Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Stop with Contraception?

Those who follow the news know that the left is upset over conservatives' unreasonable unwillingness to require insurance companies and private employers to cover birth control expenses and to, in effect, subsidize the sex lives of their employees. In the left's typically understated rhetoric, the Republican reluctance to jettison the First Amendment's guarantee of a freedom of religion from state interference is proof that they're waging a "War on Women".

Allysia Finley, in a humorous piece in the Wall Street Journal, thinks mandating birth control coverage is not going far enough, actually. There are many other things that the government should require stingy insurance companies and employers to cover for their employees. She presents her proposals in a witty, tongue-in-cheek letter to President Obama. Here's part of it:
Dear President Obama,

Can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. I guess they haven't read your 2,000-page health law. It's the government's job now.

That's a good thing, too. Employers for too long have been able to restrict our access to essential health services like contraception by making us pay some of the bill. Really, it's amazing that we aren't all dead. Now, thanks to you, we'll enjoy free and universal access to preventative care just like workers do in Cuba. Even so, there are still many essential benefits that the government must mandate to make the U.S. the freest country in the world.

Fitness club memberships. Most doctors agree that exercising is one of the best ways to prevent disease. However, gym memberships can run between $240 and $1,800 per year. Such high prices force us to choose between exercising and buying groceries. While we could walk or jog outside, many of us prefer not to. Therefore, employers should be required to pay for workers' gym memberships. Doing so might even reduce employers' health costs, which is why many companies already subsidize memberships. Those that don't are limiting our freedom to exercise.

Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness—which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Workers who drink java are also more productive and pleasant. While many offices have coffee makers, some employers—most notably those affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—continue to deny workers this essential benefit. All employers should have to provide workers with freshly brewed coffee. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

Republicans might argue that requiring Mormon charities to serve coffee is a violation of "religious liberty" since the Mormon church's doctrine proscribes coffee, but this argument is a red herring. Leading medical experts recommend drinking coffee. Moreover, 99% of adults have drunk coffee at one point in their lives (including most Mormons).
Finley has more amusing suggestions at the link. She argues, for instance, that insurance companies should be required to cover employee massage therapy and salad bars in the workplace. She recognizes, of course, that getting Republicans to go along with mandating these coverages would be difficult, but, she concludes, if the president can justify a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance what she's proposing should be "a piece of cake".

Re: Wheeling, Dealing, and Looking Venal

A few days ago we discussed some of the behind the scenes deal-making going on between the U.S. and Israel over Iran. The post mentioned that the U.S. was providing some military hardware and weaponry to Israel in exchange for a pledge not to attack Iran until after the November election.

I suggested that, if the report was accurate, it implied that the president was subordinating matters of great national importance to his own electoral fortunes. This elicited an informative response from a reader named Keith who thought there is another possible explanation for why an attack on Iran might be delayed until 2013. Keith wrote:
With regards to the 2013 comment, I would be very surprised if it actually has anything to do with the election. The weapons promised to Israel, which will be a very good deterrent to Iran, will probably not be ready until sometime into late 2013. I'm guessing the bunker busting bombs promised are the MOP GBU-57. Testing for those bombs is not slated to be completed until sometime this year. The MOP was developed for the type of application that may be required if there is an attack on Iran. These bombs are designed to penetrate farther into hardened sites than any other bomb before and pack more explosives than any other - including the MOAB GBU-43.

As for the [mid-air refueling] tankers, after nine years, the Air Force finally got through the hurdles with being able to order replacements for the KC-135. The KC-X program has been marred with protests by the general contractors, GAO accounting related issues, and criminal investigations. It has only been about a year since the Air Force has placed orders to replace our fleet, which has been flying since the Eisenhower administration.

In both of these cases, export versions will likely have to be developed before being delivered to Israel. The United States typically only ships variants to what our military uses. Yes Israel's Air Force using F-16's (as do we). But the versions sold to them, do not have the most powerful, fuel efficient engines as ours [do]. The navigation systems are not as good as ours. The list goes on.

Bottom line: I strongly believe the 2013 statement has nothing to do with our election and more to do with weapons availability. The underlying statement from the U.S. is, "Don't start something now and expect we are going to deliver the weapons technology as soon as things start going bad for you."
This sounds plausible, and it certainly puts the Obama administration in a better light than does the claim that they're pressuring Israel to delay an attack on Iran for political reasons. Even so, whether the White House is tailoring their demands upon Israel to suit their political ambitions or whether, as Keith says, they're simply bending to logistical necessity, war between Israel and Iran would in fact cause oil prices to soar and that would almost surely diminish Mr. Obama's reelection prospects.