consultants are sandburs

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Hobby Lobby fallout - Plus - The Ayn Rand [Limited] Entrepreneurial Sweepstakes Question. [With a bit of updating.]

First, one of the cleaner tightly written Hobby Lobby reports, The Economist here, with this opening screen capture:

Bio material on David Green, the Hobby Lobby entrepreneurial founder; here and here.

First, a disclaimer - not endorsed by Ayn Rand (who has been dead for decades before the question is posed).

Second, "[Limited]" is appropriate, in that only two choices are offered; and readers are encouraged to google a bit and then decide based on either: which most impresses them personally, or which they believe to be the most Randian in the reach and scope of their entrepreneurship.

The question:

Which entrepreneur to you expresses the most Randian [what would John Galt say] worldview perspective and accomplishment level, and/or is most impressive to you:

David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby?

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX?

(Bio material for comparison on Elon Musk, e.g., here.)

A little reading discloses how David Green, next to Marcus, is Michelle Bachmann's dream come true. Forbes reports how he bailed out her alma mater, Oral Roberts University, plus, his views accord with hers (at least as she has publicly represented her feelings).

David Green insists God is the true owner of his $3 billion arts and crafts chain. Acting as His disciple, Green has become the largest evangelical benefactor in the world—with plans for unprecedented gifts once he’s in heaven.

Fresh off an inspection of Hobby Lobby’s sprawling 5.5 million-square-foot distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City, the company’s CEO, David Green, retreats to his office in the adjacent executive building, where he surrounds himself with a collection of homely elephant figurines. [...] In the U.S. Green’s wealth produces the physical underpinnings of dozens of churches and Christian universities. It began in 1999, with a former V.A. hospital building in Little Rock, Ark. that he purchased for $600,000 and converted into a church. Green has since spent over $300 million donating about 50 properties. The word is out: Ministries approach him constantly with proposals for their new church or Christian community center–only one in ten is chosen. He won’t help them unless they pass a doctrinal vetting process, which includes questions about the Virgin Birth. [... Green] currently carries evangelical education on his back. He gave a former Ericsson plant in Lynchburg, Va., which he bought for $10.5 million, to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in 2004. He gave an entire campus to Zion Bible College in Haverhill, Mass. in 2007, at a cost of $16.5 million. In 2009 Green snapped up the 217-acre former campus of Massachusetts prep school Northfield Mount Hermon for just $100,000, spent $9 million on renovations and plans to give it away. Christian universities across the country have been auditioning for this attractive location, causing a minor stir in the liberal New England town of Northfield. In his biggest splash, Green bailed out scandal-ridden, debt-laden Oral Roberts University with a $70 million gift in 2007, a donation with strings attached: Green got to replace the college’s misgoverning board of trustees. Today, with his son Mart chairman of the board and one of his granddaughters a new alumnus, Green calls Oral Roberts a “healthy university.”

[bolding added] Yes, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK, highlighted on as having the world's largest set of praying hands; while other equally sophisticated Oklahoma roadside attractions have received comparable attention; e.g., here and here.

Who knows, MichelePAC may even overlap its massive community spending (beyond management expense) with Green's.

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Another hypothetical, with Hobby Lobby opening an outlet in Coon Rapids (reporting online: here and here) it seems that the "equal opportunity employer" should gain the attention of Minnesota's Somali community, and possibly attention from Fifth Congressional District Muslims, since work force diversity is always a good thing, for a retailer, for any large scale employer.

Equal opportunity employment is something I have always found puzzling, when contemplating the Bachmann family business, a Christian faith healing counseling clinic currently named "Counseling Care,"

image source:

Are they, with that slant, an equal opportunity employer, and if not how are they getting away with that and with having an open hand to getting public money subsidy as well, church and state being separated and all?

Perhaps, in the long-term, SEIU may have an opportunity to organize Hobby Lobby. Or that clinic. At a guess each pays prevailing wage or above in order to escape organizing efforts.

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Back to the Ayn Rand thing. Would the nation be better with more of the Elon Musk out of Silicon Valley/West Coast style of entrepreneurs (add in Jobs and Gates); or more of the out of Oklahome/Texas prairie lands, David Green style? More of one, less of the other, or is the nation better if having more of both kinds?

Last question set, has any reader experience with Hobby Lobby inventory range and presentation? Is all/most of their store inventory "Made in China" (as appears the case these days at stores such as Best Buy)?

Is there any reader willing in the comments to identify himself/herself, and state what home articles he/she has purchased from Hobby Lobby, and explain why Hobby Lobby instead of Target, Walmart, or a small local specialty shop of a boutique size and nature? Without that it is hard to contemplate how Hobby Lobby has grown to be as large as it is, given it seems it's appeal would be to discretionary spending on nonessentials, vs food, clothing or home improvement. "Hobby" in the firm's name implies exactly that. With a dash of dilettantism and possibly bad taste mixed in for good measure. The very name "Hobby Lobby" carries connotations. Connotations of schlock. Similar to the yard goods place in Ramsey at Hwy 10 and Sunfish.

What about the related closely-held chain, Mardel Books? A firm that has not expanded as diversely as Hobby Lobby.


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Exactly where you'd expect it. Facebook.

Now, you say you want opinions beyond mine? Okay. As much as you care to read. Welfare for lawyers. Enjoy.

Representative of the premise of ownership belief predicates and sensitivity trumping employee rights to equal protection of healthcare law; this amicus item; below, two early pages via screen capture thumbnails you can click to enlarge and read:

From those thumbnails; Catholic faith, Holy Virgin. All that. And then: Daily Beast, HuffPo, HuffPo again, then Time. Aside from the Time item, there is too little mainstream media attention to employee rights to enjoy religious diversity (including nonbelief), employee rights to equal protection of healthcare law, and ultimately, employee rights to freedom from religion.

The bias of this bunch of "Justices" is appalling.

Biased judges running amok.

Republican appointees.

Go figure. [Update to the UPDATE - on religion on the Supreme Court, from 2010, unfortunately behind a subscription wall, this link.]

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The linked commentary directly above, the four items, raises a point in a most deferential and perhaps hesitant (politically correct) tone, in how it approaches the question of religious background/bias leaking into judicial decision making where it clearly in terms of our heritage, does not belong at all. Viewing that low-key approach as too deferential and not irreverent enough to make the point decisively and in a way these five "Justices" deserve:

Hobby Lobby. Our judges. Our outcome. Our tune.

While I may draw criticism from some circles for making the presentation "crudely," or in a politically incorrect manner, so be it. It is exactly what this Hobby Lobby garbage deserves. It is how I feel and I don't back away from it one bit whatsoever.

Roe v. Wade needs protection from this kind of highly offensive creeping incrementalism, and it will not get protection from overly timid voices. It is time to roar. More than that, to vote.

I would be most interested in seeing a debate between Justin Boals and Abigale Whelan, about the Hobby Lobby decision, its implications, and whether it is good law. Whether it is in any way good for setting a direction for our nation. Is it the direction to be taken? Is it a peril to individual rights and Liberty?

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A screen capture of the present Planned Parenthood home page (go there to access linked items):

Readers are welcome, via comments, to submit links they believe relevant, or to make cogent, helpful, analytical observations of implications and/or media attention re Hobby Lobby.

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Some may care. Volokh, here and here. Pre-decision opining.

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While generally behind a subscription wall, this site here, appears to waive subscription requirements in publishing the entirety of the Hobby Lobby sophistic opinion and the compelling dissent; (those being individual value judgments readers may agree with or not but the fact of the full opinion set being thus posted is irrefutable). While other online sources of the full opinion set likely exist, one is enough for any reader caring to wade into the thicket.

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A curious amicus brief, online here, seems predominately partisan despite it calling itself "not so" - per these opening screen capture thumbnails you can click and read:

Justice Ginsberg's dissent's opening pages discredit such a simplistic claim, via ACA legislative history. It is legislative intent that should govern construction of a statute when there is any ambiguity.

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The 1985 Minnesota case Justice Ginsberg references is online here, in case readers might find reading it helpful in understanding how an issue can persist and reinvent itself federally three decades after our top state court considered it. Health club membership business was at issue there.

Last, is the Mardel book store part of the Hobby Lobby lines of business different, in that it has religiously charged inventory rather than secularly neutral things in inventory, thus differing from the generic wood products firm and Hobby Lobby's generic inventory? Could an argument be made there that familiarity with inventory and a positive attitude toward selling it - advising customers to buy - makes the Christian bookstore something closer to the patently affiliated ventures of established churches for which exemption by rules has been enacted?

I.e., could an inventory based argument be convincing to those who find the Hobby Lobby majority opinion unconvincing?

Then, would feminist literature or black history and awareness book inventories suggest that women and black people, respectively, would be better equipped to sell each, so that equal opportunity employment law should have exemptions carved that way?

Those hypotheticals do not obscure that in general arts/crafts merchandise or wood products are inherently religion-free articles of commerce in general, unless a firm could show that within such secular product areas religion is a focus, such as biblical based children's coloring books or paint-by-number scriptural scenes, or special statuary made from wooden material.

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