG for that is, frankly, a load of bullshit.

  • sarcasmic||

    You mean dismissing the Iraqi military had nothing to do with it?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    If the USG had kept them intact, and the IRQ had suppressed the civil uprisings, you would blame the USG for that, too.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nice straw man deflect.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Not a strawman; a factual description of how the conversation would have gone.

  • Gojira||

    So you think it would have happened anyway without our having invaded first?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Yes, I do.

  • Gojira||

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion, and it's no more or less valid than anyone elses in that regard, but I question the amount of venom you put into bashing the authors not sharing it (i.e. believing, as many of us do, that no, it would not have happened without our invasion, making us indirectly responsible for the deaths).

  • Big Rich Guy||

    Bullshit. Our destroying the existing government and infrastructure directly lead and pretty much created the Iraqi-on-Iraqi Conflict.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    This is just more Kiplingesque White Man's Burden malarkey. So, the United States overthrew a dictator, and that just compelled, with no free will or reflection whatsoever, tribes in Iraq to start killing each other?

    Sure.

  • The Derider||

    The tribes were ready to kill each other before the invasion. Sadam's government stopped them from killing each other. Removing Sadam's government allowed them to kill each other with impunity.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Right...so America is to blame for the murderous impulses of tribalism?

    Even if the USG had only killed one man through assassination, by this logic, the resultant civil war still would be the USG's "fault".

  • The Derider||

    I don't think in either scenario the US should get all the blame. But some, clearly.

  • Muad Dib||

    Rev. Even if the one million number is incorrect the indisputable fact remains that people (read civilians and 'bad guys' alike)are being slaughtered without the sanction of a declaration of war. I feel no personal guilt in this as I am opposed to these actions and would never sanction them. However, I find it morally reprehensible that my money is being used in any part to finance these activities. Further, I don't see how people can deny the empathetic response to put themselves in the other's shoes. If I were an otherwise non aggressive person just trying to make ends meet and some gov raided my village and killed my family what exactly do you think I would do?

  • Gojira||

    Even if the USG had only killed one man through assassination, by this logic, the resultant civil war still would be the USG's "fault".

    If killing that one man caused a civil war to errupt, then yes, it is somewhat our "fault". Blame is not a black-and-white, 100% one party or the other issue. We can be partially responsible while also decrying the parties directly engaging in the violence.

  • ||

    Exactly.

  • Untermensch||

    Yup. If I see two people in a bar trying to kill each other and I decide to kneecap the bouncer who is doing a good job in keeping them apart, I would bear at least some of the blame when one of them ends up dead.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Yup. If I see two people in a bar trying to kill each other and I decide to kneecap the bouncer who is doing a good job in keeping them apart, I would bear at least some of the blame when one of them ends up dead.

    What if the bouncer was a guy who routinely beat up bar patrons, and you kneecapped him to put a stop to that?

  • ||

    Nobody would argue that you putting a stop to it would be a good thing, but you'd still bear some of the responsibility of the patron dying.

  • ||

    The only thing preventing two cars from crashing was a red light shining in one direction. All I did was set the light green in both directions. It's not my fault they crashed.

  • ||

    Dude Rev, that's why the qualifier in the sentence is "directly or indirectly". Not to mention the fact that he didn't just list Iraq and didn't set a time frame. You really think it's impossible for our fun little "missions" to not have resulted in the deaths of 1 million people since the end of Vietnam?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Without a cite, yes, I do.

  • ||

    Fair enough. I've been combing google and haven't been able to come up with a decent answer.

  • The Derider||

    I think it's just as possible that US military intervention has saved that many lives.

  • ||

    But no one cares what you think.

  • The Derider||

    That's pretty much my point. Without actual data, it's all useless guesswork.

  • War Party Voter||

    So what the fuck, CHARGE! It's the psychic thrill of battle that counts. It's even better when you think you're "saving" somebody from something.

  • ||

    Rev, you have Maddy Albright acknowledging that the death of half a million Iraqi children during the 90s was "worth it".

  • ||

    Fuck Maddy Albright with Obama's Shtick

  • War Party Voter||

    Yes, that's the New World Order Pro-Aggressive view.

  • Zeb||

    Are you sure that's not "created or saved"?

    You can (in theory) count dead people. You can't count lives saved.

  • ||

    Next you'll be claiming the killing of as many as 200,000 Japanese in 1945 'saved lives.'

  • MWG||

    This is an interesting issue for me. I'm against government mandates in all its forms including forcing the catholic church to offer contraceptives (as well as insurance companies for the matter).

    That said, this atheist leaning libertarian is surprised that the catholic church isn't currently more mocked and ridiculed for, not only a quirky belief, but one that has done a lot of damage in both South America and the African continent.

    The catholic church certainly has a right to preach what it wants, and others have a right to believe, but rational people also have a right to condemn such beliefs for what they are.

    /the ghost of Christopher Hitchens

  • robc||

    The ghost of Christopher Hitchens is even more of a neocon than the living one.

    Or so I have heard.

  • ||

    Even uglier.

  • MWG||

    Yes, as with many people with whom I share agreements, I also share disagreements... or are you suggesting that because Hitchens was neocon, he was wrong about religion? That's some interesting logic you got there.

  • robc||

    No, Im suggesting that Hitchens was independently wrong about almost everything.

  • MWG||

    Then you should go back a read what you wrote, because that's not what you originally suggested.

    I'm curious, do you think the belief that contraception is evil is a sound one, or are you 'neutral' on anything religions preach... or worse, are you Catholic?

  • robc||

    I didnt suggest anything in that first post. I made a comment about his neoconism. The only suggestion was that it got worse after his death, which was just silly.

    You read a hell of a lot into it.

  • robc||

    My religious views are well known around here.

    I have no problem with contraception whatsoever and Im not catholic.

    I was commenting ENTIRELY on the slashed part of your post. And taking a cheap shot at the dead.

  • robc||

    I'm not just an asshole, I'm a WELL-KNOWN asshole.

  • MWG||

    Ok, I laughed out loud. Not sure if that's a spoof

    You must excuse my online persona as he is, by default, combative, disagreeable, and generally obnoxious.

  • nicole||

    That said, this atheist leaning libertarian is surprised that the catholic church isn't currently more mocked and ridiculed for, not only a quirky belief, but one that has done a lot of damage in both South America and the African continent.

    Well, I think a lot of that is because of something John keeps claiming is totally unimportant, which is that the vast majority of American Catholics ignore this teaching and have no problem with using contraception. As our friend Ricky San starts to go on more about how all sexytime should be procreative, though, I would expect at least some more raised eyebrows.

    That said, for sure in non-/anti-religion circles they already get plenty of mockery, ridicule, and hostility, especially for discouraging folks in the developing world from using condoms.

  • MWG||

    "That said, for sure in non-/anti-religion circles they already get plenty of mockery, ridicule, and hostility, especially for discouraging folks in the developing world from using condoms."

    True to an extent, but you don't hear much ridicule related to this particular story? Instead of "it's rediculous that the Obama is infringing on the rights of Catholics to practice their religion" the narrative should be, "it's rediculous that the Obama is infringing on the rights of Catholics to continue their crazy beliefs"... more or less.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Given that none of these wars was declared, one could argue that taxes for those wars are unconstitutional.

    From time to time, we hear suggestions that war-tax resisters should be exempt from tax so long as they pay an equivalent amount for peaceful activities.

    I imagine such a plan could be implemented.

  • MWG||

    Why do you hate the troops!?

  • ||

    Cuz they are mass murdering parasitic pussies.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Back in the filter. *sigh*

  • a fan||

    Cuz they their leaders are mass murdering parasitic pussies.

    FIFY

  • ||

    I imagine such a plan could be implemented.

    Really? Just like buying T-Bills to safeguard SS assets?

    You can't build Chinese Walls into Government budgets. The underfunded side will always be able to grab from the other side, as its still all one big pool of monopoly money in the end.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Given that none of these wars was declared, one could argue that taxes for those wars are unconstitutional.

    They were declared...that's what the AUoF was, a declaration.

  • shrike||

    The Constitution and Bill of Rights did not create rights; they acknowledged preexisting rights.

    Rights are only derived from Social Contract. The "rights come from Gawd" crap is a conservative canard.

  • RoboCain||

    "Pre-existing" is not the same saying they are from God, you stupid asshole.

  • shrike||

    Natural rights are bullshit too. If not give me a list. I want to see if smoking reefer is one of them.

  • sarcasmic||

    The 9the Amendment refers to "unenumerated rights" specifically because they can't be listed.

  • shrike||

    But they are not rights until they are adjudicated. See the Right to Privacy.

    So you agree I have no right to smoke weed?

  • ||

    So you agree I have no right to smoke weed?

    Of course you do. But just because you have that right doesn't mean that someone isn't going to come along and violate it.

    Just because someone violates your rights doesn't mean the right never existed. Would you argue that a woman who's been raped never had a right not to be raped?

  • sarcasmic||

    By shrike's logic a woman only has a right not to be raped because legislation says so.

    If the courts say it's OK to rape, then a woman loses her right not to be raped.

  • War Party Voter||

    SHrrrreeek, rolling in the church aisle speaking in tongues is a natural right as you should know.

  • God of the Reefer Stick||

    No shriikee, you do have a right to smoke weed. Obama's DOJ/DEA might bust down your door and shoot your dog before they arrest you, but you do have a right to smoke it.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Give me a list of all the laws of physics. Not just the ones we have currently discovered: all of them.

  • ||

    Rights don't spring from the muddled medullas of socialist democrat party politicians otherwise known as Krugmanfags.

  • ||

    Rights don't spring from the muddled medullas of socialist democrat party politicians

    Well they have to, Libertymike. Dont you see? To acknowledge certain rights as being fundamental, inalienable, natural, pre-existing, or in any other way sacrosanct is to say that those rights should not be subject to the whims of our leaders. And if you're going to have any semblance of a properly controlled society, then all rights have to be subject to review, modification, and if necessary, revocation.

  • sarcasmic||

    And if you're going to have any semblance of a properly controlled free society, then all rights government powers have to be subject to review, modification, and if necessary, revocation.

    -fify

  • sarcasmic||

    This of course is why we do not live in anything remotely close to a free society.
    Because the courts have been derelict in their duty to revoke unjust legislation.

  • Brandon||

    Life, Liberty, Property. Pretty big umbrella.

  • RoboCain||

    So you believe if you went some place where there is no government, you would have no right to life?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Natural rights are bullshit too.

    Empty declaration is empty.

    If not give me a list.

    Life, liberty, and property.

    I want to see if smoking reefer is one of them.

    It's your life, as long as you smoking the reefer brings no direct harm to anyone else, and the reefer is yours to smoke to begin with.

  • cynical||

    He didn't say natural rights either. English common law predated the Constitution, and except where explicitly specified, was not supplanted by it.

    Besides, you need to specify whether we're talking about asserted or effective rights. Asserted rights come from individual belief. Effective rights come from widespread belief backed by force.

  • Apatheist ಠ_ರೃ||

    I literally laughed out loud at this for some reason. Literally.

  • ||

    I laughed figuratively, though it may have been more of a chortle. Or just gas.

    Speaking of the "Social Contract," I can't seem to find my copy. I'd like to put my hands on it, because truth be told, I don't remember signing anything (or clicking 'Agree', for that matter).

  • RoboCain||

    According to Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, etc. the Constitution would be an example of a social contract, where the people grant powers to the government to protect their rights. While people inherently possess such rights in the absence of government (what Locke called "The State of Nature"), a government cannot posses any legitimate authority in the absence of such a contract.

  • Zeb||

    Where is the part where our ancestors get to agree to something that is binding on everyone forever?

  • GroundTruth||

    Nowhere. And it's not a problem so long as governments do not exceed their authority.

  • GroundTruth||

    Give that man a cigar!

    People have rights, governments have authority.

  • GroundTruth||

    Damn thread indentations... "that man" is RoboCain.

  • Billy Z||

    You were born in America, right?

    If you don't like it, move. Or vote for someone else.

  • Zeb||

    "You were born in America, right?"

    So were the people who fought the revolution.

  • ||

    Shut up Obamafag.

  • ||

    By "pre-existing," they're referring to rights that are presumed to be inherent in the human condition. This presumption doesn't depend on one'e belief in a higher power.

  • Tonio||

    ^Precisely.

  • ||

    . . . versus the Shrike Model, which holds that your rights are whatever the fuck Shrike and his ilk say they are - no more, no less.

  • shrike||

    Give me a list of pre-existing rights then.

    You have an interest in this vague concept. I want to restrict the power of the state further.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    As soon as you give me a list of all physical laws. Not just the ones that we have discovered, but all of them.

  • ||

    Give me a list of pre-existing rights then.

    That would be a longish list, so I'll make it quick and dirty for you: you have the right to do anything you wish, so long as it:

    a) doens't impede on my right do anything I wish

    and

    b) doesn't entail any obligation on my part other than my noninterference

  • Zeb||

    Rights are sort of like axioms of arithmetic. There are infinitely many and they can only be described by general schemata. Mr. Hungus makes a good start.

  • sarcasmic||

    The shrike version is that power is limited only by enumerated rights.

    That is opposed to liberty being limited only by enumerated powers.

  • jj||

    Shrike, who gave "society" the rights to begin with? Or is it elephants all the way down?

  • sarcasmic||

    The U.S. government should be stopped...

    Except that nobody stops the government, because it is the government that stops people.

  • ||

    Except that nobody stops the government, because it is the government that stops people.

    The obvious solution is that we need an even bigger government to stop the big government currently in place.

  • Matrix||

    swallow the spider to catch the fly

  • The Derider||

    So a libertarian state can't compel its citizens to pay taxes to support a military?

    How will it protect itself from its immoral neighbors?

  • MWG||

    I think he was referring to funding WAR not a standing army.... and uh... PWNAGE!!!!!!

  • The Derider||

    To some, a standing military is, in itself, immoral.

  • MWG||

    This is true.

  • ||

    Being immoral in that regard feels real good right up to the point when you get invaded and crushed. This is soon followed by enslavement, stripped of all your property.

    At least when you are toiling for free or getting fed to the animals you can feel all so special and superior.

  • robc||

    A significant portion of the FFs, to name a few.

  • a fan||

    "At ease" and let them sit.

  • ||

    Just a wild guess, but people would see the inherent need to have some kind of military protection and voluntarily pay for it.

  • The Derider||

    Free-rider problem. You can't exclude the people who don't pay for the military from the benefits of military protection.

  • sarcasmic||

    Only an unarmed society requires military protection.

  • ||

    I had thought about adding something about that but since we live in the age of airplanes and missiles, my trusty musket isn't going to do much protecting unless mexico starts to invade.

  • sarcasmic||

    Airplanes and missiles are not sufficient to win a war. You still need boots on the ground.
    When enough people are armed and willing to fight, no amount of boots can win.
    See Afghanistan.

  • The Derider||

    What if the aggressors are not looking to invade and conquer, but to pillage, ransom, and extort?

  • sarcasmic||

    It is difficult to "pillage, ransom, and extort" an armed society.

  • The Derider||

    Not if you've got tanks and nukes and they've got rifles it isn't.

    Asymmetric warfare works well against occupiers. Not so well if they don't want to stay and rule.

  • NeonCat||

    Kind of hard to pillage something after you've nuked it. Maybe if you like trinitite...

  • The Derider||

    Yeah, but nukes would be the tits for extortion and ransom.

  • ||

    what do you call what's happening to this country under 0bumble?

  • ||

    Well then obviously being armed is key as nobody pillages by drone strike.

  • ||

    See also Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, etc, circa 1989.

  • The Derider||

    Yes, and nukes even more so.

  • cw||

    The Derider, have you heard of negative deterrence? An armed society/state makes the benefits of invading it, even by a larger power, less than the invasion's costs. E.G., Switzerland.

  • ||

    Sarcasmic,
    The days of the all citizen army are over. Armored vehicles, aircraft, missiles and ships make this so.

    Still, keeping a some weapons handy around the house is a good way of reducing the need for policing.

  • ||

    Sarcasmic,
    The days of the all citizen army are over. Armored vehicles, aircraft, missiles and ships make this so.

    Still, keeping a some weapons handy around the house is a good way of reducing the need for policing.

  • cynical||

    True, but you could still establish a system where people specify commitments that are contingent upon other people paying. Similar to Kickstarter, but more payer-driven and sophisticated enough to allow for something less regressive.

  • Eric||

    The problem is (as with all forms of collective government): To what level?

    Does "military protection" include only national defense (ie Swiss style), or does it also include proactive defense of our national interests (see: America, The United States of)?
    I'll answer one way, and you'll answer another, and half the people will agree with me and the other half will agree with you. Each side will then accuse the other of being fascists or commies (or both). Once the side that thinks that Defense == "America...Fuck Yeah!" is in charge, Defense grows a little bit - never to shrink again.
    Next I get the benefit of knowing that some form of my tax contribution is being used for all kinds of shit that I find immoral, but you find essential to our national existence.

    The Catholic church just needs to fucking eat shit and realize that they are no different than the rest of us in the country who are forced to monetarily support shit we hate...welcome to living in a society.

  • ||

    "Why no one should be forced to act against his conscience"

    The only people who disagree with this are just about all republicans and democrats who spend every ounce of their energy devising schemes that force us against our consciences.

  • rather||

    In a society that thinks itself free, how dare the government force employers to provide health insurance?...How dare it mandate that any coverage be free? (It can’t really be free; the coverage necessarily reduces employees’ cash wages.)"

    I wonder why they do think it is free?  Maybe because they keep hearing it, over and over, from the  media 

  • rectal||

    remember my earlier fart? it's still in that jar.

  • Big Rich Guy||

    those with a conscientious objection should be free to opt out of financing these crimes.

    I agree so much with this. However, I can't see how we can actually fix this problem. We need to fund things.

    Libertarians/Progressives/Conservatives disagree on what should be funded. Conservatives want to fund JAILS for our youth...particularly the black/latino youth. Libertarians and Conservatives would like to NOT fund schools and make those that can pay pay. Progressives want to fund schools and not fund wars.

    How do you fix this? Do you have a popular vote to fund such projects? This way, conservatives can fund prisons and progressives can fund schools?

    I have no answers on how to fix it. It sounds like we have to live with what we have now, for now.

  • Gojira||

    The answer is to not have a gov't in the first place, so no one is forced to fund anything against their will.

  • Big Rich Guy||

    Very intelligent response. When we get rid of the government, I'll come to your house, first.

  • ||

    And he will shoot you in the face, so please do, intelligent response guy.

  • Big Rich Guy||

    Never said who would win.

  • The Derider||

    Until the government next door starts demanding tribute, that is.

  • sarcasmic||

    Then you have warring gangs of thugs charging "protection", and the winner becomes the next government.

    Death and taxes, dude. Can't be escaped.

  • ||

    Until the death of the parasites becomes too taxing.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Yes. It's in our nature to have government. Can't be helped.

  • sarcasmic||

    Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
    -Heinlein's Lazarus Long

    The former require government because it is how they control people.
    The latter don't need government, except to protect them from those who would form one.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Soooo...do we need one or not? Color me confused.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's a conundrum.

    The way government is able to stop people from doing bad things is that nobody stops government.

    Like when the police serve a warrant to take someone to court. They are essentially kidnapping, but nobody stops them. People might try to stop criminals in the act of kidnapping, but not the cops.

    However this also means that the cops can beat someone to death in the middle of the street. No one will stop them. People might try to stop criminals from doing the same thing, but not the cops.

  • ||

    Soooo...do we need one or not? Color me confused.

    I would go only so far as to say that we need an organized, viable means of protecting our rights and dealing with those who would violate our rights.

    If a bank is robbed, I like the idea that we would have an organized, viable means of tracking down the robber; a place to put him on trial whre he would receive a binding verdict; and if found guilty, a place where we could house him for such a period of time that he would no longer be a danger to society upon his release.

  • Gojira||

    Why can't the bank pay someone privately for their protection? Why am I forced to chip in (via taxes) to help them?

  • Zeb||

    Why can't the bank pay someone privately for their protection?

    They can.

    Why am I forced to chip in (via taxes) to help them?"
    Because the government has bigger guns than you do.

    Don't get me wrong. I pretty much agree with you. I can't really find a good moral basis for taxation. But I also think that government is pretty much inevitable.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't really find a good moral basis for taxation.

    There is none.

    Taxation exists because the guys who stop people from stealing from you can steal from you because no one will stop them, since they are the ones who stop people from stealing from you.

    That is why they can beat you, kidnap you, murder you, destroy your property, defraud you, and do whatever other criminal acts against you.

    No one will stop them.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why am I forced to chip in (via taxes) to help them?

    Because if there is no government collecting taxes, then gangs of violent thugs will spring up and compete in "offering protection".
    The winner will become government.

    Death and taxes cannot be escaped.

  • Matrix||

    Banks do pay people to protect them. But that only extends to the bank property itself. Can that protection drive around and start violating other people's property, such as those harboring bank robbers? Can they return ill gotten money to the rightful owners? No.

    You live in your nice, quiet home without a government around. Sure, you've got an automatic rifle, shotgun, and pistol. A group of armed and armored thugs bust in your front door demanding tribute. You can fight them, but you'll likely lose. Or suppose that tribute is your wife and daughter.

    Hell, suppose you do get murdered just walking around outside. No justice will ever be done in a governmentless society. Private firms would not have any authority outside of their customer base. This side of town has their private security, and the other side has a different firm. Guy murders the guy on one side of town, and flees to the other side of town. The people on the other side of down don't give a shit. He gets away with murder.

  • ||

    Soooo...do we need one or not? Color me confused.

    In my perfect world:

    1. I can do as I please as long as I don't infringe upon the rights of others in doing so.

    2. The only purpose of government is to protect the rights of the people.

    Complying with these two premises, I achieve the maximum amount of liberty and the minimum amount of government. I would argue this to be the most moral way of living together.

    ...the world according to me.

  • Matrix||

    Well, I think that is the way it should be, but alas, someone wants other people's shit. They will use the power of government to enforce it.

  • Founding Father||

    We set up a government where each branch of power was hobbled by subservience to the other two in many ways. You guys f*ed it up.

  • ||

    It is also in our nature to resist those who would lord over us.

    And thank god or christopher hitchens for that.

  • sarcasmic||

    Resistance is futile.

  • Zeb||

    I agree with all of the above. Government in both inherently immoral and inevitable.

  • squarooticus||

    Do you have a popular vote to fund such projects?

    All voting does is subject minority groups to the largest group's preferences. Just to Godwin the thread, the Nazis winning elections in the 1930's didn't make the Holocaust right.

  • BakedPenguin||

    To bring this further, imagine if the Nazis had allowed actual free and fair elections every four years afterward.

    In 1936, they had re-militarized the Rhineland, and had made some progress with unemployment. They would have been re-elected.
    In 1940, they had conquered Poland and France. They would have been re-elected.
    In 1944, most Germans believed that Hitler was the only one who could have reversed the tide. They would have been re-elected.

    Democracy is a fetish when viewed as an end in itself.

  • db||

    While I agree with your general stance on Democracy, I think you ignore the presence of an active, vocal opposition as part of the concept of "free and fair elections" to the detriment of your argument.

  • Untermensch||

    Progressives want to fund schools and not fund wars.

    I see little evidence of the part in italics. They claim that, but then they all play general when they're in power.

  • Tonio||

    Wow, Reason is really milking this.

    Psssssssht, pssssht, mooo....

  • rather||

    It's always about tits with you libertarians

  • ||

    I'm a leg man, myself.

  • icgamblers||

    my favorite part of the woman is the boobies

  • ||

    What about flat bellies adorned with belly rings?

  • Daniel||

    Does this guy ever write anything that's remotely interesting?

    We get it, you're an anarcho-libertarian that doesn't like US foreign policy. We're all very aware of what the arguments are.

  • who cares||

    Cancel your own subscription danny

  • The Derider||

    Nobody subscribes to Reason. It's all Koch money.

  • ||

    How much did Soros pay you to say that?

  • Zeb||

    Where's my cut?

  • ||

    There is this great thing on the side of your browser that allows you to scroll right past the articles you don't like and don't feel like reading. What's it called again?

  • ||

    Paragraph 4 with all the 'How dare it....?' questions....
    If the ends justify the means then it isnt about daring, it is about getting things done. For the amoral statist there is no daring, there is what they can get away with.

    The statists are attempting to create a system that functions exactly like a single payer system, which is what they wanted in the first place.

    The single payer system would be a knife at all of our throats, the statists wet dream.

  • BigT||

    How quickly would a black market in medical attention spring up? Speak-easies for hemmorhoid treatments.

  • db||

    Why no one should be forced to act against his conscience

    Shut up and do what the majority tells you to. This is a Democracy. Being forced to to a small number of things you don't want to do, or being prohibited from doing things you want to do is the price of freedom!

  • ||

    So......"war is mass murder" - no qualifier about defensive wars, wars of liberation from oppression... just "war is mass murder"...
    I wonder why people write libertarians off as nuts? Gee, I wonder...
    But it's okay to carry a gun to off anybody who looks like he might steal your stuff...HMMMM...

  • Zeb||

    If you define murder to mean "killing another human being who has not personally wronged you on purpose", then yes, war is mass murder. If you define murder differently, it is not. Libertarians are only nuts if you don't bother to figure out what they mean. (OK, some are nuts)

  • sarcasmic||

    If politicians are the lowest scum on earth, why is killing people for the benefit of politicians the most noble occupation one can have?

  • The Derider||

    Even if another human being has harmed you personally, killing them is still murder.

  • Zeb||

    Or you could define it that way.

  • ||

    Murder is generally defined as an unlawful killing, thus exempting wars, executions, self-defense, etc.

  • Zeb||

    I think that there ought to be a purely moral definition as well. Some legal killings I would still count as murder.

  • sarcasmic||

    It is the duty of the government to punish murder.

    That means government can commit murder with impunity, because it will not punish itself.

    That doesn't mean it's not murder.

  • ||

    Government agents can still commit murder: war crimes, etc. But it's true, if the government is following the law, it's technically not murder, but may be so on a moral level.

  • sarcasmic||

    Even if it is against the law, they tend to protect their own.

    When was the last time a cop was prosecuted for murder?

  • ||

    And the occupation of Iraq qualifies as which one of those?

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but... we must fight the terrorists there so we won't have to fight them here!

  • NeonCat||

    People write libertarians off as nuts because otherwise they might realize that most of what they've been told and believe -especially about government - is total bullshit. Much easier to, as a wise man once wrote "Relax in the safety of your own delusions."

    Since WWII, what defensive wars has the US fought? How many that we have liberated have thanked us for it, if we weren't paying them? How many have we fucked over (I'm thinking the Hmong, the marsh peoples of southern Iraq, etc.) when we pulled out because we got tired of whatever war of choice we were fighting?

    And yes, it is perfectly okay, even recommended, to carry a gun, but one should refrain from using it until someone who isn't an elected official (or bureaucratic minion thereof) tries to steal from you.

  • Grenada||

    Thanks, USA!!

  • cynical||

    "How many have we fucked over (I'm thinking the Hmong, the marsh peoples of southern Iraq, etc.) when we pulled out because we got tired of whatever war of choice we were fighting.":

    Let's not forget Southern blacks between the 1860's and 1960's.

  • ||

    "Well, Space Vikings are professional robbers and murderers. Our activities are definable as robbery and murder." -- Otto Harkamann

    I guess Piper was another of those libertarian nuts.

  • ||

    The 1st Amendment guarantees the "free exercise" of religion. There is no free exercise of one's conscience. Sometimes, if your conscience bothers you about wars we start, you protest, refuse to be drafted, etc.

    I am not religious. But, the way I see it, Catholics are clearly being forced to provide services, either directly or indirectly, that impinge on the free exercise of their religion.

    And the fact is, this hubbub is simply a power struggle between King Obama and his minions against religious people in this country. Every woman in this country can either afford contraception or get it free from Planned Parenthood, or other sources. It is not related in any way to access to contraceptives or "health care" for women.

  • ||

    Last I look there was a guarantee of free exercise of religion in the Constitution. There is no guarantee of free exercise of pacifism. But there is an explicit war power.

    So the contraception mandate is in no way analogous to going to war. This article was retarded. Just retarded. Reason would have a lot more credibility as strict constructionist if they would be so when the constitution doesn't give them their pony.

  • Zeb||

    What if your religion is pacifism? The government should not be able to pick and choose what is and is not a religious belief. If I declare something to be my religion, then it is my religion.

  • ||

    Doesn't free exercise cover atheist as well? Isn't religion, at its core, how many people derive their morals and conscience? If I own a Burger King and I'm not Catholic but I'm still morally opposed to contraception, would this mandate still violate my rights?

  • sarcasmic||

    Since when was a lack of faith a religion?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Since Unitarianism.

    Hey-yo!

    No, seriously, any matter of conscience should be covered, not individual Fairy Tales. Otherwise I'll just declare Ayn Rand a God, Leonard Peikoff the Pope, and you can't make me pay for shit.

  • Zeb||

    That's kind of the point I keep trying to make. If the government gets to decide what counts as a religion, then I don't see how free exercise of religion can be guaranteed. And if you look into how religious use of drugs by non-peyote-using non-native-americans is treated, you will see that the government does indeed decide what does and does not count as religion or free exercise thereof.

    An interesting parallel is how you can use anti-obscenity laws to stop junk mail.

  • GroundTruth||

    Thoreau did this one already.

  • ||

    Articles like this are always a lot of fun. The gasps of dismay at the suggestion that we should actually act in a principled way. So sweet.

    Look, if you think that forcing people to violate their conscience is hunky dory, fine. But remember: your conscience is no more sacred than anybody else's.

  • ||

    EES,
    If it's ok, I am using that last line on everyone one of my liberal friends!! Of course I will give you due credit!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    My screen showed an ad beneath this article: "Birth Control under attack." This was accompanied with a picture of a young black woman.

    Are the racism-hunters going to be all over this ad - "a racist dog-whistle that there are too many black people and they should stop having so many kids!"

    No, because the ad is for a good progressive cause!

  • Chris||

    Jehovah Witness's refuse blood transfusions as a matter of faith, I'd hate to have their insurance coverage. On the other hand the the church of the flying spaghetti monster abhors douche bags.

  • RoboCain||

    Then don't be a douchebag?

  • ||

    The reason this argument is not brought up and would not fly is because it is too logical and, like many of us, libertarian!

  • ||

    Sounds like that dude is smoking some serious crack!

    www.anon-dot.tk

  • Catherine Fitzpatrick||

    Well, that's a great idea, and it's something that War Tax Resisters do, they don't pay taxes due to their conscientious objection.

    But it's not an analogy that fits here, as the government isn't asking companies to pay war fees especifically in a *health care policy*, they are asking that Catholics pay for contraception. So they should not be forced to do so to maintain the First Amendment rights.

  • ||

    I seem to remember the lefties barraging us with placards saying "Don't pay taxes for an immoral war!" But they apparently have no problem demanding that we pay taxes for abortion. I guess they are the supreme and infallible judges of what is "immoral", and the rest of us must bow to their edicts. (But of course, how DARE the Pope tell us what is immoral? Only the left ideologues are entitled to do that.)

  • Eric||

    It seems to me by bringing up the Iraq war as a comparison to contraception, you in essence make the argument for why the government SHOULD be able to push some agendas that might be morally objectionable to some people. The government does stuff. It has to. I imagine the Amish would find the paving of the roads morally objectionable. We know people find teaching of evolution in schools morally objectionable. There are some that would say that the government allowing animals to be hunted and killed for consumption is morally objectionable.

    In our society, we make decisions all the time that some find objectionable. On the issue of women's birth control, there are more issues than just with the sex as you suggest here. There are some risks that come with it, but also health benefits (you can look those up). Now we can argue if the government should be forcing this to be provided for free, but if that is the rule, we ALL have to live under that rule until it is changed. We should not allow exceptions for "moral" reasons unless we ALL are exempted.

  • FreeLibertine||

    "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." - Thomas Jefferson

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