Judging from its slug, “‘Hobby Lobby’ and ‘Harris’ offer the same lessons”, I was prepared to disagree vehemently with Charles Lane’s latest column but after reading it I found I was in broad agreement with his basic point:
Conservatives are hailing the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 rulings in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn as victories for liberty, religious in the former case and associational in the latter. Liberals say what the decisions have in common is the obliteration of worker rights.
I agree that the cases teach a similar lesson but would summarize it differently: Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we channel government-subsidized social benefits through corporations and unions.
I think I would go farther. From Fannie Mae to Freddie Mac to the Federal Reserve to employer-provided healthcare insurance, an overarching theme of the last half dozen or so years has been the failure of public/private hybrids in fulfilling their basic mandates. That’s not to say they haven’t served any purposes whatever. They’ve enriched a few in the process of satisfying portions of their mandates. But they’ve sacrificed other portions of their mandates to the parts that most clearly bolster the continued enrichment of the few. In the Federal Reserve’s case under their care the largest banks have survived along with the enormous wages they pay while the smaller banks and employment (the ignored half of the Federal Reserve’s mandate) have been sacrificed.
There’s nothing wrong with ensuring that people have healthcare insurance or home loans or that banks are underwritten. Doing so with institutions that are part public and part private has been revealed to be inherently corrupting.