Friday, January 11, 2013
I don't like you, Hobby Lobby!
A few days ago Hobby Lobby released a public statement, informing everyone that the company was filing a lawsuit to withdraw the government mandate requiring employers to provide their female employees with emergency contraception. It was, Hobby Lobby stated, against their Christian principles to provide what they called "an abortion pill" to women. The statement also included a complaint about the government "interfering in the business" and a concern that the company may lose money as the result of this mandate. Let us set aside the moral implications for a moment. Let us ignore the preposterous definition of the morning after pill as the "abortion pill". Let us look just at the business aspects that are involved here. Every Hobby Lobby building is constructed, piped and wired by government-licensed professionals, using government-established construction and safety codes, after receiving a government permit to build in a specific area. Within each building, there are phone lines, internet cables and probably some cell phones as well, made possible and regulated by the government. The goods are delivered to Hobby Lobby stores by tractor trailers, driven by people with special, government-issued licenses, appropriate for operating this type of transport, using government-built and maintained roads and highways. The shelves and goods within each store are arranged according to the safety regulations, initiated and established by the government. Hobby Lobby accepts cash (issued by the government), checks, debit and credit cards - all of these transactions are protected and regulated by the government, as is the information safety of the company itself and of its customers. Like any company, Hobby Lobby pays taxes, but it probably also takes advantage of the write-offs for its operating costs. Hobby Lobby doesn't just sell craft supplies, decorations and furniture - it also sells some small food items at the checkout lines, as many other stores do. The safety of these food products is overseen by a government agency (FDA), and the company is able to sell these products, because the government made it possible for non-food companies to sell food products. Many of the products sold by Hobby Lobby are manufactured abroad. "Made in China" is a frequently recurring label. Once again, setting aside the moral and economic implications of using the sweatshop labor, the reason Hobby Lobby can sell imported goods is because the government had established diplomatic and economic ties with a great number of countries, and provided laws and regulations that make it possible to import such goods safely and distribute them through the stores around the US. If you have a child - a child you feed, clothe, educate, take to the doctor, entertain, and protect - and that child says, "Get out of my life!" when you ask her to stick to the curfew when coming home from a party, how do you feel? You feel like the kid is being a spoiled brat. And you are absolutely right to feel that way. Hobby Lobby has no qualms using government services and protections to run its business, but refuses to follow one mandate to provide its female employees with a safe way to decide when they want to have children. The company complains that this mandate will put undue strain on their resources, yet it's getting ready to engage in a long and expensive lawsuit, that, over time, might cost more than it would have cost to provide this one health insurance option to the female employees. Hobby Lobby is being nothing but a spoiled brat. Spoiled brats have no business running a business.