By now, most are familiar with the national tempest over conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, and her testimony to Congress about whether Georgetown and other Catholic universities should have to cover birth control through their insurance policies. Predictably, the controversy has spilled over to a university campus. But the campus is the University of Rochester, and the issue is not contraception, but campus policing of speech.
UR economics professor Steven Landsburg addressed the arguments of Limbaugh and Fluke on his blog, The Big Questions, with three entries. In the first blog entry, “Rush to Judgment,” Landsburg states that while Fluke deserves respect as a human being, her position does not. He defended in economic terms Limbaugh’s (obviously joking) suggestion that those who use subsidized contraception should have to tape their sexual activities and post them online so that the benefit can be shared by those doing the subsidizing.
Landsburg called Fluke an “extortionist with an overweening sense of entitlement,” and in his second blog entry, he gave the nickname “contraceptive sponges” to “people who want others to pay for their contraception because — well, just because they don’t want to pay for it themselves.” Landsburg then discussed the pros and cons of six arguments that contraception should be subsidized. The third blog entry suggested that perhaps the best way to subsidize contraception fairly is simply to tax men and to give women cash.