Employer Provided Health Insurance: Why should the employee’s rights count?

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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60 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “I know of very few liberals who think that employer provided coverage should continue to be the norm.”

    Interestingly, this is similar to conservatives — separating health insurance from employment is a current part of the GOP’s set talking points. And — unless you intend to fully nationalize healthcare and have the government cover everyone through taxes — separating it from employers is a terrible idea.

    A health insurance scheme that lacks forced participation can’t survive — and it never has, in any country, in any time period, ever. It can’t.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      I’m not sure how the two are connected. Statutory insurance coverage wouldn’t change, you’d still have an individual mandate. There’s no need for that to be connected with employer based coverage. In fact, one of the things preventing cost containment is the scattered nature of the market strength wielded by employers.

      As noted by Blumenthal:

      The innovations that employer-sponsored insurance has sparked, however, have not proved to be sufficient to ameliorate our nation’s fundamental health care problems of cost, quality, and access to services. The reason for this may be that as Galvin and Delbanco recently pointed out, employers may pay the piper but they have been unable to call a consistent tune, for many reasons. First, with rare exceptions, individual employers lack sufficient numbers of employees in any one market to impress providers with the need to follow their leadership in changing how health care is organized and provided. Innovative employers tend to be large, and large firms tend to be national, so that their employees are scattered around the country.

      Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        More detailedly, I think it’s more likely that state level exchanges provide a more robust way to manage the interplay between the collective needs of consumers and healthcare providers. There’s a much better ability for a state to muster the necessary expertise and market power (by changing the conditions of how to participate in the market/exchange) than employers of whatever stripe. You’re more likely to see reforms to the healthcare structure that way than by continuing to rely on employers shelling out in the hope of keeping employees.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        By far, the thing about PPACA I care most about is the exchanges. They’re off to a rocky start (in my estimation) but if we can get a handle on it, tweak it, and so on, I think that we may have our system right there. And the next step is getting more people on them.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Agreed, Will.

        I think the next step really ought to be finding a way to transition large employers to the exchange.

        I think Wyden’s plan is the best for that outcome. Not only does it provide employers with an incentive to continue offering some sort of health insurance benefit, but also serves a as a proximate way to provide a tax cut/benefit to most Americans.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      the next step is getting more people on the[ exchanges].

      Which is why, from the perspective of those wanting the law to work well (and from the perspective of the law’s designers), there isn’t that strong a preference that a business like Hobby Lobby provide any insurance at all, even if it leaves some people with inferior benefits. For them not to provide insurance – pushing employees onto the exchanges – merely increases the cost of the law somewhat in terms of the negative side of the ledger (though that’s offset significantly by the tax HL would pay) – but it does that by distributing more of the very benefits the law seeks to distribute, and in the process strengthens the central mechanism for that distribution (and for reform of the insurance system). All in all it’s at least a wash for the law if not better when companies opt out. (Which is why people are saying that the first likely major legislative tweak to the law, which the WH will make some nominal effort to oppose but ultimately sign off on, will be the elimination of the employer mandate.)Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      unless you intend to fully nationalize healthcare and have the government cover everyone through taxes

      Sold!Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Monopolies are bad. Except monopolies that also have the power to take everything you own and throw you in prison. Those are good.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      @tod-kelly

      I think this is exactly the crux of the problem

      Liberals and conservatives and libertarians want to decouple health insurance from employment.

      The problem is that liberals would very much like single payer or NHS and conservatives would very much just like everyone to purchase their own coverage on the for-profit market.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        And libertarians don’t want anyone to have anything.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Precisely. When health (hospitalization, really) insurance first emerged, it was almost all community-rated — that is, the local community served by the hospital defined the group for a group plan. Post WWII, the employer defined the group for the group plan. Liberals insist that if/when insurance is separated from the employer, people still be provided with access to group plans. Speaking broadly, conservatives today despise group plans.Report

  2. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    This is an excellent explanation of the situation in the US re: employer-provided health insurance and the ACA. It makes it entirely clear that there’s no freedom of religion issue in play. If the government’s offering a tax exemption to business, the government has every right to set the terms of what kind of coverage meets the standard for that tax exemption.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    Good post Nob, well done.
    The basic fact is that neither liberals nor conservatives are particularily fond of employee based health coverage but voters are strongly in favor of the known status quos instead of the unknown alternatives.Report

  4. Avatar MyNameIsNotRelevant says:

    “Because it’s a compensation issue for the employee receiving the compensation, I tend to fall here on the side that thinks this should be something the employee’s rights are more valuable than that of the employer.” — Except, it’s not a compensation issue; unlike money’s fungibility, I cannot use cardiac care coverage to pay for dentistry or neurologic coverage to pay for cancer treatments. Therefore the for “compensation” comparison simply does not hold up.

    “[The Employer] can choose not to provide health insurance as a benefit.” — The Employer would also pay a penalty for doing so and still have to increase Employee pay in order to attract and retain Workers. Note: While the law describes the penalty as a “tax”, using the logic of United States v. Constantine, the very logic which upholds the Individual mandate penalty as a tax, the Employer paid “tax” actually functions as a penalty and, for legal purposes is considered a penalty. This fact was why the Chief Justice made the joke “She’s right about that” when Justice Sotomayor asserted, “It’s called a tax”.

    “If the employer is that concerned about what health insurance coverage can be used for, then that should be a choice they should make, instead of forcing the employee to shoulder the cost of that employer’s belief.” — The Objectors in these cases are not “forcing the employee to shoulder the cost of that employer’s belief”. The act of “forcing the employee to shoulder the cost of that employer’s belief” would be if the law said, “Employees must pay for Their Employers to buy new Bibles”, analogous to Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc. In these cases, it is the *mandate* which is more like Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc., in the sense the regulations say, “The Employees’ religion permits the use of these products; therefore, the Employer must pay for them and/or insurance which covers their cost.”

    “It’s one of religious employers asking to be allowed to stiff their employees” — No, it is a case of objecting to the government preferred form of subsidy. Presumably, the Greens et al. would have no objection to the same accommodation extended to religious non-profits being extended to Them. However, as noted during oral arguments, Objectors have not even given offered this alternative; the administration has simply refused to offer this alternative.

    “In that case, I think they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise vouchers as part of their benefits, and pay the necessary taxes of not being able to claim that, because their vouchers don’t meet the needs of all potential employees.” — “All potential employees”? Since when does the law turn on whether something “meets the needs of All potential ”? I know of no such a case. Meanwhile, I do know of several laws and/or private policies which create or exacerbate situations which do NOT meet the needs of All potential Whoevers. For example, education policies: because the law rarely covers all possible situations, education regulations tend to always be “playing ‘catch-up’”; likewise with various school policies. If We taxed/penalized Everyone not meeting the needs of All potential Whoevers, We would soon find Ourselves penalized out of existence because People simply do not see all ends.

    “I know of very few liberals who think that employer provided coverage should continue to be the norm.” — For the purposes of the legal analysis put forth earlier in the article, this point seems irrelevant or, at the very least, a poor transition.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      So your contention is that health insurance is not part of an employee’s compensation package? What is it, then? For that matter, why does the religious rights of the employer trump the right of the employee to be compensated in the same manner as others in the market are when something is described as a certain product?Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      in the sense the regulations say, “The Employees’ religion permits the use of these products; therefore, the Employer must pay for them and/or insurance which covers their cost.”

      The regulations do not say that the employers “must” do so. The regulations say that the employers can derive a financial benefit from providing health insurance covering a full package of health care. If the employers choose health insurance that covers a lesser package of health care, then they will not receive this financial benefit (and will be better off not providing employee health insurance at all).Report

  5. Avatar Herb says:

    “If the employer is that concerned about what health insurance coverage can be used for, then that should be a choice they should make, instead of forcing the employee to shoulder the cost of that employer’s belief.”

    This.

    I have to say, it’s been somewhat weird to see this issue cast as a religious freedom/conscience issue. It’s as if the Inquisitor considers it a matter of religious freedom to be able to burn the heretic. Should we be surprised the heretic has a different view?Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    This will, I think, be one of the interesting things to watch in the exchanges.

    For most people, insurance is a product that you choose to suit your needs, it’s a benefit your employer chooses. While I’ve seen companies switch insurance plans when employees were really unhappy about it, for the most part, short of a strong union to negotiate details, employees take what they’re offered. The employer does the comparison shopping, not the employee; at best employees might have two or three plans from the same insurer to choose from, but nothing like a competitive market of choices.

    When I purchased our insurance on the Federal exchange (my state didn’t bother to set one up), I was sort of overwhelmed by the choices. Many were very narrow — specific doctor networks, drug coverage, etc. My guess is that most people picked the cheapest plan eligible for a subsidy (if they qualified), and that this will just be the beginning of a whole new set of tips and tricks on shopping for the biggest bang for your insurance buck, a set of consumer habits we’ve not yet really developed.

    People have long complained that there’s no price transparency in medical pricing; I don’t think there’s been price transparency in health insurance, either. Perhaps that’s about to change; and individuals are going to have more ability to say what they want insurance to actually insure.Report

  7. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I’d go one step further. My employer may offer health insurance as a benefit, but if I opt to not participate, I get the monetary difference. The difference should be tax free to the employer no matter what*, and tax free to me as long as I carry private insurance (either on my own, or as part of a family members policy). If I insist on not having private coverage, the difference is passed to the state for my Medicare coverage.

    *The fact that my employer pays a tax on what s/he pays me has got to be one of the most unfair tax schemes we’ve ever devised. An employer should not be penalized for creating a job.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Even getting it taxed would be an improvement.

      I hated, hated, hated the contractor I worked for when I was in your neck of the woods. One thing I will say about them, though, is that they knew how to use the tax code to their advantage (and to a lesser extent, mine). They shifted almost all of the cost of the health care plan to me, but they worked it so that I got the tax exemption that they would have if they’d shouldered that load. (Basically, they reduced my wages – and thus the taxes I pay on them – roughly the amount that the insurance plan cost.) Once I figured out what they were doing, it was nicely transparent. Though I was still upset about their dishonesty about who was paying for the health care plan.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Is this the Wyden proposal Nob mentions, more or less?Report

  8. Avatar Lyle says:

    Of course by moving to a private exchange it eliminates the employer from deciding on benefits. No need to be on the public exchange as places like ehealthinsurance could do the job just as well. If you did not qualify for a subsidy you could have used that site and avoided all the follies of the government sites. If done on a private exchange then the tax treatment is preserved. (Although government subsidies are not available).
    There is a movement towards this, just provide that the private exchange must list all plans available where the person lives. Then state which plans cover what. The employer is then just providing a subsidy to the worker, and not deciding anything about what the insurance covers.Report

  9. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    “In that case, I think they shouldn’t be allowed to advertise vouchers as part of their benefits, and pay the necessary taxes of not being able to claim that, because their vouchers don’t meet the needs of all potential employees.”

    But isn’t there always going to be someone who is missing out on something they need covered? Every plan has its limitations. While yes, I think the contraception thing is dumb, it still keeps coming around to private organizations being able to make private choice and employment being voluntary. This dovetails with Kyle’s latest post about allowing women to become priests.

    I’m going to take a rare moment to stand on my conservative soapbox and make some generalizations about liberals. Why does the notion keep coming around that people should be able to force private organizations to bend to the will of the public with regards to their members/employees? What I keep hearing is, “Your employees / members all joined freely and yet you should now be forced to change your rules because the enlightened masses think your policies are dumb.”

    To draw a personal analogy, my employer does not allow management to have beards. It’s a dumb policy but it is their choice. I have known for the last 14 years of my employment that if I took a management position that was a rule I was agreeing to follow. So when I accepted a management position two weeks ago I knew I would be shaving this weekend before my start date on Monday. No one made me accept the position. It was my choice and I will live with it. Now, if I ever get a chance to talk to someone in a position to change the beard policy I will respectfully tell them why I think it should change. When we are given employee surveys I will respectfully tell them they should change the policy. But will I ever file a lawsuit trying to force my company to change the policy or hope that Uncle Sam forces them to? No. That violates a lot of really important principles for me. I just get the impression that liberals don’t agree with that and for the life of me I can not understand why.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Mike, even when you try to generalize about liberals, you fail. It just ends up coming out as reasonable substantive questions on substantive topics stated in terms of pure substance. The liberals themselves end up as complete no-shows.

      C’mon, man. Get with it!Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      While I want to agree, I’m not sure I can, for this:

      Why does the notion keep coming around that people should be able to force private organizations to bend to the will of the public with regards to their members/employees? What I keep hearing is, “Your employees / members all joined freely and yet you should now be forced to change your rules because the enlightened masses think your policies are dumb.”

      Sometimes membership and accepting employment simply are not optional. It may be the only job available. It may so against the social norm not to hold membership that ones life would be destroyed (and I’m specifically thinking of some religions in some countries).

      If the job or the membership were always voluntary; maybe.

      Plus, I don’t think it’s cool to fail to put pressure on organizations that are overtly bigoted. But that’s just me as a liberal. The biggest intolerance I hold is for intolerance, and yes, I get the irony of that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Zic,

        I suspected that the ’employment is not always optional’ thing would come about but when we start going down that road it will always characterize the employer in a bad light. It takes away agency from the employee and essentially characterizes them as an indentured servant. I think this is uncharitable. Most of us have to work. As a college graduate I might have more options than someone with a GED and this might give me more choice of employers but I still have to eat. Unless this hypothetical employee only has one potential employer in their entire locale and it’s work there or starve, well I just don’t see this as a non-choice situation.

        I’m perfectly fine with protests (although I think they are mostly pointless) and even more okay with taking your money elsewhere to not support companies with unpleasant practices (I do this all the time). I think legal challenges to established practices that employees agreed to is where I draw the line.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Mike,
        so which of these is Walmart, in the areas of the country where they are a monopsony?Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic says:

      “Your employees / members all joined freely and yet you should now be forced to change your rules because the enlightened masses think your policies are dumb.”

      I want to focus on one particular point that I think you present particularly uncharitably, the “because the enlightened masses think your policies are dumb.” It is not “I think that’s dumb” that’s doing the work from a liberal perspective. The counterbalance, the reasoning behind the use of the state to set some of the terms of the employer-employee relationship are twofold.

      First, to address a power imbalance, with the employer possessing bargaining power an employee does not possess. This imbalance presents the real danger (at least to liberals) that an employee can have their rights trampled without state scrutiny of the terms of the relationship. Sometimes that results in shoring up the position of the employee, through things like setting minimum wages, working conditions standards, etc.

      Second, to address compelling (at least to liberals) interests. In the instance of contraception, it is public health. In the other thread, in addition to sharing personal experience, Zic repeatedly drew attention to Institute of Medicine research on what the public health consequences for contraception non-provision were and the public health advantages for widespread access to contraception. I’ll point you to the amicus brief on the Hobby Lobby case from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (and others) for details on the particular medical conditions involved.* Suffice it to say, these are benefits that accrue to individuals as well as to the community as a whole.

      There is this idea that liberals just dismiss the interests of the parties in the employee-employer relationship. I appreciate that the state is in fact inserting itself into some details of these relationships. The interference has a basis in actual concerns that markets will not resolve these tensions equitably; that absent government action public health considerations and social justice considerations will go severely underrepresented if not unrepresented at all. (Also, the interference has a basis in the fact that the state grants recognition and benefits to some of the entities involved.)

      * Pdf here, http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/13-354-and-13-356-tsac-American-College-of-Obstetricians-and-Gynecologists.pdfReport

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Creon Critic,

        If this is a public health concern, wouldn’t it be easier to mandate that ALL private insurance plans included contraception thus giving the employer a choice of either providing insurance or not? It seems that going after the company instead of the health provider is the wrong way to go about this.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Mike,
        yeah, that’s what the law says, isn’t it?
        HL wants to be able to choose one that isn’t including contraception (despite the higher price), and claims a moral/religous objection to buying one with contraception.
        … to which, liberals have been saying, “then don’t buy insurance, and take a bit of a penalty”Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        Mike,
        “to mandate that ALL private insurance plans included contraception” My understanding is Obamacare does precisely that, setting a baseline for insurance plans that they must include contraception.

        Also, I think Kim is right. If a company like Hobby Lobby (more than 50 employees) doesn’t want to purchase insurance due to religious conscience, they have the option of not offering insurance and paying the Employee Shared Responsibility Payment,* amounting to about $2,000 per employee (many details in the IRS link). The employees then go onto the state exchanges where they do have access to contraceptives coverage.

        As I understand it, Hobby Lobby wants to both offer insurance and not meet the baseline requirements set by Obamacare.

        * Here, http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Questions-and-Answers-on-Employer-Shared-Responsibility-Provisions-Under-the-Affordable-Care-ActReport

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        First, to address a power imbalance, with the employer possessing bargaining power an employee does not possess.

        I’m not convinced that this is a real thing. Can you explain it in a way that makes it clear that it’s not just putting a sinister spin on the law of supply and demand?Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic says:

        @brandon-berg
        Can you explain it in a way that makes it clear that it’s not just putting a sinister spin on the law of supply and demand?

        To be frank the first thing that comes to mind is sweatshops. We’ve had an active discussion on this blog already about whether or not that constitutes exploitation. By liberal’s lights (mine anyway), an example of desperate exchange, certainly exploitation. And I’ll just briefly mention the much stronger claim that the law of supply and demand can result in rather sinister outcomes when untested against a baseline for human dignity, e.g. price gouging, sexual harassment (or abuse) of employees, unsafe working conditions.

        The next example that comes to mind is information asymmetry constituting a power imbalance. For instance, Lilly Ledbetter’s not knowing that she was being underpaid relative to her male colleagues for years. Given the lack of transparency of salary information, it may not be clear to the person suffering gender-based wage discrimination that’s what’s going on (in Ledbetter’s case I think, a $6,000 a year difference in pay). Thus the lack of information on the employee’s part presents an obstacle as to assessing wages and less bargaining power. (As an employer is unlikely to volunteer, “everyone man, even those men with less seniority than you, is making thousands more than you because of your gender.”)Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      …Since I responded with a (I hope highly complimentary) quip, I feel I owe you some kind of response. Unfortunately, an even minimally sufficient defense of the liberal approach to regulation of commercial association is way beyond my time budget, the scope of a blog comment, and, frankly, my own capacities at the moment. So I’m going to have to go infra-micro with this for you. Twitter-style, even*.

      The voluntarist/libertarian approach to regulation stresses, as you do, the voluntary nature of all these associations with institutions that people do to minimally thrive and even survive in modern society. I think (I’m already going astray and I know I’ll hear about it), they see institutions like employers as just a potential positive compared to any individual’s baseline. It follows that intra-institutional rules are presumptively justified from the individual’s perspective.

      Liberals/leftists tend to look at the way society overall, and especially opportunity within society, is shaped, like mass shapes space-time, by the institutions that individuals depend on for survival. Liberals’ view this shaping as potentially positive and potentially harmful for individuals. The idea that institutions should be able to be forced to operate by certain rules comes from the idea that society as a whole is justified in responding to the way institutions in it shape it, on the theory that institutions ultimately exist for the benefit of individuals in the society, not just themselves. This can including responding through a mechanism as crude and disruptive as a state, [rest of sentence edited somewhat:] but, in fact, it can also reject that mechanism (eg. anti-statist communitarianism; anti-statist trade-unionism, etc.). The justification for the attempt to influence (even force) institutions to adapt to the society’s conception of the needs of individuals in it is the same either way: institutions shape and hold power in society by their nature; it’s justified for society to shape and hold some power over institutions.

      It’s actually, I think, a very different justification from one that justifies society’s ability to force individuals in particular not to take certain acts.

      I’g going to get utterly reamed for this response. I would ask people to bear in mind that it’s an extremely rushed attempt to offer a good-faith response to what I take as a question posed in extremely good faith by a valued member of the community deserving of a prompt response. Of course there are holes to be poked in it. (Eg. some people don’t even allow that society itself is an agent in any sense, much less one tha can be justified in any actions. I don’t fully reject that view; I would ask that the term society here be taken as something of a placeholder, not a strong analytical term itself. To some extent I think using it helps gets to the question Mike is asking. But to be sure he does ask in terms of “people” can force conditions on associations, and I’d like to answer in those terms, I just don’t have time to work out the answer in those terms right now. Sorry.) Poke away, just please keep in mind the context for this disquisition I just articulated: I’m trying to be responsive to a question about what/how liberals think, not necessarily make an air-tight argument (which is not to say I’m conceding those are mutually exclusive, though I certain walked into that one. :D).

      * I’m leaving this sentence in place for humor value in light of what I ended up writing after I wote it. Twitter indeed.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        @michael-drew

        Thank you for the response. I think some of the legal questions are definitely above my paygrade here but your response explained the Left side pretty well.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @michael-drew the mass/space-time analogy rocks.

        If I might offer an example: Title IX.

        When I was a girl, it did not exist. There was baseball, basketball, football, track for boys. Girls had softball and cheerleading.

        Now I’m not a big competitive-sports fan; but I totally get that a lot of leadership skills are learned through playing competitive sports. The imbalance of opportunity meant more boys were learning how to be leaders then girls.

        Fast forward to Mike’s daughter and her school experience, and the mandate that girls get equal opportunity in education, the rule we call Title IX, created a more-equal playing field; and I think the results of that early leadership training amply evident in the business world.

        That’s a very liberal law, and the kind of liberal outcomes folk like me hope for.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Twitter-style, even*.

        140 lines?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Thanks, @zic. I’m glad it resonates.

        An advantage is that it’s not ideological. It’s just a descriptive model. Liberals respond a certain way to the shaping, but there’s more reasoning (and feeling) behind that response than I was able to get into. I think libertarians and conservatives could see the analogy in operation too, and have different responses to it.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        @mike-schilling

        Something like that, yeah. 😉Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        To me this is pragmatics. We know that women have long gotten a raw deal in terms of reproductive health, and this is absolutely terrible, both measured socially and in individual terms. And “free association” is fine in principal; it matters, but it is not the only thing that matters.

        Real women getting actual reproductive health matters more. We know this because we’ve seen the world without it, and how sexism has shaped that world. These things are plain to see.

        So we have decided — this being the collective we, as reflected through democratic process — that this is a line worth drawing, a requirement work making, that the rights (and needs) of women to have affordable reproductive health, provided in line with other healthcare, according to the norms and standards of healthcare in our country, simply must be provided. No exceptions.

        Because women matter that much.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @veronica dire
        “So we have decided — this being the collective we, as reflected through democratic process — that this is a line worth drawing…”

        Yes, yes, the collective “we”. Yet when the “we” decides on something else that you disagree with, then it’s a failure of democracy or wrong or injust or whatever.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @damon

        Yes, yes, the collective “we”. Yet when the “we” decides on something else that you disagree with, then it’s a failure of democracy or wrong or injust or whatever.

        Like the 50 or so times House Republicans have held votes to repeal Obamacare?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @zic
        No, that would not be an example. The “we” didn’t have enough votes for “democracy” to work in that case.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @damon so democracy only works when ‘we’ get what ‘we’ want?

        You’re trolling this morning, it’s rude.

        If you want to make a case about why LGBT people don’t deserve civil rights, make it. But stop singling out people who are openly gay or trans — which is what you’re doing right now. It’s rude.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        “We” is a weasel word.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Well, this probably doesn’t deserve a response, but I’ll say a few things anyhow.

        It is this: social change is a struggle, and that struggle is going to happen using the available tools and institutions. So with regards to democratic struggle, pointing out that things can go one way and then another is to point out a truism. (As if we queers are unaware of this.) But democracy is what we have — a constitutional, representative democracy, which seems about as good as we humans can do in terms of self-organization. So, fine. It gives and it takes. I prefer it to other forms of government.

        But see, here is the thing: humans have better angels, and hate has a cost, one I wear on my body and mind, so I work to make these costs visible — I work very hard at this — with the hopes that the better angels of the voters will turn their gaze to me.

        Which is probably far too precious a metaphor. But it will do.

        So it goes for reproductive health. This has been a long battle, to convince a large enough body of the populous that this matters, that women matter, that shit’s fucked up, and the way we do things needs to be changed.

        And people will drag their asses on the changes. Some will deliberately stand in the way. And women wear the scars. And then — we hope, we work so hard, maybe, maybe — people will vote to fix this shit.

        Which side are you on?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        ITYM “we” is a “weasel” third. (So is “as”.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “Title IX.

        When I was a girl, it did not exist. There was baseball, basketball, football, track for boys. Girls had softball and cheerleading. ”

        …and lacrosse. And swimming. And gymnastics, and actually basketball and track as well (at least if my mom’s experience from the Sixties is considered valid). And marching band. These might not have drawn the huge crowds and vicarious-life boosters of the football games, but it’s not as though there was nothing for little girls except Home Ec and the pep squad.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        Jim, if your wife and @zic had notably different experiences / opportunity due to a difference in location leading to a difference in sexism levels, that’d actually be an argument FOR Title IX, not against it, as far as I can see. (My mom, albeit in a very rural part of a slightly norther country, literally had the “home ec and pep squad” offering that you toss out as absurd. She wasn’t even allowed to take a science class in high school, and she was required to take that home ec class – and that was gender-based in both cases.)Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @zic
        Yes, that’s essentially the point I’m making about Veronica’s post. Sorry Zic, I know when I’m trolling, and I’m not. Equating passing a law that you support as “democracy” and then bemoaning another law that is passed that you disagree with as something other than democracy, just ain’t going to cut it. It’s either democracy for both examples, or neither.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        zic was writing as though Title IX were the only possible means of providing equality in sports, and as though it hadn’t happened anywhere until Title IX. I’m pointing out how that isn’t true. (And this was in Pennsylvania coal-cracker country, which wasn’t exactly the poster child of progressive thought.)Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        zic was writing as though Title IX were the only possible means of providing equality in sports, and as though it hadn’t happened anywhere until Title IX. I’m pointing out how that isn’t true.

        No, zic wrote that girls weren’t assured equality in sports before Title IX, and in most places, there was no par in offerings; and I remember the brohaha about how much it would cost and girls don’t like to play sports and it will lead to the end of sports. . .

        Essentially, zic’s saying that where there is rampant inequality, short of laws, those on the unequal side of the equation don’t have the same freedom that those on the other side have. So zic does not believe that a ‘law’ is an inherently bad thing, quite the inverse — it may be a good thing, as Title IX has proven to be. It depends on the details, not that it’s a law.

        Norms and traditions that are not laws can limit freedom, too. Like girl’s freedoms were limited by the norms and traditions of sports. That was a not-law that limited freedom.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        @zic
        the brohaha about how much it would cost and girls don’t like to play sports

        Freudian slip or intentional pun? 😉 Either way, it’s kind of awesome.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I remember both arguments being wielded at the same time (probably by men in my family) that 1) it would seriously increase property taxes and 2) even as it did increase taxes, girls wouldn’t sign up, so those taxes would be going to waste.

        And I also clearly remember the wonder a lot of girls felt when, suddenly, there was all this fun stuff to do after school. It was kind of awesome to suddenly find yourself validated the way brothers and male classmates had been all along. Before IX, it felt like girls had been allowed to attend a system that was obviously designed for and catered to boys; we were an after thought, and the most important thing was making sure we adhered to the girls dress code (there was none for the boys).Report