The Hobby Lobby case is an excellent example of what happens when we turn Natural Law on its head to suit our desires rather than seek to structure our society to work according to that same Natural Law. In short, it illustrates what happens when one tries to put themselves in the place of God. When we do that, we fall under the condemnation of Isaiah 5:20-21. And, even if you do not believe in God or the Bible, you would be wise to read Isaiah’s warning before you dismiss it because it most certainly applies here. Now, let me show you how and why it applies.
On its surface, the Hobby Lobby case is about a corporation’s religious rights. I have already written about the absurdity of such a claim here, but it should be apparent when you think of a corporation going to your local church to worship. Have you ever seen a corporation in church? No, because it is not a real person. The problem is that we treat it like one for the purposes of shielding its owners from legal liability for their actions. So, if people did not want to claim what is essentially a ‘special’ right – freedom from responsibility – then this case would be easy. If Hobby Lobby were a fictitious name for a business owned and operated by a limited number of people who were directly responsible for their actions, they would be named in this case and not their business. In that case, the argument would be abundantly clear: that these people were claiming their rightful protection of their religious freedom under the Constitution and not their fictitious company. But we want to be ‘wise in our own eyes,’ so we invent artificial people to take our place before the law.
The problem is, when you do that, you cannot also claim to have a right in that artificial person without creating inconsistencies. Glenn Beck recently defended his right to his corporation, The Blaze, but – in the same segment – he attacked ‘liberals’ for their inconsistent positions. To this, I would ask Mr. Beck why he is being such a hypocrite. After all, if you own a corporation, and a corporation is a legal person, then you are claiming a right to own people. This is defined as slavery. What’s more, you are claiming a right to own a fictitious person that might also own several other fictitious persons (i.e. a corporation that owns other corporations). But, if a corporation is a legal person, could I then file a motion with the court to act on its behalf to sever it from you because I believed you were harming it? I mean, such things are done to protect people all the time, and if a corporation is a person, then why can’t this be done to protect the corporation? Do you see how claiming an exemption to Natural law for one purpose only creates inconsistencies in other areas? And how defending your special interest while resisting those of another just piles inconsistency upon inconsistency?
Now that we have dealt first and fairly with the problem from Hobby Lobby’s side, let’s now look at the other side of this coin. It is claimed that the worker has a right to demand specific health care benefits, but the company has no right to refuse to provide them. If the company objects to the workers’ demands, it is said to be infringing on the workers’ rights. There is so much wrong with this line of thinking that it is difficult to know where to start.
First, this line of argument assumes that the benefit is actually an entitlement: something owed the worker simply because the worker exists. But that defies the definition of a ‘benefit.’ In this case, a benefit is something provided in addition to your wages. That means it is voluntarily given by the company. It is not required. The company could just as easily say it will not give you anything and it would still be within its rights – because it is the company and you came to it for a job. You are the one who asked it to hire you, and you are the one who accepted the offer of compensation/pay that the company extended to you. You have no right to demand any change to this agreement after the fact and to do so places you – the worker – in the wrong. In the same way, if the company agrees to give you a benefit, it has the right to define what that benefit includes. You can ‘ask’ for what you want before you take the job, but, if the company says no and you still take the job, you have agreed to the contract and, if you try to change it by force at a later time, you are the party in the wrong. In other words, the company has rights, and those rights are equal to yours as the employee. You have no more ‘right’ to dictate to the company than you think it has right to dictate to you. On the contrary: as the one providing the job – which you sought – the company actually has the greater claim because everything involved but your labor belongs to and is under direction of the company. For you to claim the right to tell the company what it must do is no different than claiming you have the right to tell another person what they must do for you and that amounts to slavery.
Now, let’s look at the government involvement here. Under the rule of law, the government has duty to protect the interests of both the worker and the business. This means it has no business telling either of you what you can and cannot agree to unless it violates Natural Law (i.e. will result in harm, damage to property, or something to which you cannot agree – such as selling yourself into slavery). This means, if you want to work for $1/hour, the government has no business telling you that you cannot do so – nor does the government have any authority to tell the business it must pay you a minimum wage. That is a violation of the government’s just authority. Likewise, the government has no power to force a business to give you a benefit, let alone set the extent and limits of that benefit. To do so violates the rights of the business – the very rights government was created to protect. In other words, when it does such things, the government declares itself to be a third party with a vested interest in the affairs of other people, and with the right to direct those affairs. In short, the government declares ownership of both the worker and the company – which is, once again, slavery.
Then there is the implication that workers are somehow ‘owed’ a job, and that businesses have some sort of duty to provide them with one. And that government has a duty to see to it that those businesses provide the benefits that the government thinks the workers should get in order to even exist. In both cases, the business is the one who is having its rights trampled. Would the worker agree that the government has a right to tell him where to work and for how long and for how much just because the business needs labor? Then why is the reverse argument someone ‘acceptable?’ It isn’t. The problem is that there are too many workers who think this is exactly how our world works: business pays government to exploit them. This problem is further compounded by the very real fact that this situation actually does exist where large, international corporations are concerned, and it has been well documented. It is at the heart of what was once called Fascism, but is now known as Crony Capitalism and/or State Capitalism. But the truth is both directions of injustice result from a perversion of the natural order of things we call Natural Law.
When we get right down to the heart of the matter here, we find that ‘rights’ have very little to do with this fight at all. This fight is about who is going to control whom, and little more. And when anyone is forced to do anything against their will, so long as they were not trying to harm another person, society or damage another’s property, the person using the force is always the party in the wrong – period. So, in this case, the two sides in the wrong are the government and the workers seeking to use the government to force their will on the business. The issue would be so much more clear if Hobby Lobby were actually the owner here, but because the owner wants to be able to avoid legal exposure, he has chosen to hide behind a legal fiction – which is a violation of Natural Law – so Hobby Lobby is now having to defend itself from an absurdity that is partially of its own making.
As for the workers and government: they are both motivated by greed and a lust for power – nothing more. There is nothing redeemable in the actions of either of these two parties. They are both despicable and repugnant to human decency and the rule of law.