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Friday, August 26, 2016

Poverty Is Sexist -- and Governments Aid Corporations

I've recently been in online arguments with people who say things that I just can't let go:
1) Hilary Clinton should be in jail.
2) There's no difference between Trump and Clinton.
3) Feminism isn't needed.
4) Poverty is a result of people not working hard enough.

And on these four things, I call bullshit. Poverty is sexist, government aids corporations, there is a huge difference between those two candidates, and if Hilary Clinton belongs in jail, our entire Congress, Wall Street, and countless other CEOs need to occupy the cells next to her. I don't think you survive in a corrupt organization with clean hands or a clean record. You just have to go in knowing what you are fighting for. Sometimes you have to know what you are fighting against.

Trump picked Mike Pence for his running mate. Women started Periods for Pence years ago and recently resurrected it. In solidarity, I resurrected this piece I wrote for Wikinut some years back because the Trump camp doesn't see a problem with the SCOTUS decision. However, I do and I want this decision reversed.Voting for Hilary Clinton will be a positive step in reversing this terrible decision.

From the Wikinut Files: America's War On Women:

The SCOTUS decision in Burwell V Hobby Lobby has been met with praise from one side and an outcry from the other. Here's why I'm in the latter camp and think you should be, too. (Warning: facts and data, rather than blind assumptions based on bigotry and greed, will be found in this article.)
Supreme Court Ruling

Five Men Serving InjusticeIn Burwell V Hobby Lobby, the 5-4 opinion of the Supreme Court was to side with the corporation and allow four types of birth control to be excluded from employer-insurance plans. The court argued that the government could fill the gaps, and requiring companies to provide medications that "are against their religion" would be unfair due to US Constitutional expectation of freedom of religion.



The dissenting opinion, presented by female justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has already been made into a song. Listen to it:
Some of the lyrics include:
"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield / of slut-shaming geezers."
and "any decision to use contraceptive is not propelled by the government / it's the woman's autonomous choice informed by her doctor." 

Writer and performer Jonathon Man may have taken some artistic liberties with Ginsburg's 35 page dissent, but the result is something catchy that might help today's generation see why so many loathe and fear the decision that was made. Besides, since a guy wrote it, it might actually be taken seriously.

Why It Matters -- 9 Reasons

So why does it matter to me if I don't work for Hobby Lobby, don't shop there, and don't support their practices? Here are a few reasons why I still feel I have some skin in the game.

1) Hobby Lobby is not the only corporation wanting the exemption. Nor are the founders of Hobby Lobby solely craft store owners. I could shop somewhere else while boycotting Hobby Lobby and still be supporting them unknowingly.

2) Hobby Lobby gets its products from China. This is major hypocrisy for the "American" and "Christian" company that wants to make sure babies aren't aborted in the course of doing business.

3) Health Insurance benefits are provided compensation for work done by employees. Doctors, not corporations, should have final say in medications prescribed and taken by patients/employees. Employees already pay premiums, deductibles, and other costs for having this insurance, so taking certain medications off the table will require women to pay twice. The increased cost for women working in minimum wage jobs could increase the amount of women needing government assistance -- paid for through everyone's tax dollars. Every time a corporation pushes an expense onto its workers, and the government tries to step in, everyone pays -- and the poor pay a higher percentage than the rich do -- by far.

4) In addition to buying products from China and reselling them in the US, Hobby Lobby also invests in pharmaceutical companies. And even though there are religious provisions provided by stockbrokers and financial analysts so that people and corporations can opt out of companies with differing religious views, Hobby Lobby has not made use of those options. This COULD signal a desire to wipe out birth control from inside the companies, much in the same way that organizations like Hobby Lobby are going to extreme legal measures to shut down Planned Parenthood buildings and other women's clinics that provide abortion services.

5) This ruling opens a minefield of religious exemptions and opportunities for discrimination against women and other groups opposed by various religions. Despite the fact that the justices' majority opinion stated that the exemption was related to the corporation's views on abortion and conception, this ruling could be used as a precedent for any corporation run by members of certain religious groups to justify and expand bans on health care services. The court costs alone for this litigation are expenses this country does not need to incur, and any further losses could prevent necessary medical care via health discrimination. For companies that decide to withhold the care and require employees to sue them for just compensation, lives can be lost before families of covered employees can present their cases to court. If a family must choose between medical expenses and legal expenses, which do you think they will choose? Corporations have much better resources to allocate towards litigation than individuals, especially individuals whose job prospects are along the lines of entry level jobs at Hobby Lobby.

6) If SCOTUS was looking for a way to kill the Affordable Care Act, I believe they just found it. Not only had Hobby Lobby included the medications they now want banned in their insurance package before the ACA was passed, but religious exemptions picked up by the government could very quickly skyrocket and further bankrupt an already bankrupt system. Hobby Lobby is not some mom and pop craft store. There are two locations within ten minute's drive of my house. According to an ABC news article by Scott Wilson*, Founded in 1970, "Hobby Lobby has since expanded to 572 stores nation-wide, with a revenue of $3.3 billion in 2013." That's Billion. With a B.

7) The four** pills being banned may have other uses not directly tied to reproduction, either now or in the future. Penicillin is made from bread mold. A lot of vaccinations started out as other things. Researchers make a drug for one purpose and find that it works really well to solve some other problem. When corporations with no medical expertise get to pick and choose what medicines are allowed and which may be denied, health is affected. Period. Also, I have not seen a ruling on whether, since money for the medication is banned, payment for the required exam leading to such a prescription would also be denied. This would effectively double the number of doctor visits sexually active women need in order to cover their health care -- extra appointments that would require unpaid time away from work and extra costs. Doctor visits not covered by insurance can easily run over $100 each, in my personal experience. Government clinics do have cheaper options, but the lines are much longer and they don't always accept appointments. One must balance cheap care and available time to wait for it.

8) Related to number 7. I should not have to worry about being pregnant. I have only had one partner and he has had a vasectomy. However, I may have an illness that one of the four banned pills would cure or help. It is also possible, given the war on women, that retribution from this article -- or the way I dress (or don't dress), or look (or don't look) -- could result in me being overpowered and raped, and becoming pregnant from the rape. For some people, that might be a sign from God to have a baby. To me, it would be a sign from God that I needed to go to a clinic, report the rape, get tested, prevent any chance of pregnancy from becoming a baby, and prosecute my attacker(s). Equally concerning is that I have three sisters and a sister in law. All much more attractive than me. Two are unmarried. Should they be attacked, they should not also fear being shamed by their employers. Should she be sexually active but not wishing to become a mother, an employee's religion and her personal convictions should determine that -- not her for-profit employers.

9) Hobby Lobby, while claiming to be a Christian organization that fights for the rights of the unborn, does not fight to protect families with children. They are among many corporations that do not pay for maternity leave, allow paid time off for prenatal doctor visits, or anything else that would be consistent with a truly Christian agenda.

10 -- just as a reminder and a bonus) Hobby Lobby is a BILLION dollar generating CRAFT STORE. It is not a CHURCH.

*entire article can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-hobby-lobby-billionaires/

** Since the original ruling, 16 more drugs have been added to the list that employers no longer have to cover, with the intent that ALL birth control medications, including those used to fight endometriosis and other non-sexual health-related issues, are at the discretion of employers to deny to women who pay deductibles and premiums for government subsidized health insurance.

A Better Solution to the Problem

The best solution* would be for the government to remove its contributions to employer provided insurance benefits so that businesses would pay their employees outright instead of offering the benefits. In turn, companies providing health insurance would turn to hospitals, clinics, and patients for clientele -- rather like the way we do car and property insurance in this country. In this scenario, employers could have whatever religious bigotry they wanted without impacting individuals. Employees could purchase whatever insurance they wanted, not worry about losing insurance when changing jobs, and PROBABLY get better group coverage. Large companies, small companies, and self-employed people would all have the same access to insurance -- and it would not have to be single-payer government insurance.

John Green, author of Fault in Our Stars, also has a lot of fact and data-based ideas about American Health Insurance and the tangled issue of health care. Watch his very informative video:
*I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've worked up answers to every objection I've come across over the last 10 years or so. I won't go into them here, but leave questions or concerns in the comments section and I'll address them in a future article. Mr. Green is right that insurance is only one of several big problems, but I think removing employers from the doctor/patient/politics equation is an achievable first goal.

Hypothetical (but very plausible) Scenario

So, let's say Heaven (a fictional person) worked at HL and quit due to the policies. Let's further say that she went to work for another craft store requiring a similar skill set -- Craft Store B. In making the switch, Heaven will likely have to wait 90 days or more to be covered by this new employer's insurance policy. Maybe she can afford gap coverage. Maybe she can't. And if she was pregnant or became pregnant in those 90 days, the new company's insurance can deny coverage based on her "pre-existing condition." The same holds true for men switching jobs and trying to keep their SAHM spouses covered. So even someone who was not planning an abortion of any kind but supportive of equal rights is hurt by this ruling. And it goes on:

In the meantime, Craft Company B, who hired Heaven after she left HL, is struggling financially because they have to follow all the rules of the Affordable Care Act while HL doesn't. Since HL has no problem making money off people who don't believe the same as they pretend, they are able to invest more -- and they invest in pharmaceutical companies that sell and manufacturer contraceptives as well as buying cheap goods from China. The money made from these endeavors could pay for lawyers who could get certain pharmaceuticals banned or eliminated, ruled unsafe, or any other tactic. A strong enough interest in any company can effectively change the company. Alternatively, HL could buy out Craft Company B and then the 90 days Heaven went without insurance were for nothing.

Therefore, this is more than a difference of opinion. I present this scenario as hypothetical, but do not feel anything in it is far fetched or even unsubstantiated by what we already know is being maneuvered by these corporations.

War on Women -- not (entirely) Man's Fault

Men Don't Seem to Mind Solid Nutrition
Men don't seem to mind solid nutrition...
There is a war on women. That is not to say that men are the only attackers. Many of the people I have been battling have been other women. I'm not sure why it is that women feel the need to attack rather than build up -- but they do.
Some examples: "natural" versus epidural birth,
breast-versus-bottle feeding, 
working moms versus SAHMs,
breast-feeding in public versus not, 
slut-shaming based on clothing,
contraception versus "natural" family planning 
All of these have become bitter battlegrounds where women tear other women apart. 
In the meantime,
women earn less than men for doing the same job,
government legislation is constantly being proposed -- and passed!! -- that would deny women essential decisions over their health and well-being.
Raped women are being forced to carry the children of their rape and share parental rights with their rapists.
Women are denied positions in many religious organizations, shamed and damned if they disagree publicly with those decisions -- or even raise questions.
Men who have sex are studs; women who have sex are whores.
The list goes on and on and on and on.

One (male) friend of mine said, for example, "men should have NO problem seeing a pair of exposed breasts in public. They (exposed breasts) should be welcomed and appreciated." (He understood that what he was saying was at least slightly sexist, but given the spirit he was trying to convey, I think more would appreciate his comment than be offended by it.) He went on to say "Man boobs are disgusting, but there's no law against them. Or plumber's cracks." Then he shuddered. I did too.

More Battles of the War On Women

When a young athletic male bares his chest at a ball game, school, or park, women may ogle him but chances are the guy is safe from being raped. Yet women exposing skin (or nor exposing it) are not, and we tell women that is their fault. We tell girls that they have a responsibility to keep boys' thoughts pure (like that's possible). Here are more articles I've written regarding slut shaming and gender discrimination. J and K relate most closely, then article I:


A) Something for Everybody
B) Joan
C) Namioka
D) Girls on Their Team
E) Out of that Silence Came 1000 voices
F) Withholding Sex
G)Aging Grayfully
H)Dress Code for Teachers
I)Separation of Church and State
J)Slut Shaming
K)Is Not Rape Prevention
L)When I Say I'm Unchurched
M)Prosecution
N)Death of Hate


Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. She writes and conducts workshops on a variety of topics: Education, Women/Feminism/Equality, Book Reviews, and Writing. Her books are available on AmazonIf you'd like to see her speak at an upcoming function, contact her via her website or Facebook page.