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In a decision recalling the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court today ruled that a funeral home in Ohio was well within its rights to refuse to embalm or conduct services for a transgender former employee it had terminated several years ago.


Jessica Phillips, 48, was dismissed by Hitchock Funeral Homes owners James A. Hitchcock and his wife Sarah in 2009 after informing her employers she was transitioning to a female from her male identity as Jason Phillips and would no longer wear the suit and tie required of male funeral directors in the company’s dress code.


A year later, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the funeral homes on her behalf, and, as it wound its way through the legal system, the defendants shifted their argument from the dress code to the Hobby Lobby case, in which the high court ruled that businesses have a right to their own religious beliefs and could use them to defy certain federal laws—in that instance, the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide birth control coverage as part of their employees’ health insurance coverage.


In the Phillips case, the Hitchcocks argued that the Hobby Lobby decision set a precedent for them to deny service based on their “profound religious convictions” that the “Bible teaches that a person’s sex … is an immutable God-given gift and that it is wrong for a person to deny his or her God-given sex.”



The defendants argued further that they were “re-traumatized” by being asked to prepare Phillips’ corpse for burial and conduct a funeral service for her in their establishment.


Justice Samuel Alito

“Get that sinner’s body out of my embalming room,” James Hitchcock told police after Phillips’ husband, Michael Braxton, tried to pay for the funeral arrangements with the Hitchcocks, who own the only mortuary in the small town of Glendale.


Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote in the Hobby Lobby case that the decision provided “no such shield” to business owners in future proceedings, said in an assent to the 5-4 ruling, “If this Court did not exonerate the defendants they would be directly involved in supporting the idea that sex is a changeable social construct rather than an immutable God-given gift.”



Circling The Drain?

Emanuele Corso

In mathematics there is a concept called Pareto efficiency. It describes the impossibility for one side of an equation to keep taking without depriving or diminishing  the other side—a common sense idea in which the losing side inevitably goes to zero. Because of the finite quality of available resources, namely money, capitalism is a Pareto-efficient economic system: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In other words it is a zero-sum game—I win and you lose. This raises an interesting question: How can a so-called “democratic” society  tolerate or thrive within an anti-democratic economic model? As a consequence of too few having too much, too many have too little of this stuff to spend. It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in Economics to figure out that if too few have to little to spend the general economy will suffer. So, a truthful Economics 101 should tell us that the imbalance caused by greed is a foundational cause of economic failure and, eventually, social collapse.

It is important to understand that aside from accumulating as much as possible, there is no moral or ethical code associated with the capitalist belief system. To understand this, consider: A pharmaceuticals company acquires the rights to a vital medicine that has been selling at $56.64 per dose; they raise the price overnight to $317.82 for the same amount and at the same time raise the compensation of their CEO from $2,453,456.00 to $18,931,068.00. The drug went up 461%  and the CEO’s salary went up 671%. As they say, nice work if you can get it, and pity the people who need the drug to survive.

Pick up any economics texts and you’ll be treated to an amazing variety of theories explaining why we had a crash in 2008 or why the world’s (and our) economy has failed to regenerate from said crash in spite of various governmental interventions. One theory after another is generated by learned professors at various universities and think tanks. Of course none of this wisdom accords with what we experience in our everyday lives, but it sounds profound. The reason why the economy isn’t recovering is actually quite simple : We live in a Pareto-efficient economic system; that is to say, too few people have too much of available monetary resources and too many have too little.

The totality of economics can be expressed this way: 2+2=4 and 4-2=2, but more importantly, 4-4=0. That’s it, that’s the whole story in a nut shell. For all of us unwashed, economics is a simple matter of you either have it or you don’t. As of July of this year 13% of men between the ages of 25 and 54 have dropped out of the labor force; consequently they don’t have any “it” to spend. The unemployment rate continues to hover around 4.9%, of which 26.6% are considered long-term unemployed. Also, what the numbers don’t tell you is what kinds of jobs are available and what wages they are paying. Do they pay minimum wage? Can people support their families on this level of income? Can employed people afford health care? Is there such a thing as “disposable” income? Did you know that a large percentage of enlisted military families rely on food stamps or that the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the entire world? That’s real world economics, folks.

Capitalism is a dualistic belief system which, while promising fair distribution of material and social wealth, delivers quite the opposite. Now that 1% of the population owns 40% of the United States’ wealth it seems plain to see things are out of balance. Although many writers, such as Thomas Piketty and Charles Lehmann, have produced incontrovertible evidence  of the imbalance, the general public seems to be in denial. To argue against inequality earns you various imprecations such as, you are a socialist or, even worse, a communist. Most using these terms don’t have a clue as to what socialism is or means. It becomes name calling, because communists are, as we all know, evil and totalitarian, and who knows what socialists are?

Given the Pareto-efficient aspect of capitalism, the imbalance cannot be treated with doses of feel-good Kumbaya or patriotic exhortations; eventually something has to give. A bigger question remains. When there is nothing left for the majority, how long can belief in the social contract survive? Are we circling the drain? Inevitably we are going to find out.

Emanuele Corso’s essays on politics, education, and the social contract have been published at  NMPolitics, Light of New Mexico, Grassroots Press, World News Trust, Nation of Change, New Mexico Mercury and his own—siteseven.net. He taught Schools and Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he took his Ph.D. His B.S. was in Mathematics. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, where he served as a Combat Crew Officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has been a member of the Carpenters and Joiners labor union, Local 314. He is presently working on a book: Belief Systems and the Social Contract. He can be reached at ecorso@earthlink.net


Workshop on special rec permits Aug. 30

Do you want to hold a class, plan an adventure, do something commercial on our wonderful National Monument?


Then you need to fill out a Special Recreation Permit.


Don’t know How?


Join the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and the Bureau of Land Management for a FREE workshop on how to fill out the special recreation permit needed to conduct any commercial endeavors on the Monument.


When:  Tuesday, Aug. 30 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Where:  Branigan Library RoadRunner Room

(200 E. Picacho Ave.)

The workshop will feature staff from the BLM Las Cruces office discussing the protocol and procedures of completing a Special Recreation permit.  The BLM is the managing agency of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.


Please RSVP here so we know how many to expect.  Or, contact LCGCC CEO/President Carrie Hamblen at carrie@nmgreenchamber.com ­­­­­



Gardening News from SeedShare

Local worm castings available! see below
What to plant now:
Buckwheat (cover crop)
Chicory / Endive
Clover (cover crop)
Peas (soak overnight to speed germination)
Turnips (last chance)
Vetch (cover crop)
What Are Worm Castings?
Worm Castings contain a highly active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, remnants of plant matter, and earthworm cocoons (while damp). The castings are rich in water-soluble plant nutrients, and contain more than 50% more humus than what is normally found in topsoil. They enhance the ability of your soil to retain water (because of its texture), and inhibit root diseases such as root rot. Our worm castings are inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi to supercharge your soil.

Recommended use: top dress 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pure worm castings per plant.  When mixed with potting soil, it needs to be only 10% – 20% on the total mixture. When mixed with water, I use a cup of castings to a gallon of water and let it steep for about 24 hours and stir the contents several times a day.

$6 per Quart (8-16 applications). Reply with your address and phone to order.


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