Sunday, March 4, 2012

How Republicans want to keep poor people under their thumb.

Tennessean columnist Sritha Prabhu and nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts writing in today's Tennessean each try to inflate the contraception controversy into something much bigger than it is. Prabhu says the issue is about how male authority figures control women's lives, destinies, sexuality and reproductive lives. Leonard Pitts says it illustrates how the GOP wants to return the nation to the supposed tranquility of the Beaver Cleaver years.

What? The issue is, should the government force religious institutions to offer insurance plans to their employees that pays for birth control pills. This is a conflict between church and state. This is a question of how far the government should go in forcing one to violate their conscience. However, for simplicities sake, put aside the complicated First Amendment separation of church and state religious argument for a moment to see the absurdity of how the Democrats are framing this issue.

Suppose we were debating a bill that would require all auto insurance companies to cover oil changes. Oil changes are a routine auto maintenance procedure, that if done has to be paid for by someone. If Republicans were opposing requiring that oil changes be provided "free," Democrats would frame the issue this way: "Oil change issue really about controlling poor people."

They would argue that oil changes, if not done routinely, cause cars to not last as long as they otherwise would and poor people as a result have to trade cars earlier than they otherwise would. They would argue that poor people have to pay a greater proportion of their income on oil changes than do middle and upper income people. That is just not fair, they would say.  They would have a poor person testify that he is trying to complete law school but has to change oil in his car every three months and it cost $35 dollars each time. By the time he completes three years of law school he will have spent $420 on oil changes.

Also, they would argue, we have inadequate mass transit in this country and not providing free oil changes denies poor people of mobility. Free oil changes should be a right, they would argue. This oil change issue is really part of a larger picture reflective of how Republicans want to keep poor people under their thumb.

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