CSotD: Bread and Stones

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? — Matthew, 7:9

I agree with Ann Telnaes. It is unconscionable that employers can provide health coverage but limit it to only the care they deem moral.

As a recovering Catholic, I’ve always felt persuasion was a more defensible tactic than prohibition, which is a large part of why I’m a recovering Catholic.

It’s my position that, if you can’t persuade someone to adopt your moral position, you need to examine both the position and your argument.

Still, if you accept the coin, you accept the terms, and I’m not a fan of “Cafeteria Catholicism.”

There’s plenty to criticize in the Supreme Court’s decision, and their other religion-based decision offers even richer soil:

They upheld the right of a Catholic school to fire teachers at will, based on the theory that, because their duties include religion along with math, reading, science and so forth, they are “ministers.” 

One of the two teachers involved was fired because she developed breast cancer and the principal didn’t want her taking a leave of absence to deal with it.

It is completely irrelevant that the same principal was later found to have embezzled, at the very least, half a million dollars from the school.

The teacher died of her cancer, Sister Mary Madoff was quietly disappeared like a pedophile priest, and yesterday the Court upheld the school’s right to fire anyone who qualifies as a “minister” without regard to laws that would otherwise prevent it.

The small, personal moral of that story is “Don’t work for those people.”

The larger, far more critical moral for the birth-control decision is “We need a healthcare system that is provided to all people, not through their employers but through their government.”

At which point, whether you’re working for Hobby Lobby, a Catholic grade school or a Colombian drug cartel, your healthcare choices will be your own.

Not that the government can’t interfere in health issues, raising our first

Juxtaposition of the Day


(Mike Smith)


(Mike Luckovich)

Dear Leader’s reliance on his theory that Covid-19 is a political hoax aimed at ruining his chances for a second term requires that we not only open schools in the fall but do it in a way that puts the children physically in the building.

No word on whether he and Betsy DeVos will also pressure schools to stop teaching science.

There’s also no word on how this decision that children must be present in a classroom will impact the administration’s policy towards homeschooling.

My professional experience with homeschoolers is that those who aren’t total off-the-grid non-voting, non-participants tend to be Trump supporters. And my experience with them also reveals that they rely a lot on distance-learning.

To be honest, I’m just playing the gadfly; I don’t really expect to see the kind of consistency in policy that would trickle down to them.

The justification I’ve heard so far for opening the schools and having kids in classrooms is that little kids aren’t as prone to dying from Covid-19 as are older people.

Such as the relatives they’ll be bringing the coronavirus home to.

Which in turn suggests that, while this is a cunning plot to gain favor with parents by giving them six hours a day of not watching their kids, it will still require the more intelligent among them to keep isolated to avoid having little Kristen or Jordan kill their grandparents or neighbors.

Not that the more intelligent among them are the target audience.

The teachers I’ve spoken to so far are horrified. They were already deeply concerned about the fall, wondering how they would balance the need to educate with the need to protect.

They didn’t need political interference to complicate the dilemma.

The good news is that, even with Trump’s threats to withhold federal aid, he’s probably just blowing hot air.

The bad news being that he got elected once on a platform of hot air and bullshit and it could happen again.

And his willingness to apply a policy of pointless cruelty brings us to our second

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Jeff Stahler)


(Bill Bramhall)

The new policy from ICE is that foreign students participating in distance-learning instruction at colleges will be deported, which makes no sense but what’s new?

I heard a Nepalese student on NPR saying that Nepal has shut down all air travel in and out of the country in response to the coronavirus, so he’s not sure where he will be deported to.

That made me wonder about kids from countries that have decided Dear Leader’s no-science, no-policy response to Covid-19 requires them to close their borders to us.

Meanwhile, being within 10 miles of Dartmouth and reading how they, and Harvard, plan to let a few students live on campus and have everyone else take on-line courses raises a question in my mind, which is

Wouldn’t this be a lovely opportunity for a gap year?

Someone at the dog park pointed out that, with everything locked down, there’s not much to do with a gap year right now, but there are places you could go, do your two weeks isolation, and then live a cautious life that would be more fun than sitting in your parents’ basement spending $50,000 to take on-line courses.

I learned a great deal from my professors. But I learned a great deal more from my fellow students, and not just in seminars but in the snack bar, in late night conversations, at the coffeehouse, by being in plays, over pizza and through extensive independent research in the field of applied pharmacology.

If you need specific technical training for a career, go for the distance-learning thing.

But don’t mistake it for “going to college,” which is a much more holistic experience. And fewgawdsake don’t pay $50,000 for the privilege of watching Sunrise Semester.

Take a year off and come back when sanity has returned.

And, back to those Supreme Court decisions, don’t mistake fervor for caring.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13


11 thoughts on “CSotD: Bread and Stones

  1. Though I agree that teachers in church-affiliated schools are ministers (why else would one spend the money to send their child to a church school if not to reinforce your child’f faith life), I think the SCOTUS blew it with this decision as both cases appear to have nothing to do with religious dogma. For that matter, the churches also blew it by apparently ignoring the compassion and charity they are supposed to be preaching.

    Can’t agree with you about the SCOTUS ruling on health care insurance- why do the Little Sisters of the Poor need to supply birth control options to their members? ACA is what you get when a grand idea meets special interest. Too bad we don’t have a universal health care system that doesn’t depend on private business and for-profit insurance companies to institute it.

  2. @Billn: that’s precisely the point, though. Little Sisters of the Poor isn’t being asked to supply birth control options. They’re being asked to provide health care that happens to cover birth control options, which would be paid for by either the government or the insurers (I’m not clear on the details as to when it’s which of those). They’re objecting to the thought that their name would be on the insurance providing birth control, even though they’re not paying a single cent for it. All in all, this was a pretty nonsense decision.

  3. Since Dear Leader has said that we wouldn’t have so many Covid cases if we tested less, it follows that if women didn’t take pregnancy tests, they wouldn’t get pregnant. Problem solved.

  4. I don’t disagree with your assessment around COVID-19 risks at home if schools are re-opened, but, like most things in life, the situation is more complicated. Additional concerns include:

    – Teachers are mandatory reporters and, given their intimate knowledge of their students, play an essential role in recognizing signs of abuse or neglect in children. Keeping schools closed removes this line of defense.
    – It’s more difficult for impoverished children to access school lunch programs.
    – Missing more time may be detrimental to younger children who could conceivably be playing catch-up long after COVID-19 is gone.

    As usual, though, Trump’s approach to the issue lacks finesse, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. There has to be room for states and school districts to adjust to their own situation. It’s particularly ironic considering his insistence that a federal response to COVID-19 was unnecessary because each state has its own unique concerns…

    On an unrelated note: I love your column, I found it three or four months ago and have been hooked ever since. I never felt the need to comment before now, and don’t know when I will again, so I want to squeeze in a “thank you” while I have the opportunity.

  5. Just an add-on to Bill’s note: I was seeing school buses going up and down the street and couldn’t figure out why. Turns out they’re delivering lunches to those who need them.

  6. So, can Christian Scientist employer choose prayer health coverage?
    Be careful who you work for

  7. So, I’m assuming that all these lovely, righteous companies will also refuse to pay for Viagra as well, right? Not being able to get it up is just part of God’s plan, after all.

  8. As an alternative to taking a gap year, students should consider community college. Good education, years of experience with distance learning (which is what we in the trade call online teaching), and a hell of a lot cheaper.

  9. So, Trump and his lackeys want to send kids back to school during a viral pandemic. Then, he and his friends in the state-houses can kick their parents off unemployment and force them back to work in a viral pandemic. This will allow businesses to make a profit, a portion of which will get “donated” to the crooked politicians who forced everyone out into the viral pandemic. Sound about right? (By the way, whatever happened to Edith Prickly?)

  10. If the moral majority wants to deny a woman birth control, maybe they can pay for everything a child needs after he or she is born. I don’t see these people putting out when baby needs new shoes.

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