Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Modest Proposal for Arizona

Arizona House Bill 2625 will allow employers to reject insurance coverage for contraceptives for their employees if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse SB 2625 which would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections. Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
I propose an amendment for Arizona’s SB 2625. I am not aware of any Christian religion that officially states that men can have sex outside of marriage and/or for non-reproductive purposes while women may not. [There are many religions that not only allow but encourage non-reproductive (marital) sex by both men and women]. In practice there may indeed be such a double standard – but that standard is not found in actual official Christian religious doctrines. Indeed, the Old Testament reference usually used to justify the anti-birth control position refers only to men and their “seed,” and not to women at all.

Therefore to more truly meet religious objections to non-reproductive sex both outside and inside marriage, I propose the following: Any employer who wishes to deny medical coverage to any woman engaging in non-reproductive sex on religious grounds, must also deny medical coverage to any man engaging in non-reproductive sex.

In order to qualify for health insurance coverage of Viagra or other anti-impotency drugs, a man must 1) be married, 2) to a woman who is medically certified to still able to bear children (has not passed menopause, not had a tubal ligation, a hysterectomy, and does not have any medical conditions that cause infertility), and 3) who does not use contraception; additionally, 4) the man must have medical certification that he does in fact suffer from impotence due to physical causes that are treatable by anti-impotency drugs such as Viagra.

No employer is required to deny men health insurance coverage for anti-impotence drugs, UNLESS they deny women health insurance coverage for birth control on religious grounds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Zombie America - Installment 3

"Where's the work that'll
set my hands, my soul free,
Where's the spirit that'll
reign over me.
Where's the promise from
sea to shining sea,
Where's the promise from
sea to shining sea."
by Bruce Springsteen
"We Take Care of Our Own"
Wrecking Ball 2012.

What is "Zombie America"? It's an America that has lost its spirit, its promise. It's a nation that is a hollow shell of itself, walking around going through the motions, but the spirit has flown. Zombie America is a place that no longer dreams, that has drawn in upon itself, and is retreating into the past as fast as it can.

In the first installment in this series, I wrote about the derelict and demolished towns and urban landscapes of America and Europe. That destruction is powerfully evoked in Bruce Springsteen's "Death to My Home Town" on Wrecking Ball (2012). A destruction not wrought by cannon balls, or bombs, but silently and stealthy by "robber barons" and "greedy thieves."

The second installment spoke of the unpaving of the roads, the retreat of water and sewer systems.

Today I speak of another retreat, the retreat from commitment to universal phone service. Today, in Frankfort, Kentucky, the Senate Committee on on Economic Development, Tourism and Labor approved Senate Bill 12, a bill drafted by AT&T, that if passed by the full legislature would further diminish state regulation of the telephone companies and allow them to end basic phone service in less profitable parts of its service areas.  AT&T also has been pushing similar measures in other state capitals this year. [Read more here:]

From the 1890's to the 1960's, the push in America has been to extend basic phone service to more and more people. To that end both federal, state and local governments have provided tax breaks, grants, and subsidies to telephone companies to make sure that the poor and elderly could have the basic life-line of a phone in their homes. Kentucky's SB12 is the smoking gun of our retreat from basic services, and our retreat into the past. Should SB12 pass the Kentucky Senate and House, it represents the wholesale abandonment of the communicate needs of poor and rural (poor or affluent) people.
In January of 2011, during the period of time (nearly 2 weeks because of incompetence by AT&T) when my AT&T land line service was disconnected from my old house, but not yet connected to my new house, we were dependent upon alternative voice communication options. Cell phone communication would not work in either of our houses (old or new).  The only spot I could pick up a signal was in the middle of the road  by our house. So I stood outside in 15 degree weather in two feet of snow, making cell phone call after cell phone call. Luckily due to the 2 feet of snow, I didn't have to worry about some one running me down in the middle of the road. On more than one occasion, during long complicated calls, where I'd been shunted from one department to another my cell phone battery would go dead.  I'd have to stop, go back in the house, and warm up while my cell phone completely recharged.  Except for the one day that we also had a power outage (due to that 2 feet of snow), and then all I could do was sit in the snow bank and cry over my dead cell phone.

The thought that this might be our future here in the Kentucky mountains is overwhelmingly depressing. And it makes me wonder...The electric utility company constantly chafes at the expense of maintaining electric lines in the mountains, chafes at the high costs of restoring power after storms bring down trees and electric lines. How long before they too decide that they no longer want to be obligated to provide power to widely scattered rural residents? How long before we stop being a Zombie nation and simply become a dead one?