The Mighty Church of Capitalism

Money talks. Photo credit:

The decision by SCOTUS today is completely line with capitalist ideology. Corporations, entities which exist to generate wealth, are already considered people in the government’s eyes. Was it really that far of a logical leap for the majority to decide that if corporations were persons, that they would thus be persons with religious rights?

Let’s forget for a moment that women are people with their own set of religious rights. The decision reflected what one of my professors said about each case we read if it involved a well-known company: Mickey Mouse always wins. It’s a neat little loop: those who have the means are in the position to hire an attorney in the first place. Since the legal profession is one where the failure to dot your is’ and cross your ts’ has a real impact in whether your case is even filed correctly, it doesn’t surprise me that there would be an inherent bias built into the system that favors those with wealth over those without.

Which is more or less what happened. SCOTUS ignored the fact that for every corporate entity that is considered a person, there are usually several thousand people that generate the work that produces that company’s wealth. However, because the company is the entity valued at several million/billion dollars it’s the one whose rights get respected. After all, how much is any individual worker worth? Not as much as the company as a whole.

Mathematically, it’s a very neat and logical decision: Company X = $$$ > workers = $. So the winner is the company!

Most of the reactions supporting this decision are coming from a place of privilege, because most of them center around this basic idea: if you’re a woman working for a company that won’t pay for your medical needs, then leave. Which completely overlooks the reality that for many people, staying at a job is the goal, and they are loathe to leave the stable paycheck in this economy. Especially if they have other obligations, such as paying down a mortgage/student loans/children.

It also overlooks the fact that the process of switching to a new job is particularly difficult for those who find themselves in lower wage positions to begin with, because those are the jobs with the least amount of flexibility. I’ve been in that boat, and given that looking for a job turns into a full time endeavor on its own, I know that people stay in positions they’re miserable in because they need the steady pay. When you’re at the bottom and have several layers of supervisors to report to, your absence is quickly noticed, since in-person interviews take time and tend to be scheduled when all the vital team members for the hiring decision are present, which means you can’t just schedule it during lunch without running the risk that you’ll be late.

If you don’t want your present employer to catch on that you’re trying to abandon ship, there’s only so many ways you can try to maneuver without it affecting your work performance and endangering the job you presently have. This is a reality for those of us struggling to make ends meet, who do not have the luxury of being courted for employment or the security in coming from a background where family members or friends could support them should they wind up being unemployed. When your goal is a steady paycheck, you tend to not ask what your employer’s beliefs are, even if they are distasteful to your own.

Why? When you’re poor, you don’t have the luxury to care whether your employer hates women and will actively seek to avoid paying your medical expenses. You’re grateful to have something that pays the never ending bills for everything you need to keep a roof over your head, and to keep yourself fed. Even if you tried to leave to a better company, odds are you wouldn’t be able to, as in this market employers can afford to be choosy. SCOTUS just gave companies one more way to prevent women from breaking through the glass ceiling in certain industries, since I really doubt any organization unwilling to care for the health of its female employees could be fostering a work culture where women are valued and encouraged to advance to the top of its corporate ladder.

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