Rush to Judgment

rushRush Limbaugh is under fire for responding in trademark fashion to the congressional testimony of Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who wants you to pay for her contraception. If the rest of us are to share in the costs of Ms. Fluke’s sex life, says Rush, we should also share in the benefits, via the magic of online video. For this, Rush is accused of denying Ms. Fluke her due respect.

But while Ms. Fluke herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty. I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument. All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it.

To his credit, Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. To his far greater credit, he did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits. His dense and humorless critics notwithstanding, I am 99% sure that Rush doesn’t actually advocate mandatory on-line sex videos. What he advocates is logical consistency and an appreciation for ethical symmetry. So do I. Color me jealous for not having thought of this analogy myself.

There’s one place where I part company with Rush, though: He wants to brand Ms. Fluke a “slut” because, he says, she’s demanding to be paid for sex. There are two things wrong here. First, the word “slut” connotes (to me at least) precisely the sort of joyous enthusiasm that would render payment superfluous. A far better word might have been “prostitute” (or a five-letter synonym therefor), but that’s still wrong because Ms. Fluke is not in fact demanding to be paid for sex. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) She will, as I understand it, be having sex whether she gets paid or not. Her demand is to be paid. The right word for that is something much closer to “extortionist”. Or better yet, “extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement”. Is there a single word for that?

But whether or not he chose the right word, what I just don’t get is why the pro-respect crowd is aiming all its fire at Rush. Which is more disrespectful — his harsh language or Sandra Fluke’s attempt to pick your pocket? That seems like a pretty clear call to me.

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214 Responses to “Rush to Judgment”


  1. 1 1 Tom

    I think the main fallacy is that the “benefits” of someone else having sex is our being able to watch it. I would pay not to watch most people having sex.
    Ms Fluke is demanding that society subsidise her having sex, in the same way that society subsidised her education. I.e., that her sexual activity is a public good with benefits for society as a whole, and that she would normally under-consume, if it were allocated according to a normal pricing mechanism.
    Or, closer to bodily functions, vaccination. Society wants people to be vaccinated, because of the public health benefits, in terms of the lower burden on the health system. But people don’t perceive those benefits, nor they feel them, so without public intervention, vaccination is under-consumed and under-produced.
    The issue is a fairly straightforward public health cost-benefit analysis – will the cost of subsidising Ms Fluke’s contraception, in terms of the morning-after pill or condoms provided, outweigh the benefits to society in terms of not having to support her children, or treat her sexually-acquired diseases?

  2. 2 2 Mike H

    Forest for the trees. It looks like her letter would be better used as an argument for moving the USA away from a reliance on private insurance, towards a system proven by example to provide healthcare at lower cost.

  3. 3 3 teaowe

    Ugh. Sometimes, SL, you have me shaking my head in admiration, for example when you compared ‘buy American’ provisions to racism: a brave stand based on economic reasoning.

    Other times, you appear to almost purposefully miss the point. ‘Slut’ isn’t anything but a cheap, high school pejorative. Imagine a man were to call your wife or daughter a ‘slut’. Would you argue that he was merely conveying the fact that she expresses “joyous enthusiasm” for sex “that would render payment superfluous”? Of course not.

    But larger point is economic: the case for subsidised birth control hinges on exactly the externalities that you assume away (“absent externalities”).

    If a stationary bandit asks me to pay a higher premium to him in taxes to increase the policing of my neighborhood in response to more gang violence, I regard this as a reasonable trade.

    If public sponsorship for birth control increases its use (demand curves slope down), then I’ll gladly subsidise birth control if it reduces the costs to the public fisc- ultimately borne by me- of what would otherwise be higher rates of pregnancy.

    My prior is that those women who benefit most from cheap or free birth control are those that would otherwise not use it; by introspection, this Georgetown student probably isn’t the marginal beneficiary.

  4. 4 4 Roger Schlafly

    Rush obviously struck a nerve. Calling Fluke a slut is no worse that what Google calls Santorum.

  5. 5 5 Doc Merlin

    @Mike H:
    “Forest for the trees. It looks like her letter would be better used as an argument for moving the USA away from a reliance on private insurance, towards a system proven by example to provide healthcare at lower cost.”

    Lower than 6 dollars per month at target?
    Her numbers are completely bogus, generic oral BC costs six dollars at target for a one month supply.

  6. 6 6 Ben

    The word is “moocher” or “sponger” or “leecher” since there is no implied threat which would make it extortion.

  7. 7 7 Dmitry Kolyakov

    Well, maybe comparing those 6 dollars with the 3000 dollars she mentioned and calculating her implied consumption levels was exactly what led mr. Limbaugh to call her what he did?

  8. 8 8 RPLong

    Haha, this was a well-written post.

    I don’t think Rush’s antics serve the debate, but I’m at a loss as to how to make Landsburg’s point without resorting to “ridicule, mockery, and jeering.” Maybe Landsburg is right – maybe that is the only way to address positions like this.

  9. 9 9 David

    I’m not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh. I’m not even a small fan of him for that matter. However, his point about benefiting from the sex life that we’re being asked to subsidize is excellent even if it is crass. If people don’t see the truth behind his over the top statement, it’s only because they’ve put blinders on.

  10. 10 10 read_the_testimony

    While I appreciate the logic, her testimony makes it sound like there’s an actual need for insurance:

    “For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. She wrote, “It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.” Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she sat in a doctor’s office. Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain, and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32 years old. As she put it: “If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no chance at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy that I paid for totally unsubsidized by my school wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.”

  11. 11 11 Elizabeth

    Clearly, the only thing sensible to do is to require all men who want to have non-marital sex with women in their fertile years to pay into a contraception pool that shares the cost of contraception with the women they want to have sex with… or require such men to sign pre-sex affidavits in which they agree they’ll split the cost of any resulting pregnancy or childcare.

    Heterosexual men are already getting benefits from having women on contraception – that benefit is sex. You are not just subsidizing women’s sexual behavior by paying for contraception – you’re subsidizing your own.

    As for the more general argument on subsidized contraception – if you believe in health insurance at all, it is simply cheaper to pay for contraception than to pay for the healthcare costs associated with unintended pregnancies and childbirth. Being able to choose when to have children also allows women to be more productive in the workplace.

    I suppose that any man who has never had sex with any potentially fertile woman with whom he doesn’t share an ongoing financial relationship could argue that he gets no benefits from subsidized contraception – but those men are few and far between. (At least among heterosexuals, and I don’t see a lot of gay men arguing against subsidized contraception.)

  12. 12 12 Polevaulter Donkeyman

    While I sympathise with Steve’s argument, I think he has not addressed one issue. Drugs which act as contraceptives also have other uses (such as treatment for ovarian cysts, endometriosis etc). Such women are not asking others to share in the costs of their sex life.

    Of course this whole madness is due to employer mandated health care (though in this case it seems to be college provided health care — I have no idea of colleges are mandated to provide health care). And if some entity wants to provide healthcare plans to others, it should be up to them what they want to provide and let the consumers decide if they want such a plan or not.

  13. 13 13 Steve Landsburg

    Elizabeth:

    it is simply cheaper to pay for contraception than to pay for the healthcare costs associated with unintended pregnancies and childbirth.

    Yes, in the same sense that it is simply cheaper to fast than it is to buy food, and simply cheaper to live on park benches than in houses. It does not follow that it’s a wise policy to give up food and shelter.

    More explicitly: When we pay for the healthcare costs associated with pregnancies and childbirth, we are *getting something in return* (namely a fellow citizen, a potential friend, potential lover, potential mate, potential collaborator, potential employer, potential employee, potential customer and potential Steve Jobs). When we pay for contraception, we’re not. Any argument that compares the costs while ignoring the offsetting benefits is no argument at all.

    As for this:

    Heterosexual men are already getting benefits from having women on contraception – that benefit is sex.

    The question is whether the benefit is external. It seems pretty clear to me that it’s not, since birth-control makes women more attractive to men. Where is the counter-argument?

  14. 14 14 Polevaulter Donkeyman

    @Elizabth #10

    Why can’t a woman just tell the man she is having sex with (or about to have sex with) to pay for her contraception? Or buy her a pack of pills before they consent to sex? Why distort the free market with taxes, mandated payments and subsidies?

  15. 15 15 Joe

    Nobody is asking you or Rush to pay for her sex life. All they are saying is that some forms of contraception are considered “health care”, and insurance plans should cover “health care”. Now why would we consider contraception (via the pill) to be health care? Well, how about the fact that you have to go to a doctor to get it? It makes a great deal of sense to a lot of people to group the pill in with all of the other prescriptions we use.

  16. 16 16 Ken B

    Now why would we consider contraception (via the pill) to be health care? Well, how about the fact that you have to go to a doctor to get it?

    More sensisble then to demand that contraception be available over the counter like tylenol.

    If you disagree with this then it is YOU who wants to impose the high costs, not me or steve, or Rush limbaugh.

  17. 17 17 RPLong

    Elizabeth, a few problems with your argument:

    1 – The BCP is not the only form of contraception available on the market. There are other, more affordable options. Yes they are less effective, hence the price premium for the most attractive form of contraception. You would not argue for the government to provide us all with BMWs as a form of public transportation, so why argue for the most luxurious form of contraception?

    2 – Your argument that it is “simply cheaper” to pay for BCP is precisely the scope creep that opponents of public health care have made all along. Government medicine poisons the well by introducing public cost-cutting into private health care decisions. It is cheaper for public health to ban sugar, fat, alcohol, tobacco, etc. than it is to allow people to consume what they please and live with the health consequences. Government bureaucrats always want to turn the health care debate into one of “cost effectiveness” and public expenditure. For my money, this is perverse. Health decisions do not come down to dollars and cents, they come down to personal choice and health outcomes. I would expect someone who wants to exercise her personal choice to use the BCP to appreciate that.

    3 – Any person with whom you associate, be it a friend, family member, romantic partner, or business colleague, may potentially end up costing you some money. Intercourse of all kinds is risky business. If you are a social being, you will occasionally confront the risks of associating with others. Conception is no accident; it is caused by one activity and one activity only. We may all enter into any contract or sign any affidavit we please. Your suggestion of withholding sex from anyone who does not sign such an affidavit – although hyperbolic – is well within your rights, and I doubt anyone who opposes this BCP mandate would oppose the limitations you impose on your own private romantic partners. I certainly wouldn’t.

  18. 18 18 nobody.really

    Damn right: SLUTS! SLUTS, every one.

    A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.
    In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed these prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. She wrote, “It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.” Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she sat in a doctor’s office. Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain, and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32 years old. As she put it: “If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no chance at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy that I paid for totally unsubsidized by my school wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.” Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at an early age– increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, she may never be able to conceive a child.

    What a fucking SLUT.

    Of course, it’s also widely known among people who aren’t Landsburg that birth control pills reduce cramps. Birth control pills work because they decrease the amount of prostaglandins — chemicals your body produces to make the muscles of the uterus contract. With fewer contractions, there’s less pain.

    But why should we socialize such costs? (No, I’m not talking about socializing the pain of the cramps. Those are for women. That’s only natural; even a slut knows that. I’m talking about socializing the cost of mitigating the pain.) Sure, women experience cramps as a function of enabling the human race to continue. But if they didn’t want that burden, why did they choose to become women? After all, Landsburg didn’t! Let them bear the cost of their own decisions, or else we’ll create a moral hazard!

    I mean, the burdens of cramps are not like the burdens of prostate issues. That’s entirely different; of course those should be covered. Even a slut would recognize that.
    _________

    A young woman — whose mother was lucky enough not to lose her overies to cysts – will someday come home from school and be surprised to find that grampa is visiting. “How serendipitous!” she exclaims, both because she’s delightful and because she likes words. “I just got a new assignment in social studies: Explain the causes of the collapse of the Republican Party in the early part of the century. Any theories?”

    And grandpa Landsburg will stroke his beard and reflect. “You know, that’s one of those ineffable mysteries. An F-able, ineffable mystery….” And the girl will smile, because she likes words, and because she likes naughty words. She’s even grown accustomed to her grandfather’s peculiar epitaph for her….

  19. 19 19 Ken B

    @nobody.really: Then why don’t you want to reduce the total social cost of the pill? I know you don’t because your fulminations are about who damn well ought to pay for it for the love of god!!!! not about making it cheaper.

  20. 20 20 johnson85

    Polevaulter Donkey,

    You’ve been duped. The question is not about whether employers should be required to pay for medicine that is also effective as birth control. To my knowledge, no employer or insurer really does that (I’m assuming that if they did, somebody would have pointed it out rather than talking about Catholic institutions).

    If you have an issue with medicine being denied that should be covered under your insurance contract, that’s a legal issue that should be addressed with complaints and then, if necessary, legal action. This doesn’t change if you suspect you’re being denied because the medicine you need is effective as birth control. You have a contractual right, you enforce it. You don’t require that employers provide “free” birth control, anymore than the answer to denials of payment for surgery is to mandate employers to provide “free” surgeries.

  21. 21 21 johnson85

    “The question is not about whether employers should be required to pay for medicine that is also effective as birth control. To my knowledge, no employer or insurer really does that (I’m assuming that if they did, somebody would have pointed it out rather than talking about Catholic institutions).”

    Should have proofread. The point I was trying to make is that no employer to my knowledge refuses to pay for medicine simply because it is also effective as birth control. I’m sure there may be an employer out there that does this, but forcing employers to pay for birth control is an idiotic response (at least if the goal was to address such a problem, and not to use a non-problem to score cheap political points).

  22. 22 22 David Wallin

    Dmitry Kolyakov:”Well, maybe comparing those 6 dollars with the 3000 dollars she mentioned and calculating her implied consumption levels was exactly what led mr. Limbaugh to call her what he did?”

    She clealry stated the $3,000 was the number for the law school program (3 years is the norm). So she is talking $83 a month (but, of course $3,000 sounds makes the point she wants). I have no idea if the generic $6 per month number is more accurate.

    More broadly, I want people to make their choices and absorb the costs. So, how many Georgetown women are “forced” to pay $83 (or $6 or something in between) pay more than that for cigarettes. Well, every one that smokes. Which is cheaper, the prorated share of that months birth control or the cost of the cigarette after? See, this is where “looseness” becomes important.

  23. 23 23 Polevaulter Donkeyman

    @johnson85

    Isn’t that what I have said? I did say that 1. Emploers should not be mandated to provide healthcare plans; and 2. If they do, then what they include is their choice (subject to any contract with the employee).

    My issue is with Rush’s phrasing. Is he against govt mandated employer provided health plans? Is he against not-giving equal tax treatment to employers who buy health plans for their employees and people who buy their own health plans? If not, then what is his principled opposition to not providing birth control pills to women who need them to treat cysts and endometriosis?

  24. 24 24 Harold

    “We expected that when 94% of students opposed the policy…” I conclude from this that 6% of the students take economics.

    As to the cost, Wikipedia says the method cost is $15-50 / month. So Flukes $3000 for a 5 year college career is feasable, at the top of this range.

    The testimony is rather confused. Much of the argument is based on insurance companies not paying for medical needs other than contraception, but for which the treatment is the pill. This is really a separate issue, as others have said, and probably not best solved by giving the pill to everyone.

    Oral contraception is a cost that only falls on women. When it was largely men who were responsible (via condoms), the cost would depend on how lucky you were. At the top end, $50 a month would be good going, but $15 a month would not be unreasonble for those in a stable relationship or with very good chat up lines.

    There are of course many programs issuing free or subsidised condoms. These also have the disease prevention benefits, and I think it is at these externalities that the programs are aimed.

    I do not agree that contraception makes women that much more attractive to men – I think the overwhelming factor is more available. Whilst men do bear some of the cost of unwanted pregnancy, it is mostly borne by the women. Without contraception, the woman will decline sex – so both men and women do without. With contraception, the woman agrees to sex, with benefit to both, but only paid for by the woman. The man surely gets an external benefit.

    The crux is here: “absent any argument about externalities or other market failures” I think that advocates of the policy think that this is meaningless in the real world, although they are not able to express this coherently in economic terms. I am probably unable to do so also, but I will have a go.

    Sex is great. We mostly enjoy it very much. It is also driven by one of our most powerful natural urges. Who can say that they have always acted rationally when sex is in the offing? A choice that is not rational is a mistake. When people make mistakes, Steve often asks how we can know in which direction they will make it. They are just as likely to overestimate as underestimate, for example. Well, in this case I think we can make pretty reliable predictions about which direction the mistake will be. The powerful sex drive will override rationality, and result in indulgence in sex where a rational choice would be to abstain, or wait until contraception is available.

    I am not sure what economic theory has to say about correcting irrational choices. The bottom line is, if we make contraception free, then for pregnancy, we will be getting closer to the position a rational world would provide. This will come at a cost in other areas which may or may not be worth it.

  25. 25 25 Concerned female

    Will I have to pay for your Viagra? That’s covered, is it not? Are you a extortionist?

  26. 26 26 Steve Landsburg

    Concerned female: I think it’s nuts for insurance to cover Viagra, but as far as I’m aware, nobody’s talking about making that mandatory.

  27. 27 27 Joker

    Steve, the word you are looking for is contraceptive sponge.

  28. 28 28 Steve Landsburg

    Joker: You are a genius.

  29. 29 29 Will A

    Prof. Landsburg:

    Suppose Rush were to say, “If we are going to provide free education for poor kids, they should be required to work for 2 hours a day at a local workhouse with all their wages going to the state so that tax rates for tax payers can be lower.”

    Would you say:
    If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s education (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits.

  30. 30 30 Jakr

    Steven,

    I am extraordinarily disappointed, if not terribly shocked that you would defend Rush Limbaugh. I have been reading your blog for a while, and while I often disagree with your opinions, I have often found that you teach well.

    But I am done with your blog.

    In your close-minded economic approach to the world, you can only see Rush’s comments as economically related, which is just damned STUPID. Do you not understand that nothing of what Rush said was a reasoned argument? Calling a woman a slut and a prostitute has, for centuries, been a way to demean a woman’s opinion to the point that her existence as a sentient being no longer matters? There are certainly reasoned arguments, something you profess to hold dear, to be had against Ms. Fluke, but simply dismissing her as a slut is no reasoned argument.
    you are simply engaged in the same misogynistic idiocy as the House Republicans, who I am sure you agree with wholeheartedly. In these eyes of these Republicans, women do not need to even be involved in the conversation about the birth control mandate. Whether you agree with the mandate or not, how can you have a full conversation about the issue without even including women? Instead, these women are dismissed as sluts, sex-crazed, emotional, etc. All words that have been historically used to dismiss the opinions of women in their entirety as irrelevant. If women are so irrelevant, why don’t you just advocate overturning the 19th Amendment?

    Finally, I do hope that this article doesn’t make any news, because I would be horrified if such demeaning attacks on women were to become associated with my alma mater, which I adore. I am already embarrassed enough that you are associated that a misogynist such as yourself is associated with the university, I hope it doesn’t get worse.

    See how easy it is to disregard someone in their entirety with just one demeaning word?

    Goodbye. I’m sure you won’t miss me.

  31. 31 31 Al V.

    This whole discussion completely misses the point. It is quite accurate that it doesn’t make economic sense for insurance to cover any forms of repetative prescriptions: birth control pills, blood pressure medicine, anti-depressants. However, current policy and practice is to cover repetative prescriptions, and it does not make sense to exclude birth control pills from that practice.

    If Rush wants to demonize Ms. Fluke, he should also announce that he is going to stop submitting his blood pressure medication for reimbursement.

    Also, employers have a motive for covering those types of medications – all of them. Just like covering birth control is cheaper than covering pregnancy, covering blood pressure medication is cheaper than covering heart attacks.

  32. 32 32 Al V.

    And I have to add that I’m disappointed that Steve is endorsing Rush’s misleading and distracting attack. If you want to make the argument that insurance shouldn’t cover any form of repetative prescription, make that argument, not a spurious attack on a single form of prescription.

  33. 33 33 hemeili

    Really? This is what you want to describe as a bit of “spot-on” analysis:

    RUSH: What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled.” I take it back.

    let’s unpack this, shall we? Sandra Fluke is not a “co-ed,” she’s a law student. Her testimony before Congress concerned a fellow student who was prescribed birth control pills for non-contraceptive reasons – ovarian cysts. That student’s university-provided health insurance wouldn’t cover the pill, no matter what the reason for the prescription.

    So, for the temerity of advocating a public policy with which you and Rush Limbaugh disagree, Sandra Fluke deserve public humiliation and gendered, misogynist insults? Really? That is exactly what I expect from Rush Limbaugh. Can you really not imagine a way to disagree with her without a tired appeal to sexism? I understand that that would be impossible for Rush Limbaugh, who is an unrepentant asshole. But you Steve?

  34. 34 34 Al V.

    One more thing to add: I agree that it doesn’t make sense to cover repetative prescriptions. I have asked my employer if I can opt out of pharmaceutical coverage, but they will not allow me to.

  35. 35 35 Richard

    Umm….yeah.

    I’ve pretty much lost all respect (what little I’ve already had) for S.L. after this post.

    I could go on and debate the medical benefits for women at large by just taking the pill not for contraceptive purposes, but nobody.really beat me to it. Further, the argument S.L. stated…

    When we pay for the healthcare costs associated with pregnancies and childbirth, we are *getting something in return* (namely a fellow citizen, a potential friend, potential lover, potential mate, potential collaborator, potential employer, potential employee, potential customer and potential Steve Jobs). When we pay for contraception, we’re not. Any argument that compares the costs while ignoring the offsetting benefits is no argument at all.

    …is fallacious because not having sex at all prevents those benefits. It’s similar to the Great Beethoven Fallacy. Also, statistically speaking, society bears a high cost for an unintended/unwanted pregnancy, which is more likely to outweigh the benefit because the child is more likely to become a delinquent.

    Anyways, so long bigquestions.com.

  36. 36 36 David

    Has anyone here who claims that men are being subsidized by women’s birth control use ever had sex? If so, were you single? As far as I know, every one of my friends and I use condoms, and I’ve met a large number of women (and had sex with some of them) who don’t use birth control. Who is subsidizing whom?

  37. 37 37 Al V.

    @nobody.really, thanks for your comment. My 19 year old daughter takes birth control pills. Not because she is a slut, as Steve implies, but because otherwise her montly periods are so debilitating they cause her to miss school.

  38. 38 38 Martin

    Al V.: “However, current policy and practice is to cover repetative prescriptions, and it does not make sense to exclude birth control pills from that practice.”

    When a bad policy is in place is it preferable to restrict it with loopholes, minimizing the damage it causes, or to apply it consistently, minimizing damage to the legal system?

    Wait, isn’t the policy in question to leave employer-provided benefits untaxed, and isn’t repetitive care coverage by insurance companies an unintended consequence of that policy? Now I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  39. 39 39 Ken B

    Hemeili: “spot-on analogy” not “spot-on analysis”.

  40. 40 40 ThomasBayes

    Richard:

    I realize you said you are leaving the bigquestions, but, in case you return . . .

    Nothing Steve said endorses stopping a person from using contraception. He made a statement about requiring the public to pay for it.

    Are you aware of any law that requires the public or a private organization to pay people to not have sex at all?

  41. 41 41 Ken B

    Thomas Bayes: This distinction between allowing and paying for has eluded Richard and many others on this board for several threads now. I’d say you are not adjusting your priors …

  42. 42 42 Ken B

    SL: ” I think it’s nuts for insurance to cover Viagra.”

    How so? I realize I am picking nits here but I see no reason why one might not want to buy insurance against needing this sometime in the future. I can see a case against requiring the tax-payer to pay for it of course.

  43. 43 43 iceman

    @All: If you re-read the original post you’ll see that SL says Limbaugh’s “harsh” (i.e. misogynist) language is misplaced. He prefers “extortionist” which seems pretty gender-neutral.

    My question – especially if many/most agree that predictable, recurring expenses are not what insurance is really for — is why isn’t this precisely the type of issue organizations like Planned Parenthood *are* for: so like-minded people can support those truly in financial need while respecting the fact that others may not agree? The analogy to vaccinations (a true ‘public health’ issue) is strained. Ironically, as others have pointed out, subsidizing certain types of birth control can possibly increase actual communicable disease.

    A thought experiment: An organization (Catholic, whatever) is considering starting a hospital. They are then told if they do that they will have to include services they don’t want to offer. So they scrap their plans. Is anyone better off?

    @Harold: one thing I’m pretty certain of is that if you presume to treat people as though they are irrational, you will get more seemingly irrational behavior. And in this case possibly more pregnancies too. I believe SL actually wrote a book (I haven’t read) suggesting this is in fact an area where despite the “powerful, natural urge”, people may actually underinvest in it (for reasons the pill would not address).

    @Al V.: Whether covering birth control or blood pressure medication is cheaper is an empirical issue; it depends on how much is spent on prevention vs. how often it in fact prevents something. Some might add that if things are evidently cost-effective insurers need no mandate.

  44. 44 44 Al V.

    @Martin, I’m not clear if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me. You are 100% correct, that it does not make sense to legislate through loopholes. That was exactly what I was trying to say.

  45. 45 45 johnson85

    @polevaulter donkeyman,

    I failed to make my point again. You say, “If not, then what is his principled opposition to not providing birth control pills to women who need them to treat cysts and endometriosis?”

    To my knowledge, nobody anywhere (except for those people deliberately trying to mislead people and those people that are actually mislead by them) is talking about refusing to provide medicine to people for conditions such as cysts and endometriosis or refusing to provide insurance that pays for such medicine. If somebody needs medicine to treat cysts and endometriosis, whether such medicine can also be used as birth control is irrelevant to whether the insurance policy covers it. If there is a covered medical reason for wanting the drug, insurance will pay for it, even if it’s also effective as birth control.

    Ignoring the big issue of whether gov’t should be mandating insurance coverage at all (or mandating which drugs and procedures must be covered by any insurance offered), the issue is whether the gov’t should be able to force employers to pay for birth control used for the purposes of birth control, i.e., when it is not being used to address an issue such as cysts or endometriosis.

    I know a lot of that is basically repeating the same statement, but I can’t think of a way to make it any clearer.

  46. 46 46 Ken B

    Al V: It is quite accurate that it doesn’t make economic sense for insurance to cover any forms of repetative prescriptions: birth control pills, blood pressure medicine, anti-depressants.

    This is wrong in detail. If I worry about a future risk it can make perfect sense for me to buy insurance against it, at a premium an insurer is willing to offer it to me at. ALS sufferers may in the future benefit from a repetitive prescription or repetitive spinal injections. Insuring agisnt that can make sense.

    It might also make sense for my insurer to offer me at low cost coverage of some drugs that are cheap enough to be effective preventatives. If they are on the hook for my heart attack blood pressure pills can be a good investment for the insurer.

    What does not make sense is to mandate that A pay for B’s item, knowing full well that most B’s will want it, that the cost is not high, and calling that insurance. Which is precisly what Fluke did, and she did it to play upon feelings of guilt and obligation properly attendant to what real health insurance covers, like ALS treatments. That is her ploy, you’re like the hearltess HMO denying me life-saving medicine.

  47. 47 47 Chris

    I find the sentence “Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school” in Fluke’s testimony to be amusing. It’s just like when Obama talks about saving $40 billion over ten years by eliminating oil and gas subsidies. That’s $4 billion a year, a pathetically small number (well, $40 billion is too but at least it sounds bigger). If law school is 3 years, then $3,000 over 3 years is about $83/month, or roughly the cost of a smart phone and data plan subscription. How many of these struggling law students have those? I like the word “can” in that sentence too. That’s like saying “the flight I’m taking to Asia “can” cost $10,000.” It probably won’t, but it can, so give me $10,000 damnit!!!

  48. 48 48 Al V.

    @iceman, which is exactly why insurers will willing to cover birth control without any increase in premiums.

    @Ken B, what is the difference between my daughter’s birth control medicine, and my blood pressure medicine? In both cases, we need a medicine to address a medical issue, and in both cases we are calling something “insurance” that is really a subsidy from you to me (since I pay for her insurance). And in both cases the insurer and my employer don’t mind paying for the medicine, since prevention costs less than the alternative. Either both should be covered, or both should be excluded.

  49. 49 49 Steve Landsburg

    Ken B:

    SL: ” I think it’s nuts for insurance to cover Viagra.”

    How so?

    Because Viagra is a pretty minor expense, and it’s nuts to be insured against minor losses.

  50. 50 50 Ken B

    Al V:

    @Ken B, what is the difference between my daughter’s birth control medicine, and my blood pressure medicine? In both cases, we need a medicine to address a medical issue, and in both cases we are calling something “insurance” that is really a subsidy from you to me (since I pay for her insurance). And in both cases the insurer and my employer don’t mind paying for the medicine, since prevention costs less than the alternative. Either both should be covered, or both should be excluded.

    Why should you set the rules for inclusion as you want to do in the last sentence?
    As for the rest you need to read Johnson85′s comments. You are doing something sneaky here: your daughter takes a chemical for reasons unrelated to contraception; that chemical also serves as a contraceptive; you persistently conflate these.

    Imagine your daughter took a DIFFERENT pill for her condition. If it were an effective preventative, which you stipulate, your insurer would cover it. Totoally orthoganl to the contrception debate. Make it the same pill, same considerations apply.

  51. 51 51 Richard

    This distinction between allowing and paying for has eluded Richard and many others on this board for several threads now. I’d say you are not adjusting your priors …

    LOL…I won’t take criticism from someone who claims I fail to make a distinction between allowing and paying (which I haven’t), yet makes elementary economic errors between demand and quantity demanded and cannot seem to be able to read the sources he sites. Cat got your tongue it seems in those other posts, Ken B.

    ^Come to think of it, Fluke shouldn’t worry about criticism from Rush Limbaugh either. He’s a fat #$%@ drug-addict who should have the public stop paying for his blood-pressure medications.

  52. 52 52 Ken B

    SL: “Because Viagra is a pretty minor expense”.

    Sorry, I forgot you weren’t Canadian! :> But it’s a fair point …

  53. 53 53 Methinks

    The only thing that comes to mind is an old Russian saying. Roughly translated:

    Loving downhill sledding means loving uphill sled pulling.

    This simple life lesson was first taught to me by my mother when I was a lazy 4 year old (and involved an actual sled). It’s time to pass this wisdom on to Ms. Fluke at her rather more advanced age.

  54. 54 54 Richard

    (I know I said I was leaving but I can’t help but pointing out this irony…)

    Didn’t Steve write a book titled “More Sex is Safer Sex.”? It seems to me that if we subsidize birth control this will lead to more women considering having more sex, which is safer…thus a much bigger net benefit for society.

  55. 55 55 Steve Landsburg

    Richard: If you’ve read beyond just the book title, you’ll know that the externalities of sexual activity are negative among the most promiscuous and positive among the least promiscuous. So to make your pro-subsidy argument work, you’ve got to argue that birth control is used disproportionately by the least promiscuous. You might in fact be able to argue exactly that, in which case you’ve got a respectable argument for subsidizing birth control. Note that Ms. Fluke made no attempt at any such argument.

    I might add (not directly relevant to your comment, but relevant to others) that if you tried to make a similar argument along the lines of population control, your argument would fail. First, my own estimate is that the externalities of population growth are, on balance, positive, but let’s put that aside and assume they’re negative. You still can’t use that as a very good argument for subsidizing birth control, because there’s a far more direct way of attacking this problem, namely taxing childbirth.

  56. 56 56 Scott H.

    I suggest that Fluke supporters get together and immediately form a huge charity to get these women the contraception they deserve. There is so much passion here that I am surprised they haven’t done this already. In a way, the contraception would still be subsidized because your charity would be tax deductible. What are you waiting for? It’s a free country.

    The Catholic Church doesn’t wait.

  57. 57 57 nobody.really

    You are doing something sneaky here: your daughter takes a chemical for reasons unrelated to contraception; that chemical also serves as a contraceptive; you persistently conflate these.

    Imagine your daughter took a DIFFERENT pill for her condition. If it were an effective preventative, which you stipulate, your insurer would cover it. Totally orthogonal to the contraception debate. Make it the same pill, same considerations apply.

    Two observations.

    1. In discussing the Blunt Amendment, many commenters conflate the idea of taking contraceptives for contraceptive purposes and taking contraceptives for non-contraceptive purposes.

    2. The Blunt Amendment also conflates these two propositions. Specifically, S. 1813 would amend 42 U.S. C. Sec. 18022(b) to say that insurance meets the requirements of ObamaCare even if the insurer –

    19. declines to
    20 provide coverage of specific items or services be-
    21 cause—
    22 ‘‘(i) providing coverage (or, in the
    23 case of a sponsor of a group health plan,
    24 paying for coverage) of such specific items
    25 or services is contrary to the religious be-
    1 liefs or moral convictions of the sponsor,
    2 issuer, or other entity offering the plan; or
    3 ‘‘(ii) such coverage (in the case of in-
    4 dividual coverage) is contrary to the reli-
    5 gious beliefs or moral convictions of the
    6 purchaser or beneficiary of the coverage.

    I fail to see where the law provides an exception for items or services than an insured party requires for medical purposes – or any purpose at all. If I’m misreading the law, I’d appreciate someone quoting the relevant language for the contrary proposition. Thanks much.

  58. 58 58 nobody.really

    [T]here’s a far more direct way of attacking this problem, namely taxing childbirth.

    There Landsburg goes again – won’t tax capital, but always happy to tax labor…..

  59. 59 59 johnson85

    @nobody.really

    The Blunt Amendment reads as if it is a general exception for conscientious objection. In theory it looks like it could be used if an employer decided that they had a moral conviction that say, treating heart attacks is wrong. If you think that’s a bad idea, you can legitimately argue that the language of the Blunt Amendment should be revised.

    But what people are doing is arguing that because some medical treatments are also effective as birth control, employers that already will pay for such treatments should also pay for people to use birth control for non-medical reasons, because some people use medical treatments that are also effective as birth control.

    It a completely illogical argument unless you are trying to trick people into believing that employers (say employers affiliated with the Catholic church) are trying to avoid including insurance coverage for medical treatments simply because the medical treatments are also effective as birth control. As far as I know, nobody has proposed doing any such thing, and if they did, it seems the reasonable thing would be to address that issue.

  60. 60 60 nobody.really

    It a completely illogical argument unless you are trying to trick people into believing that employers (say employers affiliated with the Catholic church) are trying to avoid including insurance coverage for medical treatments simply because the medical treatments are also effective as birth control. As far as I know, nobody has proposed doing any such thing, and if they did, it seems the reasonable thing would be to address that issue.

    God damn right. If that was Fluke’s concern, why didn’t she talk about how certain institutions might withhold contraception from people who have a medical need for it, unrelated to any need for suppressing pregnancy? Why couldn’t she talk about the amendment’s failure to provide language addressing this problem? Why couldn’t the slut simply say something like this?

    A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.

    In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed these prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. She wrote, “It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.” Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she sat in a doctor’s office. Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain, and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32 years old. As she put it: “If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no chance at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy that I paid for totally unsubsidized by my school wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.” Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at an early age– increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, she may never be able to conceive a child.

  61. 61 61 iceman

    @Al V.:

    I was trying to suggest that you’re making assertions and predictions about an empirical issue, but they do not seem to be supported by the actual behavior of insurers.

    @All: Can we please stop using misogynistic terms that no one on this blog has endorsed? It’s not scoring you any points.

  62. 62 62 nobody.really

    I might add (not directly relevant to your comment, but relevant to others) that if you tried to make a similar argument along the lines of population control, your argument would fail. First, my own estimate is that the externalities of population growth are, on balance, positive, but let’s put that aside and assume they’re negative. You still can’t use that as a very good argument for subsidizing birth control, because there’s a far more direct way of attacking this problem, namely taxing childbirth.

    1. I dare say, even if subsidizing birth control is a second-best solution, Congress would have an infinitely easier time passing such legislation (or killing the Blunt Amendment) than passing anything called a tax. Some religions you dare not cross!

    2. Would a tax be a more effective way to deal with the negative externalities of child birth? It’s not clear to me that the externalities arising from wanted births are the same as the externalities arising from unwanted births. And a tax on births would discourage both wanted births and unwanted births, while subsidies for birth control would have a much more targeted effect on unwanted births.

    As I’ve noted previously, the Freakonomics guys found a correlation between the date abortion was legalized in any given jurisdiction and the subsequent fall in the crime rate. This suggests to me that unwanted births may generate more negative externalities than wanted births. I’d be curious to hear Landsburg’s (and others’) thoughts on that.

    (And, ok, I’ll try to be on good behavior and drink decaf before responding….)

  63. 63 63 Johnson85

    @nobody.really

    If a lady was denied coverage for medicine she was contractually entitled to under an insurance policy, the solution is to enforce her contractual rights, not require employees to pay for birth control.

    Also, I question Fluke’s credibility regarding the issue since she says “Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be…” I would have liked her to name at least one such institution since there are so many of them. What religious instutions’ would have insurance plans that won’t cover medicine just because they can be used as birth control? I wouldn’t think there’d be many out there or that they’d be particularly big employers.

    Even if there were a lot of religious institutions that fit that description, why wouldn’t you address it by providing that qualifying plans can’t fail to cover a medicine approved for treatment of a condition simply because it also can be used as birth control. Except to score political points or for the fun of being mean spirited, it’s pointless to needlessly trample on an employer’s moral convictions when there is a much less intrusive way to address the issue.

  64. 64 64 Will A

    @ iceman:

    If you re-read the original post you’ll see that SL says Limbaugh’s “harsh” (i.e. misogynist) language is misplaced. He prefers “extortionist” which seems pretty gender-neutral.

    Which is why SL says:
    A far better word might have been “prostitute” (or a five-letter synonym therefor), but that’s still wrong because

    This 5 letter word is of course whore which in my mind is not really gender-neutral.

    The term for you iceman is impotent nose picker, but that’s still wrong because that would imply that you could figure out how to put your finger in your nose.

    And before you get upset with me for calling you an impotent nose picker, read closer and you will clearly see that I corrected myself and said the term didn’t apply to you.

    So there is no reason for you to assume that I am using pejorative terms against you.

  65. 65 65 Polevaulter Donkeyman

    @johnson85

    I think we agree on mostly everything (of relevance in this thread). I think what we disagree on is Rush. Did Rush differentiate between birth control pills taken for the purpose of contraception and birth control pills taken for a non-contraceptive purpose (such as ovarian cysts and endometriosis)? I don’t think so, which is why I have faulted him. Is my reading of Rush wrong, and if so why?

    @nobody.really

    From my reading of Steve, he is happiest in taxing consumption (but I do get your pun), he would rather not tax labour and least of all capital and nothing wrong in that.

    @iceman

    If you are referring to the word “slut” — I fail to see the misogyny in the word. I agree with Steve that “slut” connotes joyous enthusiasm. And as for “prostitute” and “whore”, again I fail to see the misogyny in words which essentially mean honest self-employed professionals; we should be celebrating prostitutes as we celebrate other self-employed professionals.

  66. 66 66 Beth

    Is anyone bothered by the fact that it is wrong to commit extortion, even in the name of a public good or reduced externalities?

    BTW, why are women complaining about paying for birth-control? I am middle-class and have never had to pay for my pills. There are many organizations in almost every city/town that give free birth-control and that are not subsidized by government. If we live far away, they can prescribe 3 months worth at a time to eliminate long travel distances that many would attribute to issues of difficult access.

    It really isn’t that hard to have safe sex without direct or indirect government assistance.

    I think this women has been raised to feel entitled to get everything she wants and a lot of other people like her agree.

  67. 67 67 Harold

    @iceman. I think the key is predictably irrational. If you know people behave irrationally, then it surely makes no sense to act as though they were rational. This cannot be the basis of good policy. You may decide that trying to compensate for irrationality would lead to poor policy, but it should be an informed descision, not based just on an assumption of rationality.

  68. 68 68 Brandon Berg

    Being called a slut by Rush Limbaugh has to be the holy grail of feminism.

  69. 69 69 Brandon Berg

    “I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over)”

    There’s the argument from eugenics: Women for whom getting free contraceptives makes the difference between getting pregnant and not getting pregnant are probably not ones whom we want to be passing on their genes.

  70. 70 70 Philo

    I heard Rush’s show on this, and I had the impression he used the word ‘slut’ not because she wanted to be paid but because, to use enough condoms to approach spending $1,000 a year, she’d have to be having sex at least five times a day, with guys who weren’t willing to share the expense. The point wasn’t to insult her but to make fun of her inflated cost estimate.

  71. 71 71 Steve Landsburg

    Philo: Thanks for this. I didn’t hear the show, but this does sound both Rush-like and far far less offensive than what’s being reported.

  72. 72 72 Ollie

    Gosh Steve, I had thought that the term “slut” was insulting, and that insulting people was wrong, and if anyone had called my wife or daughter a slut I previously would have been upset, but now you’ve shown me that I was just confused. Thanks.

  73. 73 73 Ken B

    Not in general the highest quality discussion but two superb quips: Joker’s “contraceptive sponge” and nobody.really’s “There Landsburg goes again – won’t tax capital, but always happy to tax labor”.

  74. 74 74 Matt

    It sounds like Mr. Limbaugh was just engaging in a little hyperbole and humor in order to emphasize the salient point. Did not Walter Bagehot say that to tell the truth “you must exaggerate much and you must omit much.” Seems to me he is thinking like an economist.

  75. 75 75 Ken B

    n.r:” about how certain institutions might withhold contraception from people who have a medical need for it”

    First nobody has a medical need for contraception. They might have a medical need met by a drug used as a contraceptive. This is not the same.
    More importantly no institution is denying anyone contraception; some are declining to pay for it. This is not the same. No-one but me pays for my aspirin; I am not denied access to aspirin.

  76. 76 76 Ken B

    Chris writes: “I find the sentence “Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school” in Fluke’s testimony to be amusing” and he makes some good points. But he misses one: these are future LAWYERS. We are asked to subsidize future LAWYERS because they won’t be able to pay off their enormous contraceptive debt later on.

  77. 77 77 Ken B

    Harold:”The bottom line is, if we make contraception free, then for pregnancy, we will be getting closer to the position a rational world would provide.”

    We cannot make contraception free, just as we cannot make anything free. Your point though is about net social costs. We can reduce the net social cost of the pill by making it OTC.

  78. 78 78 Ken B

    Matt shrewdly notes “Mr. Limbaugh was just engaging in a little … humor in order to emphasize the salient point. ” Indeed, as did Steve. This is why it is being treated as such a crime. This isn’t just laughter, it is laughter at. Laughing at people who cannot be laughed at.

    You might recall an old joke:
    How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    THAT’S NOT FUNNY!!!!!!!!!

  79. 79 79 Jakr

    Thought I would check in one last time and see how far the conversation had descended.

    It amazes me that the economists and many of the other readers of this blog seem to miss the point that NOT EVERYTHING IS BASED ON ECONOMICS. Sometimes, an insult is just insulting, and no matter how you might try to rationalize it with economic principles, it is still just purely demeaning.

    You might think its fun to play with calling a woman a slut or a “five letter word” (whore), but really its not, because you are not just having fun. You are trying to invalidate her opinions by defining Ms. Fluke as a (in your opinion) sexual deviant. Why can you not read the actual testimony given by Ms. Fluke and critique that, WITHOUT resorting to denigrating her sexual activity. We can talk about whether women need subsidized contraception without calling her a slut. If you think she is having sex too much, say so, and don’t forget about the men that she is having sex with. It takes two, and if you are going to call her a slut, you should very well be calling him a slut as well, because if there are 50 straight women having sex more than you would like, there are most certainly 50 straight men having sex more than you would like.

    Words like slut, whore, and prostitute are not the neutral terms that Steven apparently wants you to believe that they are. A slut is not a woman who has sex too much. A slut is a denigrating term for a woman who, in the estimation of the society as a whole, has sex too much. But this is lost on an economist, and I don’t even know why I bother trying.

  80. 80 80 nobody.really

    I heard Rush’s show on this, and I had the impression he used the word ’slut’ not because she wanted to be paid but because, to use enough condoms to approach spending $1,000 a year, she’d have to be having sex at least five times a day, with guys who weren’t willing to share the expense. The point wasn’t to insult her but to make fun of her inflated cost estimate.

    Thanks for this. I didn’t hear the show, but this does sound both Rush-like and far far less offensive than what’s being reported.

    Didn’t hear the show? Guys, Limbaugh publishes transcripts. And no, I find no reference to condoms in the transcript. Instead, I find this:

    What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled.” I take it back.

    BREAK TRANSCRIPT

    RUSH: Well, I guess now we know why Bill Clinton went to Georgetown and why Hillary went to Wellesley. Well, all the sex going on at Georgetown. Sandra Fluke. So much sex going on, they can’t afford birth control pills. She said that to Nancy Pelosi yesterday.

    And here’s what Landsburg said in response to a show he never heard:

    Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. [H]e did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits….

    There’s one place where I part company with Rush, though: He wants to brand Ms. Fluke a “slut” …. A far better word might have been “prostitute” (or a five-letter synonym therefor), but that’s still wrong because Ms. Fluke is not in fact demanding to be paid for sex. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) She will, as I understand it, be having sex whether she gets paid or not. Her demand is to be paid. The right word for that is something much closer to extortionist”.

    Now, I have no knowledge that Fluke has ever used birth control, or ever intends to; she makes no mention of her sex life, or anyone else’s, in her statement. Instead, she advocates a policy position.

    I surmise that Limbaugh and Landsburg know more about her sex life than I do, because they talk about it freely. But pershaps people of their ilk feel no compunctions about making public statements about a young woman’s sex life, with or without evidence.

    They may want to gather some evidence in support of their accusations, however, because truth is a defense against the charge of defamation. Common law elements of defamation include 1) communication to at least one other person 2) when the subject of the communication is detrimental to the victim’s reputation. Classic examples of messages deemed per se detrimental are allegations of criminal activity – prostitution or extortion, for example – and allocations of unchastity.

    Fortunately for some people, context matters. A defendant can present evidence that he has a reputation for bombastic statements and is not generally regarded as credible. How hard would it be to find witnesses to testify on behalf of such a proposition? Time may tell.

  81. 81 81 Will A

    @ Beth:

    I’m not bothered by the fact that people lobby congress to pass legislation that is in their interest. Whether this is oil companies lobbying for government subsidies or paranoid parents lobbying to have buses stop at rail road crossings.

    To a certain extent a representative democracy is all about extortion in that people in essence say to their representatives, if you don’t do what I want, I’m going to do everything I can to get you fired.

    Also, thanks for your honesty. I mean a middle class person getting free pills would really make a person question whether or not he should donate money to an organization that distributes contraception. Good job.

  82. 82 82 Ken B

    It takes a special skill to get people so blind with fury they cannot hear what you say and so ‘beclown’ themselves screaming at you. Steve Landsburg has that skill, for her never called Fluke a slut, a whore, a prostitute, a round-heels, the town bicycle, or indeed anything but a Georgetown law student and an “extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement”.

  83. 83 83 Ken B

    As much as I am enjoying the fulminations and the posturing, and am looking forward to more screaming this time aimed at me, I probably should clarify a few things. I think RL is over the top here; I think he should have made his point without zeroing in on Fluke as he did. I’d say he should apologize; a skilled rhetorician could combine a mea culpa with a fairer bit of derision. I think the substantive point, which SL emphasizes, is right, and that much of the outrage is a way to avoid answering the argument. Most of it is just because the mockery hits home and some.people simply cannot abide being laughed at. Steve’s assessment, extortionist, is harsh but not unreasonable; I think she is an emotional blackmailer with an overweening sense of entitlement.

  84. 84 84 Ken B

    Will A: You and I have traded more than a few barbs on this board, but until now I cannot recall anything nasty. The last part of your comment to Beth, a woman who will almost certainly live a less affluent and privileged life than Fluke, is nasty. I will of course deny saying this later, but I think you are fair enough to recognize this and apologize.

  85. 85 85 Doc Merlin

    It doesn’t really matter at this point.
    The left has managed to somehow make this about birth control… when that was never the issue.
    They do this every time: If I am against government education subsidies, I must be against education. If I am against government jobs programs, I must be against people working. If I am against stimulus, I must be against the economy, and am doing it just so Obama will fail. If I am against food stamps I must want poor people to starve.

    We we try to explain that its about freedom of conscience and not about birth control, they just repeat “birth control, birth control, birth control LALALA.” Somehow ignoring us and just yelling their idiocies at the top of their lungs has worked and shifted the debate. Why? Why has it worked? Because we didn’t mock them for being childish, instead we played into their hands and started talking about sex and birth control.

    This happens in almost every debate, the left manages to frame the debate by co-opting the media, so they just want to ask questions completely irrelevant to the task at hand. I am tired of it, but I have no idea what to do about it.

    Should we just point at them and laugh and then say: “Oh you are so clueless, you stupid person, you think this is about sex, don’t be so parochial. Its about much bigger things, which if you were a grown up you might understand.” Would that work?

  86. 86 86 Richard R

    Landsburg “if you tried to make a similar argument along the lines of population control, your argument would fail. First, my own estimate is that the externalities of population growth are, on balance, positive, but let’s put that aside and assume they’re negative. You still can’t use that as a very good argument for subsidizing birth control, because there’s a far more direct way of attacking this problem, namely taxing childbirth.” – why is this more effective than subsidizing birth control? What if someone refuses to pay the tax are you going to put them in prison or take the child away… probably not and if a tax can’t be enforced it’s not going to work.

  87. 87 87 nobody.really

    Rush Limbaugh:

    What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled.” I take it back.

    BREAK TRANSCRIPT

    RUSH: Well, I guess now we know why Bill Clinton went to Georgetown and why Hillary went to Wellesley. Well, all the sex going on at Georgetown. Sandra Fluke. So much sex going on, they can’t afford birth control pills. She said that to Nancy Pelosi yesterday.

    Doc Merlin:

    The left has managed to somehow make this about birth control…

  88. 88 88 Ricardo Cruz

    Jakrs writes if there are 50 straight women having sex more than you would like, there are most certainly 50 straight men having sex more than you would like

    That does not logically follow. Those 50 women could very well be having sex with the same dude. The median number of partners for men and women is the same, but the deviance varies greatly. This being a college setting, my scenario also makes more sense empirically.

    ps: I think Landsburg was making fun of the argument made by Ms. Fluke, not her position (pun not intended). You guys are arguing over externalities when no such argument was ever raised.

  89. 89 89 nobody.really

    if there are 50 straight women having sex more than you would like, there are most certainly 50 straight men having sex more than you would like

    That does not logically follow. Those 50 women could very well be having sex with the same dude.

    Come on; Bill Clinton graduated back in ’68.

  90. 90 90 Polevaulter Donkeyman

    @nobody.really

    Common law elements of defamation include 1) communication to at least one other person 2) when the subject of the communication is detrimental to the victim’s reputation. Classic examples of messages deemed per se detrimental are allegations of criminal activity – prostitution or extortion, for example – and allocations of unchastity.

    So sorry the First Amendment threw a spanner in the works!

  91. 91 91 Ken B

    @Doc Merlin: Come to think of it, why DO you want to starve poor people? Is it because you see food as a positional good? :>

    Excellent points. But in this case I think some mockery, and especially the wild reaction to it, has made several regulars here look intemperate, intolerant, unresponsive to argument, self-righteous and humourless.

  92. 92 92 Ollie

    Steve, Ken B, you guys are right. We’re being “dense and humorless.” We should lighten up. After all, this whole thing was pretty funny! Yeah, it’s funny when a prominent media figure hurls a demeaning slur at a woman.

    Nobody.really makes an interesting point. Steve says “[Fluke] will, as I understand it, be having sex whether she gets paid or not.” Where did that understanding come from, Steve? What reason do you have to believe that she’s sexually active at all? Did you read her testimony?

    A word of advice for Steve: It’s ok every once in a while to stop being an economist, and just be a man.

  93. 93 93 Will A

    @ Ken B:

    Beth described herself as a middle class individual (not poor).

    If she had said, “Does anyone else have a problem with food stamps? I’m a middle class person who goes to food banks so that I could save up for a 70″ LED TV”, I would have made the same comment. Except substituting food for pills.

    Joker and Landsburg thought the term “contraceptive sponge” was a genius term to describe someone who gets contraception for free. I must have missed your comment about how that is unfair.

    I was questioning the intellectual integrity and motives of what she said. I did the same when I questioned Frank’s integrity about taxes causing clean air.

    I mean this seriously, if you spotted something that implies that I have no concern for those less privileged than the American middle class let me know. This is something that I would want to avoid.

  94. 94 94 Jonathan M.F. Catalán

    The main thing that this ordeal, including all the commentary, has proven is that most guys have no idea why girls use birth control. Yes, birth control helps avoid unplanned pregnancies. No, that a girl take birth control on Monday doesn’t mean that she’s having sex on Monday. Birth control is also used to regulate the menstrual cycle, amongst other non-sexual reasons.

  95. 95 95 Ken B

    “I mean this seriously, if you spotted something that implies that I have no concern for those less privileged than the American middle class let me know.”

    Not no concern, just insufficient concern. If you had sufficient concern you’d favour more markets and less intervention, you’d want the pill OTC, and you’d take arguments against your positions more seriously.

    I repeat, your comment to Beth was personal and motivated by spite and animus, that makes it nasty.

  96. 96 96 Steve Landsburg

    Ken B and Will A: I think that Will’s comments were pretty well within the bounds of respectful but spirited discussion. I think I understand why Ken disagrees. But I don’t think it would be a good idea for us to get sidetracked into a discussion of this. I’ll welcome one final word from Will if he wants to have it, but beyond that I hope we can avoid going off on this tangent.

  97. 97 97 Will A

    Ken B:

    A middle class woman who gets free contraception reads the threads in this discussion in particular the “contraception sponge” comment and what concerns her the most are the comments by people who defend Fluke.

    I understand a middle class woman who pays for contraception being upset that others extort.

    I also understand a middle class woman who doesn’t believe in the use of contraception being upset that others extort.

    My attack was motivated by the fact that I don’t believe that Beth is being honest.

    In this thread, I think I’ve taken 2 positions.

    The first is that extortion against elected officials is OK on the condition that the extortionist threatens with the removal from office.

    The 2nd is that making a statement like “Calling Tiffany a whore isn’t accurate because she does it for free” is really calling Tiffany a whore.

    As it relates to being open to different positions, In the recent “Your President Hopes You’re Stupid” post, I think I pretty much slammed those on the left who fail to recognize that there is a legitimate case about liberty infringement in requiring someone to purchase something they are morally objected to.

    Like Frank (re: recent posts), I believe that we should raise the income taxes on the wealthy. However, I will attack his statements if I feel he is being dishonest. If you remember I called Cochrane – different point of view from me – sloppy, but Frank – same point of view as me – dishonest.

    Beth may attend the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American and be in favor of universal healthcare, however I feel she is being dishonest, I’m going to call her on it.

    Beth of course can comment on this blog and say, “Actually Will A people lobbying for free contraction really does bother me more than someone calling me a contraception sponge.”

  98. 98 98 Richard

    Suppose this student is your daughter. Would you like her have access to free anti conseptive or not?

    Talking as a parent, i mean.

  99. 99 99 Richard

    Contraception i mean. English is not my first language ;)

  100. 100 100 Steve Landsburg

    Richard: I would like my daughter to have everything in the world for free.

  101. 101 101 Ken B

    Will A: As it relates to being open to different positions, In the recent “Your President Hopes You’re Stupid” post, I think I pretty much slammed those on the left who fail to recognize that there is a legitimate case about liberty infringement in requiring someone to purchase something they are morally objected to.
    Yes you did — and I praised it, though i confess I forgot this. I roll back my criticism by x per cent, x being some unknown but not insignificant amount.

  102. 102 102 Vald

    @Steven Landsburg, Roger Schlafly, RPLong, Harold, Polevaulter Donkeyman, Brandon Berg, Philo, Matt, Ken B

    It seems to me that you are the posters on this blog who see little wrong with Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a whore. While you might think that his use of the terms was inaccurate based on some apparently objective definition of the terms (as if one exists), none of you seem to have a problem with a woman who fits the definition being called a slut, a whore, etc.

    I am curious as to whether any of you have ever been demeaned with a negative term meant to delegitimize your right to have a point of view. So far as I can tell, you are all straight, white, able-bodied, middle-class adult men. If this is accurate, you have never been called a slut, a whore, a faggot, or any of the other slurs for those who are identified by society as female, non-white, gay, transgendered, disabled, poor, etc. You are all privileged white men whose existence is accepted as normal. You have never had to prove to anyone that you have a right to argue, so you do not seem to understand the harm that someone might feel when they are personally attacked with such a term.

  103. 103 103 Ken B

    @Vald: To quote Ken B: “I think RL is over the top here; I think he should have made his point without zeroing in on Fluke as he did. I’d say he should apologize;” From this I conclude Ken B thinks RL was over the top, should have made his point without zeroing in on Fluke personally, and should apologize to Fluke. As usual I agree with him, and could not have put it better myself.

  104. 104 104 Will A

    @ Vlad:

    Also, what is the complaint with Harold?

    My take is that Harold talked about the behavioral consequences of providing free contraception (and contraception in general). He didn’t make mention of any of the pejoratives you mentioned.

    About the only thing he says that might be offensive and only offensive if taken out of context is:
    With contraception, the woman agrees to sex, with benefit to both, but only paid for by the woman. The man surely gets an external benefit.

    But I think taken in context this sentence fits the point he is making and is not offensive.

  105. 105 105 Vald

    @Ken B

    I was more reacting to this bit that Ken B also posted:

    “Matt shrewdly notes “Mr. Limbaugh was just engaging in a little … humor in order to emphasize the salient point. ” Indeed, as did Steve. This is why it is being treated as such a crime. This isn’t just laughter, it is laughter at. Laughing at people who cannot be laughed at.”

    Do correct me if I have completely misunderstood you, but while you accept that Rush Limbaugh was over the top, you don’t seem to think that engaging in such humor is wrong? Please, do elaborate if I’m wrong, but the anti-feminist joke that you conclude with usually leads me (at least) to believe that you accept such belittling jokes, even if it might have been a bit over the top.

  106. 106 106 Ken B

    In case anyone cares, and I expect few here will, RL has followed my advice:”I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” — Rush Limbaugh.

    @Vald: I think several things are obvious. RL was trying to be funny; his attempt was crude; his target deserved ridicule; his target did not deserve what he now terms ‘insulting word choices’;most of the outrage was strategic; Landsburg’s point is right; Vald favours ad hominem over argument.

  107. 107 107 Vald

    @Will A

    I have reread Harold’s post and you are right, I cannot figure out what I was responding to. I was trying to skim through a lot of posts to put together a list, so I was probably being overly critical.

    @Harold – I apologize for my misreading of your postings.

  108. 108 108 Vald

    @Ken B

    I read Rush’s apology, and it is one of the most empty apologies I have ever seen, as befits a bombastic radio host. He is trying to save himself from losing the entirety of his ad revenue, and I don’t know if it will work.

    To respond to a few things:
    Rush Limbaugh is another privileged straight white man who doesn’t understand just how awful the words he uses are, or he doesn’t care. I also expect significantly less from him than I do from Steven Landsburg, a generally intelligent academic.
    His attempt was significantly more than crude. I personally would use the word demeaning.
    His target’s ideas may have deserved ridicule, but I see no reason that she as a person and as a sexual being had to become the target of the ridicule (other than the fact that American politics today are based on personal attacks on the validity of the speaker, rather than the validity of the ideas).
    You are correct that she did not deserve to be called a slut.
    Of course the outrage was strategic. The Republicans and the Democrats are more alike in their opportunism than they are different in their ideologies. The Republicans used a Democratic war on religion to their advantage, the Democrats used the Republican war on women. I think both are absurd.
    This is not to say that ALL of the outrage was strategic. Obviously politicians are trained to use such incidents to their advantage, but slut shaming, as I see it, is a good enough reason for Sandra Fluke and others to be insulted and to demand an apology.
    Landsburg’s point may be right, but what bothers me about his point is that he can’t seem to hold himself to a discussion of the issue at hand, he needs to step in and analyze which of Rush’s offensive terms is most accurate to describe Ms. Fluke.
    Say what you will about me, I really don’t much care. I am not an economist. I study feminist theory and queer theory (and I’m sure you think I’m wasting my life, but I really don’t care), and I come here to learn about economics from Steven Landsburg, not to step in on debates where I have nothing to say. There are plenty of others above who are arguing against you well enough that I would have little to add anyway. I decided to comment on the extraordinarily obvious white heterosexual male privilege displayed by the casual discussion of the supposedly objective meaning of terms such as slut and whore.

  109. 109 109 Russell Nelson

    She’s a rent-seeking girl; not to be confused with a rent girl or a girl for rent.

  110. 110 110 Matt

    Greetings Vald. Indeed, I am a straight, white, able-bodied (and able-minded) white man of the oh-so-tender age of 28 and I am loving every minute of it.

    I would hardly describe myself as privileged. My family lived a very blue-collar existence yet my parents did their utmost to instill those traditional, bourgeois values that so many of the riff-raff in contemporary American life love to hate. By riff-raff I mean anyone who is not a straight, white, conservative male who values classical music, Western literature, mathematics, neo-classical economic analysis (the one, true economics), Christianity (the one, true religion), the Korean language, and of course Shakespeare.

    Vald, I attended university. Did you? How hard it was for me to pass a day where women (I exclude Asian women like my wife because Asian women have good manners and understand decorum) and downtrodden minorities were not waxing indignant about the vile money-grubbing straight white men who were oppressing them so. I was not overly bothered by it. I actually somewhat enjoyed listening to nominally educated riff-raff bad-mouth people like myself. If anything, listening to their chronic drivel was instructive about the current state of Brave New America. It really is in listening to riff-raff speak that I understand why they say silence is golden.

    It is not privilege that is responsible for the current state of affairs in my life. It is because I, due to my family’s superior value system, went to university and studied more exacting subjects (statistics and economics) than did the immaculate victims of society that so infest my alma mater and the rest of higher education like cockroaches in Chicago’s South Side. I made the choice to Occupy My Mind With Demanding Intellectual Subjects Valued By the American (and Korean) Labor Market rather than Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Unemployment Offices, Occupy This, Occupy That. Moreover, when I finished university and entered the bean-counting financial world, it had not occurred to me that because of my attractive skin color and preference for refined women (once again, Asian women like my wife) that something had been settled permanently. If anything, we straight white men understand the importance of doing something in an efficient, matter-of-fact way when surrounded by our affirmative action co-workers (truly, they are offended at everything). Finally, when choosing a wife I courted a lovely Korean woman who, unlike her contemporaries in the Western world, values marriage, family, and does not believe that other people have a duty to pay for birth control or an abortion (as an aside, she and her friends find abortion repellent as do many other women abroad).

    If you still believe, as your post indicates, that we are all “privileged white men whose existence is accepted as normal” then I can do no better than to quote Shakespeare “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” (Henry V)

    Nothing like a good internet feud to make life a little more interesting.

  111. 111 111 Vald

    The privilege I describe is the privilege to walk down the street without the fear of harassment for nothing more than being who you are, the privilege to know that an employer, when meeting you in an interview, won’t be sizing you up for whether you will be taking maternity leave. The privilege to know that you will (barring outright nastiness on the part of the officer) be treated with a modicum of respect when you are pulled over at a traffic light. The privilege to know that, no matter what state you live in, you will not be fired from your job because your boss knows (or even thinks) that you are gay (and yes, it is still legal in most states to fire someone based on their real or perceived sexual identity).

    I did attend university, although I’m sure in your mind my area of study is so meaningless that I’m throwing my life away.

    I am extremely impressed with your ability to use such beautiful language as comparing your fellow humans to cockroaches and filth.

    Were all of your non-straight white male co-workers products of Affirmative Action? I’m really just curious. Also, were none of them competent? That seems to be the implication of your statement, but I just wanted to make sure I understood you correctly. Finally, do you know for a fact that all were products of Affirmative Action, or do you just assume that they are because, of course, black men and women simply aren’t smart enough (think you) to get a job in your big fancy firm?

    I’m glad you married such a wonderful woman, and I applaud her for valuing family so greatly. In your critique of American women, do you mean to imply that women have no right to their own opinions or their own employment outside of the home? Or is this just how it comes across?

    For someone so determined to deny his place of privilege in this society, you still seem to have had a huge number of advantages that you don’t recognize. For one, it sounds like you went to a fairly good school, not like some of the schools that I have worked in and visited in inner cities and on Indian reservations. Did you grow up in a blue-collar town with fresh drinking water and food on the table every day? It does make it difficult to learn when you are hungry and thirsty every day because you have to wait to get to school to get the small free lunch provided for you, even though the lunch doesn’t nearly fill your growing body up for the day.

    As I am sure that you will turn around and ask me about my life and what privileges I have had, I’ll give you a bit of information. I am a 24 year old gay white able-bodied man. I had had innumerable privileges in my life. I went to a top-notch high school and university. I did not have to fear coming out to my family or to my friends, and for that I am extraordinarily grateful to them. I have had very little hardship to face in my life, and I recognize this. And yet, what I want you to realize is that there are some areas of my life where you hold a great deal of privilege over me. You can walk down the street with your wife holding hands or even give her a kiss in public, without worrying that someone will attack you (yes, I realize that you are in an interracial marriage, but a white-Asian relationship does not bring the threat of nearly the same level of ridicule as two men walking down the street together hand-in-hand).

    And yet for this one thing, I still face little challenge in my life, and I recognize the fact that others face so much more.

    While your life doesn’t sound privileged as, for example, Mitt Romney’s, I see plenty of privileges that you face simply by the fact that society defines you as “normal.”

  112. 112 112 Asimplesolution

    Why doesn’t she put a tip jar next to her bed?

  113. 113 113 Ollie

    Steven Landsburg: “The word “slut” connotes (to me at least) precisely the sort of joyous enthusiasm that would render payment superfluous.”

    Steven Landsburg: “She will, as I understand it, be having sex whether she gets paid or not.”

    Hey Steve — the second sentence means the payment *is* superfluous to her sex. So she’s a slut after all!

    Stay classy, Steve.

  114. 114 114 Advo

    What seems to be almost entirely forgotten here is that Ms. Fluke testified about a co-student who needed the pill for a medical condition and was denied. She could not afford the pill and proceeded to develop a cyst requiring removal of an ovary.

    Aside from that, surely you must realize that unwanted pregnancies have externalities for society?
    At minimum, you end up with health care costs attached to the pregnancy and the delivery.
    But then you have much larger costs in many cases.
    This is easily demonstrated for poor people who are not able to take care of their children. The net financial impact of society of a child born to an unwed, poor, uneducated single mother is likely deeply negative (on average).

    If women (and their partners!) get their education interrupted by pregnancy this leads to similar externalities.

    Imagine the financial loss to society of just one pair of college students with high income potential having to abort their education and settle for careers far below their potential.

    I realize that the idea of being forced to make a financial sacrifice in order to make society a happier place for people of little or no financial means appalls you, but I think that if one were to do the math (no easy task), it would turn out to be no sacrifice at all. I’m sure it’ll CERTAINLY work out if you were to means-test granting free contraceptives.

    Now I’m sure someone is going to say something like “if you can’t afford contraceptives you shouldn’t be having sex”. Do so, please.

  115. 115 115 Steve Landsburg

    Advo: If your goal is to reduce childbirth, the right policy is to tax childbirth, not to tax fertility (or equivalently to subsidize contraception).

    PS. Imagine the financial loss to society of just one pair of college students with high income potential having to abort their education and settle for careers far below their potential.

    What’s external about that cost?

  116. 116 116 Steve Landsburg

    Vald: Your most recent comment strikes me as thoughtful, reasonable, well-expressed, and largely off-topic. On the one hand, I’m glad to have read it. On the other hand, I hope we won’t stray too far in this direction.

  117. 117 117 nobody.really

    Advo: If your goal is to reduce childbirth, the right policy is to tax childbirth, not to tax fertility (or equivalently to subsidize contraception).

    I agree that taxing childbirth seems like a well-targeted tool to discourage childbirth.

    I disagree that taxing fertility is the equivalent to subsidizing contraception. Infertile people would presumably not bear any cost for taxing fertility, but might bear costs for subsidizing contraception.

    More to the point, I don’t see where Advo articulated a goal of reducing childbirth. Advo seems to be addressing the specific issue of unwanted childbirth – a distinction I think is worth considering.

    PS. Imagine the financial loss to society of just one pair of college students with high income potential having to abort their education and settle for careers far below their potential.

    What’s external about that cost?

    ???

    In the standard models I learned, trade produces benefits for both the producer and the consumer (“consumer surplus”). If people are less productive than they would otherwise be, they have less to trade than they otherwise would have had. The loss of consumer surplus is not internalized to the producers. Am I missing something here?

  118. 118 118 Steve Landsburg

    nobody.really: If your argument is based on positive externalities from the productivity of others, you’ll surely want to encourage childbirth.

  119. 119 119 Vald

    Steven,

    Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed reading it, and I hoped that you learned something from it.

    Unless prompted directly, I do not plan to continue down a road that is mostly off-topic for this blog. (Although I would argue that in the debate as a whole, discussions of privilege are not off-topic).

    *Feel free to delete this comment*

  120. 120 120 nobody.really

    If your argument is based on positive externalities from the productivity of others, you’ll surely want to encourage childbirth.

    Which argument are you referring to?

    First argument: Again, I share the view that people in general generate net positive externalities. But I have yet to see data regarding unwanted people specifically. I again refer you to the work done by the Freakonomics guys. While it’s not a slam-dunk proof that unwanted kids produce negative externalities, it’s the most persuasive thing I’ve come across yet.

    Moreover, I suspect there is a substitution effect among wanted kids and unwanted kids; that is, people who have kids when they are unwanted may then have fewer kids at a later stage in life when those kids might be wanted. Thus, even if we conclude that unwanted kids produce net positive externalities relative to no kids, they may still produce less net positive externalities relative to the kids that would have been born in an environment with cheaper birth control.

    Second argument: Again, the standard economic models indicate that producers generate consumer surplus – a benefit not internalized by the producers. To the extent that producers produce less because they dropped out of school, society loses those externalities.

    Yes, we should also consider the net externalities generated by the kid that results from the unwanted pregnancy. For this, I refer you back to the prior argument. Briefly, I’m skeptical about the net externalities generated by unwanted kids, especially when substitution effects are considered.

    You’ll note the recent articles trumpeting the idea that 53% of kids born to people under 30 are born out of wedlock, and among black households that number is something like 72%. So if you really intend to argue that people accidentally getting pregnant and then dropping out of school to have kids is optimal public policy, you should be sure to develop that in an Everyday Economics article; it would be a blockbuster!

  121. 121 121 Steve Landsburg

    Vald: Thanks again for sharing your obviously heartfelt and thought-provoking comment. I expect that in the near future, there will be a thread here where a continuation of that discussion will be right on topic, and when that thread appears, I hope you’ll participate.

  122. 122 122 Al V.

    Yet again, Yay @nobody.really!

  123. 123 123 Ollie

    It’s nice to see your sensitive side, Steve.

    This side wasn’t so much in evidence when:

    – you implied that we had “rushed to judgment” of Limbaugh when he hurled a demeaning slur at a woman. (Incidentally, Rush has now apologized for his “insulting word choices”).

    – you said that we were being “dense and humorless” in criticizing Rush.

    – you speculated publicly about the sex life of a woman you’ve never met, saying “She will, as I understand it, be having sex whether she gets paid or not.” As far as I know, she’s never publicly said anything about her sex life.

    – you thought it was “genius” to refer to this woman as a “contraceptive sponge.” You surely understand why some might find that demeaning. By the way, how do you know she uses contraceptives?

    – when you said that, in light of the context, Rush’s comment was “far far less offensive than what’s being reported” (I like the extra “far,” nice touch).

    For what it’s worth, I’d also encourage you to push back against the commenter above who referred to “the immaculate victims of society that so infest my alma mater and the rest of higher education like cockroaches in Chicago’s South Side.” As you very well know, this kind of dehumanizing language has a long history, one laced with tragedy. You don’t control what we commenters say, but this is your forum with your name on it, and you can issue a rebuke.

    There I go, being dense and humorless again…

  124. 124 124 Advo

    ———–
    Steve: If your goal is to reduce childbirth, the right policy is to tax childbirth, not to tax fertility (or equivalently to subsidize contraception).
    ———–

    No offense, but this strikes me as a typical example of economic thinking overriding common sense.
    I’m talking about people who can’t afford contraception, how are you going to tax them? And since they can’t afford contraception, the only way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid having sex altogether. How does that typically work out in the real world?

    ——–
    Advo: Imagine the financial loss to society of just one pair of college students with high income potential having to abort their education and settle for careers far below their potential.

    Steve: What’s external about that cost?
    ——–

    For one thing, they’re going to pay less taxes. Also, I refer to what NR said about the consumer surplus.

  125. 125 125 Chad

    How are all of you so absolutely confident that it is cheaper for insurance companies to pay for OCP than it is to “pay for unwanted pregnancies” by which I assume you really mean to NOT pay for OCP? For simpletons, sure, it makes sense, without any thought whatsoever, since pills are cheap, and deliveries are expensive. But on an economics blog, I’d expect a slightly more nuanced analysis. SURELY you guys realize that for those who do not get coverage for OCP, the overwhelming majority of these people will STILL pay for contraceptives, right? And will almost assuredly pay less, from an absolute cost perspective, than they would have if the contraceptives were covered. Even of the small fraction of people who “cant afford it, and so instead resort to unprotected sex, babies and massive costs be damned!,” a large chunk of these will not become pregnant. Of the ones who do, a much cheaper alternative to birth is available to them, and since they are women/couples who were by definition in search of contraception, its reasonable to assume they’d avail themselves of that option at a higher rate.

    So, considering all these factors…are you absolutely sure that it really IS cheaper for insurance companies to cover OCPs? Are you sure you arent just being…kind of thick, and comparing only the options of “pay $6 for some pills” vs. “pay 10k for a baby”?

  126. 126 126 Steve Landsburg

    Advo:

    For one thing, they’re going to pay less taxes.

    If you’re out to increase the tax base, then surely you’ll want another taxpayer born, even if it reduces that taxpayers’ parents’ income by, oh say, 20% (which would be huge).

  127. 127 127 Advo

    ——-
    If you’re out to increase the tax base, then surely you’ll want another taxpayer born, even if it reduces that taxpayers’ parents’ income by, oh say, 20% (which would be huge).
    ——-

    Given the way income scales in the US with education, I don’t think 20% *nearly* captures the amount by which an aborted college education, for example, decreases one’s lifetime earnings. Also, (and this is purely speculative) I am assuming that in most cases we are talking about delaying, not preventing the birth of a new taxpayer.

    And then, of course, you can only consider the present discounted value of the taxes paid by a future taxpayer. Since tax paying usually starts after about 25 years, this renders them close to valueless (ok, I admit that this kind of calculation which renders the future valueless is pretty much the definition of speciousness).

  128. 128 128 Chad

    OCPs and abortion do not appreciably decrease the birth rate or deprive America of another taxpayer, they merely delay the provision of said taxpayer until a later date, i.e. the woman who gets accidentally pregnant at 18 does not then have a nice, planned, anticipated pregnancy at 27.

  129. 129 129 Advo

    One more thing about “additional taxpayer” vs. “additional taxes from existing taxpayer”:

    An additional taxpayer also causes government outlays. He uses roads and government services etc.
    The additional tax revenue from the higher income of an existing taxpayer brings with it very little in the way of additional government outlays.

  130. 130 130 Ken Arromdee

    What seems to be almost entirely forgotten here is that Ms. Fluke testified about a co-student who needed the pill for a medical condition and was denied.

    If the insurer refuses to pay for medical treatment because they claim it’s for birth control when the doctor says it’s not, then the insurer is cheating the customer and is just blaming it on birth control. The main problem is that the insurer is cheating; birth control has nothing to do with it.

    The correct solution to this is to force insurance companies to stop cheating, not to make them cover birth control.

    If the insurer said “we won’t pay because we think you’re going to use it as a dessert topping”, should we require that insurance cover dessert toppings so that the insurance company is deprived of that excuse?

  131. 131 131 nobody.really

    I sense we’re just re-plowing the well-plowed ground now.

    What seems to be almost entirely forgotten here is that Ms. Fluke testified about a co-student who needed the pill for a medical condition and was denied.

    If the insurer refuses to pay for medical treatment because they claim it’s for birth control when the doctor says it’s not, then the insurer is cheating the customer and is just blaming it on birth control. The main problem is that the insurer is cheating; birth control has nothing to do with it.

    And perhaps that’s true. But if you believe that, then you’d agree with Fluke that we should not adopt the Blunt Amendment because the Blunt Amendment would not enable the remedy you’ve described. Instead, the Blunt Amendment would ratify the behavior of the insurers. That is, it would permit the party providing the insurance to withhold coverage for ANY ITEMS OR SERVICES subject to the preferences of the party providing the insurance — medical need be damned.

    I agree entirely that Fluke failed to provide convincing testimony with respect to Ken Arromdee’s ideas. Or with respect to tax reform. Or the situation in Syria. Or Angelina Jolie’s right thigh. Instead, throughout the hearing on the Blunt Amendment (and comparable bills) she seems to have focused myopically on the Blunt Amendment and comparable bills.

    Chicks — go figure.

  132. 132 132 Steve Landsburg

    nobody.really:

    What seems to be almost entirely forgotten here is that Ms. Fluke testified about a co-student who needed the pill for a medical condition and was denied.

    Right. I tended to view this as so entirely off the point (for exactly the reasons Ken Arromdee cites) that I ignored it entirely. I see now why you thought it was on-topic. But surely (as is clear from the beginning of Fluke’s testimony) the topic at hand was precisely whether insurers should be forced to cover *contraception* as opposed to other medical treatments that happen to use contraceptive pills.

    So I get your point now, but I’m still not sure I buy it.

  133. 133 133 Harold

    Vald: Thanks for the apology – It is very easy when reading many posts to get attributions mixed up. I certainly had no intention of condoning the terms used in the post or by Rush.

  134. 134 134 Eli Rabett

    So let Eli tell you exactly how stupid Limbaugh, Landesman and the jackels are: No slut, whore, what have you, uses birth control pills today to let them screw about. Why not? Have the clowns not heard about HIV?? Birth control pills are no barriers to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

    Birth control pills as birth control are used by women in committed if not married relationships. They are also used to control the pain of menstruation and other conditions. In other words they are pharmaceuticals used to control biological functions. They are medicines.

  135. 135 135 Ken B

    @nobody.really: in re http://www.thebigquestions.com/2012/03/02/rush-to-judgment/#comment-42876

    I don’t discuss the Blunt amendment. It is not relevant to the points I am making. If it says what you assert it’s a bad bill. But it’s not relevant anyway.

  136. 136 136 Sam B

    So what’s the extension here to people whose non-reproductive healthcare your tax dollars help fund? The guy on Medicare whose coronary bypass a fraction of a penny of your taxes goes to … does he owe you an equal amount of work? What about food benefits? Do those people owe you servitude in return?

    The problem with your analysis is that you operate from the principle that this is a zero-sum game and that for every benefit dollar expended society “deserves” an equal sum in return. That’s a pathetic and infantile analysis because it excludes human compassion. And if you want to live in a society that lacks compassion and reduces everything to quantitative economics, then you should go find a desert island. Or at least you should hope that disease never increases your needs beyond your means.

  137. 137 137 fred

    Your quote from an earlier reply:

    “Yes, in the same sense that it is simply cheaper to fast than it is to buy food, and simply cheaper to live on park benches than in houses. It does not follow that it’s a wise policy to give up food and shelter.”

    This tells me that you are a poor thinker. Clearly fasting is more expensive than eating over the long run. If you do not eat you will die. Ultimately living on park benches is more expensive than living in houses because of all of the benefits that living in a house generates.

    In the end though, I suspect that you are doing this for the same reason the Limbaugh does what he does – to generate publicity and attention. Unfortunately I suppose it works. I just wasted fifteen minutes reading your poor excuse for analysis. To paraphrase Shakespeare, ’tis a pity he’s an idiot.

  138. 138 138 Steve Landsburg

    Sam B: Your references to “owing” and “deserving” suggest to me that you were trying to respond to some other post on some other blog and posted here by mistake instead. Good luck relocating the blogpost to which your comments are relevant.

  139. 139 139 Steve Landsburg

    Fred:

    Clearly fasting is more expensive than eating over the long run. If you do not eat you will die. Ultimately living on park benches is more expensive than living in houses because of all of the benefits that living in a house generates.

    Yes, and clearly bringing additional people into the world has long-run benefits (and costs) that are not accounted for in the simple argument to which I was responding. Insisting that we account for those benefits (and costs) is the analogue of insisting that we account for the long-run benefits of eating.

  140. 140 140 Ken B

    Just found this comment from Eugene Volokh:
    “I would think that parents would much rather hear on the radio that their 21-year-old daughters are using birth control than that their grown sons are calling women “sluts” on national radio.”

  141. 141 141 Ken B
  142. 142 142 Bryan

    Steve,

    I may have missed your conversion over the years, but it strikes me that the intelligent author of the post below articulates a pretty convincing case for subsidizing condoms:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/everyday_economics/1996/07/more_sex_is_safer_sex.2.html

  143. 143 143 drunkenson

    Eli Rabett,

    Do you find that your literal view of the world causes you to struggle to get knock knock jokes?

  144. 144 144 Jason

    i know of several women who have used birth control to help regulate their menstrual cycle and hormone levels. i know of one who takes it because it helps to regulate her migraine headaches. i’ve known a few women who were sexually inactive, but took BC to ease the pain of their period.

    when used in this manner, birth control should be covered like most other drugs.

    people are forgetting about this. when used in this way, how is BC any different than migraine medicine?

  145. 145 145 iceman

    @Ken B: I think if we’re talking best quips, Tom never got his due from the very opening salvo: “I would pay not to watch most people having sex.”

  146. 146 146 Steve Landsburg

    Bryan:

    I may have missed your conversion over the years, but it strikes me that the intelligent author of the post below articulates a pretty convincing case for subsidizing condoms:

    The case for subsidizing condoms is based on the fact that condoms are most valuable to those are most likely to be uninfected. I see no analogue of that for birth control pills.

  147. 147 147 Steve Landsburg

    Jason:

    when used in this manner, birth control should be covered like most other drugs.

    I don’t think anyone has disputed this.

  148. 148 148 Ken B

    @Tom, Iceman:

    @Ken B: I think if we’re talking best quips, Tom never got his due from the very opening salvo: “I would pay not to watch most people having sex.”

    I have paypal and if you want to not watch me I charge only $19.95 a month, in three easy installments.

  149. 149 149 Ken B

    SL:

    Jason:

    when used in this manner, birth control should be covered like most other drugs.

    I don’t think anyone has disputed this.

    And in fact one of Fluke’s sob-stories was a woman whose pill WAS covered for this very reason. But what some want to do is import cases where the pill treats a condition as moral blackmail for use in the cases where it’s just a contraceptive. “Oh so you want her to suffer from cysts then?” is the tactic.

  150. 150 150 drunkenson

    Eli Rabbet

    Why is it acceptable that you use derogatory terms, such as stupid and clowns when referring to others,viz. Limbaugh, Landsberg and assorted and sundry jackals, but when Limbaugh uses derogatory terms all of a sudden the world is about to end?

    Civility for me but not for thee?

  151. 151 151 Roger Schlafly

    @Vald – I can assure you that Rush has been personally subjected to ridicule. So your whole argument is based on a faulty premise.

  152. 152 152 Mike

    Ms. Fluke wasn’t asking for taxpayers, or you, or anyone else for that matter to pay for her birth control coverage.

    Sandra was simply endorsing a regulation that requires the insurance
    plan she pays for include coverage for hormonal birth control. This
    regulation ultimately reduces costs by reducing pregnancies and
    medical catastrophes. Most private insurance plans voluntarily offer
    this coverage because it cuts costs, allowing them to reduce rates and be more competitive.

    Georgetown is forcing its students to pay more for their own health
    insurance, because of religious beliefs that the student body in
    general does not agree with.

    Setting aside the fact that Georgetown should not even be a party to
    this discussion, given that the proposed regulation puts the onus on
    insurers to provide birth control coverage options and leaves the
    university out of the equation altogether, shouldn’t the school be
    providing compensation to the students who are being forced to
    subsidize these moral choices? Perhaps that compensation could be used by the students to purchase their own birth control out of pocket at the nearest CVS.

  153. 153 153 Steve Landsburg

    Mike: Thanks for this new perspective. Several others have argued that if birth control kept costs down, it would be offered voluntarily; you’ve pointed out that this is false — Georgetown is willing to accept higher costs in order to serve its religious views. (I am not 100% sure you’re right about this, but it sounds like you probably are.)

    Now one could still argue that students, by choosing to attend Georgetown, are accepting the risk that Georgetown, by virtue of its Catholicism, will impose some costs on them that another college might not impose. So I’m not sure these students have a legitimate case for a subsidy. But thanks again for bringing these issues up.

  154. 154 154 Roger Schlafly

    Mike, I very much doubt that the regulation reduces costs, but even if it does, Fluke is still asking us to interfere with her contract with Georgetown. What if the law professors teach that a corporation is a person, and most of the students disagree? Should we have a regulation to remedy that also? The fact still remains that she can buy the pills for 0.1% of the tuition, and she wants someone else to pay.

  155. 155 155 Tom Rivers

    I think it’s telling that the real issue has yet to be discussed here. The Obama administration is denying citizens who have a moral issue with funding this sort of thing their Constitutional First Amendment rights.

    This is about freedom of religion, not contraception.

  156. 156 156 Vald

    @Roger

    Under present constitutional doctrine, corporations do have many of the same rights as people (although less liabilities). As you may or may not know, there are many people urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment altering this constitutional doctrine.

    So the short answer to your question is: yes, some people do believe that the government should be regulating that question as well.

    @Tom

    If I have a religious objection to funding war, do I have a right not to pay? Although to that you could argue I have an obvious stake in the wars, whether I believe in them or not.

    Another example: I have a religious objection to the war on drugs. My religion tells me that anyone should be allowed to put whatever they want in their body. Do I have a right to demand that the government not spend my money on the “war on drugs”?

    Yet another (1st Amendment doctrine, constitutional law) example: Employment Division v. Smith – an otherwise generally applicable law that was not designed to infringe on a person’s religious liberty, but nevertheless imposes a burden on religious belief is constitutional as long as the law is the least restrictive means of fulfilling a legitimate government purpose.
    – While I have numerous issues with this decision, it is, in most regards, still constitutional law. Why does this not apply here? Or do such generally applicable laws only apply to American Indian religions, not to Christian religions (see the Supreme Court’s ridiculous attempts to distinguish this decision from their more recent decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC).

  157. 157 157 Tom Rivers

    @Vald

    Thanks for your reply. First, I’m disappointed that you didn’t reply directly to the point I raised about this being more about First Amendment rights than about contraception. Instead I see that you have gone straight to attacking the First Amendment itself. I don’t pretend to be a Constitutional expert, however I will do my best to respond to the points you have raised.

    Before I begin, I want to make sure that we get one thing straight. Nobody I have heard is advocating preventing people from having access to contraception. What the leftist are advocating is giving it to them “for free” by forcing people who have a moral objection to it to fund it. In the final analysis, anyone who wants contraception can still get it – all they have to do is go out and pay for it themselves. In many cases, it is even offered for free. Those who claim injury due to the fact they have to pay for it are creating controversy where there really is none.

    “If I have a religious objection to funding war, do I have a right not to pay?”

    Let’s not forget that one can always be a conscientious objector and refuse to take part in military action. However, providing monetary support for the defense of our liberties is a fundamental part of keeping them intact. Therefore, to be against personal participation in war is one thing. To withdraw funding for those who would fight to keep us and our rights intact is suicidal, insane, and runs counter to the idea of having rights in the first place. After all, refusing to defend freedom is a sure way to lose it. Without freedom, all of this is moot.

    “Another example: I have a religious objection to the war on drugs. My religion tells me that anyone should be allowed to put whatever they want in their body. Do I have a right to demand that the government not spend my money on the “war on drugs”?”

    Personally, I feel that the government has no Constitutional right to prohibit the use of drugs. I personally don’t advocate the use of illegal drugs, however I can’t find anything in the Constitution that grants government the power to tell people what they can and can’t take provided such activity doesn’t conflict with the rights of others.

    “Yet another (1st Amendment doctrine, constitutional law) example: Employment Division v. Smith – an otherwise generally applicable law that was not designed to infringe on a person’s religious liberty, but nevertheless imposes a burden on religious belief is constitutional as long as the law is the least restrictive means of fulfilling a legitimate government purpose.”

    I completely disagree with that interpretation and challenge you to show how it makes logical sense with respect to our Constitutional freedoms. For the record, I could care less about lawyers and their concept of “constitutional law”. These are the same idiots who somehow have been able to take a simple thing like, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and argue that it’s OK to make laws that tell people they can’t own pistols and other firearms. People who don’t know what “shall not be infringed” means and actively work to subvert that guaranteed freedom are the exact reason why the Second Amendment was put into our Constitution. If you read what our Founders wrote on the subject, you will come to the same conclusion.
    Let’s stick to the Constitution and what makes logical sense, not what a bunch of overpaid elites who think they are above the law want to twist it to mean.

    “While I have numerous issues with this decision, it is, in most regards, still constitutional law. Why does this not apply here? Or do such generally applicable laws only apply to American Indian religions, not to Christian religions…”

    It’s interesting to note that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about granting the Supreme Court the power to overturn laws. Somehow that just happened to be the case after Marbury v. Madison in 1803, a naked power grab by the court that desperately needs to be addressed. I won’t hold my breath, but it doesn’t change the fact there is no Constitutional basis for it so forgive me if I don’t kneel before those nine robed individuals.

    Still, while all of those interesting diversions you have offered are fun to debate, all they do is distract from the real issue I was trying to get back to in my original post. This is all about the Obama administration denying people their Constitutional First Amendment rights.

    The bottom line is that people can still get contraception and other related reproductive medical supplies and services without forcing others who have a moral problem with it to pay for it. Those arguments about war and drugs are different issues and only confuse what is a simple answer to this whole manufactured crisis. In short, if you want to have sex, pay for it yourself. Nobody needs to have sex. In academic parlance, one could think of sex as an elective rather than a requirement.

    Here’s another way to look at it. When these leftists start buying me bullets and funding my membership fees so I can go to the gun range as often as I like, then I’ll be happy to consider funding their sexual habits.

  158. 158 158 joe & Gerri

    We continue to appreciate the way you tease us to think :-)

  159. 159 159 Kristin

    I don’t believe Limbaugh is smart enough to have thought through and made any analogy so tricky as the one you try to give him credit for. His comments were mean-spirited, sexist and immature in the extreme. They were also a diversion from Fluke’s main argument for which he and you do not seem to have a rebuttal.
    You are rather appalling, if clever.
    Protip: Don’t go around referring to women as “prostitutes” and suggesting they upload their sexual encounters to YouTube if you want anyone to respect your point of view. You’re more likely to get a kick in the balls than the grudging respect you seem to think you and Limbaugh deserve.

  160. 160 160 Christina A.

    Professor Landsburg wants people to “take a look” at his blog posts and see that there is an intellectual conversation taking place. I’ve just spent (wasted?) the last half hour reading them, and the comments connected to them. I am still looking for the “intellectual” discussion. I find a large group of (mostly) men waving the flag of economics to shield misogynistic remarks against a young woman who was willing to testify before government on health coverage, not on the personal issue of her sexuality. Mr. Limbaugh, in his typical fashion, has tried to make Ms. Fluke’s sexuality the issue. The blogger and the vast majority of his commenters are only too happy to follow Limbaugh’s lead and lasciviously and in the most demeaning and sexist manner criticize Ms. Fluke, and most women who have the capacity to have sex, and/or bear children. What I read on these posts reduces the importance of birth control, and the use of birth control medications for other medical conditions to a superfluous “box of pills” for which somebody else should pay. (BTW, for birth control pills to be effective in preventing pregnancy, the must be taken daily and month by month; an occasional “box of pills” will likely not work.)
    To the ignorant gentleman who wondered why he had to use a condom when having sex with women on birth control pills, may I remind you about the need for both partners to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases? The shred of economic debate displayed revolves around the injustice of paying for something that you do not personally use that may benefit a whole other group in society. This specious argument has been used by seniors who do not think it’s fair that they pay school property taxes if they have no children in school. But perhaps you gentlemen agree with them, and don’t think that all of society has a responsibility to educate all our children. If that’s so, then Professor Landsburg and all the other educators worried about their tenure (job guarantee?) on this blog may want to figure out where their students are going to come from. Finally, for those of you too busy railing about liberals to read Dr. Seligman’s letter carefully, he is not threatening Professor Landsburg’s job. He is distancing the U of R from the professor’s opinions. And that is a good thing.

  161. 161 161 richard

    I think the heart of the matter is the issue of subsidies. This law student is getting a public subsidy to fund her education at the college she chose. While at that college, she argues for federal mandates to interfere with that college policy so that she can get another subsidy.

    It is infuriating not just because of the ludicrous cost but, more fundamentally, because taxpayers aren’t subsidizing her so that she can “get lucky”. Those advocating that contraceptives are cheaper than having children are assuming subsidies will occur when the parent is unable to provide.

    Rush’s comments and name calling are mocking the cost. To isolate him as an individual who has overstepping boundaries of decency is to ignore a myriad of others who have similarly overstepped. The name calling is wrong, but censorship is unconstitutional for a reason.

    Freedom of religion dictates that organizations may express beliefs without the federal government overriding these with questionable health policies. This student has the right to speak to congress about why they should override the University of her Choice. Congress has the responsibility to tell her “NO!”

    Increasingly we will see this conflict develop as those calling for more federal subsidies run into the cold hard barrier of a $15 trillion debt that everyone must pay. 300 million people in the country, you do the math. See what you owe beyond your student loans. See what every newborn owes at birth. Look at Greece, it’s not about to get more civil.

  162. 162 162 Mike Kloppel

    It is amazing to me that most of you here are treating this as an “economic issue” when in fact this is a moral issue. And by moral I do not mean just religious. Absolutely secular. It’s a matter of Individual rights, the definition of which does not include being provided 3 square meals, a bed to fornicate in and some contraception for your ovarian cysts.

    The root of the entire debate is “what duty does one man owe another”. And the simple answer is: Not a god damned thing he doesn’t CHOOSE to commit to freely and without coercion or force.

    Prof Landsburgs comments regarding what Rush said were insightful and accurate. Rush made a mockery of what absolutely SHOULD be mocked, IE her non-intellectual unjustified and disgusting assertion that anyone but herself is responsible for her own medical care and sex life.

    Once again Obamacares many mandates are trampling on the rights of free men at the behest of intellectually enslaved Leftists who think that every other man is his neighbors keeper…

    Get over it, we don’t, and you have no right to impose this disgusting idea on anyone. Not Obamacare itself or its disgusting and immoral mandates.

    Keep fighting Proessor, you are correct in your conclusions and your pathetic students who decided to stand like idiots at your class are nothing but bought and paid for stooges (whether they realize it or not)for what seriously amounts to nothing but one issue detachted from any concrete and valid principles, a free floating concept which these people can’t even conretize into a valid and defendable position either morally, or legally.

    Absolutely disgusting.

  163. 163 163 Ken B

    A short humour break. Christina A:
    “Professor Landsburg wants people to “take a look” at his blog posts and see that there is an intellectual conversation taking place. I’ve just spent (wasted?) the last half hour reading them, and the comments connected to them. I am still looking for the “intellectual” discussion. I find a large group of (mostly) men waving the flag of economics …”

    Mostly men, which is bad enough, discussing economics, which can never ever ever count as being an intellectual discussion. Intellectual dicussions are about transgender othering in the poems of Amor de Lonh.

    BTW I agree you wasted your time. We likely disagree on whose fault that is.

  164. 164 164 Rob

    I don’t know Prof. Landsburg’s work in economics, but, if his comments are any indication, he knows very little about logic.

    His defense of Limbaugh violates the very distinction he proposes. Landsburg wrote that people are worthy of “respect” but positions are not. If we accept this distinction–and many scholars studying deliberation do not–then calling someone a slut does not respect the person. Instead, it attacks the person instead of the position. This is what is known as an ad hominem: attacking someone’s character when you disagree with what they said.

    Rather than saying why he disagreed with Ms. Fluke, Limbaugh called her promiscuous, and then he added insult to injury by objectifying her with the video comment.

    Of course, questions about someone’s character are not entirely out of bounds in deliberation, especially when someone invites such questions. And Prof. Landsburg’s guffaw at the video comment–c’mon Ms. Fluke, I “reasonably demand to share in the benefits”–does indeed raise questions about his character.

  165. 165 165 Cularius

    “Birth control pills can be purchased for as low as $9 per month at a pharmacy near Georgetown’s campus. According to an employee at the pharmacy in Washington, D.C.’s Target store, the pharmacy sells birth control pills–the generic versions of Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Ortho-Cyclen–for $9 per month. “That’s the price without insurance,” the Target employee said. Nine dollars is less than the price of two beers at a Georgetown bar.”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/dc-target-sells-birth-control-9-month-georgetown-student-tells-congress-friends-are-going-broke-pay-pills_632955.html?nopager=1

  166. 166 166 Brad

    I’m wondering what Mr. Landsburg thinks about a Medicare patient who expects the taxpayer to pay for his colonoscopy.

    Do you think that should be posted online, for the gratification of the sicko that gets some sort of pleasure from viewing such a thing?

    I don’t follow the logic, to be honest.

  167. 167 167 Brad

    If the issue here is the public health benefit (or lack thereof) of mandating that health insurance cover FDA approved contraception, then I believe the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) defers to the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine in that regard. In setting the regulations the Dept of Health asked the Institute of Medicine to review what preventive services are important to women’s health and well-being and make recommendations about which of these should be required to be covered without cost-sharing. Those were the services that were included in the AHA.

    The issue was taken out of the hands of the politicians and the act follows the regulations of the doctors.

    For more information, including the ISM report, click here

    http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2011/07/institute_of_medicine_recommen.php

  168. 168 168 Vald

    @Tom

    I believe that I did go right to the substantive point that you raised. To put it quite simply, you said “This is about freedom of religion, not contraception.”

    My response was, no, it’s not about the First Amendment at all because the First Amendment does not apply.

    As I understand it, the First Amendment arguments are premised on the idea that there is a mandate that some religious institutions are refusing to pay. If there is no mandate, then there is no First Amendment argument to be had. To have a First Amendment claim, there must be a government action which you claim is unconstitutional.

    The mandate, which is the only part of this discussion relevant to the First Amendment, requires, in this case, religious institutions to pay for something to which they are morally opposed. I therefore responded with the argument that the mandate itself does not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution because it is based on an otherwise generally applicable law. Nowhere in this do I discuss preventing anyone’s access to contraception. To use one of my examples, if my religion opposes the war on drugs and I refuse to pay taxes to support the war on drugs, my claim is not that the government CANNOT continue to engage in the war on drugs, only that I do not want my money going towards funding what something that I, in this example, see as immoral.

    Also, I’m glad that you preempted your responses by telling me that you weren’t a constitutional scholar, because you seem to have a very thin grasp on how constitutional law works in the United States. You are claiming that a federal action is violating the First Amendment of the Constitution. What this means, in effect, is that you believe if this mandate goes into effect, you have a right to challenge the federal government in court. Simply calling something a violation of the First Amendment might sound good on the television, but to actually stand up in court, you must actually base your claim on federal constitutional jurisprudence as understood by Congress and, more importantly, the Supreme Court. Whether you think that something violates the First Amendment is rather beside the point unless you can find actual constitutional doctrine to support your opinion

    Now, to discuss your actual points:

    Your point is obviously correct that refusing to fund national defense would be a silly idea, but it was a hypothetical (and a response that I had already anticipated).

    As for the war on drugs, your inability to find any justification in the constitution is, as I said, rather beside the point. I also happen to think there is little constitutional justification for such laws, but my opinion is also rather irrelevant. At the moment, the federal government, without complaint from the Supreme Court, understands the war on drugs to be constitutional. Until someone can prove to five members of the Supreme Court that it is, then it will continue.

    As for Employment Division v. Smith, I agree that it makes no logical sense with respect to the Constitution. To reach the decision, the Supreme Court made numerous jumps in logic and stated outright lies with regards to the actual nature of the rituals of the American Indian Church. The Court has also resisted attempts from Congress to pass laws overruling the decision. I also doubt that I could show you how it makes any respect with regards to the constitution, but then again, very few decisions in federal Indian law are based on the actual constitution (or anything much at all, but that’s beside the point).

    I have also been responding in order, so I just now reached the bit about how lawyers are idiots. Just for the record, I am not a lawyer or a law student. While you can think that lawyers are the stupidest people on the planet, which, like your constitutional interpretations, make little difference to the way that our country actually functions. I have plenty of issues with how our constitutional system works, not the least of which is the fact that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is arguably the most powerful man in the country when it comes to highly contested issues. At the same time, however, talking about the “Constitution and what makes logical sense” is a gigantic waste of time if you are actually attempting to argue that something should be considered illegal and overturned. If you only want to have the debate here, that’s fine, but then you will still be stuck with the mandate that you don’t want to pay (assuming that Congress does not overturn it).

    I’m sure you will disagree, but the legal establishment, the courts, and Congress all implicitly accept that the Constitution is a piece of paper, and the law that actually effects the way that people live is the Constitution AS INTERPRETED.

    Also, not to get into a constitutional debate about the Second Amendment (which is completely beside the point of this thread), but you did skip the highly contested first clause of the amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” If you are going to be nitpicky about the original intent of the constitution, at least quote it correctly, because all of the debates you site are over the militia clause, not the infringement clause.

    You leave out the most amazingly awful element of Marbury v. Madison: Chief Justice John Marshal was ruling on a case that was actually about an action he himself had authorized. Not only was it a power grab for the court, but with this decision he was actually vindicating himself and his own actions.

    Also, by your logic (that the Supreme Court cannot overturn laws), nothing is really unconstitutional unless Congress says it is. How do you expect laws to be ruled unconstitutional if judges aren’t going to be the ones doing it? Many things have changed since the implementation of the Constitution in 1783, and I, for one, would hate to go back to those days.

    Finally, none of what I said was a distraction. I know you find it unfortunate, but a discussion of Constitutional law requires an actual discussion of Constitutional law. To say that something is unconstitutional because you say so is just as bad as Sandra Fluke providing absolutely no evidence to back up her claim that the government should provide birth control.

  169. 169 169 Elise

    Thank you, Steven, for standing up for TRUTH–Stand tall
    & tough!–ur students have been fed the liberal self-entitlement LIE koolade thru our Ed system from preschool forward w/o God, the Bible or prayer & have no reference point for truth. As for Sandra Flukner–she was named appropriately as shs was hired by the democratic party to ask for govt assistance for sex & that makeKs her TWICE the WHORE–one for the Democrats & one for the govt. Keep fighting the good fight for TRUTH!

  170. 170 170 Mary Stewart

    Life is what we make of it, not what we are able to wheedle out of others. At 60 years old I realize you are doing more for your students standing up for truth and being responsible for themselves than to digress over a poor choice of words to describe what Ms. Fluke opened herself, embarrassingly, up for. She has been used more shamelessly than by any man she’s bedded.

  171. 171 171 Pbizzel

    @Pbizzel

    I just heard about this story all the way out here on the west coast. Bottom line is Ms. Fluke is a puppet for the left being used to take back control of the argument. This is a standard issue Saul Alinsky tactic.

    Folks, I could tell you about the “Common Clause”, I could explain that pregnancy is not a disease, I could even go further and break down the definition of Slut and/or Prostitute…but I won’t. The people who do not understand what is going on here and jumping on the “This is a Women’s Right Issue” bandwagon are simply depriving themselves of facts.

    Sex is awesome…Sex is great…Sex is one of the greatest acts two people can engage in together…but sex has nothing to do with anyone else other than the two between the sheets. Contraception is about personal responsibility for your own actions. If you want to engage in sex, then take responsibility for it. As it relates to the debate in congress…Contraception is not being deprived to anyone and that includes women who take it for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(affects 1 in 15 women or 7.5%). You can get it for free at Planned Parenthood or for $9 at Target or Walmart without insurance. If you need help finding the cheapest place to buy it, use this great invention called “GOOGLE MAPS”. If that is too difficult, feel free to Tweet me at @PBizzel and I will do my best to find you the least expensive or free option near you. Don’t take this offer in jest…I simply want you to know that this simple task can be accomplished without spending $1,000 per year.

    The real debate is not about Women’s Rights, but in regards to Religious Freedoms. Why you might ask…women are not being deprived of any rights, that’s why. However, Religious organizations are being deprived of their 1st Amendment protection, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,…”. For those non-history buffs, the law was designed so the state would not be able to dictate what religion could or couldn’t worship. So when a Religious organization does not want to provide certain benefits because of their Religious beliefs, they are not required by the government to so. In addition, the founding fathers did not want the newly established government to have the same power as the Monarchy in England, who had established the “Church of England” in 1558 and in doing so put the monarchy in charge of the church.

    Stay focused on what is really going on here, an attack on our 1st Amendment. Sandra Fluke is simply trying take your eyes off the prize, our Constitution.

  172. 172 172 Steve Landsburg

    Pbizzel:

    The real debate is not about Women’s Rights, but in regards to Religious Freedoms.

    I am sympathetic to the cause of religious freedom, but I don’t actually think that’s the major issue here. The major issue is: Under what circumstances ought the government attempt to overturn a privately negotiated contract? The usual answer is: Only when the effects of that contract spill over onto third parties. In this case, Ms Fluke did not point to any such third party and therefore (it seems to me) did not contribute anything useful to the discussion. To me, the overriding issue is that discussions of policy issues should be guided by basic logic, and in this case the basic logic was treated with contempt.

  173. 173 173 asa1940

    Steve Landsburg @ 11:06 p.m. March 8

    You don’t get it, do you, Steve?

    By your own “usual answer” for when the government should “overturn a privately negotiated contract”, Ms. Fluke’s testimony was highly relevant to the issue of government regulation of health insurance, in particular contraception medication coverage.

    The private insurance contract in this case is the student health insurance negotiated between Georgetown University and UnitedHealthcare, the insurer provider. The third-party beneficiaries to this contract (who also bear the entire cost of the insurance) are the students. Ms. Fluke pointed out several third parties (fellow students) who are adversely affected by the adhesion contracts they are mandated to enter, unless they obtain a waiver from the university. Ms. Fluke’s testimony addressed the issue that, given that health insurance is mandated (whether by the university, as in her case, or by federal law, as under the Affordable Care Act), should such insurance cover contraception? I thought the examples she provided contributed significantly to an understanding of why the Blunt amendment was a bad idea.

    You and Rush Limbaugh falsely characterize her testimony, re-frame the issues to your own liking (including sex, which Ms. Fluke did not mention) and then ridicule her position. If anyone deserve to be “ridiculed, mocked and jeered”, it is you, sir.

  174. 174 174 Steve Landsburg

    asa1940: Students who voluntarily attend georgetown are not third parties according to the standard analysis. And that analysis is not arbitrary; the good reasons for it are part of the content of a good economics course.

  175. 175 175 asa1940

    Steve: After reading Eric Beinhocker’s “The Origin of Wealth” (Harvard Business School Press, 2006), I question whether anything in a “good economics course” has any validity. So you’ll have to make your argument about third parties explicit instead of calling in the inscrutable gods of economics. Furthermore, Ms. Fluke addressed the “voluntarily attend” issue in her testimony – she identified the trade-offs involved that make the choice to attend Georgetown not entirely voluntary (assuming some basic givens, like attending a good law school, which further assuming is a benefit to society).

  176. 176 176 Bw00ds

    Prof. Landsburg,

    Thank you for recognizing and standing up for what is right. I read your blog and several of the above posts. Your blog is spot on and I agree with you totally.

    I find the blatant hypocrisy so rampant in today’s society nauseating. Like the students who protested your blog by attempting to disrupt your class with their silent wall. I suppose it is their right to express disagreement with your blog, but too often, and almost as an automatic response, there is a certain mindset in the population that says my right to disagree with you and therefore deride your opinion overrides your right to even say it in the first place.

    The protesting students’ flyers said you “attempt[ed] to smear a gender with derogatory terms.” I read no such thing in your blog. They also said that “We are dismayed that a fully tenured academic would so carelessly sully our fine institution’s name.” I am dismayed that supposed students at an institution of higher learning cannot think for themselves and think clearly. Why cannot people go beyond the 30-second sound bite mentality and clearly think about someone’s argument and analyze it for its merits or lack thereof as you did? If more people did that–which most of the time really only takes a good dose of common sense–then most politicians (on both sides) would not even be elected and we’d be better off.

    I think your university’s reputation is elevated by professors such as you…

  177. 177 177 ZT

    Professor,

    It seems to me Fluke was called to testify before Congress on the harms to women occurring due to the lack of coverage. She did that. Why was it her job to give an economic or moral argument as to why the rest of the country should care? That’s Congress’ job, and the information she provided is meant to be part of it. Is your beef really with Fluke, or with those using her testimony?

    Then there’s the problem of the language in Rush’s post. “Slut” doesn’t conotate merely one who enjoys sex; it’s also a baggage-laden word that’s part of a linguistic assault on women. The same for the “five letter synonym for ‘prostitute.’” Rush Limbaugh went on and on fantasizing about this women’s sex life, claiming she was having an absurd amount of sex based on off-the-cuff calculations so flawed it doesn’t take an economics professor to see through them. I would say his speech was loaded with vile codewords, but I think “feminazis” is a bit too blatant to count as a codeword. And it’s not like this is the first time Rush has made an ass of himself– remember when he called the LRA “Christian freedom fighters?” Or when he said the Abu Ghraib abuses were justified because the guards were stressed and needed to “blow off some steam?”

    This is not the kind of serious discourse you or any other self-respecting academic has been participating in. Why prop Rush up at all? Why give him intellectual credit where none was due? If he says anything that sounds like an intelligent argument, it’s a broken clock being right twice a day.

  178. 178 178 Steve

    Congratulations to the professor for providing an insightful analysis of Mr. Limbaugh’s statements. Unfortunately, because you have a point of view that differs from the ruling class at your university (President Joel Seligman), you have now found yourself to be the target of attempted censorship.

    President Seligman, I condemn your condemnation of Professor Landsburg; an action that can only be viewed as an attack on freedom of speech, and freedom of thought that differs from your narrow, leftist point of view. I would imagine that the president of a university would encourage independent thinking and alternative points of view, even if you do not personally agree with the subject, or the opinion. President Seligman, you are no longer fit to classify yourself as an educator, you are merely a tool of the progressive movement.

  179. 179 179 Chasman

    It takes a lot of courage to not be a liberal in the college environment. Kudos to you, for standing up to the thought police, and Hugo Chavez wannabe’s.

  180. 180 180 Scott

    It’s nice to see that professor Landsburg had the courage to speak out. These college kids are blind followers just trying to stay in the cool club. None of them have the balls to speak up against the indoctrination they are getting from their liberal professors. When I see these silent protests and occupy nothing protests, it makes me wonder how many other men and women with world experience and knowledge are laughing at them with disgust. They stand there with their arms folded thinking that they are doing something important. Can they recognize the truth? Will they ever stand against their own? No they jeer Limbaugh and rush home to fawn over Bill Maher as he calls good women “cunts”. I see them as kids that probably had weak fathers at home. God bless them, they will grow in time.

  181. 181 181 Nancy

    I support your comments and your right to publish them here.

    You are only having a conversation about what was said.

    I think all the students who ‘protested’ in the class, are ridiculous.

    It must be extremely difficult to try to teach today’s students to think.

    You have my full support! I agree with you.

  182. 182 182 GEORGE LA CHANCE

    Greetings from Canada

    The most shocking thing about this whole issue is the speed and determination of ‘officials’ at RU in their rush to silence an opinion that contradicts their own. Apparently there is freedom of speech on this campus as long as it marches lock-step with the radical opinions of the liberals in control. Congratulations Professor for having the courage to speak up and present a point of view that might be dangerous to your career. Shame on the students who chose to misrepresent this as a ‘hate crime’ against a person who clearly is demanding an entitlement from the government at tax payers expense. SHAME!

  183. 183 183 Jennifer

    When is someone going to fight for my “right” to tampons and midol, and make the taxpayers pay for it? PMS is a bloody expensive mess…. :/

  184. 184 184 ChasVS

    Congratulations! I admire your Honesty and Backbone to be TRUE to the RIGHT of our People to express their opinions without fear of censorship. Those who would silence our speech are Hippocrates who only allow opinions consistent with their Liberal views.

  185. 185 185 Aaron Baker

    What Scott Lemieux said: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/03/getting-something-for-your-wages-or-tuition-is-theft

    What it hurt you to ascertain the facts of the matter at least before you start typing?

  186. 186 186 Aaron Baker

    “Would it hurt you” I should have typed. But read Lemieux’s post.

  187. 187 187 AJ

    Nowhere did Sandra Fluke demand that taxes be used to fund her
    contraception, just wanted to point that out.

    Ignoring the vileness of RL, he still made a bad argument. There is very sound economic reasoning for why we should subsidize birth control.

    While population growth in general is a good thing for society, unwanted pregnancy is not. Unplanned pregnancies cause negative externalities for society:

    A. Direct medical costs of the pregnancy.

    B. Lost productivity from parents who may have to drop out of high school, college, or the work force who otherwise would’ve generated higher productivity.

    C. The lost productivity leads to lower lifetime earnings for the family. This likely means the new child brought into the world will grow up in poverty or in a less than ideal economic situation, not realize their possible full potential and under produce in their lifetime.

    D. Teen pregnancy and, to a lesser degree, single family homes are often a result of unplanned pregnancies. When looking at these households we see increased crime rates, disease rates and many other unfortunate situations that affect society negatively.

    There are others as well, but what it comes down to is that reducing unwanted pregnancies is a good thing for society. Preventing unwanted pregnancies through contraception is better than fixing it after the fact through termination.

    Sandra Fluke and other law students aren’t the best example to use because they should be able to afford contraception once they graduate. Indigent people however, cannot afford it and bear the largest burden on society when they have kids that increase the burden on entitlement programs and such. So perhaps the answer would be to means test. Either way, it costs society more to fund the results of unwanted pregnancies than it would to fund contraception.

  188. 188 188 Steve Landsburg

    AJ:

    While population growth in general is a good thing for society, unwanted pregnancy is not. Unplanned pregnancies cause negative externalities for society:

    How do you know that they are negative on balance? Is this a guess or do you have research to point to? (If it’s a guess, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable one. But if it’s more than a guess, I’d like to know about it.)

  189. 189 189 Ecclesiastes

    For “extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement”, the closest noun I have is “brat”, usually modified for this sense with “spoiled”.

    I prefer the aforementioned to “entitlement princess” because this term doesn’t fully capture the juvenile nature of her presented arguments.

  190. 190 190 AJ

    A quick Google search for “costs of unwanted pregnancies” yielded many hits. Here’s one from HuffPo:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/unintended-pregnancies-cost-taxpayers_n_866386.html

    I have done no research on the matter myself, and can’t say conclusively that it does cost society money. It just seems like a logical conclusion that people who weren’t planning on having a child aren’t going to be financially and emotionally ready to raise said child, foisting that cost upon society, and most unfortunately, the child itself. But like I said, I’ve done no research on the matter and am very open to evidence to the contrary.

  191. 191 191 AJ

    Also, in my original post, I should’ve said, “it’s likely that it costs society more to fund the results of unwanted pregnancies than it would to fund contraception.” I don’t know for a fact that it is.

  192. 192 192 Scott

    Someone just told me that they have this thing here in the U.S. called the Constitution. Can anyone verify this? It sounds incredible! I’m told that it even includes a Bill of Rights, and you arn’t going to believe this but it has an Amendment that prevents Govt. from impeding on religous rights.
    The Govt. mandating that religous institutions pay for birth control in any way,violates the 1st amendment. Many great men and women have died to preserve our liberty and freedom. Its amazing to see fools want to give that away for something as immature as birth control. Liberals eagerness to take other peoples rights,money and liberty make me thank God for the 2nd amendment.

  193. 193 193 Mayalibre

    What I don’t see here is a recognition of the actual relationships, contracts, and firewalls of privacy. A doctor-patient relationship is privileged, and contraceptive hormones cannot be purchase over-the-counter, they can ONLY be obtained by prescription from a licensed physician. Whatever controlled medicines might be prescribed to anyone, for any condition or illness, is confidential within the relationship. In the next ring out is the insurer, who receives a diagnosis code and a procedure code for the doctor’s care, and a receipt for medications purchased. The insurer is NOT entitled to detailed notes from the medical chart or copies of test results. The partial medical information that the insurer receives is ALSO protected by a layer of confidentiality. NONE of this information can legally be shared with the employer (or in this case school). An employer is NOT entitled to know what your diagnosis is, or what tests or medicines you take. The purpose of that is to limit discrimination, for example if you are diabetic, take anti-seizure medication for epilepsy, etc. It seems to me that what is at issue here is that some people do not want medical information to be confidential. They want to know what illnesses, diagnoses, or medications others take. They think that information should be publicly available, in a dossier on you that your employers, potential employers, school administrators, and anyone else can see. And they believe that non-medically-trained employers, school administrators, etc, should have veto power over the recommendations or treatments doctors prescribe. I wonder why we bother training or licensing doctors then, and controlling most medicines, if laymen “know better.” The thing is, the arguments against Ms. Fluke would be viable if the hormones were available over-the-counter, and insurers already classify certain things that a patient might feel is important as not really. For example, your insurer will not pay for your vitamins. The bottom line to me in this story is that people who have no medical training, no medical license, and who are not *in* a privileged, confidential doctor-patient relationship with a person, DEMAND that they have the right to insert themselves into it and judge whether something is medically necessary. IMO, if a physican is licensed, and the medicine being prescribed is a controlled pharmaceutical, then NO ONE outside that relationship has a right to JUDGE. And the insurer is simply bound by their contract to pay for the doctor’s licensed services, and the valid prescription that s/he writes.

    P.S. Regarding the cost of $83 per month — hormones are not like painkillers, they are not “one size fits all”, they are much more complex, and getting the right combination is tricky. I have been on hormones of various sorts over the years, and it often took several months of agony to find the right one. One may make you bleed every few days, another may make you stop bleeding altogether, one may make your periods like gushing gallons of blood, another may make you pass dry clots, one may make you have constant crying jags, another may make you depressed, one may make you retain water such that your blood pressure rises, etc… It’s not like just “going out and getting a $5 generic.”

  194. 194 194 Mayalibre

    Sorry, I should add that after a person turns 18, not even their parents are entitled to see or know their medical details. So Georgetown University, in a quasi-parental role, is even less entitled. The parents, university, or employer can pay for coverage or not — although soon they will not be able to opt out. But they are not now, and I suggest they should never be, able to countermand the recommendations or treatments a doctor prescribes. The only acceptable exception is if the patient loses consciousness and cannot make their own decisions, and even then, standards of medical ethics to protect not only the life but the confidentiality of the patient, come into play.

  195. 195 195 Vald

    @Scott

    See my post above about the invalidity of a first amendment argument. It will be the really long one.

  196. 196 196 vance

    Just so you know the whole comment trail going to Town Hall and Dailykos so everyone knows how heroic you are.

  197. 197 197 Scott

    @Vald
    Your point….”I therefore responded with the argument that the mandate itself does not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution because it is based on an otherwise generally applicable law” is invalid it does violate the 1st amendment. Can the govt. mandate all schools including Islamic schools provide pork as a menu item?

  198. 198 198 Vald

    @Scott

    The problem with your logic is that you seem to assume that the Constitution is what you believe it to be. The Constitution is what it has been interpreted to be. It really doesn’t matter what you think it SHOULD be, it matters what Congress and the Supreme Court interpret it to be.

    As for your example, it would not pass the test because it would not be a generally applicable law. Aside from the fact that I do not know under what clause the federal government would attempt to order schools to serve a specific food. The case for commerce clause authority to embolden the pork market seems significantly weaker than the authority claimed to regulate the health insurance market.

  199. 199 199 Ken B

    Aaron Baker provided a link to Scott Lemieux with this comment
    “What Scott Lemieux said”

    Sounds like a ditto-head doesn’t it? Isn’t that basically what the Limbaugh ditto-heads say?

  200. 200 200 Carrie

    Can I ask if you have actually heard or read Sandra Fluke’s testimony? Actually, you don’t have to answer because from this blog post the answer is quite clear. No you haven’t.

    “I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument. All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it.”

    If you had bothered to read it you would know that she repeatedly says she would like to see contraception covered under her medical plan THAT SHE PAYS FOR completely unsubsidized. Georgetown students choose to pay $1800 per year for medical coverage and since Catholics apparently don’t agree with artificial contraception (apparently “natural” contraception is ok, don’t ask me what the difference is exactly) – they don’t provide that particular prescription coverage.

    Let me explain this in a different way – let’s say you pay hundreds of dollars every month to make sure your family is covered by medical insurance (I, for one, pay $340/mo) and one day you find yourself in a situation where you child needs a life saving blood transfusion, only to find out that your employer is a Jehovah’s Witness and they think blood transfusions are wrong and immoral.

    Now you are stuck with not only paying for your medical plan every month, but now you have thousands in medical bills because you had to pay for the transfusion out of pocket.

    So I guess you want your kid to get the blood transfusion yet you don’t want to pay for it? Damn sense of entitlement!! This is the issue.

    Sorry, but we DO pay for it and guess what? Millions upon millions of women in this country currently have their birth control covered by their medical insurance. Including me….so I guess that makes us, what? Millions and millions of “extortionists with an overweening sense of entitlement trying to somehow pick your pocket?”

    If you disagree that women should have contraception covered under their medical plans then take it up with the Institute of Medicine who explicitly disagree with you.

    So tell me, how exactly are you or anyone else paying for my prescription under a medical plan that I pay for?

    Here are a few quotes from her transcript since you couldn’t be bothered to read it yourself:

    “…She’s 32 years old. As she put it: If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no choice at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy — that I paid for, totally unsubsidized by my school — wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it. Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at such an early age — increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis — she may never be able to conceive a child.”

    “We expected that when 94 percent of students opposed the policy, the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for completely unsubsidized by the university.”

  201. 201 201 Carrie

    Anyone discussing the First Amendment might want to consult Employment Division v. Smith:

    “The Obama administration is already facing lawsuits challenging its requirement that insurance plans cover birth control as a violation of religious freedom. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has flatly called the regulation unconstitutional. But although it’s unclear how much traction the legal challenges will gain, especially in light of the White House adjusting the mandate Friday, the President and his backers have one unlikely man to thank for helping their cause: Justice Antonin Scalia.

    One thing I think is crystal clear — there is no First Amendment violation by this law,” Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA, told TPM. “The Supreme Court was very clear in a case called Employment Division v. Smith, written by none other than Antonin Scalia, that religious believers and institutions are not entitled to an exemption from generally applicable laws.”

    The Reagan-appointed conservative justice authored the majority opinion in the 1990 decision Employment Division v. Smith, a critical precedent to the birth control case, decreeing that religious liberty is insufficient grounds for being exempt from laws. The Supreme Court said Oregon may deny unemployment benefits to people who were fired for consuming peyote as part of a religious tradition, seeing as the drug was illegal in the state.

    “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself,” wrote Scalia, an avowed Catholic and social conservative, quoting from a century-old Supreme Court decision and giving it new life. His opinion was cosigned by four other justices.”

  202. 202 202 Scott

    Where we differ is I know my limits on arguing constitutional law. You lefty’s don’t. Where the painful truth hits you is when the Supreme Court strikes it down and you are all left with nothing to do but run to the local park and light candles. You all won’t be nearly as frustrated if you start thinking with your brains. What did our framers want when they wrote that incredible document? That’s what you should be thinking about. Not free birth control, abortions are sex changes. God bless!

  203. 203 203 Vald

    @Scott

    Did you just call Antonin Scalia a lefty? I actually burst out laughing when I read that. If you really believe that everyone who understands constitutional doctrine as interpreted by the Supreme Court is a lefty, then you must exist at the edge of the political spectrum (arguably even further to the right than Clarence Thomas, by far the most conservative justice on the court).

    Also, just FYI, Employment Division v. Smith a fairly conservative decision (conservative in the sense of politically to the right).

    I understand very well the possibilities that the court may find the mandate unconstitutional. Actually, I’m almost certain, based on your lack of knowledge or concern about Supreme Court precedent, that I understand such issues and possibilities much better than you. It will come from a balance of commerce clause jurisprudence and the right of the federal government to pass the PPACA in the first place, and thereafter first amendment jurisprudence and what such doctrine means for the mandate. There are also the unspoken biases of the court towards granting Christianity significantly more leverage than American Indian religious groups (as evidenced by Employment Division v. Smith and other religious rights cases).

    As for “What did our framers want when they wrote that incredible document?” – The short answer would be a good compromise to keep the 13 states together in one nation, and to create a federal government that would be able to effectively function.
    - They had to start by getting rid of all the ideas that had led to the failure of the Articles of Confederation.
    - Then they moved on to the various compromises you might have heard of. One was balancing the interests of the large and small states by having a two house legislature, one based on population and the other for representation from the states (not the people, as Senators were not originally popularly elected).
    - There was also that rather controversial clause that defined a slave as only 3/5 of a person.

    The Constitution was not a document handed down from heaven, and the founders were not Gods incarnate. The Constitution was a document with flaws, written by brilliant men who were, nevertheless, as flawed as any other.

  204. 204 204 Scott

    @vald I didnt even waste my time to read what you wrote. The supreme court will NEVER allow it, check mate!

  205. 205 205 Steve Landsburg

    Scott: I haven’t had time to read all of vald’s comments, but we’re here to talk about wise policies, not about what the supreme court will allow.

  206. 206 206 Scott

    The framers wanted small government and never intended for tax dollars to be spent on birth control,million dollar studies to find out why pigs smell,back door kick backs for political donations(solyndra) or bridges to nowhere.

  207. 207 207 Steve Landsburg

    Scott: I appreciate the sentiment, but I think that what the framers wanted is far less interesting than what we should want.

  208. 208 208 Scott

    Professor, most of these goodies that people want to see the Govt. pay for are way over the top. For every college student that can’t afford birth control you won’t have to look too far to find her IPhone fully loaded with every new song and App. The “new poor” is a used car with 20’s. A box of condoms is like $3.00 or .75 out of a machine.
    The arm of Govt. should extend no further than absolute bare necessity on social programs. I have a sister I will use as an example.
    She has what she calls her Obama phone it’s a free phone given to her by the Govt. and they give her 250 free minutes a month.She is 48 yrs. Old, hardly worked a day in her life and was addicted to heroin. 15 years ago she traded that habit for state controlled Methadone. The state of Massachusetts has been her drug dealer for the last 15 years.
    She receives $350 dollars a month in food stamps and $900 a month in Social Security, $1000 a month in prescription drugs, a nurse that comes every morning to give her medication (that is in a lockbox) and when she leaves she has a van come (paid for by the state) and take her to the methadone clinic. She also has a counselor come to her apt once a week.
    My sister has cable TV and internet. She also has her own phone bundled with her cable aside from her Obama phone. If these programs and free goodies went away tomorrow she and others like her would adapt and find jobs.

  209. 209 209 Sohara

    The fundamental issue with the logic you are claiming to battle is that none of what Sandra Fluke said concerned a desire to have other people pay for her to have sex. None of it. She was defending birth control as a medical necessity for women, which, as a woman, I am very well aware that that is completely true. I began taking birth control when I was fourteen, years and years before I had a boyfriend and even more years before I ever had sex, because my periods were so painful without it that I was incapacitated for two to three days out of every month. A good friend of mine has periods so bad that, without the birth control shot, her periods can last up to a month and she regularly bleeds through a tampon, a pad, and two pairs of pants a night when she’s on her period. Ovarian cysts are another exceptionally serious medical condition that birth control can prevent.

    Women’s reproductive systems don’t function perfectly. Women all too frequently died in childbirth until this past century, and there is a LOT that can go wrong with the reproductive system. Having a drug that keeps it in check so that our reproductive organs aren’t strangled to death by growing ovarian cysts – that is a serious medical condition, a serious fear for many women, and it is absurd for institutions to say that they will not offer you coverage for this condition IF YOU PAY FOR IT.

    Women, and Sandra Fluke, are not asking to get contraception for free. They are asking to be permitted to pay for it as part of employee health insurance.

    And – what is most striking about this – premiums go DOWN if birth control is covered; less money is paid by all. Insuring and paying for birth control pills or other forms of medical contraception is not only cheaper because there are far fewer claims for prenatal care, hospital visits, etc., but because less money has to be paid to the hospitals for serious surgical procedures, like cyst removal.

    Sandra Fluke was arguing for the right to pay for contraception through her student health fees. I get contraception as a graduate student through my school, but I certainly do pay for that privilege. This is not, and has never been, an insistence on receiving free contraception. If this were just about a woman wanting to have sex, then condoms are absolutely available for throwaway prices anywhere. But it isn’t about that. It’s about a woman’s right to be able to pay for medication that she needs, and that has financial benefits for everyone involved. It is NOT, and has never been, about her desire to have sex or the frequency with which she may or may not have sex.

  210. 210 210 Steve Landsburg

    Sohara:

    I tried sending you the following email, but it bounced. I’ve gone ahead and posted your comment, but as a general rule, I will not approve future comments unless they’re accompanied by a working email address (which is never posted).

    Thank you for your long and thoughtful blog comment.

    You are walking into the middle of a conversation that’s been going on for quite some time now, spread out over about five threads on the blog, so you might not be aware that you’re treading over ground that we’ve discussed at some length already.

    I absolutely agree that Sandra Fluke is not asking to be paid to have sex. I absolutely agree that contraceptives have important health benefits. I absolutely agree that Sandra Fluke spoke eloquently about those benefits.

    But I also contend that none of this has anything to do with the issue of whether others should be required by law to subsidize those benefits. After all, toothpaste also has
    great health benefits, but few people think it should be subsidized.

    I do understand your statement that Sandra Fluke is asking for the opportunity to pay for those benefits via insurance, but of course that’s a bit misleading. What she wants
    is for Georgetown to offer a policy that will allocate those costs partly to Sandra Fluke and partly to others who will never use those benefits.

    That, of course, is what insurance does. We all agree that insurance contracts are arrangements under which we all subsidize parts of each others’ health care. The proximate issue here is: Should contraceptives be among the things that are covered? To answer that question, it’s not enough to point to health benefits. The fact that something is good is not enough to prove that it should be covered by insurance.

    But the real issue goes deeper than “Should contraceptives be covered?”. The issue is “Who should decide?”. Should the limits of insurance coverage reflect the outcome of
    an implicit negotiation between Georgetown University and its students, or should the government partially dictate the terms of that contract?

    I have been trying very hard to focus the discussion on that key issue: What are the circumstances under which the government ought to have a say in the terms of insurance contracts, and what are the circumstances in which they ought not? And what reasons do we have for believing that this particular case falls in one category rather than the other?

    Normally, I am very liberal about approving all reasonable comments for posting. But when the threads get very long and convoluted, I start filtering out posts
    that are either a) off topic or b) going over old ground that’s been hashed out already. I do this strictly to keep the threads readable. And I weed out supportive
    posts even more ruthlessly than I weed out dissenting ones.

    By that criterion, my first instinct is to delete your post. On the other hand, yours is particularly thoughtful and well written even though (given the direction the conversation has taken) it’s now pretty much off topic. So I am going to hang on to it and reconsider over the weekend.

    In any event, I want to thank you for taking the time to express yourself so eloquently, and whether or not this gets posted, I hope you’ll be back.

    SL
    .

  211. 211 211 Sohara

    Well! I am sorry about the email bouncing – I tend to use an old email address for things like this.

    Thanks for your response – and, no, I didn’t realize how much ground had been covered, because you have caused quite a stir of comments! Nevertheless, thanks for replying.

    Of course the issue of what insurance should cover and how much legislation can force it to cover is incredibly tricky – it pits what is good for business against what is good for people who need medical care. Undoubtedly, it would be best for business if insurance companies could deny people ith pre-existing health conditions. Of course it would. Business would receive premiums and be required to pay out less in future medical costs. Would a lot of people die in debt and serious pain from lack of medication and medical attention? Of course they would. They do. The thing is that business interests have repeatedly, over hundreds and hundreds of years, have become greedy and tyrannical unless legislation steps in to force businesses to do something that might not be best for their bottom line.

    The Gilded Age may be one of the best examples I can offer off of the top of my head. There was no minimum wage, people lived in sewage-ridden slums, especially in New York City, exceptionally young children went to work in any place from factories to coal mines for half wages, working conditions were so poor and unsupervised that, when the Triangle Fire occurred, the back doors were chained shut and most of the women died, there were no regulations forcing medicines to be anything other than hogwash, the cities’ working classes worked over twelve hours a day for very little pay – conditions were atrocious. The government finally considered that it had the right to interfere to protect these workers and to create a foundation of basic human rights, and although telling businesses that they could not hire young children and had to limit working hours was considered an intrusion into private business practices, it passed. We still uphold these practices today, and consider them part of daily life. We breathe clean air and drink clean water because of these policies. Government intrusion is not necessarily bad.

    So we do admit that so-called government intrusion can have good results. And you’re right: where do we, in fact, draw the line between what is appropriate and what is not?

    Insurance policies cover cancer. They cover broken bones, X-rays, blood transfusions, organ transplants, heart disease, and any number of medical issues. They cover a good deal of problems that people have brought on themselves – countless YouTube videos prove that many people who go into the hospital with broken bones were being absolute idiots. They cover heart disease issues if people have maltreated their bodies with poor food and minimal exercise. They cover cancer if a person frequented tanning beds or smoked two packs a day. The business of insurance policies is not only to provide medical care for unexpected problems, but also for problems for which the patient was at fault. That being the case, birth control pills, shots, and other devices can hardly be denied insurance on the grounds that these medicinal products are used because of a lifestyle choice.

    I believe, although of course I know that one person’s belief is not fact, that government needs to intrude when enough people see the need for it to do so. I believe that that is what government is set up to do. Government intruded and forced people to accept the illegalization of slavery, desegregation, and the right to vote for women. The government did so because enough people were up in arms about these issues and clamored for a change. The majority is not always right and is frequently stupid, but if you do not let the majority rule then you do not have a democracy.

    A democratic government, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, by its very definition exists to help the people. Shouldn’t the government, then, intervene on the behalf of the majority if the majority believes that it is being oppressed?

    That sounds simplistic, and too easy to take advantage of. But that’s how the Civil Rights issues were resolved, that’s why gays can now openly serve in the military, that’s why women can vote. And if the majority today believes that denying a woman access to contraception, if that denial is not something she believes in, hurts that woman medically, financially, and can have countless negative effects on her career and future life, then how is government intrusion unwarranted?

    Businesses have incredible power, especially very successful ones. However, this means that businesses also have a lot of power over other people, and there is no guarantee that they will use it in those people’s best interests. I am not advocating Communism, nor am I in favor of punishing the successful; I am advocating the judicial protection of those who are subject to people in power, because even a brief look into history, even recent history, will show that businesses have a terrible tendency to abuse their power royally.

    And of course government can abuse its power, too. But the thing is that a democratic government has to answer for its actions every few years come reelection time.

  212. 212 212 Steve Landsburg

    Sohara:

    it pits what is good for business against what is good for people who need medical care.

    For the most part, it pits what is good for some consumers against what’s good for other consumers. When insurance covers more conditions, that doesn’t mean that insurance companies earn lower profits; it usually means that people pay higher premiums. That’s because the rate of return on capital in the insurance industry is determined by market conditions.

    So we do admit that so-called government intrusion can have good results. And you’re right: where do we, in fact, draw the line between what is appropriate and what is not?

    Yes, pretty much everyone agrees that governments can sometimes improve outcomes, and pretty much everyone agrees that governments can’t always improve outcomes. So the question in any given case is: Can government improve this particular outcome? I can’t imagine that anyone would disagree with this.

    Now, how do we determine which outcomes governments can improve? Your suggestions regarding majority rule are extremely unconvincing to me. We can both think of plenty of times and places where majorities have made very bad choices. More generally, there is no good theoretical reason to believe that majorities will make good choices most of the time.

    On the other hand, we do have a large body of theoretical work that delineates the circumstances in which governments can do good. Those circumstances involve externalities, incomplete information, and other well-specified market failures.

    To argue that this is one of the circumstances in which the government can do good, it seems to me you’ve got to point to a specific market failure. That is what Sandra Fluke failed to do — and, although I very much appreciate your thoughtful tone, so, I think, have you.

  213. 213 213 Ken B

    “A democratic government, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, by its very definition exists to help the people. ”

    Fallacy of composition. Also demonstrably not true historically.

    “Shouldn’t the government, then, intervene on the behalf of the majority if the majority believes that it is being oppressed?”

    I believe that has happened, when the majority in 11 states felt they were being oppressed. Google 1861.

    And it is emphatically not how civil rights were fought for or established. If your claim were true we’d read of electoral victories in 1951, not Brown v Board.

  214. 214 214 willard

    > On the other hand, we do have a large body of theoretical work that delineates the circumstances in which governments can do good.

    Citation needed.

  1. 1 Rush to Judgment « Daniel J. Smith
  2. 2 Some Links
  3. 3 Much ado about rubbers? | Our Dinner Table
  4. 4 Contraceptive Sponges at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics
  5. 5 Rush Being “Humorous”… » Life on the Road - Trucking News Blog
  6. 6 Landsburg Has Another Talk With Us About Sex
  7. 7 Let’s Just Tax Men at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics
  8. 8 Rochester Smackdown: Economist, Blogger Steve Landsburg vs. University of Rochester President | ViralStash.com The Daily Buzz
  9. 9 The Unbroken Window » Blog Archive » This Deserves Comment from Me
  10. 10 Aftermath at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics
  11. 11 Cato, the Kochs, and a Fluke « Politics & Prosperity
  12. 12 More Blogging Is Safer Blogging
  13. 13 Letter to a Reporter at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics
  14. 14 » Thought police at Univ. Rochester - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion
  15. 15 ‘Prostitute’: Students Hold Silent Protest After Professor Backs Limbaugh in Blog Post | An American Discussion
  16. 16 Getting Something for Your Wages (or Tuition) is Theft - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  17. 17 “Teh” Stupid: from my own side…. « blueollie
  18. 18 Tempest In Teapot, Cont’d – waka waka waka
  19. 19 Moronic Iron Manning of Rush Limbaugh | The Non Sequitur
  20. 20 TheMoneyIllusion » The real culture war (Intellectuals say the darndest things!)
  21. 21 Streetwise Professor » This is Exactly Why I Don’t Give a Flyer About Contraception
  22. 22 hahah | Underground Man
  23. 23 David Moshman: Jane, You Ignorant Slut: Civility, Speech and Academic Freedom | USA Press
  24. 24 David Moshman: Jane, You Ignorant Slut: Civility, Speech and Academic Freedom – Debit Card Payment Terminals
  25. 25 EducationTechNews.com » Blog Archive » College profs: Blog at your own risk!
  26. 26 Steve Landsburg, University Of Rochester Professor, Defends Rush Limbaugh To Students’ Outrage | HottestNewsFeed.com
  27. 27 Rochester Professor: Fluke Is ‘Extortionist With An Overweening Sense Of Entitlement’ | 1230 AM KQUE – Houston
  28. 28 Steve Landsburg: Non-mathematical political pundit | F Lengyel
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