Maybe I’m telling you something you already know, but I just
discovered a disturbing trend. With an empty nest, my supermarket shopping
tends to be light these days. As such, I treat it as a welcome break in my schedule,
a chance to chat with neighbors and be away from the computer. Today, however,
I paid attention while I was shopping, and I certainly didn’t like what I saw.
While I have been aware of prices going up for quite a
while, today I realized that at the same time, packaging has been getting smaller.
My 64 oz. container of orange juice? It’s now 59 oz. The packages of cocoa that
I like keeping in the pantry? They are no longer ten to a box, but instead
there are only eight. Not only am I paying more, but I am also getting less.
Really, this is just a reflection of what’s going on in
general. When taxes go up, as they will be doing, I get less income for the
same amount of work. When employees need to spend time dealing with more
regulations and paperwork, as they will, businesses make less profit even if
they have same amount of sales. Even if all our 2013 calendars show a
twelve-month period, less of it will be available for productive and rewarding
Constitutional principles are shrinking as well. Do you
remember learning that freedom of religion was a basic First Amendment right?
Try asking David Green, owner of the Hobby Lobby chain of stores about that
one. As Obamacare rolls in, with its contraception and morning after pill
mandates, the company is finding that it needs to choose between allegiance to the
little ‘g’ of government or to the big ‘G’ of God. While many Americans do not
believe that the morning after pill is a form of abortion, many business owners
do—and one has to think that if they had known of such a thing, most of the
original supporters of the Bill of Rights would have agreed. Either way,
freedom of belief means that each of us should be able to follow our own
consciences on that issue. Yet, the government is declaring that only religious
institutions may cite freedom of religion in in choosing not to provide those
items for their employees. Hobby Lobby’s case that a private business owner is
also entitled to freedom of religion is rolling through the courts. Meanwhile, the
company has announced that it will not comply with the new regulations and
faces gargantuan daily fines. Hundreds of other Christian and religious
business owners are similarly being forced to defy the government or betray
their own convictions.
Let me get this straight. We already know that many in
government believe that the second amendment applies only to government, rather
than to protect the individual’s right to bear arms. Now the argument is being advanced that the
first amendment should apply only to religious organizations rather than to
individuals. Perhaps they believe that a business owner doesn’t actually own the
business but rather that he or she manages it for the government. Why don’t they just scrap the entire Bill of
In the grand scheme of things, a smaller orange juice
container seems like a petty annoyance. It actually isn’t. If I buy less, and
if I am representative of other consumers, an industry suffers. If I buy the
same quantity and so have less money available for other purchases, the economy
still suffers. Nevertheless, those consequences are manageable. If the Bill of
Rights shrinks, much deeper trouble than supermarket sticker shock awaits us.