Mother Jones and a number of other liberal news sites are accusing the owners of the arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby of “hypocrisy.” Why? Because the family business that’s fighting for religious freedom at the Supreme Court provides a 401(k) investment plan.
According to Mother Jones, some of the companies included in mutual funds of Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have included manufacturers of abortion-inducing drugs. The left-leaning news outlet (wrongly) implies that Hobby Lobby owners are hypocritically investing in firms that create the very drugs they object to covering in their employee health plan.
Just one problem: Hobby Lobby’s owners have little control over where their employees’ money is invested. As Ryan Ellis of Americans for Tax Reform explains:
401(k) plans are directed and invested by employees, not by employers.… They are the ones—not their bosses—who choose which mutual funds to invest in. This is true both of the employee’s elective deferral and the employer’s match. The menu of choices is primarily provided not by the Hobby Lobby employers, but by the 401(k) plan administrator, who helps select a wide menu of mutual fund (and, increasingly, exchange-traded fund) choices so that the fiduciary obligations of the plan are met.
Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) simply provides a structure for individuals to choose from mutual funds that best meet their needs and savings goals. Interestingly enough, Mother Jones doesn’t disclose the companies that its own employees invest in under the news site’s 401(k) plan. As Ellis again points out:
Surely those 401(k) plans invest in stocks of oil and gas companies, defense contractors, private equity firms, and other evil conservative power bastions.… Should I call them hypocrites for daring to invest in a 401(k) which invests in a mutual fund which invests in a multinational company which happens to own an oil company?
Besides, establishing the legal and financial structure for employees to make their own investment choices is a far cry from being forced by the government to directly pay for coverage of potentially life-ending drugs and devices—as the Obamacare mandate requires.
The Greens strive to operate their family business according to their convictions, including in the way they treat their employees. The retirement plan is just one among many generous benefits offered to Hobby Lobby employees. Full-time entry-level employees are paid 90 percent above the federal minimum wage. And Hobby Lobby stores close on Sundays and are open only 66 hours a week so that their employees can spend more time with their families.
The Obamacare mandate the Greens are fighting against would force them to violate their deeply held beliefs under threat of crippling fines—the same beliefs that motivate concern and care for their employees and customers. Numerous federal courts have ruled against the coercive mandate, and the Greens remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will also recognize their freedom to work according to their convictions—regardless of the liberal media’s absurd distractions.