The Supreme Court heard arguments recently with regard to a privately owned company by the name of Hobby Lobby which had requested that they be exempted from certain provisions of Obamacare because of the owners’ religious beliefs. Specifically, they wanted to be exempted from the requirement that they carry insurance which would pay for abortifacients for their covered employees.
I read the arguments made to the Supremes and their questions to attorneys representing both Hobby Lobby and the government. Despite what has been referred to by liberal activists as another in the continuing “assault on women’s health,” the facts are rather clear. Here they are.
There are twenty different prophylactics and abortifacients which the government mandates be available under Obamacare. The company has no objection to providing coverage for sixteen of these. Those include birth control pills and prophylactics. Their objection relates specifically to the four which might terminate a pregnancy if one occurred – otherwise known as abortifacients. We might be familiar with at least one of those, known as “the morning after pill.”
In light of the court case, an article appeared in the “Huffington Post” on April 1, 2014, written by liberal writer and commentator, Rick Ungar. Of those on the left I have to say that I consider Mr. Ungar to be one of the most reasonable and rational who interpret and spin our news. It was, therefore, with some dismay that I read his article which was entitled, “Hobby Lobby Invested In Numerous Abortion And Contraception Products While Claiming Religious Objection.” The source of Mr. Ungar’s information was “Mother Jones.” I have attached the link to the full article below.
If you were to read only the title of this piece, you might be led to believe that Hobby Lobby actively invests in pharmaceutical companies which manufacture abortifacients because they are trying to maximize their personal profits. As you go into the article, what the company is actually doing is providing a variety of mutual funds in their corporately sponsored 401(k) from which their employees may select.
There are currently approximately 4,600 equity mutual funds which are offered to investors. Any retirement plan administrator – an outside entity that has no connection to Hobby Lobby or any other company that offers this retirement benefit – determines which funds it will include in the plans that it administers. But of the funds which focus on growth of principal, over 86% have some investment in pharmaceutical companies. And of the growth funds that Morningstar rates with their highest five star evaluation, investment in pharmaceutical companies can be found in 99.3% of their portfolios.
There is an adjunct to Mr. Ungar’s accusations about morality in investing which he might not have considered. The number of growth funds that invest in energy companies such as Exxon Mobil and BP approximate the percentage of funds that invest in pharmaceuticals. If he takes his argument to its logical conclusion, there are a lot of his associates who support green energy who would need to opt out of their own retirement accounts to maintain their own purity of principle.
There is one realistic way that Hobby Lobby could avoid this possible conflict of conscience. It could abolish offering a retirement plan for its 18,000 employees. Would that be a workable alternative for Mr. Ungar, who does acknowledge that the company pays “above the minimum wage” – actually more than twice the minimum wage that is currently in effect. But we should always remember that the left seldom lets facts stand in the way of ideology.
As a result of the Supreme Court hearing I thought that I would show some support for the company by patronizing them. I had never before been in one of their stores. As it happened, a friend had invited several of us to dinner and I wanted to buy a thank you present for him for his kindness. He happens to be an aficionado of jig saw puzzles and I was able to find one that I thought he would enjoy on Hobby Lobby’s website.
I called their closest location to see if they had one of these in stock. A very pleasant young woman cheerfully answered my call and directed me to the correct department where another cheerful young woman asked me to hold on while she checked to see if the puzzle were available. After a very brief wait she returned to say that they did have several and she would be happy to reserve one for me. I thanked her and said that I would be by later that afternoon to pick it up.
I had several errands to run that day which would culminate in taking Gracie for her afternoon visit to the dog park. I wasn’t sure what Hobby Lobby’s policy was regarding allowing dogs within their store, so I called back and asked if I might take Gracie in with me while I picked up the puzzle I had reserved. The young lady said that they would be happy to see both of us. Naturally, this disposed me favorably to the company.
When we arrived, a freshly scrubbed, courteous young man asked if he could help me. I told him that I had reserved a puzzle. He immediately found it and offered to ring my purchase up at a register which was closed. While I waited for my total, I asked him if he liked working at the store. His comment was, “I can’t imagine a better company to work for or nicer people to work with.”
I wonder if Mr. Ungar or other Hobby Lobby critics have ever visited one of their stores. My guess is, probably not. After all, they wouldn’t want the facts to get in the way of their opinions.