Friday, February 24, 2012

Shiftless Government

What is the deal with the "birth control mandate"? Why is it consuming my Facebook news feed?

Would you rather your news feed be solely populated with the "What I really do" meme? Because that and Pinterest pictures of cake are all I would have left.

When the birth control issue first started rumbling, I immediately took to my computer and composed the following earth-shatteringly insightful phrases:

  • Scurvy and vitamins, temporary v. permanent. 
  • Comparing Oranges to eggs (and sperm). 
  • Subtle misogyny and fear

I now have absolutely no idea what they mean (scurvy?) or how they relate to whatever thesis I had at the time. So instead of composing an elegant opus on feminism, religion and privacy, I'm going to tell you what I really think is going on.

Laws are always going to be controversial. That's because we don't need laws to tell us to do things we already want to do, hence, the lack of "Everyone must eat warm cookies on cold, snowy days" regulatory regimes. For every law that is passed there is going to be somebody that is agin' it. Since we live in a constitution-based federal republic (that's right, look it up so you can stop shouting about democracy, which is still not the same as "I get what I want or I take my taxes and go home."), the majority of people may actually be against a law and the will of the majority will need to be tempered to conform to our system of laws and our constitution. This all sounds great in the abstract until you realize it applies to you, too, so you are going to have to do something you don't want to do, like, pay for a medicine that you, as a virginal man, will never need. That's when people get mad.

Mad people are still people, ergo they are lazy. They could sit at their desks and compose a devastating critique of the logical fallacies of a law, then take the time to meet with constituents and educate them...but that's a lot of work for little possible gain when everyone could be watching TV. Instead, they are going to tell you what they really think is going on, (see what I did there?) which is that:

  • This law is an attack on our basic rights. 
  • The people that are for this law are different from us. 
  • This law will change everything that you love about your life right now.
SO much easier to write and SO much easier to read. Once they have a nice, angry constituency, it is time to challenge the law. Again, laziness will dictate. So what is the easiest way to get rid of a law? Slowly chip away at it through increasingly restrictive interpretations? How's that working out personhood amendments? No, we need something better.

Mandates are low hanging fruit. You aren't going to attack the part of a law that says some people have to do something at some point. You challenge the part that says everybody has to do this one thing right now. It is easier to find compelling evidence against a fixed target.

Based on my airtight logic, is anyone surprised that the birth control mandate is an issue? Or the coverage mandate? It all grows from the same seed. People don't like to be told what to do and they are going to avoid doing something they don't want to do through the path of least resistance. That's why I will start wearing my old pregnancy underwear before I do laundry and if someone tells me not to, I'm going to wear them with jeggings so you can all gasp at my panty line. Fight the power!

You will notice that I didn't mention how I personally feel about the mandate (although you can probably is really in everyone's best interest that I have access to free birth control). The reason I didn't mention it is that it doesn't matter. This is a topic for another post, but as a preview, it doesn't matter if (you think) you are right. Some people are never going to agree with you and they aren't going to compromise. Not only do they not have to compromise, but it is in their best interest to be as intransigent as possible. No one rallies behind the Great Compromiser. (Remember him? Neither did I.) That's why there are laws to make people do things they don't want to do. Someone is always going to be angry and disappointed, which is what being an adult is all about. (That maxim applies literally to people and metaphorically to nations.)

The alternative is communism. You're not a communist, are you?

Is it ok to judge people by their appearance?

Yes. For example, I don't trust people with small noses. It makes life difficult for me because Shiftless Daddie and Shiftless Babies all have the nasal fortitude of Cabbage Patch dolls. (Just an aside, check out "Babyland General Hospital." Can I give birth there next time?)

I'm sure there is a subconscious reason why we associate different physical traits with personalities and personal worth, but I choose to believe it's because people with small noses are generally dishonest. They are different from us and they will change everything we love about our lives right now. (I did it again.)

Anything else?

Congratulations to my great state of Maryland!


I love comments. They make me feel like I'm not talking to myself. I try to reply to all of them, eventually.